Friday, August 07, 2009

My Weekend Crush

Most teen movies don’t actually like teenagers. They use them as props, as miniature adults, as interchangeable widgets. But when you watched a John Hughes teen movie, you knew that not only did he like teenagers, he understood them. He knew how we saw the world, how we saw ourselves, our parents, our schools, our futures. He made movies about us because he thought we were important. He took us seriously but reveled in our silliness.

Were his movies perfect? No, of course not. Nothing about being a teenager is perfect. Yet while there were no explicitly gay characters and far too few minority characters, we all identified with someone in a John Hughes movie. His characters weren’t stereotypes, they were archetypes. So we saw ourselves even when we didn’t actually see ourselves. He knew that in each of us really was a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal.

But even while they followed a formula, they remain fresh. When he made a mistake like the ending of “Pretty in Pink” (She should have gone with Duckie!), he acknowledged and atoned with the altogether wonderful “Some Kind of Wonderful.” Though, we all know that Watts ultimately gave back those earrings and started dating girls in college.

And the girls, well, we could talk about them all day, That’s because they weren’t just superficial lust objects. OK, fine, Kelly LeBrock. But the rest of them gave as good as the guys. He made stars out of beautiful yet approachable girls with something to say – Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, Mia Sara, Jennifer Grey, Mary Stuart Masterson.

Hughes had an especially soft spot for the nerds of the world. The dorks, the outsiders, the misunderstood – he championed them all. While he poked fun at their inherent nerdiness, it’s as if he knew that in the not too distant future the geeks would inherit the earth.

If you ever doubted that John Hughes cared about the teens he wrote about, read blogger Alison Fields’ touching tribute to the man who for many years was her pen pals. As he told her in one of his hand-written letters:
“I can't tell you how much I like your comments about my movies. Nor can I tell you how helpful they are to me for future projects. I listen. Not to Hollywood. I listen to you. I make these movies for you. Really. No lie. There's a difference I think you understand.”

Ultimately, what made a John Hughes movies a John Hughes movie is that everyone – the sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, waistoids, dweebies, dickheads – they all adored him. They all thought he was a righteous dude. Thanks for the movies, John. And thanks for caring. Happy weekend, all.

p.s. I just couldn’t let a John Hughes movie post go without showing some of John Hughes’ movies. Enjoy.

The Breakfast Club

Admit it, you totally made one of these sandwiches afterward.

Some Kind of Wonderful

Oh, Watts, Watts.

She's Having a Baby

This scene and Kate Bush's voice still make me well up.

The Obligatory Awesome John Hughes Movie Montage

Yeah, good luck finding any John Hughes movies at the video store this weekend.


Collins said...

thank you for the link to alison fields' post.

yesterday when i heard the news about mr. hughes i was upset not only at the loss of such a great talent but at the realization that this could have been my father (both are the same age) and what the sudden loss of him-- the man who introduced me to most of hughes' work-- would mean to me. i hope his wife and sons find comfort in the knowledge that john touched so many people's lives. we will miss him too.

Lena said...

I've been reading this blog pretty regularly for years and I think this is my favorite post you've writing so far. Thanks!

Norma Desmond said...

Once again, well played.

May said...

So true! Hughes had a special heart and charm that is unmatched elsewhere. Great post.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post Dorothy. One of my favorite movies is Trains, Planes and Automobiles. He really cared for his subjects and came at story-telling in an authentic manner. He loved the nerd, and for that alone Bravo!

Rhonda said...

His movies were the Greek Chorus of my late teenage years. Will always have a soft spot for them. (And damn right she should've chosen Duckie!)

Also, your last reference of Buellerness was fifty kinds of great.

'Bye to the real Righteous Dude.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the intro scene to Some Kind of Wonderful. It remains one of my favorite movies...

When I was younger, I didn't really realize how much of a crush I had on Watts. I'm forever grateful to Hughes for introducing me to the beautiful Mary Stuart Masterson...

perfectflaw75 said...

Thanks for posting this.

I won't forget about John Hughes.

PS How CUTE was Watts?!

Kristin said...

Ferris is one of my fav movies of all time. I am from Chicago and have seen that movie ever since I was a little kid. I always loved how he put my home into all of his movie. RIP.

bisquiat said...

Maitre D': I'm suggesting that you leave before I have to get snooty.
Ferris: Snooty?
Maitre D': Snotty.
Ferris: Snotty?