As an angst teenager growing up in the 80s, John Hughes movies were the only thing that I felt made sense of everything I was going through as a miserable teen. I could relate to the characters, their pain and their struggles because they mirrored my own. His movies listened and understood my frustrations when my parents tuned me out.
Besides being a pictorial form of my personal diary, John Hughes films were a huge force in my life. From his films, I learned five life lessons that still resonate with me today.
5. It’s o.k. to take the day off to enjoy a beautiful day.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Ferris Bueller taught us the importance of taking a moment to enjoy life. Why use a cold as an excuse to enjoy a day off from work? Mental health days are good for the psyche. Enjoy life because it really does fly by so quickly. When I became a parent, I valued this lesson even more.
4. Be yourself and love yourself.
Even though I studied John Hughes films more than algebra and classic literature, this lesson took me the longest to learn. I wanted to be Molly Ringwald. I dressed like her and I died my hair red. I even tried to learn the lipstick trick. I wanted to be Claire even though I looked and acted more like Allison because I believed that being anyone had to better than me. As I went through this “Molly Movement”, I soon discovered that the girl under the bag lady clothes was pretty cool, too.
3. No one is insignificant.
You really do have an impact on people even though they may never tell you so. In John Hughes films, the wallflower gets the attention of the big guy on campus, which is every young teen girl’s fantasy although it rarely happens in real life. Despite never winning any popularity contests like being crowned homecoming queen or winning the title of class president or getting asked to prom by the captain of the football team, I eventually discovered that I really meant a lot to others. The memories I created during my youth with my friends had far more significance than any full page spread in a yearbook or wearing the letterman jacket of a jock. In our adult years, we learn it’s our mere presence and sheer existence in a place that affects others and the world around us. I choose to believe in a good way.
2. Some of the best music can be found on soundtracks.
Growing up in a small town, the selection of music was limited to whatever pop hits the local stations chose to spin. Then, MTV hit the scene and I was introduced to a broader spectrum of music and loved it. However, it was the selections John Hughes chose for his soundtracks that rang out like anthems to me and still do. At one point, I had the soundtracks to each of his movies on vinyl and I’m pretty sure I wore down the grooves on my Pretty in Pink album.
During my teen years, I read a Molly Ringwald interview in a teen bop magazine which mentioned that John Hughes played The Beatles’ White Album on the set while filming Pretty in Pink. Since then, I attribute my love to The Beatles to John Hughes as well as my love to movie soundtracks. I also believe that my introduction to Crazy Love by Bryan Ferry in She’s Having a Baby led me to love Van Morrison. Years later, Allan and I chose Crazy Love as our wedding song.
1. ALWAYS sit through the credits.
You never know when the director/producers will throw in something entertaining as the credits roll. Plus, each name is an important part in creating the film and should be celebrated; therefore, learn the names of the key grip and the assistant to the star of the film as you watch the credits. You will probably be the last person to leave the theater if you do but it’s totally worth the wait when you happen upon a hidden treasure at the end of the film.