Thursday, February 11, 2010

Theater Thursday: The Breakfast Club

If you recall last year John Hughes, the brain behind many of the most memorable teen movies from the 80s passed away last year. One of his many gems was the film "The Breakfast Club" (which BTW is 25 years old this year so be on the lookout for some sort of special edition DVD/Blu Ray). It just so happens that it was on tv this past weekend so for the xth time I watched it.

While watching this movie I often find myself comparing my teenage years (mid to late 90s) to those of the teens depicted in the forms of the five kids spending that Saturday in detention. And just like past and future generations the usual characteristics of the teenager are present. Angst, rage, sadness, attitude, happiness, mischievousness, mixed emotions, etc... In fact I can even relate to or crossed paths with the five walks of life in that film.

The Brain: The one whose pursuit of dominance and perfection in academia takes precedence over all other things.

The Princess: The one whose designer clothes, expensive shoes, pampered existence, and entourage make up the center of their universe.

The Athlete: The one whose body is a finely tuned machine capable of great feats of strength speed and endurance.

The Basket Case: The one whose desire for a free life nurtures a mind free of conformity.

The Criminal: The one whose path to a simple life sometimes leads away from the law.

At the start of the movie those kids seemed to have everything figured out and knew exactly who they were and where they stood...until they all crossed paths and began to open their minds and their mouths.

The Brain: The pursuit of dominance and perfection in academia can push one to the edge and possibly have disastrous results.

The Princess: The largest most luxurious universe is nothing but a void if there is no real substance at the center of it.

The Athlete: The loss of one's will to speak up cannot be compensated by even the most finely tuned machine.

The Basket Case: The hottest of blazed trails can get very lonely when one has no company for the journey.

The Criminal: The one who lashes out against the law may be crying for help from something even more frightening.

Yes these teens were not perfect. They did not have everything figured out, hell they didn't even have themselves figured out. But anyway back to my point at hand.

While there is a lot that parallels between the teens of that time and teens of today and all in between, before, and after there is one thing that is quite right.

It's a bit dated.

Now don't get me wrong the feelings are still there and those five walks of life still roam the halls of many a high school today. However I think it is safe to say that there are several more walks of life roaming, have roamed, and will roam the halls of high school.

From the get go just about any people that has seen this film and specifically familiar with John Hughes material have surely seen how white his images of 80s teen life were. Now I would not say that he was trying to be overtly racist as if trying to push the point that people of color should not be in school or anything like that but more like racist by omission. I wasn't a teen until about 10 years after this film was made but I'm sure there were blacks, latinos, asians, etc... in American high schools in 1985 (same goes to you Back To The Future, another film that turns 25 this year and another possible special anniversary DVD/Blu Ray) yet Hughes did not include them. So from this mention of race I lead into the question of this entry.

If The Breakfast Club were to be filmed today, how would you cast it?

Now just so we are clear this is not about who would you put in place of Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, and the others (but feel free to give names with your answers) but who would you put in the film for examination in place of/in addition to the brain, the princess, the athlete, the basket case, and the criminal.

With the way our population and culture have changed so much in the last 25 years there is no way that those five simple examples can fully encompass today's teenage life. Hell they weren't exactly all inclusive back then either.

Now you're probably thinking, "But Danny there is no way you can give an accurate examination of the various walks of teenage life in a 2 hour movie." Correct. There is no way to include them all but there is one way to fit in more than just the five Hughes used 25 years ago.

Intersectionality.

Yes just as with adults teens are made up of several characteristics that each have their own affect on the individual they are a part of. Hell if I were a character in that movie I'd be bringing my baggage as a fat/black/gamer/brain/outcast/male to detention that day.

So how about you reader? What baggage would you bring to detention that day?
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