Whenever anyone asks about classic teen movies, my first thought is always the teen dramas written and directed by cinematic genius John Hughes.
Do you remember how it felt when you watched the final scene of a John Hughes movie way back in the day? For me, whether it was The Breakfast Club, Some Kind of Wonderful, Pretty in Pink or Sixteen Candles, the final, inevitable, on-screen kiss filled me with a warm glow of hope. As the music played on and the scene faded out into the rolling credits, I felt a very real and intense connection with the characters. I shared their emotions. I felt as though I had come through the journey with them. The kiss stood for redemption, for possibilities, for strength in the face of adversity.
I wished I went to Shermer High School, in Shermer, Illinois or that those diamond earrings Watts got from Keith were mine (Some Kind of Wonderful, Hughes 1987). I'd look good wearing his future, too, now wouldn't I? I was a bright eyed pre-teen living out all the promises of youth and a glorious unknown future stretched out before me.
Today, as a middle aged mother, I have a different understanding of what those stoned kids in the library meant when they said that society is mutating so rapidly that anyone over thirty really has no idea (The Breakfast Club, Hughes 1984). I struggle to stay connected with my kids, to understand the fast-paced, plugged-in world they inhabit. The 80's are retro to them. But watching one of these classic flicks can still take me back. I can nearly recite the lines along with the actors, but no matter how familiar these classic movies are, they have never lost the impact they had on me when I first saw them so many years ago. The raw emotion and sense of belonging still comes through with every viewing. Inside, I'm that girl all over again.
I hope this genre which helped give voice to my generation will not be forgotten among the new blockbusters and indie films that come across our screens. John Hughes films have earned their place in movie history, and yet I believe they still are relevant when trying to relate to kids today. There is a timeless quality that will never get old.
The new generation of young viewers can still experience the same magical connection to these endearing characters. Despite the reality that today's young adults live in a world that is very different from the time when these movies were produced, the emotions are the same. The experience of being a confused and frustrated teenager, of feeling misunderstood, is a predictable one for each new generation as it comes of age.
Though the details of cultural life have changed, the classic teen movies capture this experience and brings it to life for the viewer. Watch a classic John Hughes film and lose yourself in the drama, the angst, the hope and the love. You'll be glad you did.