Posts Tagged ‘John Hughes’
I was never a fan of John Hughes’ films. I didn’t go ga-ga over Pretty in Pink, and I didn’t have any deep connection with Sixteen Candles. Christmas Vacation always made me leave the room, and the Home Alone movies were never on my shelf. I didn’t understand the humor of The Great Outdoors.
My friends and family members all rave about these films as though they are cinematic classics, but I’ve never once felt compelled to watch any of them more than my initial viewing. The only Hughes movies that I had any connection with were Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Breakfast Club – even those connections were tangential.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was a passing teaching reference for me (”Bueller?… Bueller?…. Anyone?…. Bueller?….”) and once my students no longer had a clue what I was talking about, I knew I had moved in to that “old” category that young kinds always lump everyone making references they don’t understand regardless of their age.
I never understood why my senior class thought The Breakfast Club was important enough to make it the focus of our Senior Act, and to use “Don’t You” as our Senior Song. I some how missed the entire phenomenon, and my tastes were just…. different. Those movies weren’t serious enough for me at the time, and I thought they were one long string of cliches. Only in retrospect do I realize that those movies created those respective cliches and rolled around and reveled in the prevalent theme of the decade in the same way that Noir and Kung-Fu films did. Now I can appreciate that.
Because of Alison, I also appreciate John Hughes on a completely different level than I ever imagined I would. His movies tapped in to the nuances of family, friends, absurd situations, Murphy’s Law, and the misunderstood teen angst that he depicted so perfectly on screen. Part of that teenage experience was dreaming of a future, of having grand ideas and trying to balance them with reality and figuring out how to beat the odds to get where you want to go. Nearly all of his characters dreamed of finding someone that took the time to understand them and recognize the potential they had.
When the people around you don’t understand you or what you want to do (There’s that “misunderstood trope again…), reaching out to an idol or icon (I don’t even know what you call them these days) in the vain hopes that they will see your brilliance and reach back to acknowledge your burgeoning brilliance and offer you encouragement is not uncommon. I wrote to astronauts. I wrote to scientists. I wrote to playwrights. I wrote to authors, and I even once wrote to a serial killer while on my career path to being a criminal/abnormal psychologist and profiler. (In retrospect, I’m really glad I had the address for the penitentiary written wrong and the letter was returned. Who needs to open the can of crazy that could bring?)
To this day, I dream of writing to Al Pacino in regards to his fascination with Shakespeare and his production of plays and film, and having him see the value I could bring to his projects. Will it happen? Not likely. But I respect him for the creative and professional choices he has made. Will I write to him? Probably not — only because, Like Alison, I would hate to receive a form letter in response.
But she recoiled, and responded with her indignation, and what bloomed from that was a pen-pal friendship between one of the (if not THE) most famous writers/directors/producers of the 80s. He gained perspective, and she had a mentor and a connection with the artist who crafted the works that defined her youth while she was growing up.
In my opinion, John Hughes’ greatest works weren’t his ones on screen; they were the letters he wrote to Alison. In those letters of encouragement, guidance, and friendship he conveyed the understanding and hope that the characters in his films were always searching for. His letter writing over the years renews some of my faith in people. He had a heart breaking kindness, and though I never knew him, I can say that the world was a better place for him being in it.