Teenage Wasteland

Ruh-roh. I totally forgot today was Friday, and therefore my time to speak here.

But with the sad passing of director John Hughes, I gotta talk about iconic pop culture, and what shaped people of a certain generation. Like a lot of people, I identified with many of Hughes’ characters, perhaps most tellingly with weirdo Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club. I liked her transformation, but also appreciated her pre-makeover look.

The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Pretty In Pink–all three of those films define what it meant to be a teenager in the ’80s. But beyond the particular era-based specifics, they define what it means not to belong, which a lot of romance books touch on, also. How many of us (I am raising my hand!) love books about the not-as-pretty-as-her-sister heroine who somehow captures the attention of the handsomest guy around? Or sympathize with the too-smart-for-his-own-good hero who can’t believe she’s talking to him?

Those movies capture the poignancy of youth and teenage angst perfectly. I think that poignancy is what makes so many romantic books compelling, too.

Which Hughes character is most like you? Which of his movies are your favorite? What teenage angst pop culture item (book, movie, song, whatever) best describes your teen experience?

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