Does life get better?
Not a bad question for the search engines at the very least.
I was found bawling (Read: Manly Tears) halfway through the movie again as I did my second rescreen of The Breakfast Club. A movie about a Jock, a Princess, a Nerd, a Weirdo and a Criminal. All of which is a term that classifies who we met and knew in high school, if you were in most High School.
Yes, the High School. A place and institution that we have all gone through and discovered ourselves. Innocence was lost and we were introduced to others with different stories that we don’t know, yet projecting a different character that is specific and common at the same time to cover it.
This is essentially, what the movie is all about. It serves as a memo to those generations, to us and to the future ones that, you do matter. You do have a say in molding yourselves. The world does revolve around you for lack of better words. It is about being your unique self without the Id.
Id is the craving for attention by the Princess or Claire, the need of approval by the Jock or Clark and the lonely pursuit of excellence by Brian, the Nerd. The only one who jumps the line between what he is supposed to be and what he is like, was John Bender.
The way he probes the virgin princess with his questions, trying to know how her life is, what shaped her and what she really is. He provokes the Jock by taunting his obliviousness towards how ‘gay’ wrestling was or is, and afterwards he mocks Brian’s perfect parents while revealing to others the dire state his life is.
It shows us that beneath these perfectly approved shape that the society wants us in, we still have ourselves. The real you who know that you are good at something such as playing cards, strumming the guitar or dressing up. These small features are the innermost self that you do not simply show to everyone.
John Bender pushes the core of their identities and brings their real selves out in the open. This is what fascinates me about him. To him, the world is screwed when people throw themselves away just to fulfill expectations. It disgusts him that being popular and successful puts you on a pedestal and the rest were deemed cockroaches.
Deep inside, John Bender is sad. He sees all this and he could do nothing because everytime he opens his mouth the world wages war against him. It gave him a 2 months detention. It sucks. At this age, to be this mature with such worldview is a rare trait. A trait that comes after a period of hell I would presume. This is why I love this character and I applaud the writer for writing such provoking masterpiece.
What is right?
The movie does not point to what is right or wrong, it does not push for a perfect person that you could emulate and be like. Instead it provides us all with a simple self-reflection that you can do by asking the right questions. What do you want in your life? Would you be kind to others just to look cool? Or stop when life does not like the Princess?
These questions help us ponder what we really want to do with our lives without taking into account what others might think. I love how the idea of being a rebel was subtly inserted into the plot to serve as a tool of self-discovery. In essence, this is us once, before we succumb to the surroundings instead of the environment.
There is no right because it is within you. You know that the right thing to do when you saw a drowning person is to help him or her ashore. To treat others good and to sacrifice yourselves for the wellbeing of the others. You know this, yet you choose to ignore it as you satisfy your cravings. The movie calls us out on this and it did it with the smoothness of an angel’s skin.
The Brian We Know
We are all Brian in one moment in our lives or another. For any kid who struggles with their grade you are Brian because you know how empty you felt when you witness your failure. You wanted it all to go dark and maybe then you will be calm. That is how bad it could feel.
We pity the fate of Brian because he keeps a checklist in the back of his mind all the time. A checklist of what to be expected of him as a student, as a friend and as a man. He was clearly deep in this state as he asks himself when he tries to start an essay titled, ‘What are you?’ and the first answer that came was that he is a walrus after he sticks a pencil up his nose.
This common denominator shared by Brian, Allison, Claire and Clark left me in awe. I stopped and wondered how close this might hit home to the people who really watched this movie. The Brian we know was left naked in the middle of the field crying for help and cover or would rather be killed.
As I assert my so called manliness by giving a safety clause (Read: Manly Tears) earlier on this article, you will realize that I am not being honest about myself or what I truly felt about this flick either. I was the Brian and I am sure most of us are too. We choose to mold ourselves into patterns that were ‘perfect’ and flagellate our backs if we fail. Hence the need to show how I am still cool albeit I am crying like a bitch.
I apologize if this sounds like I am reading into this movie but I truly felt that I am not. The Breakfast Club was a work of art that invokes the Heidegger question of Dasein or existence. You seek for yourselves by asking the right question and hope for the best to come out of us. It is not to best others in some sort of a competition, it is as simple as being a kind person.
Generations to come will watch this movie and probably relate to the struggles it portrays. I hope you will enjoy it as I do and all hail the Michelangelo of this film who painted the ceilings so that we can gaze upon and wonder.
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