The 25th anniversary of The Breakfast Club (1985) was last week. Twenty-five years since a Brain, an Athlete, a Basket Case, a Princess, and a Criminal met up in Saturday detention to confront and ultimately shake off their respective stereotypes, not to mention get high, partake in an oddly-placed dance montage, and yell at each other a lot. It might seem a little dated after twenty-five years (don’t we all), but The Breakfast Club hasn’t lost any of its charm. It bears repeating: dance montage.
It is, of course, hard to pay tribute to The Breakfast Club without simultaneously acknowledging its beloved writer/director John Hughes, whose death last year at 59 shocked and saddened his fans. Hughes wrote and/or directed some of the most popular films of the 80’s and early 90’s, including Sixteen Candles (1984), Weird Science (1985), Pretty in Pink (1986), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987). For the most part, the reason Hughes’s films were and remain so resonant with viewers can be summed up by one of his most well known characters: “Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” Hughes understood that most of the important, funny, heartbreaking, and memorable stuff happened in the most mundane situations – detention, cutting class, or getting felt up by your grandmother on your 16th birthday.
Hughes also understood just how much high school sucks. Fundamentally, The Breakfast Club is a film about rebellion – against parents, teachers, social stereotypes, pretty much everything that pisses you off in high school. The Breakfast Club’s members almost visibly chafe under the imposition of their stereotyped roles, even as they embody them in almost every way, from how they talk to, most notably, how they dress.
Hughes’s films inspired as much as they reflected fashion of the 80’s, and, I’m not sure if you know this, but the 80’s are back. High-waisted skirts, distressed, patterned, and studded leggings, all things neon, Ray-Ban Wayfarers. Everything you see when you find yourself walking down the street in Williamsburg, you can see worn as bold declarations of rebellion in John Hughes’s movies. Just look at John Cryer’s Duckie from Pretty in Pink:
Give him a pair of black Converse All-Stars, and you can almost hear him complaining about how Arcade Fire sold out by licensing their songs to the Superbowl. And honestly, I mock because I love – I’m about to scour the Internet for a version of Claire Standish’s bomber jacket. In short, the fashion trends depicted in Hughes’s movies, like the movies themselves, are no less accessible and expressive twenty-five years later, no matter if you’re a Brain, an Athlete, a Basket Case, a Princess, a Criminal, or a little of everything.