The 1986 film "Sixteen Candles" tells a timeless tale of growing up in suburban America. The film's star, Sam, played by Molly Ringwald, wakes up with big expectations on her sweet sixteenth birthday only to be completely disappointed. Not only does she find that she looks exactly the same as when she was fifteen, but her family is so preoccupied with her older sister's wedding that they forget her birthday altogether.
The film opens with Sam on the phone with her best girlfriend Randy. She is examining herself in her full length mirror and is totally horrified to find that her body didn't' magically transform overnight. She was hoping to wake up with a body just like Caroline's. Caroline is the head cheerleader, prom queen, and girlfriend of the most popular boy in school, Jake Ryan. Sam is hopelessly "in love" with Jake and is convinced that he won't know she exists until she is more developed, more mature, more like Caroline. Little does she know, Jake does notice her. He is intrigued by a certain mispassed note containing some very personal information about Sam's sex life (or lack of one). In this note, Sam confesses that she is a virgin (she has never done "it") and is saving herself not for marriage, but for Jake Ryan. Jake finds himself wanting to get to know Sam and wanting a real relationship with someone like her, rather than with someone like Caroline. He knows Caroline doesn't love him, and he doesn't love her either. The only real reason they're together is because he's the most popular boy at school and she's the most popular girl. Throughout the movie, Sam is preoccupied with becoming more like Caroline, while the real reason Jake is interested in her is because she is not like Caroline. By the end of the movie Sam learns a valuable lesson about being her own person and even gets the guy along the way.
This film contains some classic examples of the kinds of real life issues adolescents deal with. Issues such as popularity, peer relationships, family/sibling relationships, sex, and struggles with identity are all addressed in this ninety-minute film.
Sam's high school is like any stereotypical high school with it's various social crowds. The popular crowd in this movie is composed of mostly jocks and cheerleaders. These adolescents seem to be the most physically attractive and have the wealthiest parents. According to a recent study, the ways boys and girls gain popularity or prestige in school has not changed much over the last couple of decades. Girls and boys typically gain prestige in school through totally different, but very traditional means. Most boys gain prestige through participation in sports and school achievement while most girls gain school prestige more through physical attractiveness, sociability, and school achievement (Suitor & Reavis, 1995). Jake and Caroline are perfect examples of the popular kids in school. Jake is on the football team, has a fast car, a big house, and is extremely attractive and charming. Caroline, on the other hand, is a social butterfly. She is captain of the cheerleading squad, prom queen, and the life of the party. She has blonde hair, blue eyes, and a perfectly developed body that all the other girls envy.
Sam in particular is very envious of Caroline's body. I think this is because she isn't very comfortable in her own body and is very self-conscious about the way others look at her. Sam has not yet established her own identity, so she models her identity around the identity of the one person she wouldn't mind being; the girlfriend of Jake Ryan. Popularity and identity go hand in hand in the sense that those who are popular are usually the ones that establish an identity first and then have their peers modeling their identities after them. This would explain why so many adolescents want to be just like their friends, complete with the same clothes, hairstyles, etc. Sam sees that both girls and guys are attracted to...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document