It’s high time I wrote a blog post just for fun, so here it is… The Top 5 things I’ve learned from 80s movies. I’m particularly concerned with Brat Pack movies, some of the most educational and influential of the decade. Never heard of the Brat Pack? Well, clearly you’ve lived your life under a rock (or you’ve lived your life quite happily out in the open, but you’re under 30). This was the media name given to a group of young and beautiful American actors who shared top billing in a collection of a teen angst dramas and rom coms back in the day. We’re talking your Molly Ringwalds, your Judd Nelsons, and your Rob Lowes. Wait…give me a minute…just considering a world with more than one Rob Lowe…
And I’m back.
I recently went away on a girls’ weekend, including the obligatory DVD night, and had the opportunity to revisit some of the Brat Pack classics. Being the highly astute and observant bloggeur that I am, it got me thinking….
1. Age is a relative concept
The Breakfast Club was made in 1985. It tells the story of a group of high school students grappling with peer pressure, trying to find themselves and stepping out of the shadows of parental expectations. St Elmo’s Fire was also made in 1985. It tells the story of a group of college graduates, grappling with peer pressure, trying to find themselves and stepping out of the shadows of parental expectations. The tricky thing is that the cast is practically identical. Much like Grease and other ‘teen’ films made in the olden days, no one seemed to care that Judd Nelson was 26 years old when playing high school bad boy John Bender AND upstart political wannabe Alec Newbary. Molly Ringwald was, of course, 17 when she starred in Breakfast Club, which is just perfect. Like Molly.
2. Neon lights are a much neglected interior decorating feature
Oh how I coveted the funky flat occupied by Demi Moore’s Jules in St Elmo’s Fire. With a full length, neon accented Billy Idol on the hot pink lounge room walls? Forget you, Kevin McCloud – that, right there, is a grand design. You can see this iconic style trend continued in films like Cocktail (tenuously linked with the Brat Pack via La Cruise), where it serves to liven up the décor, the promo posters and the acting. Wait, did I say that out loud?
3. Fluoro is a feminist issue
And speaking of Jules, we can learn a lot about the bumpy path of feminism from some of these 80s classics. Next time you find yourself saying ‘I’m not a feminist but…’ , bear in mind that feminist rebellion was not some sort of hairy legged 1960s moment. If St Elmo’s Fire is to be believed, women having careers after marriage (or indeed at all) was still a MAJOR issue in the 1980s. Moore’s flighty Jules is sleeping her way out of having to settle down, but Ally Sheedy’s feisty Leslie and Mare Winningham’s stoically oppressed Wendy forge a professional future only after major arguments with the men in their lives. Both Leslie’s boyfriend and Wendy’s father consider their jobs only to be temporary, until the babies come. So, next time you’re debating the fors and againsts of paid parental leave, remember to spare a nod to Ally Sheedy!
4. Failing to have a hit record is no barrier to inclusion on a music score
The weirdly banal and generic music in the closing credits of 80s films is a mystery for the ages. Nowadays, not even a Disney cartoon is released without big name pop stars smacking each other out of the way like desperate bridesmaids for a chance at writing the score. But not back in the day. Music for movies was provided by studio nobodies and sounded like elevator music with a crazy rock edge. Several Brat Pack movies actually contain characters who are musicians (think Rob Lowe’s Billy in St Elmo’s Fire) and even the music they play is pretty bloody awful. These forgettable tunes were, however, ideal for background usage in montages of running, or dancing, or just feeling in a totally 80s kind of way. Some minor exceptions to the rule include Don’t You Forget About Me (Breakfast Club), Melt With You (Sixteen Candles) and Pretty In Pink (well, duh) – but even in those films, listen to the closing credits. Just dreadful.
5. Some things never change
I don’t care about your interwebs and your snap chat (is that even still a thing?), some things about being young simply never change. There were, are, and will always be sportos, geeks, dweebs, prom queens, introverts, extroverts, kids from the wrong side of the tracks, misunderstood genii, unrequited love and unresolved existential angst. It is the way of things. So says the word of Rob Lowe.
Do you have a favourite ’80s movie? What life lessons have you learned from the Brat Pack?