Better a Witty Fool than a Foolish Wit

Inner Workings of My Twisted Mind.

Life Moves Pretty Fast. If You Don’t Stop and Look Around Once in a While You Might Miss It.

So I’ve been reading this book called Don’t You Forget About Me.
Basically, it’s contemporary writers talking about how the movies of
John Hughes changed their lives.  When I saw it at the bookstore, I
totally freaked out.  I mean, John Hughes movies defined much of my
youth and now these people, who are no doubt, more eloquent and
thoughtful that I am are writing about John Hughes.  I bought it right
away and got to reading.  I was about five essays in when I
realized…I can write a better essay about John Hughes than this.
They were all superficial, save one about the virgin/whore (molly
ringwald/ally sheedy) dichotomy.  None of them said anything all that
profound.  Needless to say, I was dissappointed.

Now, for those of you, who, unlike me, are not completely crazy and do
no aspire to be writers, you may not understand the need to write
essays.  But I assure you, though I never thought I’d assign myself an
essay after college, I can now think of nothing I’d rather do.  So
here it goes…How John Hughes changed my life.  By Julia Rose
Callahan

I guess we should start at the very beginning (a very good place to
start).  My first John Hughes movie, which also happened to contain my
first celebrity crush, came out when I was about seven years old.  A
little film called HOME ALONE.  That’s right, Macaulay Culkin alone in
the house, beating the crap out of Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci, plus
Catherine O’Hara and John Candy…can’t go wrong.

The thing about Home Alone was that it actually empowered the kids.
In a time when we were dealing with Richard Allen Davis and Polly
Klaas, a film where kids took control and fought off a potential
threat, was actually a very positive (though perhaps a bit too
hopeful) role model for young kids of my generation.  It gave us hope.
 This was really some of the first we were hearing about what
potential threats could be for us as youngsters and Home Alone showed
us that we didn’t have to take it lying down.  John Hughes was the
Leni Reifenstal of our generation (Leni Reifenstal with a much more
humane message, and without all the Nazi hoopla).

Mr. Hughes and I took a little break until my early adolescence.  When
I was in Junior High, my mom used to do this thing where she would go
to the video store on her way home from work and pick out movies.  It
always bugged the crap out of me that she did this because I didn’t
want to watch the movies she picked out (of course, they were
inevitably all great and I always loved them, but still…).  So one
Friday night my mom brought home a movie called The Breakfast Club,
and my life was forever changed.

These kids were me.  They felt what I felt, the dealt with the same
crap I dealt with.  I knew them.  And I knew assholes like Principal
Vernon.  Needless to say, all of us at a certain age have felt awkward
and out of place, even the most “popular” people have, at some time,
felt like they didn’t belong.

I really think the thing that got me about The Breakfast Club is that
I was a little of each of those people.  It didn’t matter what labels
they had, they all had similar problems.  I mean, who isn’t a little
bit of a basket case sometimes?  Ally Sheedy’s character most
resembled who I was when I watched that movie.  No, I wasn’t eating
Cap’n Crunch, Mayo, and Pixie Stick Sandwiches, but I was a total
loner, with few friends and no real way to relate to most of the
people I was in school with.

But a little part of me was Emilio Estevez as well.  I mean, I wasn’t
wrestling or really playing any kind of sport (except basketball), but
I knew what it was like to be under so much pressure you would do
anything to alleviate it.  I, like Emilio, blamed my parents, but
unlike Emilio, I did realize that I was actually the one putting
pressure on myself…his parents were actually putting pressure on
him.

This is also how I related to Anthony Michael Hall.  He gets an F in
shop because he can’t make a fucking lamp.  I never got an F in
anything, but I understand the sentiment because in my house a C was
like a D, which was like an F.  So if I got a C, I actually got an F
and then bad things happened.  And let’s face it, who hasn’t thought
of killing themselves (I mean, not necessarily with a flare gun).  Who
can’t relate to his plight, especially in High School?

Judd Nelson (who I met on Saturday, and who might actually be crazy)
was the Criminal.  He came from a broken home and acted out because of
it.  Now, my family was normal (well, not normal, but my parents are
semi-sane and still married), but I did act out because of certain
things.  I actually acted out because of all the pressure I felt.  Was
I as fucked up as John Bender?  No.  But I could relate to wanting to
act out.

I guess the person I related to the least was Molly Ringwald, but her
story includes the most pertinent/poignant part of High School life,
especially for women.  She’s the center of the Virgin/Whore dichotomy.
 Now, any UCSC people want to kill me because it seems like every
class you take at Santa Cruz (be it Chemistry, Feminist Studies, or
Underwater Basket Weaving) someone always has to bring this up.  I
think that now (thank you Sex and The City) we’re moving a little bit
away from that, but in the ’80’s it was still going strong.  In the
big moment where Molly Ringwald screams, ‘NO, I NEVER DID IT!’  She is
really screaming out of frustration.  What is she supposed to do.
She’s a prude because she’s a virgin, but if she wasn’t a virgin,
she’d be a whore.  As a modern woman, I ask, who hasn’t felt this way?
 You’re in your 20’s, you’re sexually active, you get drunk, you have
a one night stand, you inevitably feel slutty.  Sure your friends, who
have all done the same thing, assure you that it’s okay to just have
sex, but you can’t help feeling a little slutty…this feeling is even
worse when you’re younger (please don’t read into that…or do,
whatever).  It’s funny because I was watching the Breakfast Club last
night and I actually totally relate to Molly Ringwald’s character now.
 But, when I first saw The Breakfast Club, it was a different story.

So The Breakfast Club, in its more serious look at High School power
dynamics and sexual proclivities, introduced me to the concept that I
still carry to this day.  High school sucks, or as Angela Chase puts
it in My So-Called Life, ‘High School is a Battlefield for your
heart,’ but it’s also where you learn to survive in life.  It’s where
you learn to deal with pressure and lonliness and sex.  It’s a place
where you can make mistakes that (hopefully) won’t haunt you for the
rest of your life.  It’s a place where acting out will get you
Saturday School, but maybe you’ll meet people who are going through
the same things you are.  Maybe, you’ll stop seeing people in the
simplest terms and the most convenient definitions, and figure out who
people really are.

Plus, it’s got some of the best quotes in movie history.  So just
remember that screws fall out all the time…the world’s an imperfect
place and always remember to show dick some respect.

Where the Breakfast Club deals with the more serious, real problems
behind High School kids and the politics they are forced to adhere to,
Sixteen Candles deals with the most talked about problems in High
school…boys, dating, and being the middle child.  In one of my all
time favorite movie lines ever, Molly Ringwald sums up the plight of
the middle child ‘THEY FUCKING FORGOT MY BIRTHDAY.’  Her delivery is
impeccable, her expression is priceless, and the sentiment behind it
is so much more that a simple declaration of a forgotten 16th
Birthday, it’s a battle cry.  She’s not fucking around anymore.

I think Sixteen Candles is the most accessible of the John Hughes
Movies because, on the surface, there is not that much darkness in
this movie.  Unlike the Breakfast Club or Pretty in Pink, Sixteen
Candles doesn’t tackle suicide or deadbeat parents.  It doesn’t tackle
all of the pressures of high school.  It does tackle boys and dating
though.  And, for anyone who has lived through high school, we know
that this does take up a lot of time and energy where you’re a high
school student.

Sixteen Candles is the fantasy that we all want.  The hottest guy in
school (who also happens to be two years older than us) decides to
drop his shallow hottie of a girlfriend and date the frumpy, sophomore
who has more going on in her head than in her bra.

Now, let’s be realistic, even if Jake Ryan dumps the dumb blonde and
dates us, the movie ends before happily ever after falls to shit.
Because in reality, Jake Ryan goes to college and starts hooking up
with the college girls and his high school girlfriend gets left in the
dust.

And let’s take out the if.  From my high school experience, people in
high school are, on the whole, too superficial to ever dump the hot
blonde with huge boobs.  Would the real life Jake Ryan have sex with
Molly Ringwald?  Yes.  Would he date her? No.

But that’s why we love John Hughes, right?  He gives us hope.  Sixteen
Candles is the Sleepless in Seattle of high school movies.  In
reality, this scenario would never ever work, but we can dream.  So I
guess we owe John Hughes a little thank you for getting us to dream.
(we also owe him a thank you for casting John Cusack who then went on
to star in Say Anything…lord love Lloyd Dobbler).

When I was in middle school and our shop teacher would be out for the
day (usually to surf because it’s Santa Cruz and he’s a professional
surfer), we always got to watch a movie.  One name always sprang up
and one day we got to watch it; it was Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  And
my life was never the same.  I never heard Danka Shoen the same way.
I never saw Leiderhosen in the same light.  I never could listen to
Twist and Shout without wanting to be on a parade float in Chicago.

Sure, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is every kid’s fantasy.  A day off
where you do anything and everything.  Not the harsh reality of
ditching class where you just go and do the same thing you would do on
the weekend.  Beach, watch t.v.  maybe, once or twice you might have
snuck off to San Francisco on a self-appointed day off, but never did
a day of ditching class ever lead to anything as awesome as Ferris
Bueller’s Day Off.

While, on the surface, the film is just a fun romp, we actually dig a
bit deeper into the psyche of high school through the role of Cameron.
 Cameron is one fucked up kid, he’s got asshole parents who ignore him
and by the end of the movie he’s primed to stand up to them (only
after crashing his dad’s 1961 Ferrari 250GT California).  Cameron
becomes his own man after a day off with Ferris.

Did this movie effect me in the same way that The Breakfast Club did?
No.  But it’s still one of my favorites, and still gives hope that we
can play hookey and have the time of our lives.

The last of the John Hughes films that I saw was another of the darker
ones.  Pretty in Pink tackles the class divide in high school.  Later
explored in much more depth in a little show called Veronica Mars,
Pretty in Pink was really the first to explicitly portray the Rich vs.
Poor divide so prevalent in many high schools.  I guess my high school
was a little better with this divide than most because I never really
noticed that big of a divide.  Maybe that was because we were divided
(as most high schools in the Santa Cruz area) by race.  Though, once I
saw Pretty in Pink, I did start to notice that the people who drove
brand new cars all seemed to hang out together.

Of course, I’m sure that divide is much more prevalent in places like
Los Angeles or San Francisco or New York.

Of course, as a total nerd magnet, I think that Molly Ringwald
should’ve picked Ducky instead of Andrew McCarthy at the end (which
was the original ending) but Ms. Ringwald didn’t want that to happen.

It actually gives a good message that she ends up with Andrew McCarthy
because it does sort of show that class divides can be overcome, but
really, he treated her like shit and he doesn’t really deserve her.

Anyway, I set out trying to show how John Hughes Changed my life.  I
don’t know if that was achieved.  I guess it’s harder than it looks.

Peace, Love, and John Hughes,


Julia

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June 14, 2007 - Posted by | High School, John Hughes, Movies, Sex

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