Monday, March 8, 2010

Sincerely yours, The Breakfast Club

Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. What we did *was* wrong. But we think you're crazy to make an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us... In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain...and an athlete...and a basket case...a princess...and a criminal. Does that answer your question?
Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.

My favorite moment during last night's Academy Awards ceremony was the tribute to the late John Hughes. When Molly Ringwald and Matthew Broderick first came out on the stage, I suspected what was going to happen, but I wasn't prepared for the tears that came to my eyes during the film montage or the fact that seeing John Cryer, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Anthony Michael Hall and Macaulay Culkin up on the stage with Ringwald and Broderick after the montage gave me a major case of goosebumps.

When John Hughes died this past summer, I heard this awesome story on NPR's "All Things Considered" about how he had become pen pals with a teenage girl who had written him a fan letter. It just made me love him all the more, and it made me wish that he had made more films. I was in junior high school when the "Brat Pack" films came out, and I distinctly remember watching many of them at my best friend's house during weekend sleepover parties in her parents' living room. (Her senior prom dress was straight out of Pretty in Pink, even though it wasn't pink.)

There was something about his films that made being an outsider, or at least not being considered "cool", well, cool. And that suited me just fine, because I was brainy and into a lot of alternative music that was played on the college radio station at a time where it wasn't cool to be brainy and most of the girls in my school were listening to New Kids on the Block rather than The Smiths and The Cure...and Teenage Fanclub. (How I loved TFC. I stayed up one Saturday night suffering through Jason Priestley hosting SNL just to see Teenage Fanclub. I downloaded Bandwagonesque off iTunes not too long ago, but I still have my cassette tape.)

Even now, the films still have relevance in my life. When PunkRockMom and I first worked together, one of our mantras was: "Screws fall out. The world's an imperfect place." I also like to invoke European Vacation's, "Are you happy now, Dad? She's DEAD." Then there was the whole Hank Stuever article in the Washington Post a from few years ago entitled, "Real Men Can't Hold A Match to Jake Ryan Of 'Sixteen Candles'", which my friends and I talked about for months afterwards. (The first line of this editorial reads: "Listen to all the Thompson Twins songs you want, but let’s finally admit that Jake Ryan from “Sixteen Candles” is never coming to get you." NOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooo!!!! It didn't stop me from listening to "If You Were Here" the morning of Sister B's wedding.)

The music in the John Hughes' teen films is an essential element, as integral as any one of the characters. I had the soundtrack to Pretty in Pink on cassette tape and played it in my car all the time, and nearly every mix tape I received my first year of college included Lick the Tins' awesome cover of "Can't Help Falling in Love with You" (with the penny whistle) from Some Kind of Wonderful, which had a much more satisfying ending than Pretty in Pink because Andie SOO should have gotten together with Ducky and thankfully Keith was smart enough to get together with the very awesome Watts. And who can forget Yello's "Oh Yeah" from Ferris Bueller's Day Off or "This Woman's Work" from She's Having a Baby? (SOB!SOB!) These films totally raised the bar for pop songs in films.

Matthew Broderick closed out the segment of the program in classic Ferris style: "Danke Schoen, John". Thank you, indeed, John Hughes, from the bottom of my little freak heart.

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