Whatever Happened to Ilan Mitchell-Smith?

There’s a good chance that once you remember who Ilan Mitchell-Smith is that you’re going to remember him for one movie and one movie only since Weird Science was where he really stood out and it’s still one of the many movies that people remember to this day. It’s also one of the greatest for its content, which likely would see it banned thanks to some of the more racy elements, and because it was also a movie in which Bill Paxton was seen to play one of his most memorable characters. One could say that Ilan kind of came and went when it came to the level of fame that he enjoyed since he didn’t last all that long and he didn’t really top his performance in Weird Science ever again. He hung in there until around 1991 and has even had a few gigs since then, but for the most part he’s been retired and doing more writing than anything. For a guy whose initial passion was ballet Ilan jumped into acting pretty quickly when he was discovered, starting at the age of 12 as he went on to become one of the products of the 80s even though he didn’t go much further. These days he’s still fairly easy to find but it’s more likely that people are going to be less likely to remember him by his real name and more likely to recall the time he and Anthony Michael Hall played two lovable nerds that decided to create their own woman using a computer program.

If we counted up all the actors that started in the 80s and divided that number into who went on to become famous and who went on to bow out of the business and do their own thing after a while it’s likely that the latter number would keep climbing for a while even if the former is destined to be pretty high as well. A lot of actors that started decades ago have either seen their fame hit a continual downward slope or have stayed in by doing bit parts that don’t afford them much notice but at least keep them in the life. Others did their part, tried it out for a while, and then moved on either because the fame never really came or it peaked quickly and then the bottom dropped out and they never really did anything of significance again. That sounds harsh to say really but it’s the unfortunate truth in the case of some individuals since their best moments on screen came at a young age or during a movie or show that was particularly hot at the time.

Ilan definitely got in on a great movie when he could, but the truth is that Weird Science likely wouldn’t be made in this day and age, at least not in its original form. Given how much sexuality was evident in the movie and how it was used it’s easy to think that many would call the movie misogynistic and even sexist in a big way since it objectified women at several turns. The funny thing about that is the fact that Lisa was actually a lot more forceful and much more forward than people tend to remember. So yes, she was ‘created’ by young men that were thinking with their hormones and little else, but upon being created she eventually took charge since the two that had created her wouldn’t. There are still a lot of elements to the movie that would strike a sour chord with a lot of viewers today, but given how the movie eventually went and the outcome that came about at the end, it’s fair to say that Weird Science was just as empowering as it was sexist. That’s an odd statement to be certain but it’s one that definitely resonates with a lot of truth since the female lead wasn’t a brainless bimbo that did the bidding of her horny creators, but an intelligent being that made her own decisions and did her best to encourage them to be better men, the kind of men she knew they could be. Barry Wurst II of Maui Watch might agree with this sentiment hopefully. That alone is reason enough to say that Ilan was in on something that was dubious in a way but still great and ahead of its time since it was a big move forward for women in a very positive manner.

There are likely a lot of people that will think I’m crazy for such a view, but if you watch the movie front to back and pay attention to more than just the sexist and negative moments you’ll be able to see just where the movie turns itself on its head and becomes a positive and very empowering story. As for Ilan, it’d be nice to say that he went on to fame and fortune afterwards, but at this point it does sound as though he’s pretty happy where he’s at.

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