Nudity is great for things like garnering attention and shocking the shit out of people. If Tara Reid or Paris Hilton is suffering a press slump one week, all either of them have to do is flash her tits at paparazzi, thus making the gossip pages and obtaining clearly more press than she deserves. Madonna was in her early thirties, felt the pressure all sexy symbols feel as they grow older in the public eye, and tabulated a torrid tome of naked photos called Sex. Even the non-famous are in on the nude game: college chicks bare their boobs, make out with each other, and moon cameras in the Girls Gone Wild series.
The one thing most people don’t associate nudity or sex with is comedy. Why is this? Well, perhaps because in real life, being stark-ass naked around other people tends to be more jarring than laughable. Some couples even keep lights turned off in their bedrooms to limit insecurities. Even dreams about running around outside sans clothing call for question. So, in light of this, who could possibly find sex funny? Historically screenwriters have found ways to make us laugh—at the cost of a character’s displeasure. Even as early as It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Mary is mortified when George steps on her robe’s belt, exposing her to the elements. He declares that ‘someone doesn’t get into a predicament like this every day,” while she threatens to scream and tell his mother for not returning the garment to her.
In the late ’70s and ’80s, producers found nudity to be a great way to amp up their comedies about teenagers. In Valley Girl (1983), Skip comes over to return Susie’s mother’s book, going upstairs to find Susie in the shower. Poor Mom gets home and gasps after finding the two of them in bed, as Susie greets her abashedly.
Bluto <Animal House, 1978) jumped around on a ladder at a sorority house just to check out the sweater girls…well, out of their sweaters and in their skivvies. Who can forget Samantha Baker and her friend envying Carolyn’s curves in the shower in Sixteen Candles (1984) with a “boing?”
What nudity didn’t bring to these ’80s teen movies, their great soundtracks did! Not only were these movies a great platform for burgeoning musicians, it was as though the songs were written for the very scene in which they
were played—almost in the vein of a musical. That earlier shower scene in Valley Girl is peppered with ‘Don’t Let It Get There,” and Randy hid waiting for Julie in Susie’s shower as partygoers entered the bathroom to the beat of Men At Work’s ‘Who Can It Be Now,” just part of an amazing collection that also included The Plimsouls and Josie Cotton. Pretty in Pink (1986) wouldn’t have had us wishing we had our tongues down someone’s throat in the rain if not for OMD’s ‘If You Leave.” Moreover, would Danny Elfman have acquired his success without Oingo Boingo’s appearance in Back to School (1986)?
Sometimes ’80s films went so far as to give us a societal message, many of which are still relevant today. Poor, unfortunate Annie escaped an abusive father both chemically and physically in Foxes (1980), while the other characters explored a feminist, in-control approach to sex. Friendship for Angel and Ferris was stressed in Little Darlings (1980) as the two vied to see who could lose her virginity first. Julie in Valley Girl learned that it was better to choose what you want instead of letting friends make decisions for you. Well, maybe having hippie parents helped.
Eighties movies also introduced us to then unknown supporting actors: Robert Downey, Jr. made himself memorable in movies like Weird Science (1985), as two nerds put bras on their heads to create the goddess Kelly LeBrock (left). Randy Quaid had a pivotal role in Foxes. Pretty in Pink not only gave us Jon Cryer but also Gina Gershon. Kiefer Sutherland was enigmatic in The Lost Boys (1987), and today has one of the most addictive TV shows in Fox’s 24.
Alas not everyone went on to bigger things: Billy Zabka was a great mean-kid character actor in movies like The Karate Kid (1984) and Back to School (1986), but who’s he picking on today? James Spader still acts on TV, but unlike his blowjob-ready customer Julian in Less Than Zero (1987), he doesn’t seem to star in many films. Judd Nelson was a great metalhead Stoner in The Breakfast Club (1985) and went on to costar in NBC’s Suddenly Susan, but you read more about his alleged involvement with prostitutes than his acting career. Speaking of Molly Ringwald, she guest- starred in a great role as a blind art teacher on Medium recently, but wasn’t she the reason half the country went to ’80s movies? And where are
Ralph Macchlo and Scott Baio hiding anyway?
Of course these movies had other things in common. In the ’80s, it was almost as if you weren’t a teenager unless you, like, totally lived in the rad San Fernando Valley, dude, or lived by a beach. You had to at least talk the talk, and parents were either completely absent or didn’t get you. Also, in addition to crazy clothing patterns and pastels, everyone seemed to wear a lot of electric blue and Cheddar yellow. And why did everyone seem to have those dopey paper-hat-clad fast-food jobs?