Friday, August 7, 2009

I won't (forget about you)

I hadn't realized the influence that John Hughes has had on my life until he was gone. He helped give a voice to my generation. All of us that were geeky, nerdy, tomboys, skinheads, burnouts, artists, popular (and not so) red-heads, dweebs, dorks, outcasts and losers could take solace that in most John Hughes movies, we all were victorious.

Pretty in Pink showed me that you can end up with the person you want, while also showing me that you don't always get what you want. Weird Science showed me that all it takes is a little confidence to overcome your fears. The Breakfast Club taught me that even though you think someone has their shit together, they probably don't. Everyone has problems. Everyone. Uncle Buck showed me that even though your extended family might be a little weird, they still love you. Most of John Hughes teen movies had some kind of message. You could take from it what you wanted, if you wanted anything at all.

John Hughes films taught me how to be. If I learned anything from his movies, it was how to be. How to be a good person. How to be a good boyfriend. How to be a good friend.

As powerful as his movies was the music that he chose to go along with the images on screen. The most obvious is "Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds. He carefully chose his music, everything from "Bring on the Dancing Horses" by Echo & the Bunnymen to the Celtic infused cover version of "Can't Help Falling in Love" by Lick the Tins. This music became the soundtrack of my youth and will forever remind me of my wife and our early years together.

I also learned that it does not matter what people think of you. Rarely can you change people's minds. They will judge and stereotype you in a heartbeat. So what? That becomes their shortcoming, doesn't it? Just remember the final message from The Breakfast Club: "We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you're crazy to make 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. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain...
...and an athlete...
...and a basket case...
...a princess...
...and a criminal...
Does that answer your question?"

I can't think of a more universal truth than that. Everyone has their own inner brain and athlete and basket case, don't they? I can tell you, I am not conveniently placeable in any category, because I am a person. Not a classification. As people, we are multi-faceted and complex. We are all beautiful and ugly. Sometimes at the same time. I do take pride in knowing that I turned out right. I learned my lessons. I can love with all of my heart and still be capable of giving more. I owe my vision of love and relationships to (firstly my parents and then) movies. John Hughes showed me that it was o.k. to be a little weird. It was o.k. to be a neo maxi zoom dweebie. It was o.k. to be proud of that fact. Duckie didn't apologize, did he? So, I thought, why the hell should I? I am who I want to be. Too bad if you don't like it.

Mr. Hughes, I never met you, and now I never can. You will never read this, but I just wanted to say thank you. You were the voice of the geek generation of the 80s. You gave us the confidence to be who we are today. Anytime I felt down, I would watch one of your movies, and it would help.

In particular, thank you for "Some Kind of Wonderful" it has more personal meaning to my wife and I than you could have ever known.

Keith: Well, I like art, I work in a gas station, my best friend is a tomboy. These things don't fly too well in the American high school.

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