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Thursday, February 14, 2013

An Argument for Steff

In 1986, John Hughes came out with the classic teen flick Pretty in Pink. I usually tell people that Breakfast Club is my favorite of his films because I think it sounds better, but the fact is, I love Pretty in Pink more. (If somehow you have not seen this amazing movie in the past 27 years it's been out, be forewarned that there will be many, many spoilers in this blog).

The first time I saw it, I had to be maybe about 12-years-old, and I was whole-heartily Team Duckie (the best friend-pseudolove interest played by Jon Cryer). He was funny and devoted and ridiculoous, and I thought Andie (Molly Ringwald) would one day realize she loved him as much as he loved her too.

I watched the film many times over throughout the years, and I noticed that somewhere around age 18-19, I switched to Team Blane. Andrew McCarthy is definitely foxier than Jon Cryer, but more than that, he was sweet and willing to defy social barriers to be with Andie. And I do think there was more chemistry between Andie and Blaine, than Andie and Duckie, who really had about as much chemistry as most siblings do.

But as of late, I've come to realize that I am 110% Team Steff (Blane's jerk of a best friend played by James Spader). Part of it is for the obvious reason, in that James Spader is just ridiculously sexy in that movie. Like crazy hot. Like he's a shirtless yuppie shark. He's the kind of guy Patrick Bateman wished he was (but much less murder-y of course).

In the original ending of Pretty in Pink, Andie actually did choose Duckie. But it didn't test well with audiences, and Molly Ringwald was dating Andrew McCarthy at the time, and John Hughes thought it sent a bad message about classes not mixing. So he reshot it with Andie ending up Blaine.

But there was never an option of her ending up with Steff. In fact, it's not even hinted as possibility in the movie. And for good reason. Steff is a major jerk to Andie. He treats her like crap, and Andie - with morals and high-self esteem - rejects all of his overtones toward her, and rightfully so.

I'm not saying that Andie should end up with Steff - he was a jerk, and if he'd won her, he never were appreciated her. His journey is in losing her, and in that act, he can become someone better. She's right not to pick him.

But realistically, neither Duckie or Blaine were great choices either. Duckie is probably gay. Or at best, he's so obsessive that he borders on a stalker, and she's completely disinterested in him. A long-term relationship would be her treating him like a doormat until he snaps and kills her.

And Blaine, while sweet and cute, is as dry as toast. When challenged, he's meek and backs down. If he didn't have those adorable eyes and nice hair, he'd blend right into the wallpaper. He and Andie will date for awhile, but break up over college. They'll meet up years later, when she's a semi-successful magazine editor or writer. He'll be married with some sweet, pretty, but totally bland girl from his social standing, and he'll do Doctors Without Borders or something equally noble. But there will be no passion. He and Andie will remain friendly for years, but that's all.

But Steff - that's a story. He did care about Andie, probably as much as Blane or Duckie, but he didn't have the emotional capacity to express it. He was raised by distant nannies and absentee parents, has no idea who to be vulnerable with another person, and when he meets Andie, he hits on her in his usually cocky fashion, and she smartly shuts him down. But Steff is genuinely hurt by this, and spends the rest of the film unable to grasp how to get her affections so he lashes out at her in his confusion and hurt.

Yeah, he's creepy. He's a jerk. She shouldn't date him. But at least he's interesting. Andie's rebuff - along with the great speech Blane gives him when he figures out that Steff's problem with Andie isn't that he hates her but that he's in love with her - might actually give Steff the motivation to change. He can be a stronger, better person.

Andie and Blane are like that couple in A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickson - Lucie Manett and Charles Darnay. They were both incredibly moral and wonderful and above all the backstabbing and games of the aristocracy. They're magical little threads of perfection, and they're also totally dull.

But it's Sydney Carton - the cynic who looks like Charles Darnay - that makes Two Cities interesting, and it's Steff who is much like Sydney. Admittedly, in the book, Sydney has a chance to redeem himself, and in the end, dies a hero for saving the happiness of his true love.

Steff never does that in Pretty in Pink, but I'd like to believe that he does later. After the prom, when he realizes exactly what he lost by being a total douche, and he has a change of heart and does something really seslfless after that. Like maybe anonymously getting his family to give a huge scholaraship to Andie.

I don't know. But the point is that Steff has the glimmer and the potential to become something better. Blane and Duckie are already at the zenith of their existence.

And that's my argument for Steff. He's not the best choice for Andie, but he's definitely the hottest and most interesting character in Pretty in Pink.

24 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. That's the single best argument I've ever read to sway me from my firm support of the Duck-man. Well done. (Cue Applause)

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  3. Bravo...Steff is by far the only sexually interesting male in Andi's world. He is the one who could really add some zing to a mature relationship...once he grows up and gets his act together. Thanks for presenting a clear picture of how this could come about. Spader was smoldering in this role...definitely my favorite character in PiP.

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  4. I need to re-watch Pretty in Pink now. I don't think I ever considered Steff!

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  5. Okay, I'm totally rewatching this movie later today. Thanks for that.

    And what an awesome blog post. Love it.

    Also, James Spader? Yes.

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  6. I will and always will be for Blane since the moment he smiled at Andie for the first time in Trax.

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  7. Teenagers are still evolving and Steff might actually turn out decent in order to win Andie's love, but I doubt it. He will probably self-destruct and end up OD-ing. He has no respect for himself or others, but I do agree that he is definitely into Andie because she's different and unique and not self-destructive. I think of him more as Mercutio.

    I adore Ducky but I didn't think he and Andie would ever be together and rooted for Blaine as a first boyfriend for Andie. She won't end up with him because she has more drive than Blaine does, but she will change him for the better. Blaine is the right choice for the movie and Ducky will actually grow up and be a very wealthy and very hot entrepreneur and probably end up as mayor of the town.

    Pretty in Pink has always been one of my favorite teen movies.

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    1. I don't think that Blane or Ducky won't be successful. Ducky - if he can channel is obsessive energy into design or a dotcom instead of Andie - could be really great. And I totally see Blane as the head of a company that donates half their profits to starving kids in Africa or a Doctor Without Borders or something.

      So it's not that I think they won't be productive. It's their already perfect. Other than one minor setback when Blane uninvites Andie to the prom, he always does the right thing. They're like fresh-fallen snow - totally pristine, unmarried, and they leave the film unmarred. There is no room for growth or change because they're already super nice people.

      So as a love interest, the kinda guy I'd want my own daughter to date, yes Blane is far superior. But as a character that has the potential to either self-destruct or turn his life all around, thereby creating a more interesting, bumpier character arc, Steff has Blane and Ducky beat. And I like Mercutio much more than I liked Romeo.

      But overall, Pretty in Pink is my favorite movie by my second favorite director/writer, so when say that I prefer Steff to Blane and Ducky, it's like saying that I prefer vanilla ice cream to strawberry ice cream - either way it's ice cream and I dig it.

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  8. You're totally right. It's not my favorite movie by a long shot, and for good reason. I always thought the ending was bland. Her and him together is bland. Steff would've been an awesome choice if written well, and an unexpected, interesting ending. Great post!

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    1. I think the movie would have to be about a half-hour longer in order for her to pick Steff, wherein he'd have to time do some serious soul-searching and do some really extraordinary things to prove his love. But that could work. Though I don't think Blane is a bad choice. Steff is just more interesting.

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  9. I could see Steff finally getting his act together and meeting Andie (again) later in their lives. You already know that Andie will end up doing/becoming something meaningful but it would be interesting to see what path Steff would be on if he grew up.

    Spader looked really hot in PIP. He looked hot in everything back then. He hasn't aged too well but he's really evolved as an actor. I'm a big John Hughes fan, too, although '16 Candles' is still my favorite.

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    1. Have you seen Secretary? http://www.amazon.com/Secretary/dp/B000Y2M8K4/

      I think he's super hot still in that. Of course, it's a few years old at this point, I guess, and I haven't seen him in anything recently, so perhaps you are right about his aging. :)

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    2. Yes, I have! He was really hot in that and also in 'White Palace' and 'Wolf' to name a few others that I really liked.

      He's put on weight and it's made him look very different. Check out his pic on his imdb page here:
      http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000652/?ref_=tt_cl_t1

      He's been doing a lot of TV, too, but I understand he's good in the new movie 'Lincoln' with Daniel Day-Lewis.

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    3. Spader always looks hot, even now when he's much older and a little heftier.

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    4. I still find him sexy -- just in a different way. And he does comedy really well -- another attraction.

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  10. My favorite for sure! I was so young when I first watched it I was baffled there was a boy named Steff because that is what my family called me. I have always been a Blaine fan, for me it was the computer trick, especially advanced for the 80's. I think Blaine is more mysterious than he appears but they certainly can't have been together forever. I picture Steff to be a jerky college guy who puts drugs in sweet girls drinks and purposely spills his beer on someone he finds less attractive. Which happened to me when I was at an 80's party and channeled PIP for my outfit! HA! Not the drugs, just the beer spilling. TMI.
    Anyway, very thought provoking blog. Now please go write me a vampire story. :D

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    1. Yeah, did they ever say if Steff is short for anything? I guess I always assumed it was short for Stefan or something, but they don't ever actually say that, do they?

      And then Andie is the girl in the movie. John Hughes was strange sometimes.

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    2. I always assumed Steff was short for either Stefan or even Stephen -- just a slightly different riff.

      I figured Andie was short for Andrea.

      Spader has stated that he was always a 'hired gun' for these movies. He was never part of the 'brat pack', etc. For one thing, he was older than most of the others and he preferred living in Mass. (where he's from) as opposed to New York and/or L.A.

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    3. My sisters suggested at the time it was short for Stephen, but it could be Stefan. Seems like a fancier name and thus suitable for his hoity toity lifestyle.
      I also used to mimic Duckie smelling his arm pits and saying 'Do I offend?' Everyone would die laughing and I was so young I had no idea what it even meant!! Watching it again when I was older was definitely eye opening.

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