Sure, he gave us Long Duk Dong and “What’s happening, hot stuff?”–which has taken about a generation to live down–but John Hughes also gave us “Bueller…Bueller…” and “demented and sad, but social” and, more broadly, a primer on how to be an American teenager, which was pretty useful stuff when you were growing up the child of immigrant parents who couldn’t understand why you cried your eyes out when all your friends forgot your birthday and why you, say, always needed a new dress for every school dance. In his movies, Hughes laid out the quintessential teen rites of passage: first love, sweet sixteen, prom, losing your virginity, being a misfit. While most of his films centered around losers, they were filled with a healthy dose of feel-good fantasy, too–where the geek would get the girl (or boy, as it were), or the criminal would get pinned by the princess, where the girls you were supposed to fall in love with were more awkward than pretty–plotlines too implausible for real life but ones you’d cling to nevertheless, because weathering those years of rejection, growth spurts, acne, and stuffing your bra was hard enough as it was.
John Hughes stopped making teen movies right around the time I became a teenager, and I remember it being so sudden. Who was going to continue to guide me through that awful, confusing stage of life, and the next one, and then the next one? His death at age 59, from a heart attack he suffered while taking a morning walk in New York Thursday, feels just as abrupt and unfair.
Filed under: American Teenagers, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, John Hughes Dead at 59, Long Duk Dong, Pretty In Pink, RIP John Hughes, Sixteen Candles, Teens, The Breakfast Club, Untimely Deaths, Weird Science
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