Friday, August 7, 2009

I don't think we will forget but just in case...

As I'm sure you know John Hughes, the man behind many of the most memorable (if not profitable) films of the 80s passed away this week from a heart attack at the age of 59.

Probably his most important film was "The Breakfast Club". This movie gave a big screen confirmation that the things that teenagers go through are perfectly normal and not cause for alarm. But I wonder if I'm the only one that noticed something.

The vast overwhelming majority of his characters were white. Even though Hughes did an excellent job of featuring teens from various walks of life (as possibly best displayed in "The Breakfast Club") they were mostly white. Now this is not me attacking him and his selection of cast but I think it is very much worth looking at. And I say this because despite this his characters portrayed many of the things that teens of many races, colors, and genders (well not gender because his material was very much steeped in the male/female dynamic as was nearly all media at that time) experienced even if he didn't always add particular racial, gender, and/or other variations to the mix. Perhaps it was because he touched on basic issues that nearly all teens face despite other factors that his movies and characters will be so fondly remembered.

The princess - The girl that has the world at her fingertips and with such a rich economic background there's nothing she could possibly be wanting for...right? To me this was probably the first example of a upper class person who was actually presented as not perfect. Oh she tried to keep up appearances throughout the movie but we got to see that her world was not the utopia we were led to believe it to be.

The jock - The strong and forceful boy that has the strength and brawn to plow a path through any situation...except for how to deal with the constant pressure of parents that push him into sports and a school that only measures his value as a student and person by how well he performs in athletics. The jock had his image in place and would protect it with brute force rather than the off-putting smug arrogance of the princess. But in the end it comes to light that perhaps that he does not wish to live the life that is being pushed on him.

The brain - The intellectual powerhouse that has more brain power than the other four kids combined. A good student and obedient son that never gets out of line and always keeps his cool. "A parent's wet dream." Well until he is under so much pressure to be the smart kid because he is not good at anything else the slightest blemish on the report card can trigger the desire to kill.

The criminal - Tough exterior. Sharp tongue. Major attitude. In short a badass delinquent that no one cares about or believes in and he would like for it to stay that way...because it saves him the trouble, shame, and embarrassment of having other people know about him. He doesn't want people to know that he comes from a broken home. He doesn't want people to know that he comes from a poor home. He doesn't want people to know that he comes from an abusive home. And while pushing people away people can be an easy way to save oneself pain it can become very tiresome over time and letting people in can be so refreshing and freeing.

The basket case - The oddball that no one associates with. How can anyone like a weirdo like that? If only she would act normal maybe people would want to befriend her. Maybe in her mind and word she is not the oddball. Perhaps they are the weirdos not her. If those normal people would only put some actual effort into getting to know her (and not waiting until after a quick makeover from a princess) they would realize that she is just as human as anyone else.

I'm sure the vast majority of past, present, and future can identify with at least one (or more than one for instance I was about 75% Brain/25% Basket Case)Its characters like these that let them know that the problems they face, the issues they haunt them, and pain that they feel are not some unique and isolated event that was only happening to them. No the characters and movies of John Hughes told us that we are not alone and such things were normal.

Don't worry John we won't forget about you but just in case anyone needs a reminder that the princesses, the brains, the jocks, the criminals, the basket cases, and other types out there are not freaks and will be okay I offer this: