I watched The Breakfast Club with my stepson today...
Such an iconic movie. A moment suspended in time, a single Saturday afternoon in the mid-eighties. It is a piece of theater that seems so dead-on specific to me... and yet, like all classics, it is so universal that thousands of others, and not only in my generation, think it is actually about them.
Breakfast Club came out the winter after I graduated high school, in February 1985. It was filming while I was actually where those kids are, time-wise. In high school, dealing with the little struggles that seem so large... because it is all we know. A failing grade, a trip to the principals office, a first kiss. A single Saturday can envelop the learning of a lifetime.
In 1985, I never would have thought that someone who would turn sixteen in 1990 would be able to relate. Let alone in '95, 2000, etc. It has now been 25 years and yet I think that every person who has been through a detention period in those 25 years finds something in the film that they relate to...
In my multiple endeavors, I work with people that cross many generations and a few cultures. There are only a few things that cross the gaps between oceans and generations. But I can hand a pair of sunglasses to a college kid at my day job and say "For better hallway vision..." and the kid gets it. Right away. He knows the line, he knows the movie and more importantly... he knows what the line means. Not what it says, but what it means.
We used to play the conversation game about "Which member of the Breakfast Club are you?" Which then gets inevitably expanded to which John Hughes character, etc. And someone that wasn't even an idea when I first saw the movie, who wasn't even born when I graduated college, let alone high school... they can play that game, too.
Is it a revelation to them, like it was to us? No, it isn't. The one thing that is true for us is that we were the generation that got to experience this first. Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Some Kind of Wonderful. And Fast Times, St. Elmo's Fire, etc. We sometimes forget that, with a few very small exceptions, this didn't exist before us. Before John Hughes, before Amy Heckerling.
There is no Juno or Scott Pilgrim without John Hughes first.
But still, that gives us a bridge. We can cross the years through these films. Not only the years between us and our own adolescence, but the years between ours and our kids.
John is gone now, died last year. Once again, thank you John.
Oh, and by the way, I'm John Bender. Because in high school, I wasn't fulfilling any of the artistic/intellectual potential that made me a published author, nor was I playing the sports I played in college. And I sure as hell wasn't the kind of guy that showed the kind of perseverance necessary to be achieving a black belt.
No, I was a regular visitor with the Assistant Principal, the guy who nearly got kicked out of school a few times and who was probably gonna work at Sears for the rest of his life.
Go figure, eh?