Friday, August 7, 2009

Don't You Forget About Me

I heard this Simple Minds song this morning as a tribute to John Hughes, the influential director of many of the great movies of the 1980s and 1990s. Hughes passed away yesterday from a heart attack, and there was a lot of reaction to his passing. Granted, most of Hughes' films weren't the most intellectual or featured the best special effects around, but the movies always had a way of being extremely relatable. You could understand the characters and their motivations, and it was easy to put yourself in their shoes for a moment. From the kids in detention in the Breakfast Club to the crazy family vacation in National Lampoon's Vacation to the changing friend dynamics of St. Elmo's Fire to the family drama of Uncle Buck, John Hughes influenced a lot of movie fans like myself, and made stars of a lot of people.
Hughes had a way of getting the best performances from his actors, as I could relate to the problems of the kids in the Breakfast Club, even if I wasn't exactly like one of the major characters. I was a jock in the sense that I ran cross country and track, so as an athlete, I was part of the sports teams that "real athletes" made fun of. I wasn't a brain, but worked really hard to keep my grades up because I had dreams of doing something more after high school. I wasn't a delinquent because I just didn't see the reason to cause problems to get what I wanted, but I did find enough trouble to keep things interesting. I wasn't a princess or prince because I wasn't part of a rich family, but we certainly had enough money to get by. I wasn't a basketcase, although there were certainly points where I wondered about my sanity in trying to keep up with an active school and activity schedule. But Hughes was able to make these people interesting and you could relate to their issues, which made the stories more compelling. He also used current music to accentuate the background, thus making things just that cooler.
At least for me, it's always tough to hear about famous people like this and not be slightly affected by it. Unlike the recent passing of Michael Jackson, I was a fan of Hughes' movies and remember seeing them with great regularity. And now hearing of his death, it makes me nostalgic for those days. I listened to some of Jackson's songs, but the fact that he was a shell of his former glory, I wasn't affected by his passing as much. Mind you, death is a tough topic but it's something we all deal with at one point or another, and we all have different ways to process our thoughts. Because I remember Hughes as the guy who brought us great characters like Ferris Bueller, Long Duck Dong, Chet, Lisa and Buzz, it hits a bit more to think that he's no longer here. Granted, Hughes hadn't directed a movie since Curly Sue, and only wrote on occasion during the last few years, but his way of creating an atmosphere of great music, fun movies and wonderful characters has been a fabric of my earlier days. I won't forget about you, John, your movies really speak for themselves.

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