My Teen Years Through Film

            I don’t remember exactly when I first watched The Breakfast Club. I’m pretty sure I was 13 or 14 and it was probably the cut up version on TV first then I bought the DVD and saw the uncut version. By the way, only EVER watch the uncut, uncensored version of The Breakfast Club (TBC), otherwise it’ll be two hours of terrible voice overs saying, “Flip you!”

            The Breakfast Club did something for me though. It brought me into the world of the Brat Pack. The world of John Hughes. I still live in those worlds today. I can barely go a month or two without watching a Hughes movie. But TBC will always be my favorite with Some Kind of Wonderful following in as a close second.

            One of the reasons I loved the movie so much was because I identified with it, as I think everyone does at one point or another. Whether you identify with the kids, Vernon or Janitor Carl, there was someone for everyone. I always considered myself a mix of Allison and Brian. The Basket Case and the Brain. The invisible smart one. Except TBC showed me, maybe I’m not invisible.

            A few months ago, they released TBC back in theaters for its anniversary and of course, I bought tickets the second I could and went with Kait. Being in a movie theater has always been one of my favorite parts of life. It’s an experience seeing a new piece of cinema for the first time. But this time was different in a great way.

            Sometimes people look at me oddly because of my enthusiastic passion for a book, movie or TV show. It’s the same as some people feel about art or music. When I walked into the movie theater to watch The Breakfast Club, it was the first time ever knowing everyone inside was there for the same reason. We all share the same love and respect for The Breakfast Club and John Hughes. From teenagers to couples in their 50s and 60s and we were all there because at one point in our lives we were a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess or a criminal. And sometimes we still are these titles. But that night we all sat in detention again and we all laughed and choked back tears and fell in love with brilliant film making all over again.

            My Dad once said to me when I was a teenager watching TBC, “When you’re a kid, you identify with the kids but when you’re an adult, you’ll understand where Vernon is coming from.”

          Let me tell you something, I pray to god that never happens. I never, ever want to lose the piece of me that identifies with those kids. There are people in this world who never really grow up. They never lose the part of themselves that remembers what high school was really like. They never lose “teen speak” and they never forget what it felt like to be a teenager. John Hughes was one of those people. The everlasting teenager. I like to think I’m one of those people too.

           High school wasn’t fun for me, it hurt a lot of the time and you couldn’t pay me enough to go back. But it’s the piece of time I tend to write about in my stories. It’s the section of my life, I reflect on and twist and turn and bring to life in my own writing. Never will we feel so deeply, so completely the way we did in high school when all our senses, our emotions, our hormones were heightened to their fullest extent. In high school, you have your highest highs and lowest lows. It makes it interesting to write about because it’s something we’ll most likely never experience again in such a short period of time (even though those four years feel like a lifetime when you’re there).

         John Hughes has some of the best quotes in his movies. For example TBC:

        Allison: It’s inevitable.

        Claire: What is?

        Allison: When you grow up your heart dies.

        Think about that for a second. I have spent so much time dissecting that line. “When you grow up, your heart dies.” How terrible to believe in such a thing? How terrible must it have been for John Hughes if he at some point in his life believed growing up meant your heart dies? How terrible for me when I was 14 to think, holy shit, it’s so true. I know adults who have lost their hearts…some who never had them in the first place. This line is one of the reasons I hold on to certain things. It’s why I love celebrating birthdays and holidays and Christmas more than anything. It’s why I still love and watch Disney movies and teen movies. I don’t want my heart to die. As much as I love TBC and Allison as a character, I’ll do everything in my power to make sure my heart never dies.

         One of my other favorite John Hughes lines is from Some Kind of Wonderful:

                                                                                                             Okay, several quotes from this one.

                                                                                                            Okay, several quotes from this one.

         Keith’s Dad: You’re only 18 years old, for Christ’s sake!

         Keith:  Then I’m 19 then I’m 20! When does my life belong to me?!

         This was a big one for me growing up. I’ve always been a pretty independent person. I don’t like being told what to do or where my life should be heading or how to handle a situation. I don’t like being asked incessant questions about my life. I’m a very open person so if I want you to know something, I’ll gladly volunteer the information. When I was 19, 20, 21 and still living at home I couldn’t stand the questions, “Where’d you go? Who’d you see? What did you do? When are you coming back?” I swear to god, I used to yell, “SHUUUUUUUT UP!” in my head constantly. One of the many reasons I think people should move out of their parents’ houses faster because having too many adults in one house can cause terrible discourse. So I always used to think when does my life belong to me? When can I stop catering to everyone around me? When can I stop going to school? When can I stop doing jobs I have to do and do something I WANT to do? When can I live on my own and do what I want when I want and how I want it. I finally reached that level three years ago when I became an editor at my old company and finally moved out of my parents’ house. Here it is. This is the life that finally belongs to me and me alone and it’s phenomenal.

        And of course, there’s this beauty from Ferris Bueller:

        Ferris: Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

        I saw something on the internet the other day, it said something like, “We all wanted to be Ferris but I’m pretty sure we all turned into Camerons”. So, so true. Ferris has a point though. I’m going to be 26 in a couple months. TWENTY SIX. I couldn’t even fathom being twenty six when I was a teenager. I wished for it, prayed for it but couldn’t really picture it. And honestly, me at 26 isn’t all that different from 16 year old me. Still have the same taste in movies and books. Still have the same best friends. I live alone now and have a better job and tend to have way less drama and way more wedding invitations coming my way.

       I’m not saying 26 is old, it’s not. I’m not naïve enough to say I’m getting old. But then I’ll read something in the news about someone my age dying from a heart attack or cancer or something equally as terrible and that’s when Ferris comes back to me. We have no clue when our time is up on this planet. And I have no clue what happens after we die which is why when my friends suggest we do something new or different, I’m hesitant but I’ll do it. I want to jump out of plane and go zip lining and see other parts of the world. I don’t want to miss it. I don’t want to be 50, 60, 70 or 80 and look back and think I never saw anything in this world. Never did anything. It would break my heart.  

       So basically what I’m saying is, I live my life off of the advice from fictional 80s movie characters. I’m pretty okay with it actually. Fictional role models tend to be better than some real life ones. This post was originally just supposed to be about The Breakfast Club and how it changed my life. And it did change my life, in the best possible way. It gave me the 80s. A decade I missed out on by being born at the tail end of 1989. I love 80s music and film and pretty much everything originating from the 80s except maybe the hair styles.

        These 80s movies helped shape and form who I am. They gave me an outlet when I desperately needed one. They gave me friends when all of mine were out drinking on the weekends and I rather be at home. They gave me brilliant film making and beautifully written scripts. They gave me actors whose careers I have followed my whole life. I’m no longer a teenager and my love of these movies comes from a different place in my heart. When I was younger, I loved them because they showed me I wasn’t alone and life wouldn’t always be like high school.

         Now, I watch them because sometimes I need to be reminded of those times to be able to appreciate my life now.

        Well that and because Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, and Eric Stoltz were incredibly attractive in the 80s.

         My point is, ladies and gentleman, movies, books, art and music, they all shape our lives in some way or another. John Hughes and The Brat Pack have my teen years. Maybe next time I’ll go into what shaped my childhood or young adulthood: Disney movies and the gangster genre. Or I’ll talk about the summer when I went through all the movies on the top shelf of the bookcase I was “too young” to watch but did anyway. What a great summer.

         In the meantime, I urge you all to go back to your favorite teen movies and watch them. Whether they were John Hughes movies or something else, have yourself a very nostalgic weekend.

Happy 4th of July!