Takers Are Not So Pretty in Pink

Image: Jon Cryer and Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink (1986), Paramount 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.

Not All She Is Cracked Up To Be

We all know the story of Pretty in Pink. Whether or not you watched the movie yourself, you know it by heart. Poor/rich girl meets rich/poor boy. It’s full-out class warfare. At the very heart of it, young lovers defy social norms to be with the ones they love. Think Romeo and Juliet without the death and violence.

Andie is everything we could want in a teenage heroine. She is smart, earning herself a college scholarship. She is creative, designing her own clothes with confidence. She stands her ground against bullies, staying true to her values. She puts peer pressure aside to date a boy she likes, no matter how much money he has in his wallet.

At first glance, she seems perfect, until you realize she’s not. Not by a long shot. You see, Andie may sound like a real winner on paper, but she is not exactly the sort of person you want to be around.

The truth? Andie, like so many people out there, is a taker.

Givers and Takers

Takers look to find what’s in it for themselves. You know the type. They show little compassion for others and shift the focus to me-me-me. When you look closely at Andie’s relationships, that’s exactly what you see.

Jack (Harry Dean Stanton). Andie’s unemployed father who mourns the wife that left him years ago. When her dad buys her a new prom dress, does she say thank you? Of course not. Instead, Andie berates him for spending the money and reminds him her mother “didn’t want us”. Nothing says I love you quite like guilting and pressuring your dad into doing what you want instead of helping him work through his pain.

Iona (Annie Potts). The spunky record shop manager who stops a shoplifter with a nail gun. When Andie finds out her friend is in love, does she celebrate the occasion? Of course not. Instead, she blubbers on about herself and asks for Iona’s old prom dress. “I just need it.” The next thing we see, Andie cuts Iona’s memories into itty bitty pieces to make a monstrosity of a gown that rivals the worst maternity wear.

Duckie (Jon Cryer). Andie’s best (and seemingly only teenage) friend with killer shoes. More than a quirky classmate with eccentric style, Duckie is also Andie’s not-so-secret admirer. It’s a damn shame she dismisses him so easily, quick to leave him behind for a piece of eye candy. Case in point, she turns to him as a last minute date for the prom and then dumps him on the spot when she lays eyes on “major appliance” Blane.

Try a Little Tenderness

What do Jack, Iona, and Duckie have in common? They are the givers. They show kind, if at times broken, hearts and do what they can to be there when their loved one is in need. Jack raises Andie on his own and strives to give her everything she needs. She wants more. Iona gives her not only a job but her friendship. It’s not enough. Then there’s Duckie, dear Duckie.

Duckie may not be part of the “in” crowd but that’s what makes him so gosh darn special. Nothing stops him from being the kind of guy he wants to be. He may be a fashionista who wears his heart on his sleeve, but he is loyal and true, there for Andie through thick and thin, as a friend or otherwise. In his own way, he is the hero of the story.

When he lip syncs Otis Redding’s Try a Little Tenderness, Duckie is all of us.

Frisky and free, hopeful and fun, we could all use a little tenderness, a little more kindness, in our lives. The trick is to be a giver and not a taker. Better yet, surround yourself with like-minded people, givers all around.

When I am surrounded by takers it wears on my spirit. It can be emotionally exhausting and even demoralizing. Stepping back and taking a mindful inventory of the people in your life can make a world of difference. Who makes you feel good about yourself? Who brings you down? I have had to do some soul searching in my own life. My choices have not always easy but cutting ties has saved me a lot of heartache over the years.

In your own life, would you rather be friends with Andie or Duckie? Remember, Molly Ringwald wasn’t part of the “brat pack” for nothing.

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