The late Mr. Hughes

>> Thursday, August 06, 2009

I heard on the radio on the way home that John Hughes is dead. If you're a certain age--as I am--Hughes was a sort of defining cinematic presence. It wasn't simply, as a commentator on NPR said, that he made teenagers seem real (although that was a part of it): Hughes was the guy for the time, the guy whose movies had the sound and look of the 1980s. The kids weren't just recognizable as '80s high school students, they listened to the same cool shit we listened to, they had the style and the attitudes we thought they were supposed to have.

Hughes eventually graduated, after a fashion. He got tired of making movies like Sixteen Candles and Pretty In Pink and went on to retire from directing and write things like the Home Alone movies, which were frankly just awful. Among his last forays into directing were workable flirtations with adulthood, Planes, Trains And Automobiles and She's Having A Baby, but as funny and penetrating as those movies are, they don't have the charm of Ferris Bueller's Day Off or The Breakfast Club or even Weird Science (a movie that, I think, somehow manages to succeed in spite of constant attempts at every moment to Epic Fail).

The fact that he vanished into a behind-the-scenes role writing and producing some mediocre-to-terrible films (take a look at his decline here if you don't believe me) is part of the reason I'm not sure what to do with the news. Of all the iconic figures of my youth who have passed away recently, this is one that's weirdly unaffecting. He was a brilliant guy who couldn't fail, and then he wasn't. But I guess that doesn't change the fact that for the entirety of my teenage years, he was one of the grown-ups that "got it," or seemed to. So rest easy, Mr. Hughes, and I won't forget about you.


John the Scientist Friday, August 7, 2009 at 10:20:00 AM EDT  

You know, I never saw any of the movies Hughes's directed in the 80s during the 1980s.

I saw Ferris in its entirety later, about 1990 or so, and I've seen scenes from Breakfast Club. Nothing else, not even Weird Science.

I was a bit older in my tastes as a teenager. Maybe that's why I feel somewhat disconnected from other Gen-Xers, culturally. I mean, I felt a more emotion than I thought I would over Michael Jackson's death, but it was for the memories of the Jackson 5*, not the 80s stuff all my peers gushed over.

* Michael dropped out of my consciousness with "Bad", because seriously? Michael? Bad? The only creatures who thought Michael was "bad" were newborn bunnies with self-esteem problems.

Leanright,  Friday, August 7, 2009 at 12:42:00 PM EDT  

These are the movies I grew up to. We even managed to find Molly Ringwald attractive, in her own quirky, little way.

And, who can forget the BEST John Hughes movie of all time!!! FLUBBER!!!

Jim Wright Friday, August 7, 2009 at 1:25:00 PM EDT  

Oh, whew! For a minute there I thought you meant Howard Hughes had died.

I don't know if you noticed or not, but I'm sort of king of the dipshits..."

Man, I still love Sixteen Candles.

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