Shocker! Teen sex comedy found guilty of misogyny. The weird case of "Weird Science".

The subtext of Weird Science always bugged me a little. Granted, when I saw it in 1985, and I was a sexually-awakening 13 years old, I did not give two shits about the sexual subtext, since Kelly LeBrock looked effin’ incredible (NSFW? I dunno.) in that famous doorframe shot.

So, it had been many years since I saw it, but it showed up in a John Hughes marathon on AMC (?) this weekend, so I thought I’d watch it again.

Yeah, it’s still fun and silly and campy, but misogyny? You betcher ass.

  1. The low-hanging fruit. They created their sexual dream girl. By harnessing some super-powerful government computer. The entire idea was that she (Lisa, who was supposed to be 23) would be a willing sex slave to two 15 year old boys Wyatt and Gary. Given the recent rash of coverage on teacher-student affairs, that’s damn icky.

  2. During the course of the movie, she metamorphosed from a purely base-level fantasy girl to more of a mom-like spiritual guru who was working to increase the lads’ self-confidence and ultimately get them girlfriends (the objects of their desire being the girlfriends of the two biggest jerks in school).

Now, during the climactic party scene, the two jerks (Robert Downey Jr.!), who are smitten by Lisa, cook up a plan to get Gary and Wyatt to TRADE Lisa for their motherfucking girlfriends! Whaaaat?!

Gary and Wyatt go along with this, but since they, like, care about Lisa, like, a lot and shit, they demur and decide instead to create a new sex-slave for the two jerks.


So now the jerks are jerks, and the heroes are complete jerks for agreeing to trade for human flesh.

But it’s not beyond hope yet. There is still room for a Lesson To Be Learned.

Indeed, when they start creating the new sex-bot, Lisa gets angry and marches upstairs for what should probably be a good talking-to about sex slavery and human trafficking, since they were to obtain the favors of two adolescent girls for this nasty little trade.

Anyway, the experiment fails because of a technical glitch, and they instead create a massive phallic symbol that penetrates their entire house (a Pershing missile).

So what does Lisa do? Does she upbraid them for thinking they could obtain the affections of their lust-objects by trading them like cattle? Does she talk about self-confidence and treating the girls like human beings?

NO. She does the absolute opposite. She points out the technical glitch that caused the experiment to fail.


In the end, the jerks get humiliated and Gary and Wyatt get to bang their girlfriends, who go through the entire movie as willing little sex dolls.

Very strange.

Yeah, thats where it lost me too. Hot women don’t know anything about puters or missiles or glitches or experiments.

That’s perfectly normal for the 1980’s teen romp. See “Revenge of the Nerds” for a hysterical rape scene (slaps knee).

Wait a tick…

Have I seen the same movie?

Because the powers the “sex slave” girl showed over the Jerk older brother (turning him into a piece of …) shows that she was the boss of the situation, she was in the end humoring the kids.

And it was clear that she was not human, so there was not really a human flesh trade.

Except that the two girlfriends of the jerks (not his jerk brother, Bill Paxton) were well and fully human, and they were being bargained for like sides of beef.

In Sixteen Candles, another film in the Hughs canon, the cool guy sends his passed-out drunk prom-queen girlfriend off in his fancy car with the geek, strongly implying that the geek should have sex with her. All of this is treated as a total joke, but it’s rape - she’s too incapacitated to consent.
Googling for the details of the scene gave me this analysis of it, which gives a good look at the whole theme of date rape in Hughs’ movies.

AFAIK the girls did not know a “deal” was going on, I though the end BTW made the point that the girls fell in love for the good guys when they showed as themselves to the girls, and not as the rich guys they pretended to be.

She was a sex slave who never had sex with her masters.
She was their mistress, not their slave.

I caught a snippet of a James Bond movie. (Connery, Goldfinger?)

Anyway James is in some spa and he hits on and does not get with his masseuse. Later he is put in some contraption and someone sneaks in and turns it up to 11 which almost kills Bond. She was supposed to be watching him so he decides that to keep her from getting in trouble with her boss, she will fuck him and promptly forces himself on her.

That was the creepiest thing about it!

How very convenient.

Of course, it shows that the OP was not quite correct. :slight_smile:

The “sex slave” was working to allow for that ending.

Am I the only one who thinks that, on some level, the protagonists wanted the second experiment to fail?

As for “trafficking” or whatever you want to call it for the real human girls, the girls didn’t end up with the protagonists because they “bought” them, they ended up with them because they wanted to. The “trafficking” just got them away from their jerk boyfriends. To carry it to the slavery hyperbole, it’s immoral to buy slaves, but it’s not immoral to buy a slave’s freedom.

Do not re-watch Sixteen Candles. Creepier than Alfred Hitchcock in women’s underpants. Pretty In Pink is pretty iffy, too. In fact, pretty much the entirety of Molly Ringwald’s 'Eighties films are a big bunch of shuddering nothings. 'Eightes films in general seem to be pretty vacuous, creepy, or more often, both. Even Scorsese couldn’t make the 'Eighties; between Raging Bull and the nearly unreleased The Last Temptation of Christ, there isn’t a thing worth watching from his body of work. And the 'Eighties broke Francis Ford Coppola, who has previously shown an unbroken string of masterful films. Don’t even get me started on Top Gun, which is the most transparently homoerotic movie ever screened in mainstream theaters.

On the other hand, the 'Eighties did give us Real Genius, which is what “The Big Bang Theory” wants to be when it grows up: “What about that time I found you naked with that bowl of Jell-O?”


Oh come on. That ending was completely tacked on to give the movie the appearance of having a positive message. The girls were completely passive from the start. They had absolutely no individual personalities. They would have been a single character, except that the script needed two warm bodies. Sure, they were shown earlier in the mall scene showing some disaffection for their boyfriends’ hijinx, but at the end, they explicitly and publicly forgave them, and everything was cool. And they end up with Gary and Wyatt because Wyatt pulls a giant gun and runs off the mutant threat. It wasn’t a case of choosing the guys who really like them for who they are. It was a matter of choosing the guys who could most effectively protect them (and who, not incidentally, have the biggest tools).

Yeah, but there were several scenes where she (once again, 23, according to the movie) gave them (again, 15) passionate, very sexual kisses.

The 80s gave us Predator, sir.

That is the only redeeming quality of the decade.

Maybe I shouldnt be running around telling folks 16 Candles, Weird Science, Better Off Dead, and some other 80’s “classics” are some of my favorite films? Maybe I should just start collecting little figurines of little black boys eating watermellons or some other such socially acceptable pasttime…

It’s been a long time since I saw that movie, but I seem to remember that Lisa was actually angry at the kids for trying to create another woman, not because they screwed up the formula, but because they had succumbed to peer pressure to do it. She was trying to teach them some maturity, and they were proving they were no better than the jerks they hated.

On the “trading” for the girlfriends, it seems to me Wyeth (“The Chocolate War” one) did have a problem with that, and it was mostly Anthony Michael Hall’s idea, showing there was at least some nod to the ethical problems involved. At the end of the movie, they were treating their new girlfriends as real people, more than just anonymous objects of desire.

At 15, I’m sure I had sexual fantasies about 23 year-old women. Yes, it would have been skeavey* if one of them had actually appeared to let me fulfill those fantasies, but then it also would have been weird if a party I was hosting had been invaded by a motorcycle gang of kill mutants. It’s hard to take the movie literally.

  • And by skeavey, I mean wonderful!

The phrase “a nice, greasy pork sandwich, served in a dirty ashtray” is pretty common jargon between my brother and I.

You’re entitled to your opinion of course, but After Midnight, King of Comedy, and The Color of Money are all highly regarded films. Alongside The Last Temptation of Christ and Raging Bull, not a bad decade’s work by most standards.

The '80s had some great films, some OK movies, and some schlock, like any other decade. The categories are of course subjective and somewhat fluid. As always, the passage of time changes the way we look at some movies.

I always thought Weird Science was creepy, for basically the same reasons as the OP. I remember the mid-90s TV series based on the movie as being surprisingly good, though. It wasn’t the greatest show ever or anything, but it was pretty fun. IIRC the Lisa character in the show was more of a sassy mentor to the two boys than she was in the movie, she wanted them to learn things and not just have whatever they wanted handed to them.

What sticks in my mind is the episode where the guys wanted Lisa to teach them everything there was to know about girls…so she turned them into girls. The guys found some of the female experience to be awesome (“I can look at boobs whenever I want! Guys will buy me food!”) but other parts to be pretty lousy (like being aggressively pursued by jerks or just having regular guys get awkward when you’re around).