In my first non True Blood related post, I want to talk about this guy.
Let me preface this by saying I am a child of the 1980′s. Being a child of the 80′s means that I not only sported some serious bangs at one time, but I also watched a lot of John Hughes’ films. Thus, my impressionable pre-adolescent outlook on life was, in large part, shaped by his movies.
These films taught me many things including: failing shop class does not equate to failing life. There are other uses for a fake ID besides buying beer. Cereal can also be a sandwich. And life moves pretty fast; if you don’t stop and look around every now and then, you might miss it.
However, perhaps the biggest thing these movies drilled into my consciousness (besides the driving beat of Yello’s “Oh Yeah”) is that Jake Ryan is The Ideal Guy.
The awesomeness of Jake Ryan appears to be a universal consensus. If you doubt this, check out Urban Dictionary and you will find Jake Ryan is the definition of “Ideal Boyfriend.”
It is with the “Jake Ryan is Ideal” mindset that I recently watched “Sixteen Candles.” After not seeing that movie in many years, I was disturbed by my newfound revelation that Jake Ryan is … a douchebag.
The unravelling of Jake Ryan from Mr. Right to Hopeless Douchebag was a gradual process. At the beginning of the movie, I was still fully onboard the Jake Ryan Love Train. I think I might have actually sighed at the opening shot of him in Independent Study, as I remembered my reaction upon seeing him for the first time.
Despite the initial happy nostalgia, my inner creeper alarm began to hum during the next scene. For those of you that don’t remember, this scene featured Jake, and one of his friends, in the midst of the strangest pull-up session in history. Anyway, they are discussing life and Jake mentions Samantha Baker.
I remembered this scene as Jake waxing poetic about the specialness of Samantha. However, this was not how the dialogue went down. When he talked about why he was interested in her, he said this:
“There is something about her. I catch her looking at me all the time. It is kind of cool the way she is always looking at me.”
Jake, you really should have stopped speaking after “there is something about her.”
To me it just seemed he wanted a girl who worshipped him and not a romantic equal. It was at this point that Jake’s luster began to fade.
Despite my misgivings, I had not completely disembarked from the Jake Ryan Love Train. That came during the kitchen scene with Anthony Michael Hall’s The Geek. During this scene, my inner creeper alarm went from dull hum to Defcon 5. The scene went down like this:
While holding the new object of his affection’s underwear, Jake is discussing his diminishing attraction for his current girlfriend and his burgeoning attraction for Samantha. The Geek warns him that he better not just be out for a “piece of ass” to which Jake responds he could “get a piece of ass anytime” he wanted. He then expands on this by pointing out his current girlfriend, Carolyn, is passed out upstairs and he could “violate her 10 different ways” if he wanted to.
As I’m choking on my wine and thinking, oh please tell me he did not just say that, the Geek asks Jake, “What are you waiting for?”
Now, I’m hoping for a comeback along the lines of the moral wrongness of the situation or how it would be a violation of rape statutes. Unfortunately, that was not Jake’s response. This was his response:
“I don’t know. She’s beautiful and she’s built and all that. I’m just not interested anymore.”
Wow. Sex and the City’s Berger had it right: it really is as simple as he’s just not that into you.
The unraveling of my adolescent ideal continued. During a barter transaction, Jake makes the deal that if the Geek lets him keep Samantha’s underwear he will let the Geek drive Carolyn home.
My face promptly met the palm of my hand at this point. I have SO many problems with this. Where to start?
First, Jake only just met the Geek that day. All he knows about this guy, besides the fact he appears to make a killer martini, is that he is prone to carrying around a strange girl’s underpants. YET Jake is perfectly willing to hand over his passed out (and completely vulnerable) girlfriend to a person who is, in essence, a complete stranger.
Second, the Geek doesn’t have a license and, being a freshman and all, is too young to drive.
I think John Hughes realized he crossed a line because he has Jake try to save face by uttering this caveat, “You have to make sure she gets home. You can’t leave her in a ditch somewhere.”
Sorry, Jake. Too little, too late. You are dead to me.
Unfortunately, we are not done with the fuckery yet. The next scene shows Jake and the Geek loading the passed out Carolyn into the car. Oh, and might I add, they are loading Carolyn into Jake’s father’s Rolls Royce.
The Geek seems to be growing disenchanted with the situation. When he points out that he is driving a ROLLS ROYCE and that might be kind of dumb being HE DOESN’T HAVE A LICENSE AND ALL, Jake responds with a blank “So???”
Clearly Jake is a rich boy who has never had to answer for the consequences of his actions. This is not an attractive quality.
Going back to the scene in the garage, the Geek is once again on board with the plan when he catches a glance of Carolyn’s underwear. Jake tells him to “have fun”, after placing a six-pack of beer in the car. Because you know nothing helps the situation of an underage, inexperienced, unlicensed driver like alcohol.
The Geek takes off but not before he demonstrates that he doesn’t completely grasp the concept of Drive vs. Reverse. Oh and this is BEFORE he has had a drop of the beer that Jake so thoughtfully supplied.
Fortunately, Carolyn and the Geek don’t end up dead but end up like this:
I was very much over Jake Ryan by this point but there was one last memory of him that was to be shattered.
I remembered Jake as doing the gentlemanly thing of breaking up with his current girlfriend before embarking on a relationship with another girl. Alas this memory, too, was soon to go down in flames.
Having failed in his attempt to call her the night before, Jake goes to Samantha’s house. The door is answered by Long Duk Dong (I love him).
Jake asks for Samantha. The Donger demonstrates that not only can he not distinguish between hyena and hernia but he also can’t distinguish between Samantha (bridesmaid) and Jenny (bride).
He wrongly informs Jake that Samantha is AT THE CHURCH getting married to oily bohunk.
Jake rightly sports a WTF? look and quickly heads off TO THE CHURCH to sort this shit out.
Cut to a scene of Carolyn slapping the Geek awake. The Geek looks around and asks, “Where am I?” Carolyn responds, “You’re in the parking lot across the street FROM MY CHURCH.”
Are you feeling me?
Jake JUST HAPPENED to run into Carolyn ON HIS WAY to meet Samantha. In other words, he had NO intention to break up with her before getting together with Samantha.
Now, I’m not saying that Jake NEVER intended to break up with Carolyn. I think it is pretty clear that he was headed in that direction. However, I also think it is clear that he was trying to hook up with Samantha BEFORE breaking his relationship with Carolyn. At the time the breakup happened it was a matter of circumstance instead of deliberate intent.
I must say these revelations kind of killed the final scenes for me. Instead of being sucked into the supposed happy moment I found myself thinking, “Run, Samantha! Run!!!”
After I finished watching the movie, I had to ask myself how anyone could consider this guy an ideal boyfriend. I also wondered how I could have watched the movie so many times and not picked up on any of this. I think the answer lies in the fact that, despite his motives or methodology, Jake wanted to be with Samantha and Samantha is the girl the audience is rooting for.
Samantha is the awkward girl who knows she is SUPPOSED to be having the time of her life on her 16th birthday but is not. At one point she laments, “Donger is here five hours and he has someone. I live here my entire life and I’m like a disease.”
Haven’t we all felt like that at some point in our lives?
Contrast this with Carolyn. She is the prom queen who everyone worships and could name “20 guys who would kill to love her.”
The audience relates to and roots for Samantha and because Jake wants to be with Samantha, and not Carolyn, the audience likes Jake. Thus, the fact that Jake treats Carolyn like a disposable object either goes over people’s heads or is completely ignored.
For the record, despite my disillusionment with one Mr. Jake Ryan, I still highly enjoyed watching “Sixteen Candles.” The soundtrack alone brought back many great memories. I also believe Long Duk Dong, though HORRIBLY political incorrect, to be one of the greatest characters EVER. I definitely enjoyed watching the movie.
I must say, though, it is going to be awhile before I take another journey down memory lane and watch “The Breakfast Club.” In my memories, John Bender was the sarcastic, independent rebel with a heart of gold and I would prefer he stay that way.