Toxic Standards

The effect of portraying disturbing characteristics as desirable, persisting in movies and delineated by men, on society

By Lauren Penington

80’s movies hold their charm and popularity in today’s society. However, a good portion of these retro films hold a worrisome amount of rape culture properties that have managed to assimilate themselves into society’s most revered characteristics. Stalkers, rapists, and haressers are praised for their disgusting behavior; getting the girl and setting a disturbing standard.

What passes for love is truly mediocrity, urged along by the presence of troubling factors in the media, namely the acceptance of trash as treasure, the acceptance of lackluster men as paragons. Due to these character traits displayed on the big screens, people have welcomed a new wave of low. Truly concerning aptitudes that reveal themself in the scum of the earth are romanticized to the point that it appears ludicrous not to. This, in turn, not only damages our morals and beliefs, but our perception of the world and thereby our standards and self worth.

For instance, the idea of pursuing the girl until she submits. Critics praise the boy who sticks it out, the boy who waits for the girl to settle for him or suddenly realize her overwhelming love for the underdog. He who respects rejection and doesn’t pursue the girl is an instant joke, seen as a pushover, lacking the balls to continue on his “quest.”

There are several classic cinema examples that ring this warning bell. This isn’t to say that these movies aren’t of quality, but that they hold these troubling themes within them, pushed along into society by the films’ success and popularity.

One of the most prominent that emerges from the mix is Sixteen Candles. Traditionally thought of as a sweet romcom, the movie holds some questionable details within. The entire relationship of our protagonists begins with a drunk fling. After drinking too much, Caroline is sent home with our oh-so-sweet underdog, the Geek. These two get busy, while Caroline is too drunk to consent of course, and afterwards decide that they had fun and are obviously soulmates. Now, we can’t unload all of that… But, in essence, it is this type of portrayal of men in cinema that is so toxic to the general population. The idea that all men have this habitual instinct that can’t be denied, and the further idea that it is sexy. Frankly, there is nothing more disturbing than the idea that men are controlled by an innate desire for sex. Not only is it an untrue theory, but spreading it into the minds of society as a desirable and alluring trait poisons the minds of our youth. People have accepted it as an irrefutable fixture, and both boys and girls seem to be raised on the fact that it is their duty to fulfil.

This can also be seen in Revenge of the Nerds whereupon, yet another nerd, initiates intercourse with the “girl of his dreams.” In this version of the tale, he does so under the guise of being her actual boyfriend – wearing his costume and acting as the persona. After their erotic scene, she removes the nerds mask to display his true identity and decides that it was truly the pair of them that were meant to be, not her and her actual boyfriend and based upon nothing but the mere interaction that had occured moments before.

These are movies that are revered as classics, as “must-sees.” With the sordid details contained within them, this arguably the most provoking fact of all. Why does society continue to lavish praise atop these individuals that commit frankly heinous crimes? The first step is noticing the pattern, which we have found. The next step is breaking it. Break the chain and show the world what love truly is, not these illusory fabrications of life. Be a part of a healthy relationship, based on respect and true love, not a drunken fumble of a creepy, possessive man. No one loves a rapist. No one loves a stalker. Leave the girl alone and find the one that loves you back.

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