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Summer is just about here, and I’m starting to feel pangs of nostalgia for a favorite pastime of adolescence. On hot nights in the 1980s, my friends and I would head to air-conditioned movie theaters. But I wasn’t all that interested in seeing the latest boy-adventure blockbuster from George Lucas or Steven Spielberg. I wanted to see movies that told stories that resonated with my life: adventures of a more down-to-earth, female-centric variety. At that age, my girlfriends and I were trying to navigate the difficult terrain that comes with falling in love; becoming sexual; dealing with friends, family and school, but most of all, growing up and trying to be our own person.
Fortunately, the multiplex came through with another emerging force in American cinema and culture in the 1980s: the teen movie, Many people have their favorite teen movies from that decade, The ones I still adore offered up smart, curious female protagonists grappling with the same issues I was, including “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “Valley Girl” and “Heathers.” All three offer relatable, three-dimensional characters, including as Stacy essie limo scene vs ballet slippers Hamilton (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh), Julie Richman (Deborah Foreman) and Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder in a star-making turn)..
One film I somehow missed at the time was “Dirty Dancing,” with its idealistic 17-year-old protagonist Frances “Baby” Houseman (Jennifer Grey), which a number of female writers later hailed a “feminist masterpiece.” Of course, it’s also a great summer flick, given its idyllic setting in a Catskills resort where Baby goes on summer vacation and ends up meeting the hunky, working-class dancer Johnny Castle, played by Patrick Swayze in all his hip-grinding glory.
In fact, it was ahead of its time in a lot of ways, which might make it the ultimate girl-coming-of-age movie, For its 30th anniversary this year, “Dirty Dancing” was just remade into an unnecessary TV live broadcast, which I decided to avoid and, based on reviews, that was a good idea, The age of Brat Pack essie limo scene vs ballet slippers America, What finally prompted me to instead sit down and watch the original film, as well as revisit my own old favorites, was reading San Francisco author Kevin Smokler’s fun new look at ’80s teen movies: “Brat Pack America.”..
Smokler’s book looks at how social and historical trends of that decade fostered the rise of the genre, which was in part fueled by the box office power of mall-browsing suburban teens with disposable incomes. This clout spawned unexpected blockbusters like the “Back to the Future,” and helped launch the careers of major male stars including Sean Penn, Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise, Michael J. Fox, Matthew Broderick and members of the so-called Brat Pack. Hollywood had made movies about teenagers before, Smokler said, but the 1980s films marked a notable shift, with movies consistently portraying teens as real “human beings” with stories told from their point of view.
Like many of the best ’80s teen movies, the female-centric ones I’m fond of were originally marketed as lightweight high school comedies or rom-coms, But even back then it was clear they had insightful things to say about girls’ lives, especially about what it was like to be a girl coming of age in the 1980s, Women coming of age, Yes, it was a weird decade: Reagan was in office, America was locked in a Cold War and Donald Trump and other moguls were essie limo scene vs ballet slippers becoming celebrity symbols of ’80s prosperity taken to excess, The feminist movement of the previous decade had won women a sexual freedom as well as a path to college and careers, But these opportunities didn’t necessarily make things any easier, especially for girls still hampered by the usual of trials of adolescence: painful insecurity, a focus on physical attractiveness and the contradictory impulses to fit in but also be independent..
In “Fast Times,” set at a fictional Los Angeles-area high school, Stacy fumbles through figuring out what sex is all about. And in a way that I have to confess is familiar to my early fumbling experiences, Stacy loses her virginity in the most unglamorous way possible, or as director Amy Heckerling once said: “Bare light bulb, harsh shadow … It’s the Valley, it’s your virginity, there it goes.”. In “Valley Girl,” Julie bristles at having to live up to the prom-queen expectations of her bad-jock boyfriend and popular friends; she’d rather be with her soul mate, smoldering Hollywood punk Nicolas Cage. Then there’s brainy and resourceful Veronica Sawyer of “Heathers” who rebels against the “mean girl” culture of her suburban high school.
“Dirty Dancing” may be set in 1963, but it’s a rom-com dressed up as a period dance flick that smartly deals with class, feminism and the loss of innocence — both Baby’s and America’s — just before the assassination of John F, Kennedy, Though sometimes mushy and a bit campy, “Dirty Dancing” is heartfelt and electric as Baby pursues love with Johnny, She also stands up essie limo scene vs ballet slippers to her father and does something heroic for the sisterhood: in the pre-Roe v, Wade era, she helps a female friend get money for an abortion, then medical help when the back-alley procedure goes wrong..