A Gen-Xer eulogy for John Hughes

I'm a sentimental type overall, but not generally sentimental publicly. But I'd love if you all would allow me a sentimental moment here on Shine.

John Hughes died today
, and the news floored me. I felt like a little piece of my childhood died with him. Melodramatic? Perhaps, but when I look back on all the movies he directed, wrote, and produced in his relatively-short life, it blows my mind just how much of an impact he has had on me, especially on a young Annette growing up in the middle of nowhere in the '80s. And I know (judging from the outpouring of sentiment on my Facebook, Twitter, etc) that I'm not alone.

For Generation X-ers like myself, John Hughes was perhaps the greatest culture maker of our times. Steven Spielberg had our imaginations, but John Hughes had our realities. It's hard to think of any other filmmaker who really got the exquisite pain of being an ordinary America teenager quite as well as he did. And honestly, the guy also knew exactly what made teenage girls tick - from our deepest insecurities to our most swoon-worthy sexually-innocent boy fantasies.

Just take a look at his resume: "Sixteen Candles," "Breakfast Club," "Vacation," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," "Weird Science," "Some Kind of Wonderful," and more. It's a greatest-hits filmography of my junior high and high school years.

For me, John Hughes gave me many of my biggest crushes: Andrew McCarthy (I'm still nursing this one to this day), Judd Nelson, Matthew Broderick, and Eric Stoltz. He gave me perfectly flawed heroines as role models. And, he gave me a killer soundtrack as background to it all, filled with Psychedelic Furs, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Smiths, and Simple Minds. Oh, and don't forget Otis Redding!

The one film of his that made the biggest impression was by far "Pretty in Pink." It was my anthem. It was a movie tailor-made for a poor, outcast and awkward teen girl who strongly believed she had far cooler tastes and interests than her less-sophisticated but more well-off classmates in her backward town. I sort of had my version of Duckie in a close guy friend, and I certainly had my share of Blanes, even if none of them actually asked me out or to prom.

Andy's story - from her super cool job at a record store with Annie Potts ("my THIGHS went up in flames") to her killer lavender Karmann Ghia to her Cinderella romance - was a really amazing fantasy that I could quote and live over and over and over again via VCR. I must have ve watched it more than any other movie ever. That simple little flick gave me hope that there was a bigger, better place for a lost little teen like me far off in the future in some warmer place among like people and cute boys who would find me pretty.

So, that's why I'm grieving more over the loss of John Hughes than even Michael Jackson a few weeks ago. He made the saddest, loneliest years of my life more bearable, and his films were oddly liberating and empowering.

RIP, John Hughes. Thank you for all the indelible, much-cherished memories. And with that, I'll leave you with one of my favorite scenes in movie history (pardon the Spanish dub):


John Hughes movie retrospective on Yahoo! Movies

"Sincerely, John Hughes" - a blog post by Allison Byrne Fields (only read if you want a good cry)