Pretty in Pink is, on the surface, a love story between Andie and Blaine, with Duckie hanging out on the side like some sort of bolo-wearing third wheel. The thing is, as much as I love this movie (so much), I have to admit that Andie and Blaine are kind of boring.
If I had to describe Andie, I don’t know that I could. There aren’t many things she is; instead, she’s defined by what she isn’t. She isn’t cool. She isn’t rich. She isn’t dressed like the other girls. In essence, she’s every girl seeing this movie. If a girl was cool, rich, and well-dressed, she was probably at some cool, rich, well-dressed party, not watching Pretty in Pink. Andie is a blank slate of an outcast. By not being a defined character, she allows us to project our own inadequacies and desires onto the story.
And that’s where Blaine comes in. In the words of philosophers the Backstreet Boys, it doesn’t matter who he is, where he’s from, or what he did. Andie’s going to like him because he likes her. He’s reasonably nice, he has a killer smile, and he’s well-liked, but that’s not the point. The point is he’s pursuing her, and no one else has ever done that before. Do you remember the first guy who liked you? Really liked you? The first guy who asked you out, cared what you said, thought you were interesting and funny and smart? Do you remember how magical that seemed, that someone could like you, the weirdo, the loser, the strange one? Blaine isn’t a person, he’s a promise. He’s validation to Andie, in-the-flesh proof that a normal guy with a flawless smile can fall for her. She’s not so alone after all.
Duckie, however, is the opposite of Blaine. Not just a concept, he’s a fully realized character (although his sans-Andie troubled home life is only hinted at). He’s flamboyant, funny (his diatribe against the state of modern love songs in Andie’s car is so charmingly silly, it still makes me laugh), and overwhelmingly, heartbreakingly in love with Andie. You can buy a t-shirt bearing the slogan “I Would’ve Picked Duckie.” That’s how upset people still are over the perceived miscarriage of justice that is Andie and Blaine. And, to be certain, in high school I would’ve chosen Duckie as well. I still might. Wouldn’t it be good to be with a guy who makes no bones about the fact that he finds you simply fabulous? A guy who wants nothing more out of life than to admire you day after day after day? Pardon me if my insecurity is showing, but that’s kind of my fantasy.
I don’t think it’s Andie’s. While she’s ashamed of her poverty, she’s not ashamed of herself. She doesn’t find it unbelievable that Blaine would like her. I don’t think she wants or needs the 24/7 adoration that Duckie provides. What’s more, it’s clear that she’s just not into him romantically. She sighs at his messages, rolls her eyes when he talks, and kind of leads him on a bit (remember the neck petting scene when they’re studying in her room? Surely I can’t be the only who thought that was strange!). It’s all of this that makes Duckie’s climactic speech, right before Andie’s date with Blaine, all the more upsetting.
Duckie: He’s gonna use your ass and throw you away. God, I would have died for you! You can’t do this and respect yourself.
Andie: You’re saying that just because I’m going out with Blaine.
Duckie: Blaine? His name is Blaine? That’s…that’s a major appliance! That’s not a name!
Andie: Just because I’m going out with Blaine doesn’t mean I can’t be your friend. It doesn’t change how I feel about you.
Duckie: That’s very nice. I’m glad. Here’s the point, Andie. I’m not particularly concerned with whether or not you like me. ‘Cause I live to like you, and…I can’t like you any more.So when you get your heart splattered all over hell and you feel low, and dirty, don’t look to me to help pump you back up,’cause…’cause maybe for the first time
in your life, I won’t be there.
Of course he would’ve died for her. His devotion is so complete that I don’t think he’s being hyperbolic. As strongly as he feels, none of it matters. As much as she should’ve liked him, she didn’t.
I’m glad Andie ended up with Blaine at the end because it represents a high school fantasy far more romantic than ending up with someone you don’t love. Say what you will about Blaine, but when he emotionlessly mutters things like, “If I was in a Turkish prison, I’d have a great time with you,” or “Would you feel any better if I asked you to Prom?” or “I love you. Always,” I feel the exact same heart-flutterings I felt at 16. I mean, these are some adult things to say. As adorable as it is when Duckie says, “This is a really volcanic ensemble,” Blaine’s speaking like a man. A man who’s going after what he wants, which, ultimately, is pretty attractive to most women, whether they’re 17 or 27.
I think Andie and Blaine probably try to make it work after high school. He goes to Princeton or Yale, while she attends community college for a year so she can live at home and save money. He pays for her to fly out to see him on the weekends, but the strain gets to be too much and they break up. Andie eventually ends up at Emerson or NYU and meets a guy who runs an underground music zine. Things are weird with Duckie for awhile, but they’re friends for life. Blaine ends up marrying a lady named Barb. Oh, and Andie’s dad gets a job. FINALLY.