The Breakfast Club has been re-released for its 30th anniversary.
I find myself wondering why after 30 years this remains my favorite movie. After all, at 44 it’s kind of embarrassing that it is the first movie that pops into my head when I am asked the favorite movie question. Over the years others have come very close, but nothing has touched me like this.
I remember watching it the first time identifying in some way with all of the characters and longing for a bridge of connection between the vast chasms I felt between the cliques in my own school. Yes, I was the kid who so desperately wanted to be loved and resisted everything about high school, rebelling in the only ways I knew how, typically self-destructive in nature.
I have watched the movie more times than I can count over the years and the wisdom that time provides can narrow it down to a few key points.
Calling out the social commentary of the class system in a country without a class system. How those classes are forced to coexist, moving through an educational system like sheep, designed to prepare us for the industrialism of times now gone by. Who stays in a job from start to retirement anymore? Most corporations wouldn’t even allow that; too expensive for the bottom line.
Further, as adults we keep that class system alive through our choices of friends and communities.
The poignancy of where the interiors and exteriors blend and what happens when we’re forced to come face-to-face with our Truth. Judd Nelson’s performance as the “hood” or tough guy all the while his eyes betray him, giving a glimpse of the little boy who hurts and just wants to fit in, be safe, and loved, something he doesn’t get from his family:
His anger about that and his willingness to sacrifice himself for the group:
Or take the “jock” who is strong and confident, but bows to peer pressure, trying to be gallant and protect the “princess.” She, who just wants to be loved, feels all alone though surrounded in popularity.
The “weirdo” who is resourceful and, though neurotic (who isn’t), probably had one of the brightest futures ahead of her.
And finally, the “geek.” You know, the Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or Mark Zuckerburg. The dude so smart and pliable, he’d make millions without going to college and could probably get into any college, but has the social skills of a slug. Okay, they are better than that, but definitely stunted.
Everything changes with a little medicinal herb. The walls are scaled to reveal what’s really on the inside of each label and mask they wear like badges of honor (or shame). But the high wears off, the day ends, they part ways, and we hear the voice of the “geek” reading the assigned essay, “we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us: in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions”. Isn’t that what we do in life when we look at people, judge the interior by the exterior or actions?
It matters most for us to know ourselves, though we rarely ever reveal who we truly are unless we’re forced by detention or the safety of a relationship. We wear the mask to feel safe, accepted, and loved. As the Breakfast Club teaches us, it’s in the moments of truthful introspection and revelation that we know safety, acceptance, and love. Those moments, however fleeting, change everything, including ourselves.
Happy 30th Birthday Breakfast Club!
Author: Wendy Reese
Assistant Editor: Rebecca Lynch / Editor: Renee Picard
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