Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Rediscovering the Past: Hiding Out Re-revisited

The most faithful of readers may recall that I have actually written about this film before. Oddly, I have had fleeting interactions with both Jon Cryer and Keith Coogan, who some of you may know is most definitely the most famous person to stumble across this little corner of the internet (his comment is pretty awesome).

Hiding Out was on again this morning, and I got to thinking more about the issue of statutory rape within the film. Now, maybe either of the aforementioned stars of the film would like to shed light on the issue, but this subject has clearly resonated with me.

If you need a refresher and did not want to go back to my previous Hiding Out entry, Cryer's character, Andrew Morenski goes on the run because he thinks the feds cannot protect him. He assumes the fake identity of Maxwell Houser and goes to school with his high school cousin, played by my favorite Keith (sorry, Keith David), Keith Coogan. While in high school, he falls for a girl, as every hero has to have a love interest.

The issue here is that Annabeth Gish's character is supposed to be a high school student. As such, the almost 30-year-old Andrew Morenski is pining over jail-bait.

My main question here is, were the filmmakers secretly making a propaganda piece advocating statutory rape, or were they making a case for statutory rape being created in an environment in which the two involved were socially equals (i.e. both high school students, at least within the narrative construct of the film)?



KRD said...

My answer to this question (which, let's face it, had to be asked) is that, in spite of YOUR obvious affection for this film, it was made for pre- and young-teen girls. As inconceivable as it seems now, Jon Cryer, coming off of the role of Duckie, was something of a teen sex idol (more on this in a moment). The writers/producers of this film weren't trying to make any statement on statutory rape. They were merely trading on the fantasy life of young girls, who desperately want--especially at that age--to believe that there are "boys" in the world who care about their feelings, like "romance" (read: lit candles), and have interests that transcend jokes about bodily functions and--ahem--the sport of baseball. They know that they cannot find such boys in their own peer group, and most of them don't know anyone in their early/mid-20s, so they fantasize about those guys. To a 13 year old girl in the 80s, Jon Cryer, as presented in this fashion, is the perfect male type.

Now, I personally was never a Jon Cryer type of girl. I went for Charlie Sheen on top of a dryer in Lucas. And if you will indulge me--Jon Cryer (and Ralph Macchio and C. Thomas Howell) were all slightly feminized girly-pretty types of teen idols. (Even to the point of possibly reading queer.) These gentlemen are ESPECIALLY attractive to very young girls because they are not overly masculine. They are older enough to not be part of the girl's peer group, but not too old or manly to be MEN. They are, in short, not sexually threatening to young women. As I said, I was more the Charlie Sheen/Harrison Ford/don't mind manly-men type of child. I don't know what that says about me, and would rather not speculate. But watching young girls swoon over Robert Pattinson has made me rethink the whole issue of teen idoldom. He is right out of that JC/RM/CTH mold.

Um, and if I have gotten too far afield from the question, let me get back to it. Statutory rape is not an issue in the film because Cryer is not a sexual figure, but rather a romantic one. And he isn't a REAL romantic figure--only a physical manifestation of the mostly tame fantasies of young girls. The storyline was not ideological, but merely a way to sell tickets to a particular demographic.

Old Man Duggan said...

I am so glad you responded. That was exactly what I was hoping for. If every reader only had the dedication to discourse that you do...

The funny thing about girls wanting someone to romance them is that the ones who do are the ones who end up going all Lifetime Movie on them. Look at Rick on Degrassi. He was all of those things and ended up putting Teri in the hospital.

This all hits on a deep-seeded belief that I hold to be true that a man who does not follow at least one sport is a man that cannot be trusted. I fully intend to extrapolate on this in depth at some point.

KRD said...

Well, discourse is my bread and butter . . .

You may be right about the sports thing. But I do expect to see this issue more fully elaborated. Do you really mean ANY sport? Like, is a guy who follows, oh, I don't know, women's tennis, as trustworthy as a guy who follows football?

What about my dad, who follows Oregon boys high school basketball (seriously, the man takes a vacation to go to Eugene to watch the playoffs every year)? Is that as trustworthy as when a dude follows the NBA?

Turn off the baseball for 20 minutes and get on it.

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