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Peer Groups in Pretty in Pink Essay

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Updated: Jan 22nd, 2022

One cannot imagine an adolescent’s life without contact with their peers. School, part-time job, walks, concerts, cafes, parties, and other typical pursuits provide opportunities to meet persons of the same age. Young people tend to spend more time together: “adolescents’ moods are most positive when they are with their friends” (Steinberg 166). However, communication with peers does not always bring satisfaction, and conflicts and loneliness are probable. The complexity of young people’s relationships is shown in the film Pretty in Pink. Set in the 1980s, it features the most significant issues for every adolescent—love, and friendship—and explores how young people find a niche for themselves in terms of social interaction. In some aspects, the film substantiates research results on peer relationships and provides examples of age segregation, cliques, popularity, and rejection.

First and foremost, contemporary Western society is notable for the unprecedented age segregation rooted in its structure that prescribes age differentiation as the cornerstone of schooling, work, and other institutions (Steinberg 167). A schoolchild is unlikely to have friends among those who are considerably older or younger. This is not the case for Andie Walsh, the main character. A senior student, she does not seem to be a good mixer. Her social network is limited to her partially unemployed father; an eccentric best friend Duckie, who is secretly in love with Andie; and Iona, her friend and mentor at work, and as events unfold, Andie falls in love with her schoolmate Blane. In other words, she looks beyond the traditional adolescents’ perception of friendship and contact with persons in different age groups. In contrast, Andie’s classmates exemplify age segregation: Benny, Steff, and their “Richie” friends spend time together without adults or younger friends (Pretty in Pink).

Another important aspect of peer relationships concerns cliques. Such groups are small (two to twelve persons) and normally embrace individuals of the same age and sex; similarity among members of cliques is also based on social status, ethnicity, and interests (Steinberg 175). It is hardly possible to overestimate the value of cliques. Adolescents not only share views or engage in common activities but also find emotional support and facilitate intimacy. It is argued that girls are more often in cliques than boys (Steinberg 178). In Pretty in Pink, Andie has become the linchpin for two atypical cliques. Blane and Andie do not know each other as best friends do. Thus, only Iona and Duckie will be considered.

From the beginning of the film, Iona and Andie get along well. One may suppose they are of the same social status, as they work together. Despite the age gap, they often have heart-to-heart talks and encourage each other. For example, Iona confides to the younger girl memories about her prom and presents Andie with her pink dress that was so precious to her. Further, it is Iona to whom Andie comes after Blane’s betrayal. Theirs is a picture of a deep friendship.

As the plot unfolds, Andie manages to build a genuinely good relationship with Duckie, although they belong to different sexes. Their friendship was initially based on the fact that both of them were bullied at school. What was in the past may be called a semi-clique, because only Duckie was interested in Andie and expressed this fact awkwardly, for example, calling her “my girlfriend” (Pretty in Pink). Later on, they shifted from the unconscious alliance of withdrawn-rejected students to real friendship: At the prom, Andie finally begins to value her friend’s feelings, while Duckie understands Andie. Thus, boys are also in cliques, but it is more difficult for them to achieve it.

Unlike the cliques, the popularity and rejection matters shown in the film are more correlated with traditional views and research findings. Social skills are the foundation of popularity. Those who cannot communicate in an appropriate way are rejected; in addition, girls more often exclude others from social activities (Steinberg 193). Both Andie and Duckie have failed to gain sociometric and perceived popularity; they are not liked by peers and have no prestige among them. Andie is harassed, for example, during her classes: Benny and other rich girls are the assaulters. As might be predicted, Andie experiences low self-esteem and manages to hurdle obstacles with friends’ help (Steinberg, 194). The same is true about Duckie: When his only friend leaves him, he isolates himself and stays in his room. Only making peace with Andie at the end of the film helps him.

In conclusion, peer groups are significant for any adolescent, but their relationships may be expressed in different ways. In Pretty in Pink, the rich students, such as Benny and Steff, are typical: They spend time with their peers and form their group with reference to their social class. On the other hand, Andie’s and Duckie’s cases are unusual: Their cliques include people of different sexes and ages. Just as an adolescent might, they seek understanding and friendship. However, the way they turn their dreams into reality is not typical: They do not select people of a certain class or age but try to be honest and take notice of uniqueness and personality.

References

Pretty in Pink. Dir. John Hughes. Los Angeles: Paramount Catalog, 2013. DVD.

Steinberg, Laurence D. Adolescence. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010. Print.

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