Mortifying Movie Moments: Barbarella Edition

It's a fantastic movie poster. Better than the movie, really.

I read this Moviefone blog entry about Embarrassing Movie Moments with Mom recently, and it brought back – in horrifying clarity – the time I watched Barbarella with my Dad.   It must have been 1985, so I was around 15 and obsessed with Duran Duran.  And I don’t use obsessed lightly.  So naturally (and true Fab Five fans know where this is going already), I had to watch Barbarella because in a teen fan magazine (Teen Beat, maybe?) Simon LeBon had said the band name was from the villain in Barbarella – Durand Durand.  (Pronounced Dyurahnd Dyurahnd – yes, I obtained the audio and practiced saying it “correctly.”  I told you I don’t use obsessed lightly.)

Anyway, Barbarella must have been on television or something because we didn’t have cable. (I watched videos on V66 back then!)  The 80’s were big on showing campy films like Flash Gordon and Love at First Bite, which I also loved (enough to shave my eyebrows).  It was probably on late, which meant past 9 PM in my parents’ strict household, and I probably begged to be able to stay up and see it.  Somehow, it ended up that my father was sitting next to me on the couch as Jane Fonda started a strip tease during the opening credits.  I can almost hear my Dad saying, “Well, that is not very realistic.  The space suits can’t withstand pressure with velcro closures.”  (He’s a scientist who sent solar cells into space, so he knows.)  But really, even as a naive-in-many-but-not-all-things 15-year-old, I should have said something along the lines of: “This movie looks disgusting!  I’m going upstairs to read Catch-22!”

I dyed my hair to mimic John Taylor's. What? Didn't you?

But of course, there was the pesky obsession involving Duran Duran and their name.  So I stayed.  And so did my Dad.

We shared a comfortable if tacit agreement not to acknowledge any questionable issues of a sexual nature in the film.  And it worked pretty well.  Until the scene with the Excessive Machine, also called the Orgasmatron.  Haven’t heard of it?

Here you go.

Did you watch?  Can you imagine being 15 and watching that with your parent?  About half-way through, when most of Barbarella’s clothing had been mechanically removed and it was clear she was gaining the upper-hand, I turned to my dad and said something smarmy about her clothes not staying on or “This scene doesn’t look too realistic either” – heh, heh.  Dad accepted the attempt at a joke, briefly acknowledged the weirdness of the situation, and then made it possible for us to keep watching together by telling me that there was no way he sat through this “schrecklicher film” without knowing how it ended.  The ending was as campy as the rest of the movie, but it gave us the idea of how to deal with the evening:  An Angel has no Memory.  We never spoke of it again.

Have you had any mortifying movie moments with your parents?

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Adjusting to car culture, dealing with leaving a career I loved, and spouting off along the way. #RESIST
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55 Responses to Mortifying Movie Moments: Barbarella Edition

  1. commutefromhell says:

    I’m the parent of a 16-year old boy. When he was about 13 or 14, my husband and I were watching “Juno” with him. The very first scene is where Juno and her love interest have sex on the chair. It wasn’t a graphic scene, but definitely caught us off guard! My husband just gave me the “side eye” and like all good parents, we just ignored it and kept on watching the movie!

    • I can see how that scene would catch you off guard because the main character is so matter-of-fact about it. It sounds like I wasn’t alone with the “ignoring it is the best course of action” tact.

  2. commutefromhell says:

    Oh and BTW, I too lived for Dhyuran Dhyuran! My BFF had a crush on John Taylor so I had to have my crush in Nick Rhodes!

  3. I started off in love with Roger, but soon moved on to Simon. I even brought a tiny teddy bear -that I had dressed in a hand-made tux – to a concert to throw on stage. It’s stuff like that that kept me from smirking and eye-rolling too much when my high school students did silly things too. 🙂

  4. Pingback: Tell Me About Your Father | This Weblog is Unique. Just Like They All Are.

  5. OMG I can’t believe you watched that with your dad!!! I can’t remember any mortifying movie moments with my parents – I’ve probably blocked them out, haha!

  6. Hilarious! I had a similar experience watching “Blue Velvet” with my dad – which he had checked out of our local library and we watched on our VCR. Neither one of us had any idea what we were in store for. I don’t think either one of us moved a muscle or eyes off the screen so that we never acknowledged the weirdness of what we were watching. When it ended, we just took the tape out and never said a word!

  7. I watched the clip as believe it or not I’ve never seen the film. Funny. And the bad guy says, have you no shame? Huh? He’s the one who had her trapped. Mortifying it would be to watch that with your dad. As I rarely spoke to my parents when I was in my teens I don’t have any moment to compare that to. But I enjoyed this. I can imagine it. Nicely told.

  8. Susannah says:

    Good gravy, that is funny. I watched “Woodstock” with my daddy and I know he got uncomfortable with the “Do not take the acid! The acid is bad!” scene because I asked him what acid was. I thought those people were licking batteries or something. He removed himself from explaining drug references to a 7 year old and went outside to have a beer.

  9. Hahaha OmG I am not even going to go into the mortifying movie experiences with my dad. Eww. But yours made me laugh!

  10. Mayor Gia says:

    Ohhhh soooo awkward! My mom keeps saying she wants to watch “Love and Other Drugs” cuz my sis owns it. Um, not with me, mom.

  11. So funny!! I went to see Borat with my dad……um there’s just a lot of inappropriate stuff in that movie…….

  12. I remember watching Uncle Buck with my grandfather and having a few moments where I got up to use the bathroom. I can remember saying, “Oh, no need to pause it, I’m fine.” HAHAHAH! Great story!

  13. Erica M says:

    There were two Forrest Whitaker movies out at the same time and I thought I was taking my dad to see one, when we were actually seeing the other and the other turned out to be The Crying Game. Yeah, and, uh, um.

  14. Oh, gosh yes!! Just recently, I watched a movie called Dirty Girl with my Daddy. Sex scenes and sex talk galore! I wish I could say that at 29 years old I’ve passed that stage of awkward embarrassment with my Dad…but nope, it’s still there. Apparently, that’s something that just doesn’t go away.

  15. Stacey says:

    I’m pretty sure My 15 year old self would have died of embarrassment right there. You were obviously a HUGE Duran Duran fan! LOVE your Dad’s scientific take! Snort!

  16. I can’t recall an awkward movie moment, but there are awkward tv moments all the time now. You never know when a sitcom is gonna burst into sex talk, so it can happen pretty often. If it gets too bad, we usually do turn the channel instead of trying to continue to sit through it in silence.

  17. Just the beginning of this had me feeling all squirmy and uncomfortable. My (now husband) boyfriend and I saw Jerry Maguire in the theater with HIS PARENTS. Needless to say the beginning sex scene was MORTIFYING!!!!!

  18. raisingivy says:

    Like some of your other readers, I may have blocked out a mortifying experience or two. Enjoyed reading about yours, though, especially your father’s scientific view of the Velcro’d space suit!

  19. Delilah says:

    Oh Lordy. That is hysterical. I would’ve died. The only thing my dad and I watched together was MASH and that was just because he was sitting on the remote and I was too scared to try and find it. Haha!

  20. I’ve never seen that movie, but now I kind of want to! My mother and I accidentally watched an episode of Real Sex on HBO one night. That was weird. Does that count?

    • It’s complete cheese ball joy, this movie. But it’s shockingly modern in some ways. Not in special effects. If you didn’t click on the last link…that will give you an idea. It’s WEIRD!

  21. Susan says:

    i would hide my head in the couch pillows when i even saw someone kissing on tv, so OHMYGOD I feel you. i snuck down to a friend’s house to watch top gun because, even though i really had no idea what was happening in the “sex” scene, i couldn’t imagine watching it with my parents. and when my mom tried to have a sex talk with me, i about hyperventilated in the car. and then… i went to college.

  22. dadofthedecade says:

    It is entirely and completely unfair to start a post with the poster of Barbarella. All thoughts turn to the…artistic…nature of the film, and one can’t concentrate on the post!

  23. Awkward with a capital A. I do love jane Fonda though in all of her angsty, overeager, hot messiness!! Erin

  24. wilyguy says:

    Loved the post, I’ve watched an American Pie movie with my son…. Yeah it was weird

  25. Yeah…I watched the first 2 episodes of Sex in the City with my mother. We never speak of it, and we never watched it together again. It’s the true definition of uncomfortable. LOL

  26. I used to watch movies with my parents and then make awkward jokes or go to the bathroom when things got too intense. I’m pretty sure I was more of a prude than my parents.

  27. Some terrible movie with Keanu Reeves and maybe CHarlize Theron, in which he sells his soul to the devil for some law firm job? I don’t know but I saw it in the movie theater sitting next to my father in law, a man who would be happiest if bodies were just not so…fleshy. And at some point the pretty girl int eh movie started having a WHOLE LOT OF SEX on the floor of her apartment with someone – maybe the devil? I don’t know. Terrible movie but mostly I remember my FIL basically wincing through the entire thing… ugh.
    Your post makes me laugh, I have to say – especially b/c at this point, Barbarella seems tame by comparison…

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