Molly Ringwald watched 'The Breakfast Club' with her daughter. Her thoughts were epic.

Molly Ringwald was basically the face of my adolescent years.

I was 10 years old when “The Breakfast Club” came out, and by the time I graduated from high school, I’d probably seen the film a dozen times.

“Pretty in Pink” was one of my go-to sleepover flicks with my girlfriends, to the point that we wore out our VHS copy of it (here's an explainer about VHS, for you young'uns).


GIF from "Pretty in Pink"/Paramount Pictures.

John Hughes' films served as both a mirror and a map of the turbulent teen years for my generation. Many of us saw ourselves in his quirky, awkward characters and appreciated teen life being portrayed at least somewhat realistically.

But 30-something years later, as a full-on adult, the mother of two adolescent girls, and a human being in the age of #MeToo, I'm starting to view those movies through a different lens.

As it turns out, so is Molly Ringwald. She shared her thoughts on her roles in iconic '80s films in an essay published in the New Yorker, and it was epic.

After Ringwald watched “The Breakfast Club” with her tween daughter, she couldn’t get the sexual harassment scenes out of her head.

In the film, Ringwald plays the role of Claire, the popular girl. In her essay, she opens up about how a scene where Judd Nelson’s character, Bender, hides under Claire’s desk and looks under her skirt — and then presumably touches her inappropriately.

GIF from "The Breakfast Club"/A&M Films.

She also shared how some scenes from her other Hughes movies now strike her as "troubling":

“There is still so much that I love in them, but lately I have felt the need to examine the role that these movies have played in our cultural life: where they came from, and what they might mean now. When my daughter proposed watching “The Breakfast Club” together, I had hesitated, not knowing how she would react: if she would understand the film or if she would even like it. I worried that she would find aspects of it troubling, but I hadn’t anticipated that it would ultimately be most troubling to me.”

As an example from “Sixteen Candles,” Ringwald points out how “the dreamboat, Jake, essentially trades his drunk girlfriend, Caroline, to the Geek, to satisfy the latter’s sexual urges, in return for Samantha’s underwear.”

Yeah. Eek.

GIF from "Sixteen Candles."

In the age of #MeToo, many of Hughes’ storylines come across as normalizing unhealthy sexual dynamics at best and condoning flat-out misogyny at worst.

Perhaps Hughes was simply a product of his time. But that doesn’t make his films immune to scrutiny.

As Ringwald points out, one of the major issues with Bender and Claire’s storyline in “The Breakfast Club” is that Bender basically verbally abuses Claire throughout the film, calling her names, yelling at her, intimidating her — in addition to sexually harassing her.

GIF from "The Breakfast Club"/A&M Films.

And yet, in the end, he still gets the girl.

What message does that convey to young audiences? That depends on who you ask, but reading through Ringwald’s essay, Hughes appears to have had quite a history of misogynistic expression — far deeper and darker than the teen movie scenes we’re talking about and far more than what we might expect for a "product of his time."

“It’s hard for me to understand how John was able to write with so much sensitivity,” Ringwald wrote, “and also have such a glaring blind spot.”

GIF from "The Breakfast Club"/A&M Films.

I think she was being kind. Seriously, if you’re feeling protective of your favorite teen film or defensive on Hughes’ behalf, read her essay in full. It's an eye-opener.

Ringwald’s mixed feelings about her films reflect the tension we all feel when we realize things we love are also problematic.

“I’m not thinking about the man right now but of the films that he left behind," Ringwald wrote. "Films that I am proud of in so many ways. Films that, like his earlier writing, though to a much lesser extent, could also be considered racist, misogynistic, and, at times, homophobic.”

"The Breakfast Club" actors Antony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald, and Paul Gleason accepting a Silver Bucket of Excellence Award at the 2005 MTV Movie Awards. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

In the simplistic narratives that define our age, that last sentence alone might be enough for many to abandon Hughes’ films altogether.

But, as Ringwald points out, it’s not that simple. She has heard from countless fans over the years that Hughes’ films helped them feel less alone as teens. She shared a story of a black, gay man who told her that “The Breakfast Club” saved his life. He said the film showed him “that there were other people like me who were struggling with their identities."

As much as we might want to make it so, this is not an easily defined issue.

Ultimately, Molly Ringwald reminds us that our views on art and culture should be ever-evolving.

It’s easy to brush off "troubling" elements of music, film, art, and other creative works as products of their time. But we need to remain aware of how ongoing enjoyment of such works affects our culture as well as our subconscious.

Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy at "The Breakfast Club" 30th Anniversary Restoration at SXSW in 2015. Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images.

Toxic ideas about women, race, sexuality, and other identity elements are always toxic, even if we don’t recognize them as such at the time. And when we do recognize those things in hindsight, it's important to give them the analysis they are due.

The good news is that we are recognizing and analyzing those things as a smarter and more sensitive society. That's progress.

We can still enjoy a film like “The Breakfast Club" — we just need to be honest about its flaws. And I, for one, am really glad Molly Ringwald was the one to go there.

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Judy Vaughan has spent most of her life helping other women, first as the director of House of Ruth, a safe haven for homeless families in East Los Angeles, and later as the Project Coordinator for Women for Guatemala, a solidarity organization committed to raising awareness about human rights abuses.

But in 1996, she decided to take things a step further. A house became available in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and she was offered the opportunity to use it to help other women and children. So, in partnership with a group of 13 people who she knew from her years of activism, she decided to make it a transitional residence program for homeless women and their children. They called the program Alexandria House.

"I had learned from House of Ruth that families who are homeless are often isolated from the surrounding community," Judy says. "So we decided that as part of our mission, we would also be a neighborhood center and offer a number of resources and programs, including an after-school program and ESL classes."

She also decided that, unlike many other shelters in Los Angeles, she would accept mothers with their teenage boys.

"There are very few in Los Angeles [that do] due to what are considered liability issues," Judy explains. "Given the fact that there are (conservatively) 56,000 homeless people and only about 11,000 shelter beds on any one night, agencies can be selective on who they take."

Their Board of Directors had already determined that they should take families that would have difficulties finding a place. Some of these challenges include families with more than two children, immigrant families without legal documents, moms who are pregnant with other small children, families with a member who has a disability [and] families with service dogs.

"Being separated from your son or sons, especially in the early teen years, just adds to the stress that moms who are unhoused are already experiencing," Judy says.

"We were determined to offer women with teenage boys another choice."

Courtesy of Judy Vaughan

Alexandria House also doesn't kick boys out when they turn 18. For example, Judy says they currently have a mom with two daughters (21 and 2) and a son who just turned 18. The family had struggled to find a shelter that would take them all together, and once they found Alexandria House, they worried the boy would be kicked out on his 18th birthday. But, says Judy, "we were not going to ask him to leave because of his age."

Homelessness is a big issue in Los Angeles. "[It] is considered the homeless capital of the United States," Judy says. "The numbers have not changed significantly since 1984 when I was working at the House of Ruth." The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), over 66,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area were experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a rise of 12.7% compared with the year before.

Each woman who comes to Alexandria House has her own unique story, but some common reasons for ending up homeless include fleeing from a domestic violence or human trafficking situation, aging out of foster care and having no place to go, being priced out of an apartment, losing a job, or experiencing a family emergency with no 'cushion' to pay the rent.

"Homelessness is not a definition; it is a situation that a person finds themselves in, and in fact, it can happen to almost anyone. There are many practices and policies that make it almost impossible to break out of poverty and move out of homelessness."

And that's why Alexandria House exists: to help them move out of it. How long that takes depends on the woman, but according to Judy, families stay an average of 10 months. During that time, the women meet with support staff to identify needs and goals and put a plan of action in place.

A number of services are provided, including free childcare, programs and mentoring for school-age children, free mental health counseling, financial literacy classes and a savings program. They have also started Step Up Sisterhood LA, an entrepreneurial program to support women's dreams of starting their own businesses. "We serve as a support system for as long as a family would like," Judy says, even after they have moved on.

And so far, the program is a resounding success.

92 percent of the 200 families who stayed at Alexandria House have found financial stability and permanent housing — not becoming homeless again.

Since founding Alexandria House 25 years ago, Judy has never lost sight of her mission to join with others and create a vision of a more just society and community. That is why she is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year — and the donation she receives as a nominee will go to Alexandria House and will help grow the new Start-up Sisterhood LA program.

"Alexandria House is such an important part of my life," says Judy. "It has been amazing to watch the children grow up and the moms recreate their lives for themselves and for their families. I have witnessed resiliency, courage, and heroic acts of generosity."

via Wikimedia Commons and Goalsetter

America's ethnic wealth gap is a multi-faceted problem that would take dramatic action, on multiple fronts, to overcome. One of the ways to help communities improve their economic well-being is through financial literacy.

Investopedia says there are five primary sources of financial education—families, high school, college, employers, and the military — and that education and household income are two of the biggest factors in predicting whether someone has a high level of financial literacy.

New Orleans Saints safety, two-time Super Bowl Champion, and social justice activist Malcolm Jenkins and The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation hope to help bridge the wealth gap by teaching students about investing at a young age.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.