Why We Loved John Hughes




by Jason Webber, written August 6, 2009


"Is it that bad?"

Her eyes, darkened with "that black shit" suddenly well up with tears. And her face is no longer a mask of defiance, but one of shock and surprise. How the hell did The Sporto nail her home situation so damned perfectly?


For me, this scene from "The Breakfast Club," serves as the ultimate example of why we loved John Hughes...and why I'm choking back tears as I write this. John GOT us. He never once forgot what it was like to be a young person and to experience all of the heaven and hell contained within the teen years. When you're 16, you're always like Alison--you never expect anyone to really GET you, much less an adult. And when they do, you never forget them. Just like Simple Minds told us not to. 

John was the high school guidance counselor we always wanted but never got. He never preached to you about "peer pressure," the dangers of drugs or any of that ABC After School Special nonsense. His movies splattered all of that teen angst up on the screen, but also gave us the chance to vicariously live out the adolescence that we all wanted but never had.

Didn't we ALL want to be Ferris Bueller and Sloan? Unfortunately, most of us were probably closer to Cameron (and I wouldn't mind having that Gordie Howe jersey)--insecure, scared to death, and overseen by parents who didn't get us. But John did. 

It's impossible to imagine where we would be today without John Hughes. To be sure, our pop culture would be blander--can you picture never being inspired to call your kid brother "a neo-maxi-zoom dweebie?" or doing the Ferris Bueller dance whenever that Sigue Sigue Sputnik's "Love Missile" song is played in the club on '80s Night?

And really, all of this only came from four films--"Sixteen Candles," "The Breakfast Club," "Pretty In Pink" and "Some Kind of Wonderful." Well, OK, I'll count "Weird Science," too. After that, Hughes abandoned his station as the Woody Allen for Young People and went on to making movies about REALLY young people--"Home Alone," "Curly Sue," "Dennis the Menace," etc. And yes, they all sucked.

But for five films, Hughes was our Salinger, creating visions of adolescence that was by turns painful and painfully funny. And now, we thirtysomethings who saw John's movies in the theater, are "all growed up," as my nephew says. Most of us went to college, got boring jobs, got spouses (who may or may not be boring), and likely have kids (who watch boring Hughes-wannabe movies like "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist"). Yet, thanks to John Hughes, we will be forever young and forever harboring our crushes on Claire, Ducky (closet queen!), Ferris, Sloan, Bender, and the rest of the Hughes Gang.

John, thanks for everything. We love you. All of us. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, waistoids, dweebies, dickheads - we all adore you. We think you're a righteous dude.

Thank you.


Jason Webber is a writer living in Dayton, OH. He is a pop culture freak and is also a Juggalo for life. You can read his work here.