Molly Ringwald is troubled by ‘Breakfast Club’ crotch scene in #MeToo era

Thirty-six years after appearing as Claire in the “Breakfast Club,” actress Molly Ringwald revisited the cult-classic film with her 10-year-old daughter and was troubled by the crotch scene in the wake of the #MeToo era.

In a new essay for The New Yorker,  Ringwald wrote, “It’s hard for me to understand how [director] John Hughes was able to write with so much sensitivity, and also have such a glaring blind spot.”

“I thought about it again this past fall, after a number of women came forward with sexual-assault accusations against the producer Harvey Weinstein, and the #MeToo movement gathered steam,” she continued. “If attitudes toward female subjugation are systemic, and I believe that they are, it stands to reason that the art we consume and sanction plays some part in reinforcing those same attitudes.”

The scene in question involved Judd Nelson’s Bender who hides under Claire’s desk while the high schoolers are in detention. “While there, he takes the opportunity to peek under Claire’s skirt and, though the audience doesn’t see, it is implied that he touches her inappropriately,” Ringwald said. “I was quick to point out to my daughter that the person in the underwear wasn’t really me, though that clarification seemed inconsequential.”

The scene ended up being shot by an older actress because Ringwald (at 16) was still a minor. Even Ringwald’s mother protested the scene. “My mom also spoke up during the filming of that scene in ‘The Breakfast Club,’ when they hired an adult woman for the shot of Claire’s underwear,” the actress wrote. “They couldn’t even ask me to do it — I don’t think it was permitted by law to ask a minor — but even having another person pretend to be me was embarrassing to me and upsetting to my mother, and she said so. That scene stayed, though.”

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NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12: Molly Ringwald attends Chico's #HowBoldAreYou NYC Event at Joe's Pub on March 12, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Chico's)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 12: Molly Ringwald attends New York Premiere of Sony's ROUGH NIGHT presented by SVEDKA Vodka at AMC Lincoln Square Theater on June 12, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for SVEDKA Vodka)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 12: Molly Ringwald attends the 'Rough Night' New York Premeire at AMC Lincoln Square Theater on June 12, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 06: Molly Ringwald and Panio Gianopoulos attend A Moth Summer Night's Dream: The 20th Anniversary Moth Ball at Capitale on June 6, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for The Moth)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 15: Panio Gianopoulos (L) and actress Molly Ringwald attend the CBS Films And The Cinema Society Host A Screening Of 'Dean' at The Roxy on May 15, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 18: Molly Ringwald attends the Broadway Opening Night Performance of 'Indecent' at The Cort Theatre on April 18, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02: Molly Ringwald attends the Planned Parenthood 100th Anniversary Gala at Pier 36 on May 2, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 17: Actress Molly Ringwald attends Primary Stages 2016 Gala at 538 Park Avenue on October 17, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Desiree Navarro/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 15: Actress Molly Ringwald attends 'A Tale Of Love & Darkness' New York premiere at Crosby Street Hotel on August 15, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 16: Molly Ringwald attends the American Ballet Theatre Spring Gala at The Metropolitan Opera House on May 1 (Photo by Rabbani and Solimene Photography/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 16: Molly Ringwald attends the 'King Cobra' Premiere - 2016 Tribeca Film Festival at Regal Battery Park 11 on April 16, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - APRIL 01: Actress Molly Ringwald discusses 'How a Teenage Icon (Sixteen Candles) Reinvented Herself as a Novelist' during the Palm Beach Book Fair on April 1, 2016 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mychal Watts/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 14: Molly Ringwald attends the cocktail party for the Vineyard Theatre 2016 Gala at the Edison Ballroom on March 14, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 22: Actress Molly Ringwald performs at the Beverly Hills Holiday Lighting Ceremony on Rodeo Drive on November 22, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images for Rodeo Drive Committee)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 16: Actress Molly Ringwald attends the 2015 24 Hour Plays On Broadway Gala at American Airlines Theatre on November 16, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Zak Photography/FilmMagic)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured: Molly Ringwald -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 21: Molly Ringwald attends the Ars Nova Revolution Benefit at the Edison Ballroom on September 21, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/Getty Images)
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Ringwald did commend Hughes — who died at age 58 in 2009 — for giving a voice to outsiders and the positive impact the filmmaker’s movies had on adolescent audiences.

“John’s movies convey the anger and fear of isolation that adolescents feel, and seeing that others might feel the same way is a balm for the trauma that teen-agers experience. Whether that’s enough to make up for the impropriety of the films is hard to say,” she said. “Even criticizing them makes me feel like I’m divesting a generation of some of its fondest memories, or being ungrateful since they helped to establish my career. And yet embracing them entirely feels hypocritical.”

“If I sound overly critical, it’s only with hindsight. Back then, I was only vaguely aware of how inappropriate much of John’s writing was, given my limited experience and what was considered normal at the time,” she added.

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