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Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Breakfast Club [Movie Monday]

For this week's Movie Monday, in honor of the late, great John Hughes, I will be featuring The Breakfast Club. This is one of my favorite John Hughes and 80's movies.

The Breakfast Club revolves around playing off of stereotypes: the jock, the princess, the nerd, the basket case, and the criminal. Each of these characters fit perfectly into their stereotyped roles. The princess character (played by Molly Ringwald) seems only to be concerned with shopping and being popular. The jock (Emilio Estevez) is kind of a meat-head. The nerd (Anthony Michael Hall) is preoccupied with grades. The criminal (Judd Nelson) does everything he can to get on everyone's nerves and "acts out." And the basket case (Ally Sheedy) just does really strange things and everyone is weirded out by her.

But then we get into the "character development." The jock falls for the basket case, but only after she has had a makeover to make her look "normal." The princess whats to get back at her parents for the imperfect marriage and divorce so starts dating the criminal, but not seemingly out of any feelings for him. There are many problematic things with these stereotypes as well as the so-called "character development." But for the purposes of this post, I'm going to focus on some of the positive aspects of these stereotypes and the movie.

I like to think that the stereotypes in
The Breakfast Club were purposeful, but for a good reason. By using these five stereotypes and showing that there is more to them than these stereotypes, many people can see a little bit of themselves in at least one of the characters. For me, I've always kind of identified with Ally Sheedy's portrayal of the basket case and a little bit of the nerd. I think one of the most important things for a teen movie or tv show is to have relatable characters, even if they come in the form of stereotypes (using stereotypes definitely does not always work...).

One problematic thing with this aspect of the stereotypes is that there are no people of color in the movie. No one for a person of color to necessarily relate to. This also erases people of color from the "normal" high school experience.

One of the main things that I like about the movie is that they start to realize that there is more to people than just what is on the surface; that what is on the surface is often masking something deeper. In the letter that the nerd writes to the principal, he says, "you see us as you want to see us, in the most simple terms possible." And that's how they saw each other too, until they actually got to know each other.


frau sally benz said...

This is one of my very favorite movies of all time.

Despite the flaws (no POC, annoying stereotypes, the hook-ups, etc.), I still love it. Call it my guilty pleasure.

Your analysis is great, especially the quote from the end of the movie. That's what the movie really boils down to, even with the scene between the principal and the janitor. They are basically reflecting on what perceptions mean and whether or not people grow up to be who they always thought they'd be.

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