There's been a rush of tributes to film director and writer John Hughes, who died last week, aged only 59. If you're old enough to be a parent now, then chances are you're also old enough to have had your adolesence shaped by some of his classic movies.
Remember Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and the rest?
Watching those films in the Eighties, we mainly identified with the misunderstood youth at their core. But watching them now, in 2009, there's a big difference - we notice what the parents are like too.
We're not the alienated youth any more - so does that make us the alien grown ups instead?
Parenting role models in John Hughes films were generally not great. Emilio Estevez and Judd Nelson's characters' dads never turned up in The Breakfast Club
, though they dominated their stories.
From Cameron's absentee parents in Ferris Bueller's Day Off
to Molly Ringwald's embarrassing parents in Sixteen Candles
and her try-hard dad in Pretty in Pink,
Hughes' films present what parenthood shouldn't be. Film after film shows parents and teenagers failing to connect or communicate in any meaningful way. It was like the US reversioning of Philip Larkin's famous poem, This Be the Verse,
which begins: They f*** you up, your mum and dad - they may not mean to, but they do.
In the end though, these adolescent characters did generally find redemption in solutions of their own making. These teenagers realised that since their parents weren't infallible, and in many cases couldn't be relied upon, they had to get busy working things out for themselves.
Ultimately, these films are tribute to the resources you can find within yourself. And a message that parents can be a bit rubbish sometimes. I wonder what sort of parents they'd grow up to be. Someone should take up these stories, 20 years on. Shame it won't be John Hughes.
If you've been reminiscing by indulging in a bout of Hughes flicks, what do you see in these films as a parent? Has that changed from when you were a teenager?
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