anthony michael hall, better off dead, cameron crowe, john cusack, John Hughes, less than zero, lloyd dobler, peter gabriel, pretty in pink, saint elmo's fire, say anything, seth green, sixteen candles, the brat pack, the breakfast club, the eighties, the nineties
I was born in the eighties, but I was a child of the nineties. And I got screwed.
Not in any life changing, memoir on Oprah’s book club kind of way, but screwed nonetheless. The eighties got Say Anything, Less Than Zero, The Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink, and a number of solid, iconic coming of age films for the teenagers to sink their teeth into. What did I get? I got a recycled Los-Angelized version of a Shakespeare play and a movie about Seth Green realizing he is, in fact, a white suburbanite, and not a gansta.
The oughts didn’t have it much better. I can’t name a film made for the kids a decade behind me. You might be thinking, “So what? It was made for them, not you.” And you’d be right—but you’d be missing the point. I can name a dozen eighties movies about teenagers and young adults hitting an impasse and having to grow up. I cannot name ONE from the double zeros. I can name two from my own generation.
The formula is pretty simple—you mix teenage angst, uncertainty, and hope for the future. Throw in a house party, maybe two. So how did so many generations fuck that up?
You can mix this formula in varying ways to get the desired effect—you can have a deep, thoughtful movie like Less Than Zero, where hope is the main ingredient, nothing is uncertain to the viewer, but the characters just believe in something better so much that they never see the inevitable end coming. You can have a big helping of uncertainty and get an iconic character like Lloyd Dobler, standing outside Diane Court’s house with a boom box over his head playing Peter Gabriel. Lots of angst and you get Sixteen Candles. You’ve seen it a hundred times, but I bet if you’re over twenty-five you have a hard time keeping a straight face explaining that you love this movie about a girl who’s family forgot her birthday because her sister was getting married. But you love it, and that’s okay. It’s okay to think Andy should have ended up with Duckie and actually, it’s encouraged. If you have a soul you understand that the ending of Pretty In Pink was bullshit—but you’ll watch it again. Its okay.
And I could go on—you’re probably already thinking about the movies I haven’t mentioned. You’re thinking, “The Breakfast Club! How could she write a blog about Brat Pack movies and barely mention The Breakfast Club?” The Breakfast Club, Saint Elmo’s Fire, Better Off Dead, the list of iconic films goes on, and they don’t lose their punch, whether you were a child of the eighties or not.
I don’t think I have some big, life changing, over arching point to this blog other than the fact that the eighties did something really special. John Hughes, Cameron Crowe, the Brat Pack…they were special.
By the way, whatever happened to Anthony Michael Hall?