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.