Monday, March 26, 2012
The Breakfast Club - A Blast to the 80s
I’m not usually one for R rated movies. I consider them restricted for a reason and so very rarely will I venture past the PG13 rating unless a movie has been edited. But sometimes, only sometimes, I reconsider my stance in order to try something new. I don’t even remember what got me on the topic of Emilio Estevez in the first place. I only know that a coworker and I started discussing the Sheen family for some reason and she mentioned that I needed to see The Breakfast Club. I know, the Sheens are crazy but what Hollywood family isn’t nuts? I read the synopsis and the premise interested me. After 5 seasons of 21 Jumpstreet I proudly declare that 80s culture fascinates me.
Do you know what it is to be defined by your clique? See, I was homeschooled so cliques are unfamiliar to me unless you count what I saw in church youth group. Overall the clique just wasn’t a part of my life. I wasn’t a member of the glee club or the prep squad or the drama team or anything like that. I was just me. Well, The Breakfast Club takes a prom queen, a jock, a nerd, a basket-case, and a criminal and puts them all in the same detention arena. Each of them has done something to offend the principal of their high school and so each of them must give up their Saturday as punishment. The entire day.
Yes, this movie covers only about an 8 hour period in the lives of these young teens. Not much time to really know anybody is what I would have thought. Except that all of these kids are hurting and desperate to find someone who understands. They would never, ever, under any circumstances, have shared an emotional connection with each other outside of detention. Their spheres of influence never would have intersected outside of the strong preying on the weak.
Which is what makes this movie brilliant! You learn that your assumption about these teenagers is only based solely on what clique they belong to. And that assumption is totally wrong! Why does a teen steal or pump himself up as being this intimidating, devil-may-care guy? Because his home life is something out of a horror story. We learn that none of these kids, not one, really wants to follow the leading of their clique. Not even the prom queen who could be considered the most popular girl in school. Not even the jock who ended up beating a kid senseless and taping his *cough* together because he yielded to peer pressure. These kids hate themselves for what they do all in the name of peer pressure.
I’d never seen that type of raw honesty from teenagers before. It was like watching an unguided therapy session. Don’t get me wrong. There’s romance too although from very odd camps. The jock makes a connection to the basket-case who really is a sweet and lonely girl. And the prom queen connects to the criminal who only wants to stop hurting. They’re lost and they’re lonely and no one in that school or in their home life gives one fig about them. Maybe I’m naïve but I would have thought it was a teachers responsibility to care for their kids, or the principal, or the school shrink or somebody! Anybody! I found myself wishing that members of 21 Jumpstreet would make an appearance, give some advice, show some compassion and connection, but there was no one there.
The Breakfast Club is complicated. It’s a fascinating look into teen life in the 1980s but it’s also heartbreaking. There are a lot of language issues with the F word flying around. There is some smoking of pot that really saddened me. There is the suggestion of teen sex and there is innuendo. But I still wish I could recommend this movie because I found a profound truth about youth and teenagers. Sometimes all they need is someone to just listen to them and not condemn them. I’m learning to do this with my group of teens at the library and I never want to cause or further the emotional pain of any teen I might come into contact with. When they annoy you or anger you, it’s usually because they’re either in a peer pressure setting or because they themselves are hurting in ways you can’t imagine. Teens are our future and they need our compassion and prayers. The fact that no adults cared for the teens in The Breakfast Club just literally broke my heart. I don’t want to see that become the rule instead of the exception.