Sunday, August 28, 2011

It's Suckie Being Duckie

Long time readers may remember this was the name of one of my first entries. Same topic... just longer, updated and different words.


My apartment is directly across the street from a pretty sweet used book store. One day I was browsing around looking to spend money I didn't have and I found in their "Books About Film" section a book called 'Don't You Forget About Me.' The book is a collection of authors reflecting on their love of John Hughes and his films. The film that's discussed the most is ironically one of the films he didn't even direct, Pretty in Pink.

These essays backed up an opinion that I already had, specifically... Andie picks the wrong guy. Let's be honest, Duckie proved his love to Andie time and time again... was it a little too obsessive sometimes, yes... but at least he didn't fuck her over. Blaine asks her to the Prom and then makes up some bullshit excuse to get out of it, out of shame. The argument I've heard are good ones for while she can't end up with Duckie... to two big one's being:

1) If Andie and Duckie end up together it says that poor people belong together

2) If Andie and Duckie end up together it's only because Duckie's persistence forces her to settle.

Neither of these are solid arguments to me. I can see how it can be perceived as that, but let's break them down for starters. Poor people belong together. Do I think it should be against the law for a rich person to marry a poor person? No, that'd be ridiculous to claim that. However you know that philosophy of Opposites attract? Well guess what; rarely do they marry. I've dated girls who were the opposite of me and while fun, it's the one's that I can relate to that make me fall in love. Marriage should be hanging out with your best friend, for the rest of your life. At the end of the day Poor or Rich shouldn't even be a focus. I get the message of the movie, it's supposed to be Cinderella... the poor girl finally gets the rich prince. Finance shouldn't even be a focus point; it should strictly be about love. There's never a moment in Pretty in Pink in which I feel like Blaine loves her. Shit, I think Blaine's asshole friend Steff seems to love her more, but no one comes off as in love as Duckie does.

It's Duckie's persistence that I think shows his love for Andie best than anything. Now even I'll admit, hanging outside of the club, showing up at her work, calling her repeatedly... this borders on obsession. But healthy or not, many of us (by us I of course mean the people geeky enough to read an article about Pretty in Pink; not an average human being) can relate to this at least during our first crush.

I guess this is mostly my own personal problem. I simply relate too much to Duckie. I am a Duckie. You see it works like this; typically a Teen flick we have three main male characters. The Villain. The Hero and the Duckie.

The Villain is typically a douche' bag. He's the normally popular. In some cases he's a bully, in other cases he's an ex-boyfriend and in other cases he's the current boyfriend. Rarely does he care about the female lead. She only represents status (or lack there of in a film like She's All That). He will always end up single by the end of the movie, sometimes possibly worse.

The Hero has an origin much like the villain; except that he finds redemption. He may start dating the female lead as a bet, but true love does blossom. The Hero will briefly lose the girl, but with hardwork and determination, he will show his love for her and win her back. This is the biggest issue with Blaine. He didn't do anything but show up stag to the Prom, but still gets to bang Andie Welsh in the parking lot (or at least kiss her).

Finally we have the Duckie. He's the best friend. The straight version of the gay best friend most girls long for (and get in College). Sadly, despite being the person who understands the female lead; he always ends up single at the end or with a random female character that we've never seen or heard of previously in the film. The Duckie is nothing short of a PERFECT boyfriend. They come through where guys in the first two categories fail. They show up to prom when your date stood you up. They dance around singing Otis Redding just to perk your spirits. They go to your awkward social events like poetry readings and all lesbian punk concerts. But most importantly, they'd never begin a relationship with you on the grounds of a dare.

John Hughes always seemed to be a representation of teen angst regardless of cultural or scholastic status, but he adored the dorks and the Duckies. Sadly he never adored them enough to let them get the girl. Anthony Michael Hall (the King of Duckie characters) is the only character in The Breakfast club who doesn't get anyone, instead his romantic kiss is given to a shockingly short essay. In Sixteen Candles he ends up in a car with the prom queen (along with some photographs) and we're supposed to believe that she WON'T try to accuse him of date rape? Then in Weird Science he fails to fuck even a sexbot. When Anthony Michael Hall decided to get out of the Duckie status for a bit, he was murdered by Edward Scissorhands.

The fact that Duckie is last seen looking at a random hot girl that we've never seen before is an insult. Andie could have attempted to set him up with her co-worker (granted she was much older than Duckie) but no... of course she doesn't. Because Andie is a stuck up bitch. In fact I realized in rewatching John Hughes movies for this essay her character is almost always my least favorite, she's too whiny in all three major films. Pretty in Pink she's the least whiney, but regardless Duckie probably deserves better. It's not just films of John Hughes. Look at Goonies for a example. Mickey and Data are the only two who don't have a significant other by the time the credits roll (granted in my scenario Chunk's significant other is Sloth, but beggars can't be choosers).

What annoys me the most is that in the original ending Andie does end up with Duckie. However test audiences hated the ending and thus reshots were made. So it's not John Hughes that's against me and all Duckie kind, it's the rest of the world. I've heard that Molly Ringwald always believed that if Robert Downey, Jr. (The original pick for Duckie) had been cast the ending would have remained. The issue was that the audience didn't feel like they saw any real 'chemistry' between Duckie and Andie. I guess I can kinda see their point, I know I and others thought Duckie was gay at first, but that's neither here nor there. He is a devoted motherfucker none the less.

John Huhes apparently was never happy with the replacement ending (and rightfully so). I've heard that the change directly inspired him to write Some Kind of Wonderful which is basically Pretty in Pink with the genders reversed. In this round Duckie (now Watts played by Mary Stuart Matherson) does get his (her) Andie (Keith played by Eric Stoltz). This movie also famously lead to the end of Molly and John's collaborations (and subsequently the end of Molly Ringwald's career).

I leave on this note. I've had three girlfriends ever. I've never watched a single teen flick or romantic comedy with any of those girls. Who did I watch teen flicks with? The Amanda Beckets, Samantha Baker's and Claire Standish's of my life. I spend my life pining for my Andie Walsh. But I'll probably end up with a random blonde chick just before the closing credits song.


  1. Well written, arguments made. I disagree on a few levels though. Strictly speaking, within the confines of the film Pretty in Pink, I believe that there's a strong thematic justification for why Andie doesn't "end up" with Duckie, based on Harry Dean Stanton's long speech to Jon Cryer in the middle of the film. It's not just back story: he's trying to impart a tough life lesson on a young man much like him. Frankly, if you have to try THAT hard to get a girl to like you romantically, then she doesn't like you romantically. Randall Munroe said it better than I ever could in this brief look at the subject here:

    Secondly, and this is my own life experience talking, Andie didn't "end up" with either of these guys. They're in high school. They probably broke up over the summer, or somewhere else down the road. Pretty in Pink isn't about find the right person and getting married, it's about finding the right first boyfriend (or in Duckie's case, girlfriend). Someone you're attracted to, that's what you're looking for, who is attracted to you in return. A starter boyfriend, that's all. Someone to make the mistakes with. And boy, does Blane qualify.

    There's a strange interpretation of the Duckie character that I've never quite agreed with, and not just that Andie should have "ended up" with him. It's that he's ready for a serious relationship. That someone should settle down with him because he's the perfect boyfriend and nobody's noticed yet. He's not ready. He's intelligent and funny and yes, he'd make a hell of a boyfriend, but he's too dedicated to finding true love at such a young age to qualify as "wise." He doesn't know what love is any more than Andie or Blane do, he's just looking harder. Will he find it? Yes, I think so, but I'm pretty sure that his efforts will make him rush into serious relationships without coming to understand what makes them so special. He won't have the contrast. Andie will. I'm sure the day will come when she looks back at Duckie's crush and wishes she'd been emotionally ready to reciprocate at the time, but I'm equally certain that Duckie will one day look back at Andie's lack of interest and realize that she wasn't the girl for him after all.

    He'll be too busy banging Annie Potts to care.

  2. I'm so 100% with you! I actually gave my Pretty in Pink dvd away as this started bothering me more and more. Goddamn, should Duckie not have gotten the girl for the sake of Otis Redding alone? I always cringe and switch off to the movie when it's made clear the Duckie character has been tagged as irredeemable by the pointless female lead.

    And God yes, Molly Ringwald is irritating for Olympic gold. Never understood her appeal- either she's whiny, or just unbelievably flat and watery.

  3. The girl Duckie ends up with in "Pretty in Pink" (Kristi Swanson, the original Buffy) actually does pop up in the background of some scenes. I think she was actually part of the rich girls' clique. Which could further show that ultimately wealth and class doesn't define you, it's character.

    Movies are movies. They're fiction, not a moral treatise.

  4. I have to disagree. I recently rewatched Pretty in Pink, and to me Duckie came across as just an obsessive guy. Andie didn't even seem interested in hanging out with him. She tolerated him because she was too nice to tell him to go away. She even hangs out in places that he can't go just to get away from him.

    Blaine wasn't perfect, but at least Andie actually had feelings for him. Poor Duckie was a sap who needed to get a life.

  5. Amen. It's always pissed me off that Duckie doesn't end up with Andie. Blane is such a tool. I can understand some of the arguments to an extent, but tell me that when you watch Pretty in Pink that you are totally disappointed with Duckie gets left in the dust??? Maybe I'm just a nerd lover, but I come to love Duckie more as the film progresses, and I come to hate Blane and his creepy blue eyes more and more.

    Movies are movies, but a rip-off is a rip-off. Screw you test audiences, we want Duckie.

  6. Sorry, it's a teen movie, and Blaine was hot. Duckie was not. And you're right, if it'd been Robert Downey Jr, maybe she would've picked Duckie, and it would've felt right, but Jon Cryer doesn't have his presence or charm. And the biggest point is Andie didn't have feelings for Duckie. I've had many best guy friends "fall in love" with me, but that hasn't ever changed the fact that I love them as friends. The ending of "Pretty In Pink" is true to life. Teens like hot, unattainable guys, not whiney, stalky, weird guys. I do love Duckie, though. Just don't wanna bone him.

  7. I totally agree! I have avidly, and perhaps religiously watched this movie for years and it is mostly because of Duckie. Blaine is charming to be sure; but the scene where he and Andie are in the stables and he is clearly not strong enough to be with her when she is so confident is where he loses all attractiveness. A girl may not want a guy as obsessive as Duckie but nor does she want someone who is ashamed of her. And his line at the end "I believed in you, I just didn't believe in me", is infuriating. It's right up there with "Love means never having to say you're sorry." Lines that only come from writers trying to manufacture something that would not actually be enough in the real world.
    In one sense is it a true teen movie, because thinking in the moment, you'd want Blaine. But if you actually thought about who would make a better life partner it would be Duckie. But that is why it is a teen movie and not an adult movie because as a grown up you realize there has to be more to a relationship then being cute and rich.

  8. That whole "A girl won't like you if you try too hard" shtick is complete and utter bull. Duckie's efforts were strange, but he didn't strike me as a stalker. I agree with Aan-Sofie Guzik in that, yes, in the moment Blaine was (supposedly) a hunk, but, in the long run, Duckie would be the type of guy that a woman would look back on and realize he was the better choice.

  9. I have to say yes it did suckie being Duckie except in the film Duckie ended up with Buffy :-)

  10. Great post and you've put your points across well but I have to disagree. Yes Duckie was the better choice, of course he was but he wouldn't have made Andie happy because she didn't like him that way. Simple as that.
    I never found Blaine attractive - his personality sucked! And if he had treated me that way I would not have gone back to him. The ending I would have preferred is Andie and Duckie going to the prom - telling Blaine to stuff it and getting on with their lives as friends :)

  11. Great post and you've put your points across well but I have to disagree. Yes Duckie was the better choice, of course he was but he wouldn't have made Andie happy because she didn't like him that way. Simple as that.
    I never found Blaine attractive - his personality sucked! And if he had treated me that way I would not have gone back to him. The ending I would have preferred is Andie and Duckie going to the prom - telling Blaine to stuff it and getting on with their lives as friends :)