I am not sure about you but 2021 has felt like a step forward and yet a step in place from 2020. As we emerge from COVID-19, the return to ‘normal’ feels good and overdue yet new, unexpected events, like the current gas shortage in the Southeast U.S., make this time a little more exhausting. When faced with this type of chronic exhaustion from outside events, I often use the prescription of fun movies to laugh and to recharge.
I look no farther than to the characters and stories of Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and others to find some connection and wisdom. John Hughes and his movies define the 1980s and the zeitgeist of his films bring a sense of nostalgia for his viewers, especially those of us who identify as Gen X. Over and over again, Hughes sheds light on the underdogs of society and provides the perspective of those individuals who just can’t seem to win either in struggles with their own identities or dealing with growing pains. If those films could feed a hungry teenage soul a few decades ago, certainly the same movies can impart some wisdom on us as we “adult” through these unprecedented times of COVID and beyond.
“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…
Andrew Clark: …and an athlete…
Allison Reynolds: …and a basket case…
Claire Standish: …a princess…
John Bender: …and a criminal…
Brian Johnson: Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.”
Kids, jobs, caregiving for parents plus other duties like chauffeur, school tutor, scheduler- we wear many hats and identify ourselves with these roles.
“Then I’m nineteen, then I’m twenty, when does my life belong to me?” –Keith, “Some Kind of Wonderful” (1987)
This longing of control extends beyond the confines of high school into later life, especially as the needs of others, like children and aging parents, conflict with our own wants and desires. Taking ownership of your time and commitments requires constant due diligence.
“Whether or not you face the future, it happens.” –Duckie, “Pretty in Pink” (1986)
Some people fear the future and view it with despair; others see opportunity in every minute of the day. We all have our futures ahead of us whether or not we decide to take stake in it.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” –Ferris Bueller, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986)
We spend most of our days “crushing tasks” in expectation of becoming experts of efficiency but we lose the meaning of these activities for the sake of completion. Here, we are reminded to stop, pause, and relish all of the moments of the day.
“Will you please tell Santa that instead of presents this year, I just want my family back.” – Kevin, “Home Alone” (1990)
With COVID, we endured so many limitations on whom and when we could see loved ones, particularly vulnerable older people. The pandemic has made many of us reflect on how many families take each other for granted. Going forward, I plan to cherish the time together and not take each other for granted.
Memorable characters, plenty of laughs, and heartfelt memories keep audiences going back to watch repeatedly the movies of John Hughes. His films provide many teachable moments that can be translated into life lessons for both teenagers and adults and transcended in time from the mid 1980s to the early 2020s.