Taking Another Look At Pop Culture’s ‘Animal House’ Era

'Sixteen Candles,' released in 1984

'Sixteen Candles,' released in 1984

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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.
'Three's Company' ran from 1976 - 1984

'Three's Company' ran from 1976 - 1984

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    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.

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