The Breakfast Club's and John Hughes's Impact

A look at how and why John Hughes made a lasting cultural impact on the teen film genre with The Breakfast Club.

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  1. The Breakfast Club was released on February 15, 1985 and with its release John Hughes, the writer and director of the movie, sparked a movement in the coming of age comedy-drama genre of film. John Hughes made a sociological impact by changing youth culture and he permanently changed how Hollywood makes and markets the teen film by reinventing it in the 1980s so indelibly that his name identifies with the entire genre; creators of today's teen films undoubtedly derive influence from his films in an effort to exceed the impact he made. Additionally, echoes of the themes along with direct references to The Breakfast Club appear in several shows and movies.
  2. Entertainment Weekly acknowledges The Breakfast Club as "the best high school movie of all time."
  3. One of the ways Hughes made such an impact was by taking teens and their problems seriously and understanding that what teenagers are going through matters to them and has affects, although their problems may look relatively insignificant to adults, who have their own contrasting problems. This movie had a strong message regarding the prevalence of stereotypes and parental pressure challenging young adults.
  4. He discusses how this was important in The Breakfast Club in a 1986 interview with Corey Brunish.
  5. The Breakfast Club itself immediately portrays that concept as the movie opens with a quote from David Bowie's song, "Changes."
  6. This quote immediately sets the tone for the film by describing the relationship between adults and children and by implying that young people are smarter and more aware than they are given credit for.
  7. David Bowie Changes Lyrics
  8. The screen then transitions into a wide shot used to establish the setting of the movie, which is a single location and a single day: Shermer High School, Saturday, March 24, 1984.
  9. The film follows 5 teenagers as they spend Saturday together serving detention in the Shermer High School library. These 5 students all are subject to distinct high school stereotypes and have nothing in common, each being defined by their differing social groups. As the day goes on they are forced to face the challenges of conflicting personalities and the "hierarchy" of high school. With the films progression, the relationships between the students progress as well, and the isolation of the detention causes them to eventually exchange truths about each other and gain new perspectives.
  10. As the day begins, the teenagers arrive at the school for detention. All except Bender are dropped off by their parents and this foreshadows parallels for when the students reveal their home life and relationships with their parents.
  11. Breakfast Club (1985) - Intro
  12. The introduction begins with a narrative of a letter to Mr. Vernon, introducing the plot and the stereotype dynamic that will come. This also foreshadows the development of the relationships between the students by saying,"That's the way we saw each other at 7:00 this morning. We were brainwashed." The song playing during the introduction is Simple Minds' "Don't You (Forget About Me)," the main anthem of the movie. This band gained a huge career boost by being featured in the popular movie.
  13. Simple Minds - Don't You (Forget About Me)
  14. After the students gather in the library Assistant Principal Richard Vernon, the antagonist of the movie, walks in. He embodies much of what the plot of the film focuses on: oppression and judgement.
  15. Don't Mess With the Bull - The Breakfast Club (1/8) Movie CLIP (1985) HD
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