“…there is no Shermer in Illinois…”

The above quote is from a short (for him) rant by Jay in Dogma. In it, he bitches to Bethany about the fact that he and Silent Bob had travelled all the way from New Jersey to Illinois after seeing Shermer in the movies. He was furious that the town didn’t really exist. Now, Dogma was incredibly important to me for many reasons, but Jay & Silent Bob’s bitter disappointment that Shermer was fictional was shared by this particular member of the audience. I think it’s fair to say that we’re not disappointed for the same reason.

A man had a heart attack while he was walking in a park. It shouldn’t be a big deal to anyone but that man’s family and friends. This particular man, though, managed to do something not many people have:

He made movies for teenagers that managed to be both good and clever. In a world where films like It’s A Boy/Girl Thing and A Cinderella Story and anything involving Miley or Zefron, it’s almost hard to believe that such films ever could exist.

I remember when I fell in love with The Breakfast Club. I have no idea what made me think to watch it, but I did. Maybe I read something about it in Empire. I watched it so many times that I can still spew out quotes from time to time. Bender’s remark about screws falling out all the time was for a long time, the soundtrack for error messages on my computer. I think I wrote fic, but didn’t finish it.

I watched it with one of my friends once and he just didn’t like it, as I recall. I wonder if he’d say the same now? We weren’t long out of secondary school, and I think our different (incredibly different) times at our different secondary schools might’ve had something to do with it.

Everyone knows I hated secondary school. I don’t keep quiet about it anymore. It continues to influence me in some ways: I don’t like using the changing rooms at the gym because inside my head I’m still the girl who had her stuff thrown out of the window; still the girl who had the mick taken out of her. Yes, I know I wasn’t the only one, cry moar etc. I hated the place. I was an outsider and I didn’t belong. Is it any wonder that I loved The Breakfast Club? I wanted to be as don’t-caringly brave as Bender, man, even if he was also completely fucked up.

That said, I still think that the loooooooong scene where they’re talking towards the end is way, way too long. It feels like it doesn’t belong to me, because it feels like the film falls into the cliches it was exposing. I haven’t seen it in a long time. I don’t have it on DVD. I suppose because it meant so much to me then I distanced myself from it as I put myself back together (shout out to Natasha, Rachel and Eb for that, too). I wonder if I watched it now if I felt the same?

And man, that line about Claire being a "fat girl’s name"? Do I ever want to prove that arsehole Bender wrong on that. That’ll get me to the gym.

I digress. My friend hated The Breakfast Club. I forget why, but I wonder now if it was that he didn’t necessarily see those characters the same way as I did? To the best of my knowledge, said friend was wicked popular at school. He’s beautiful, he’s personable, he’s smart, he’s a jammy bastard. What could The Breakfast Club offer him? This is all conjecture, I have no recollection beyond him hating it.

Man, I just thought of something: I’m Brian, with a bit of Alison in there for good measure. Said friend? He’s Ferris Bueller.

Ah, Ferris. Another film I watched over and over again, but in a different way. It was the dream where The Breakfast Club was a kind of reality. Like nearly every teenager who ever saw Ferris Bueller’s Day Off since then, I wished I could’ve done the same. I never played truant/cut class once. I did the first five minutes of the film: I worked myself up so badly that I was ill without having to fake overmuch, and got some needed respite from the Ninth Circle.

*

I just remembered something. I remember sitting in the abovementioned friend’s garden (let’s call him Rocky for the purposes of this post). Rocky told me, in all seriousness, that Home Alone 2 was going to be on ITV at Christmas. My eyes must’ve widened as I said something along the lines of:

"Wow! Cos it hasn’t even been out on video yet!"

Rocky was having me on, of course, during one of my strange bouts of complete gullibility. I wanted to believe it, because I was nine years old and loved Home Alone. When Home Alone 2 came out, I liked it almost as much, but I must also admit that I tended to fast forward through quite a lot of bits of both films… and these days I’m far too cynical and black-hearted to think much of them… but there was John Hughes with films made for me. I didn’t know at the time that he’d already made a bunch of movies that would be ready for me a few years later when I needed them.

*

Back to where I was… where was I?

I can’t tell you absolutely honestly that John Hughes movies were my adolescence. There were things I couldn’t relate to, being a kid in Britain rather than America, but the important things were universal. I remember seeing Weird Science at some point but it didn’t mean much to me: Kelly Le Brock was never, and likely never will be, a fantasy for me, and although I dreamed of a measure of revenge against those I felt wronged me, I wanted something more along the lines of The Count of Monte Cristo than slapstick comeuppances (this is how I remember Weird Science. If I’m wrong, tell me).

No, John Hughes movies weren’t my adolescence. My adolescence was the Beatles and Dylan and WOE IS FUCKING ME and technicolor dreams… with just a dash of John Hughes movies. The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller were enough for me as part of a wider movie world I constructed for myself from swashbucklers, Disney movies and the likes of Die Hard.

Then, just at a random moment in HMV last year, or the year before, as I embarked upon a life on my own, I bought Some Kind of Wonderful. No reason, particularly, it was just cheap and I thought it might be OK. I watched it very late one night, curled up in my duvet. By the end, I was in pieces crying. I’d assumed that Eric Stoltz would end up with the rich, pretty girl instead of his friend, the cool and quirky one. When Keith (what kind of hero is called Keith? A realistic one, I suppose) walked off into the moonlight with Watts, it felt like the bitterly ‘Hollywood’ endings of a thousand horrible teen movies was soothed away. I didn’t realise at the time, because I hadn’t seen Pretty in Pink yet, that it was the film Hughes had wanted Pretty in Pink to be. Had I seen Pretty in Pink beforehand, I might’ve been even more affected by Some Kind of Wonderful with the terrible burden of "unrequited Duckie love" bearing down (thanks to Dean from SPN for the quote).

It’s a funny thing: If a movie is good and clever, it doesn’t matter if it’s a ‘teen’ movie or a ‘grown-up’ movie or a whatever-pigeon-hole-you-want movie. I can hardly stand most teen movies, and didn’t much like them when I was the demographic. I’m too old, cynical and disbelieving in fluffy wuv, twu wuv to stomach most of them. The fact that Zac Efron seems to be in most of them doesn’t help.

But I’ll watch a John Hughes teen movie. I still haven’t seen Sixteen Candles (I know, right?) but when it finally gets sent by Blockbuster Online, I won’t think ‘ick, teen movie’, I’ll think ‘oooh, John Hughes movie’ because his movies were good and clever, and they had heart to them.

John Hughes movies weren’t my adolescence, but now sitting here I rather wish my adolescence had been a John Hughes movie. And yeah, I wish Shermer was a real place too.

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