30 years ago the John Hughes classic The Breakfast Club showed a generation of teens that they’re not so different from one another. The joke, the princess, the rebel, the geek and the outcast all learn a little about each other; and how the world is. It’s a wonderful, heartwarming, excellently written and performed comedy drama.
But three decades on, we haven’t really learned from the lessons that this simple but effective coming of age film tries to teach us. In truth, a 2015 Breakfast Club would be just as relevant if made today, other than the hair and clothes it wouldn’t look any different at all.
The prejudices the characters face and the pressures are – for the most part – still with us. It’s hard to disagree that today’s youth face a similar amount – if not more – issues than those three decades ago did. Society’s pressures on success & beauty are the same and trying to break the mould to relieve yourself of stereotypes has become even more difficult in the internet age.
Today’s teens may not be labelled as Jocks or Beauty queens as much now but they are still scrutinised endlessly by their peers on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other social media as well as in the traditional places. Although Social Media is a useful tool for positive things, it is also a useful tool for the negative. Although it’s set in 1984, The Breakfast Clubs themes are still very relevant to today’s youth, the idea of affirming one’s ideals, to feel part of a group and the desire for approval from others is easily done on Social Networks which allow groups of people to communicate with similar minded people elsewhere in the country and the world. Of course, there are downsides, as in the film cliques develop and tribal instincts cause us to gang up and vilify those who don’t agree with us. Whether it’s trolling on Twitter or “slut shaming” or similar, we still fall victim to playground bully syndrome, but sometimes in much more extreme ways.
As with the easy labelling of stereotypical character traits which became the norm in 80s media, today we continue to use shorthand and abbreviations to make our lives easier. Whether it’s using simple scapegoats like immigration in politics, blaming tv companies for a lack of interesting or informative content or blaming lingerie companies for making us feel insecure we’re all guilty of refusing to look at the bigger picture. As a society we’ve become lazy for not taking the trouble to look at the big picture and as individuals we’ve become too afraid of being who we want to be by not truly speaking our minds. For a generation who shares its thoughts online so regularly, it’s amazing how diluted our opinions have become.
In The Breakfast Club all of the youngsters are guilty of judging a book by its cover but with a little discussion, thought and examination of what’s in front of them, it soon becomes clear that they were wrong.
If we took a moment to look at the bigger picture, listen (or read or watch) the other side of the argument & maybe alter our own prejudices then maybe in thirty years we can look back at the moment we changed as fondly as we do at this heartwarming classic comedy.