Why is The Breakfast Club so undeniably good?

Posted on July 17, 2009

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The Breakfast Club poster. Normally I would not advise viewing any film represted by people posing in front of a white background.

The Breakfast Club poster. Normally I would not advise viewing any film represted by people posing in front of a white background.

The world weary waiter has always had a grudging relationship with popular culture. While I like to maintain a contemptuous distance with it – like a big sister’s attitude towards her younger brother – the facade must slip occasionally. And for the sake of a certain fellow feeling with my fellow inmates of western society, I have sometimes adopted a marriage of convenience and necessity with all things popular. But sometimes, despite my every effort to remain cool-eyed and aloof, the relationship takes on the exultant blush of first love. It can really creep up on you.

It flatters my self-important, and world-weary self-image to rubbish all things aesthetically democratic, it is also impossible even to deny this curmudgeonly heart a little light-hearted enjoyment from time to time. I speak of The Breakfast Club, of course.

So in the spirit of this whole-hearted embrace, I gladly acknowledge that The Breakfast Club not just a light-hearted romp, but also a competent examination of the serious issues facing the youth of all generations. For, while it may be a thoroughly x-gen piece in terms of it’s vintage, The Breakfast Club is quite possibly that rare beast, a film of almost universal appeal, an celebration of inter-generational alienation with, erm, inter-generational appeal. This is largely a theoretical statement, but I’d bet a weeks tips on it that gen-y would get just as much out of it.

And if I’m not mistaken, my father, a boomer and properly gruff individual that cannot be fooled by even the sweetest of appeals, would enjoy it also. I can offer as evidence that the DVD edition has been dubbed in many languages, and not just the usual Svenska, Suomi, Dansk and Norsk, Francais, Deutsch and Rushkaya, but also Arabic and others besides. So people in Egypt, Morrocco, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar may be enjoying it as we speak. Perhaps even the dirty wizard himself. Ha ha. Now that brings a smile to this weary face. The Breakfast Club might be comparable to the Da Vinci Code, or Of Mice and Men in terms of broad appeal. Steinbeck’s book was translated into nearly a hundred languages I hear. So the dubbing of this teen comedy-drama into twenty or so different tongues is no mean feat.

Without saying too much, I would simply add that this film has broad appeal as it addresses issues really quite fundamental to human experience. The imperative of belonging, the burden of necessary conformity, the need to be understood and accepted completely as oneself. The difficulty of relating to one’s parents in a rapidly changing culture, the facism of the values of achievement and excellence, the resentments brought about by economic inequality, the tragedy of abuse, the fun and revelation that can be experienced through communal intoxication, and the bonding that arises from shared limits, in this case an all-day detention. etc.

Let’s not forget though, that The Breakfast Club also celebrates bad dancing, exuberantly, energetically bad dancing, the best kind of dancing. My girlfriend is fast asleep, happily dozing through one of her favourite films. She doesn’t have a copy of Footloose, but if she did, I would put it on right now. Don’t you, daa na na na, forget about me, naaaa, don’t don’t don’t don’t…

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