Saturday, August 08, 2009

The one who insists he was first in the line is the last to remember her name

JJV, of all people, has beaten me to the punch on John Hughes, although I suspect he jumped at the opportunity to name-drop Ben Stein.

The standard approach of the obits I have read is that he "tapped into the teen zeitgeist" etc. in films like Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club, while I guess there's no polite way to say "he also crapped out the Home Alone movies."

My relationship with the earlier Hughes films (never saw Home Alone except part of it, entirely by accident and I want those 30 minutes back) developed over time. At first I thought they were great, as they portrayed nerds and geeks (i.e., me in high school) in at least a superficially positive light. Later on, after watching them again from time to time, I realized just how repulsive the underlying message of these films is, particularly Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club. The message: "Sure, you're an outcast now, but there's always the chance you could be part of the in crowd, and wouldn't that be awesome?" Strip away the Simple Minds song and the other '80s faves*, strip away the great supporting work by John Cusack et al. ("Black and white would really capture the moment..."), and that is all that is left.

Yes, he did capture the angst of the teenager, but his paeans to conformity and the status quo wasted a tremendous opportunity. Oh, and Ferris Bueller really is a jerk. Danke Schoen, but no Danke Schoen.

*Speaking of which, the redo of "Pretty in Pink" was a crime.


Anonymous said...

My opinion can be best stated as Save Ferris.

With apologies re. the small viewing window.


Anonymous said...

I also think your construction of "The Breakfast Club" is off. The message was that you should look beyond the stereotype to see the person underneath, where we all have similar problems, concerns, and vulnerabilities. That goes for the geeks/nerds and for the jock, the troubled youth, and the first round prom queen (inexplicably cast to Molly Ringwald, but she knew the director). Ally Sheedy was and remained an inscrutible outcast.

I hate to consign you to this Hobson's choice, Dave, but you have either to take my word for it or to watch "The Breakfast Club" again.


Dave S. said...


I agree with you on the "person underneath" approach. However, to me the "problems, concerns and vulnerabilities" were similar in their focus on achieving membership in the in crowd.

J. said...

Wait, there was a re-do of "Pretty in Pink"?

And I loved Ferris Bueller back in the day, even though I was totally Cameron (or maybe because I was).

Dave S. said...

Yes, the Psychedelic Furs re-recorded the song for the movie, filing its edges smooth with disastrous results.

As regards Cameron, I honestly think there are more constructive ways for an erstwhile best friend to help a kid stand up to his irrational father. Had Cameron rightly stood up to Ferris and refused to go along with the car-stealing, that would have built some character right there.

J. said...

Oh, I thought you meant someone re-did the whole movie.

And had Cameron stood up to Ferris, there would have been no movie. (I am always standing up to the Ferris Buellers, which is why I have no fun and no friends and no movie about me.)

JWT said...

In my graduating class of 69 souls, in America's corn basket, where trends are a bit slow to arrive, there were but two dominant groups. One was the standard issue Jock group. The other had more of a "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" or "Cheech & Chong" mojo (hereinafter, the Stoners). With everyone crowding into these groups, I fell into a gray, Miscellaneous group. There was an occasional migration of a person or two from the Miscellanies to the Jocks or Stoners, but it was mostly a stable group that lacked one identity. It was only when I got to college that I learned that my natural classification was Intellectual Inebriate, and I've never looked back.

EMM said...

I was blissfully in the middle in HS and had a nice mix of smart and funny kids as my friends. Of course my HS had the jocks, stoners, et. al., but w/in my group, we had no extremes.

I was not coordinated enough to be a cheerleader but did date a low key guy who played football, basketball and baseball. We dated for years and were voted "class couple" (probably because we were not as obnoxius or loud as the jock/cheerleader combinations).

I'm w/ J in that I loved Ferris...I'm w/ Dave S. in that the original Pretty in Pink was better.

Cap'n Crunch sandwich anyone?

judd said...

Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?

Dave S. said...

Conversing through blog comments is social. Pathetic and sad, but social.

MLR said...

Chris Sulavik (Hamilton '87) ruined Ferris Bueller for me and Kanchalee Reeves (f/k/a/ Svetvilas) by immediately pointing out that it wrongly supported skipping school. I hated Bueller ever since as a slacker rather than as a guy who has fun. And he bullied Cameron into borrowing the car.