Thursday, August 06, 2009

John Hughes (1950 - 2009)

John Hughes was and always will be my hero. One of my greatest influences and my favorite writers. There's no denying that he's legendary and has left his imprint on every child and teenager of the 80s. I've seen his films countless times and no one has even come close to his insight into the teenage spirit. His death, well, it just really sucks. I just told my husband to expect me to be in a deep depression for a little while.


Below is an article I wrote a year ago for my brother's magazine.

Over the Spring of 2008 I taught a film appreciation class to a room full of 20 – 30 high school kids. When we got to the section on 80s cinema I made the mistake of asking, “How many of you are John Hughes fans?” I was the only one raising my hand. The next reaction I got made me oh so sad.

“Who?” they asked.

“Dude, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful, Sixteen Candles!!!!!”

Yeah, they hadn’t seen any of those. The whole class stared back at me with confusion and worry. “Why is our teacher freaking out?” Needless to say, they got a lesson in 80s comedies and John Hughes that semester.

It’s a wonder everyone always asks me why all of my movies revolve around teens. Duh! I live, breathe and sleep teen angst (yes, at the age of 33). Most of it can be traced back to my obsession for anything John Hughes. I love John Hughes. Like so much. John Hughes captured what only a few other writers in Hollywood have even come close to … major teen angst.

I remember picking up the Sixteen Candles VHS box at the local video store as a pre-teen. Molly Ringwald looking all kinds of cute and Jake Ryan looking all kinds of hot. Little did I know upon the first viewing of that film, my entire world would change. Sixteen Candles quickly became a staple at my middle school sleepovers. Who can forget Long Duk Dong, “What’s a hoppenin’ hot stuff?” Or Jake Ryan. Oh, the dreamy, sweater vest wearing Jake Ryan. (I even named my college rock band Jake Ryan). And when I got married two years ago in a movie theater, I played the clip of Samantha coming out of the church and Jake Ryan leaning against his apple red Porshe waiting for her. “Me?” “Yes you.” They kissed, they fell in love and they sat on his dining room table blowing out candles on her birthday cake. That’s what high school love was supposed to be like, right?

And what about the scene in Some Kind of Wonderful when Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson) finally professes her love to Keith (Eric Stoltz) “Because I’m driving you crazy. You’re driving me crazy. And I’d rather have you think good things about me and not see me then see me and hate me. I can’t afford to have you hate me Keith. The only things I care about in this life are me, my drums and you.” Bam! It just punches you in the gut. Luckily Keith and his crush Amanda Jones both realized in the end who he really needed to be with. I can’t say the same for Andie in Pretty in Pink though.

If there’s an ending that everyone still argues about to this day, it’s when Andie (Molly Ringwald) chooses Blane (Andrew McCarthy) at the High School prom. Couldn’t she see that Duckie was her destiny? All of us did. We loved Duckie!

And lastly, The Breakfast Club. Simple Minds singing “Don’t You Forget About Me”, Judd Nelson walking up to the school in his army boots and trench coat. Ally Sheedy sprinkling dandruff onto her drawing or sugar packets onto her sandwich. Anthony Michael Hall (pre-buff days) blubbering about pulling the cord on his elephant lamp. And of course Molly Ringwald screaming “I NEVER DID IT!”

I’ve revisited all of these films since my high school days. And what’s so brilliant about Mr. Hughes is that they still stand up. I still cry, I still swoon, I still fall in love. John Hughes, you’re my hero.


Brian Satterwhite said...

When I first heard he passed away today the first person I thought of was you.

claire said...

I thought of you, too.

This is the best tribute I've read. I'm x-posting this to my Facebook. I hope you don't mind.

Anonymous said...

He was my hero too! I've already made my kids watch his films, He had just the right amount of what was needed to make a good story, love, longing, comedy, rich kids, popular kids, geeks, loners, and not over the top raunch. Teen movies today seem to be either nude raunch fests, what's grosser then gross oh did they really just go there moments, or are so sugary disney rated it's not "real". All of Hughes movies seemed to theme back to acceptance, which is no different for the teens of today. Everybody just wants to be accepted for who they are. I'm with you she should have chose Duckie instead of lame Blane!
Stacey and the kiddos...