If You Could Make the Perfect Man or Woman

Image: Image: Anthony Michael Hall, Kelly LeBrock, and Ilan Mitchell-Smith in Weird Science (1985), Universal Pictures

My John Hughes Life

In 2017, I championed My Bridget Jones Life. In 2018, I’m moving into John Hughes territory. Not only does the director have a litany of classic 80s movies under his belt, he has writing credits clear into the 2010s. Who can’t relate to a good old-fashioned coming of age story or a character that breaks stereotypes? This is my life in movies.

The Misogyny of Weird Science

If you are not familiar with Weird Science, the 80’s movie plot focuses on two teen boys, Gary and Wyatt, who create the perfect woman. Wearing bras on their heads, they hook up a Barbie doll to a computer and make a woman that will bend to their every whim.

Who cares that science doesn’t work that way?

Lisa is a designer computer program who devotes every bit of her energy to making the lives of these adolescent boys better with no thought for herself. It is the teenage version of The Stepford Wives, and it is misogyny in top form. You would think that John Hughes would know that it takes a hell of a lot more than a pair of big boobs and a “yes, master” mentality to be a “perfect” woman.

Even though Gary and Wyatt never make a move on Lisa, even though Lisa is brilliant and smart, even though Lisa teaches them valuable life lessons, she is little more than a tool, a thing for them to use. Once the boys get what they want, she is tossed aside like yesterday’s news.

No wonder Weird Science irks so much. Hughes inadvertently reinforces the whole “boys will be boys” mantra. That was over 30 years ago. You can only imagine how people would respond if the movie came out today.

Looking Past Gender Roles

Not that Hughes didn’t give us some strong female characters in the 80s. Andie (Pretty in Pink) made her own clothes regardless of what other people thought about them. Watt (Some Kind of Wonderful) wore her tomboy card with pride, refusing to settle into what others expected from a high school teen. Let’s not forget that the writer/director did flop gender roles in Mr. Mom, showing Michael Keaton that there is no such thing as “woman’s work”.

Not that Weird Science was all bad. It was meant to be a comedy after all and with that comes some tongue in cheek fun. Even though the boys create her to do there bidding, Lisa tells the boys what to do for the most part, not the other way around. Lisa puts Gary and Wyatt in situations where they learn to defend themselves. She lectures Gary’s parents on how to appreciate their son. She humbles Wyatt’s brother Chet to teach him a lesson on bullying. She stands for something.

She may not be human but she is a better person than all of the other characters combined.

All in all, Lisa exhibits what are stereotypically masculine traits — assertiveness, independence, self-confidence, stoicism, and strength. She shows little empathy for those who cross her path unless they happen to be Gary and Wyatt, and she is hardly the soft and cuddly type. Tough love, that’s Lisa. If anything, she is intended to be the “male” figure in the story, not that that is any better than the misogyny. Gender roles do none of us any favors. I say women can be just as assertive, independent, and confident as any man. Maybe that is what Hughes was trying to show us.

How to Make the Perfect Man (or Woman)

It begs the question — what does it mean to be the perfect man or woman anyway?

It sure isn’t looks. They say beauty is only skin deep and with good reason. Whether it’s weight, hair length, eye color, or complexion, each culture holds different ideas on what it means to be beautiful. Even within the same culture, there are disparities. What I find attractive may be completely different from what catches your eye.

It isn’t stereotyped behavior either. Some men will prefer a woman who is passive while others may steer towards someone more free-spirited. Some women will prefer a man who is sensitive to one brimming with machismo. In reality, no person is any one of these things. They are so much more. A man is himself just like a woman is herself, a complex combination of traits based on their life experiences.

How people look can change in an instant but who they are on the inside stands the test of time.

What makes the perfect man or woman is that certain je nais se quoi, that special something so unique and untouchable that touches your soul. It doesn’t matter what anyone else sees or expects. It is about your wants and needs. How do they make YOU feel?

Simply put, perfect cannot be defined so stop looking for it. If you happen to be one of those people who concoct long checklists for the perfect gal/guy, please, please, please, throw it away. Get to know someone for who they are and see where it takes you. You cannot create perfection but you can find your own happiness.