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 Geekdom Mourns the death of John Hughes

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Favorite John Hughes (directed) movie?
The Breakfast Club
33%
 33% [ 1 ]
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
33%
 33% [ 1 ]
Sixteen Candles
33%
 33% [ 1 ]
Weird Science
0%
 0% [ 0 ]
Total Votes : 3
 

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PostSubject: Geekdom Mourns the death of John Hughes   Fri Aug 07, 2009 3:56 pm

Today, the geeks mourn.

Being geeks, they (we?) do it on the computer. Via Facebook, Twitter and e-mail, the news of John Hughes' death on Thursday spread instantly, followed by people typing out famous line after famous line.

"Automobile?"

"We'll drive home backwards."

"You just bought yourself another Saturday."

"Those aren't pillows!"

"Bueller? Bueller?"

Decades after the films Hughes wrote and directed perfectly caught the zeitgeist of a certain era, fans got a reminder of just how important those goofy films were to their youth. Certainly they made us laugh. And certainly, they introduced the world to Molly Ringwald, Macaulay Culkin, Matthew Broderick and Judd Nelson's nostrils.

But more than anything else, they cemented the idea that not being the coolest kid in school was perfectly OK; sit back, have a laugh, grow up and everything will get better.

In Ringwald, red-haired girls who weren't particularly self-assured realized someone out there might think they're beautiful, thanks to films like "Sixteen Candles" and "Pretty in Pink."

Anthony Michael Hall's Geek in "Sixteen Candles" showed those pre-growth spurt freshman boys might just be a lot of fun (and have a clean, close shave).

The hero of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" showed that you didn't have to be the jock or the rich kid to have a certain kind of charm. Those were five stereotypes, to be sure, in "The Breakfast Club," but they showed how high school students would find common ground when the enemy is an uptight principal and a day in detention.

Hughes' details were so perfect that the teeny tiny "Sixteen Candles" role of girl in a back brace who couldn't manage a bubbler without splashing herself in the face would grow up to be Joan Cusack (or, as it happens, the writer of this article).

In Hughes' hands, being a teenager was fun and came with an excellent soundtrack. It wasn't the torture of James Dean in
"Rebel Without a Cause" or Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood in "Splendor in the Grass."

It wasn't a horror show like "Carrie," "Halloween" or "Friday the 13th."

Hughes didn't own the '80s because films like "Risky Business," "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" and "Say Anything" found pieces of perfection, too.

Certainly Hughes' stuff wasn't all perfect. He threw Jon Cryer's Ducky under a bus because somehow Andrew McCarthy's wussy Blane was a better fit for Ringwald's Andie in "Pretty in Pink." Ducky-like boys, circa 1986, are still bitter.

Hughes didn't just settle for the teen world. There were the bickering adults in "Planes, Trains and Automobiles." When he started pitting adults vs. kids, as in "Uncle Buck" and "Home Alone," he found a new niche. But by then, as Rita Kempley wrote in 1989 as the quintessential backhanded compliment in the Washington Post, "A Hughes movie offers the kind of reliability you expect from major household appliances or a good set of radials."

Ouch. Not a good way to end the decade. Is it any wonder he changed his name on the credits for later films to Edmond Dantes?

For the rest of his career, Hughes was mostly associated with family fare such more in the "Home Alone" series, the
"Beethoven" series and Disney screenplays such as "Flubber" and "101 Dalmatians."

Even so, the best of his '80s stuff is more than appropriate for families to watch together even today.

Hughes was only 59 when he died Thursday. But when he had his string of hits he was younger than most of the people now mourning his death most. They've shed their headgear, their back braces and their Casio keyboards.

Now they've traded them in for Blackberrys, laptops and smartphones, showing that Geek Culture reigns supreme because really, it wasn't so bad to be a misfit after all. And more than anyone else, we have John Hughes to thank for that.

by Jane Burns
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