This space seems to be turning into the obits section. The 2009 Celebocalypse rolls on with the passing of ’80s film director John Hughes. The man who was responsible for films such as Weird Science and Sixteen Candles passed away from a heart attack at the age of 59. He died while walking in Manhattan, visiting his family. He leaves behind a wife, two children and four granchildren—and of course a horde of 30-something suburban white people who could tell you which of Hughes’ films totally changed their lives.
This is where I tell you which Hughes film totally changed my life. Mia Sara in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Kelly LeBrock in Weird Science were responsible for some of my earliest boners, something I will always cherish. But, as much as I love those two films (boner-inducing or otherwise), my heart will forever remain locked in the library along with the members of The Breakfast Club.
There is nothing exceptional about The Breakfast Club. No one would ever confuse Anthony Michael Hall with Sir Lawrence Olivier; and Molly Ringwald sure ain’t Meryl Streep. The whole film is a series of short monologues that are designed to dig deep into the psyche of each character. The only problem is, once you reach full depth, you realize you’re not all that far from the surface. Also, I always thought of Judd Nelson as a bit of a douche.
Perhaps it’s the mediocrity of the whole thing that makes it so amazing. In fact, perhaps this sort of ordinariness is what Hughes was striving for. These blasÃƒÂ© conversations could have been happening in any number of libraries, in any number of small town schools, among any number of pigeonholed white teenagers locked away in weekend detention.
Weekend detention. Could you imagine a worse thing happening to you when you were 16? If you can’t, then you’re probably a fan of Hughes’ films—or should at least check them out right away. The Breakfast Club isn’t a movie for people with real problems. It’s for people who are so privileged, they have to create their own problems, which is something I can fully relate to.
I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m trying to burn a dead man. I really do love Hughes’ movies, but I also see them for what they are. They told stories of people who were snugly nestled in America’s mainstream, and reaped all those benefits, and still felt guilty about it. They contained characters who sought desperately to rebel in a time when there was really nothing to rebel against. Sure, Reagan was a semi-fascist cowboy prick, but everyone (read: middle class white people) was still able to have stay-at-home moms, two cars in every garage and steak on the table at least twice a week.
In The Breakfast Club, Hughes was able to distill this rebel without a cause sentiment into an extremely entertaining and memorable film. The same sort of bourgeois bile would later be mixed with heroin, get flushed through a hypodermic syringe, don flannel and become Kurt Cobain—another figure in pop culture who had a huge affect on my life.
The weird thing is—and this is where I have a confession to make—I hadn’t actually seen The Breakfast Club the whole way through until I was well into my 20s and had just about burned through what was left of my teenaged angst. Still, even though it was long after the sting of my high school awkwardness had faded, The Breakfast Club really put things in perspective, like how glad I was that that time in my life was in the rearview mirror.