Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cinema Should Make You Forget You're Sitting In A Theater

The title of this blog is a quote from Roman Polanski. The inspiration for this blog comes from another blog someone posted on my favorite livejournal community Oh No They Didn't...the blog can be found here if anyone is curious. For those who don't want to read it basically the author talks about her dislike for John Hughes movies and why she doesn't think they defined the 80s generation, but then she cites a movie that expresses the culture of a very small group of ppl. And while I don't necessarily agree with the author's point, it made me think.

The first time I experienced one of the quintessential John Hughes films I couldn't have been much older than maybe 14. I honestly don't remember because its been so long that I feel like these movies are just a normal part of my life. And in a way they are. Most of them came out before I was even born (Ferris Bueller came out after but I wasn't even two months old.) But when I stumbled upon them in my adolescence I immediately just attached to them. The first one I saw was of course The Breakfast Club. It was on television so it was heavily edited but despite that I absolutely loved it. Now I had no idea that this movie was some sort of critical darling. I had no idea who any of the actors were (except for maybe Molly Ringwald but that's because my mom recognized her from the first season of The Facts of Life). No one sat me down and said "now you must watch this movie; it defined a generation." I just said "ooh tennagers, looks fun." I can understand why I attached to it though; it was such a powerful piece. It reminded me of things I myself was going through.

When I first saw The Breakfast Club I probably related more to Anthony Michael Hall or Ally Sheedy's character. Though now my friends will say I'm more like Molly Ringwald. PS: I was never as popular as Claire...ever. As a pre-teen I was goofy and weird and silly. I only fit in with the "popular" girls because we shared extra cirricular activities like plays and dance. I relished every minute of it while we were together and found myself asking the same question Brian poses near the end of the detention...would we still be friends outside of that isolated moment. My personal experience was half and half depending on the situation but I definitely think Claire's response in the movie was incredibly honest and real. The popular kids don't usually fraternize with kids who aren't like them. I don't think she was being a bitch, that's just the reality of being a teenager. When you're a teen especially, you stick to people who are like you. Its the safety in numbers thing.

I went to a performing arts high school so I can hardly say I had a typical high school experience. But I can definitely relate to the characters in the movie. Because even within our differences, we still had similar dynamics. I had friends outside of my major sure but where did 98% of my friends come from? The drama department. It wouldn't be seen as a major crime against life if you were friends with someone outside of your social group but you know...it was weird.

I feel like the themes and emotions of the characters in John Hughes movies are what keep them popular. In every character, you see someone you know, no matter what kind of group you hang out in. You know someone like John Bender, Ferris Bueller sits next to you in math class, Duckie is your best friend too and seriously what girl hasn't felt like Samantha Baker at some point in her life? I think the underlying themes of these movies are what drew audiences and critics in. They loved them because of what they represented, not who. So what if you're a goth punk anarchist who is all "damn the establishment!" ? You're still a human who feels human emotions. That's where the real story comes from. I mean I'm black. Do any characters in John Hughes films look like me? No. Do they represent my socioeconomic status? No. But do they experience and feel things that I do? Yes.

I don't think John Hughes was setting out to capture the voice of a generation. And I don't think the elements of it that captured a generation have anything to do with the plots and who the movie depicts. What represents the generation is the look of movies, the pop culture. The bands, the clothes, the lingo. I think what it captures is the soul of a specific age group. Teenagers are different than any other age group. Your hormones are shifting and things are changing and really you're just a passenger on the crazy ride. There is no way you can say that the emotions and feelings experienced by the characters in John Hughes' teen movies didn't speak to you. You felt most of them at some point yourself, admit it. You lusted after the boy who didn't know you existed, you were the kid everybody picked on. These are natural occurances. And I think John Hughed hit the jackpot because before his movies, teens didn't have anything like that to latch on to.

I know that now I will be showing my nieces and nephews these movies and one day when I have kids I'll show them as well. And I know what I'll tell them, "these movies didn't define a generation; these movies captured a time of your life when everything seems out of whack. watch these, learn from them and see yourself in them."

"Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did 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."

1 comment:

"Carrie Blackshaw" said...

yeeeah...I followed that link and read that blog. it was the worst argument...this was a great counter to that