You know how there are songs that have the same name as you? I was curious if there was one named after me, so I went searching. Almost immediately, I found “Sara” by Starship (formerly Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship). This song is one of the most 1980s song to 1980s. The synth! The heartbreak! The corn! It’s all there, and for some reason, it has resonated with me. Who doesn’t want to have the same name as a 80s love ballad?
Ever since then, I’ve been on a strong 1980s kick. I’ve been listening to Duran Duran and Tears For Fears. I’ve been rewatching the David Bowie cult film Labyrinth and other darkly-lit fantasy films like The Neverending Story and The Secret of NIMH. It’s gotten to the point where I am tracking down photographs from the 80s, trying to see what that time was like and how crazy the fashion could get. There’s something charming about this period, despite all the problems that were going on at the time.
But what I really wanted to do, above all else, was to watch the pinnacle of 80s movies- The Breakfast Club. It’s a movie that everyone has watched. They give me shocked looks when I say I haven’t watched it yet. It’s the quintessential teen movie, made with teens in mind. Thanks to my roommate, I was able to sit down and finally watch this movie.
It was…good. It was something, I guess.
That’s not something you should say when you’re talking about a very beloved movie, but I almost want to say that it wasn’t as big or glamorous as people made it out to be. What it was was simple- this is a simple movie where five kids are locked in a library with each other for an hour and a half, and they have to try to either survive the day or learn to get along with each other. There’s no major conflict happening here that could endanger the world. Just five teens that have some parental baggage and disgruntled personalities to boot. There’s not much more to it than that. I didn’t get why this movie is so lauded.
But after some reflection, and reading about everything that happened behind-the-scenes, what I think what this movie is to me was painful. Not like pain-inducing or whatever; I didn’t want to throw up or anything. It’s just that these characters are recognizable. You probably knew someone in high school like the criminal John Bender, self-destructing but aggressively charming. You probably knew a few princesses like Claire, or brains like Brian. They aren’t the standard stereotypes that flaunt the screens of other teen movies. They are people you have probably seen, or even talked to, when you were a high school kid.
I’ve been out of high school now for almost two years now. My memories of that time are iffy; there were some great things that happened, and there were bad things that happened. But for the most part, I felt like I was stuck. Stuck in a time loop that is filled with people who know way too much about me, who lived life through their hormones and sexual drives. These people were jackasses. They bullied people who they considered beneath them, scoffed at teachers they hated, and made the atmosphere totally unbearable. It made being an awkward geek hard, and being normal difficult.
So watching this movie feels like I’m watching (almost) real life footage of high schoolers trapped in a detention room together, wasting the hours brutalizing and hurting each other the way teenagers do. Granted, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a detention where everyone bonded over their tragic backstories afterwards, but their stories are very real and very true to life. It’s scary how much teenagers know about their parents, and how it reflects on their personalities and actions. Even as these five teenagers inch closer to adulthood, they are still kids in need of some TLC. And for now, they find it in the most unexpected way- through each other.
Did I mention this is a John Hudges film? Even before Home Alone he was making us feel.
I did like this movie. It’s extremely quotable, and the music is freaking great. But it’s still hard to watch. It just brings up too many memories of being an awkward teenager. We are all capable of being athletes, princesses, brains, basket cases, and criminals, but that doesn’t mean I want to remember that I’m capable of being those guys.