Don't You Forget About Me: 'Breakfast Club' at 30

John Green, Diablo Cody, the creators of 'Gossip Girl' and more weigh in on a teen-movie classic

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Diablo Cody, Filmmaker and Screenwriter ('Juno')
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Diablo Cody, Filmmaker and Screenwriter ('Juno')

The first time I saw it — I think I was eight — I was definitely too young to comprehend any of its themes. I'm sure a lot of the content was inappropriate. So my original takeaway was that Molly Ringwald was pretty, and I was already feeling some kind of primal attraction to Judd Nelson versus Emilio Estevez. I actually hadn't dealt with any clique warfare myself at that point, but I was already beginning to realize that kids put themselves and their peers into boxes. You are either one thing or the other. And I'm sure I felt like an Allison even then.

Hughes' movies were my film school. As crazy as it sounds, The Breakfast Club is the first thing that I ever wrote about online. Ever. My brother got a dial-up modem a long time ago and we got on one of those like bulletin board-type chatrooms — very crude — and I just started asking people about it. And they told me to go away, because I didn't understand chatroom etiquette at the time. I was interrupting the conversation between the other hardcore geeks on their dial-up modems. It was my first time being flamed. [Laughs] But it's funny to me that my very first impulse was to talk about that movie. More than influencing me as a filmmaker, it influenced me as a person.

The message John Hughes was trying to convey, at least as I perceive it, is that people do not listen to teenagers. They don't think about how they felt at that age when they're considering the choices that teens make. The movie opens with that David Bowie quote: "And these children that you spit on" and so forth. To me that completely establishes the tone — this idea that, as Allison says, "When you grow up, your heart dies." Teenagers feel things so acutely, and it's easy to forget that when you're an adult. Hughes just changed the POV. Suddenly we're not seeing teenagers from a grown-up's perspective; we were seeing them from their own perspective. It feels like a movie made by a teenager.

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