In the last film, one of a string of hit comedies directed by John Hughes, a teenage nerd impresses his friends by presenting a pair of a classmate’s panties.
The extent to which women were fully realized characters in these movies — as opposed to just being the objects of fixation and fantasy — tended to vary, but in most instances these stories unfolded largely from a male perspective. A prime example would be “Weird Science” — another Hughes film, from 1985 — in which a couple of dweeby kids literally create an idealized woman (played by model Kelly LeBrock) in a lab.
Television exhibited a similar naughty streak during these years, with sitcoms like “Bosom Buddies” and “Three’s Company,” where young men ogling women — while pretending to be women and gay, respectively — was baked into the premise.
The tenuous relationship here to the Kavanaugh story is simply to consider the way the cultural environment has evolved, perhaps especially in the last few years. Re-watching movies years later has surely compelled some middle-aged parents to squirm uncomfortably when introducing their kids to old pastimes that haven’t necessarily aged well.
There is and was, clearly, a vast gap between the entertainment that people consume and the way they actually behave. That said, there were also Reagan-era toga parties and drinking games inspired by what people saw on the screen, where characters being drunk or stoned was often a source of hilarity.
The issue of looking backward isn’t strictly academic, coming as it does amid a wave of movie and TV revivals, drawing upon the equity in nostalgia. Yet for those who like to view the ’70s and ’80s as a simpler time, it’s a reminder that not everything from those years translates into a modern setting, in what was, in key respects, a less enlightened one.