"Dear Mr. Vernon, We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. What we did *was* wrong. But we think you're crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. What do you care? You see us as you want to see us - in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Correct? That's the way we saw each other at 7:00 this morning. We were brainwashed."
John Hughes wrote the words of my childhood.
As a comedic writer, Hughes' influence on me is undeniable. His one-liners from films like Mr. Mom ("How 'bout a little shave of that mustache, Ron?) and National Lampoon's Vacation ("Ya' got Asteroids?...Naw, but my dad does. Can't even sit on the toilet some days") never fail to make me chuckle, even if I've heard them a dozen times. His way with a pen is legendary, having written the majority of films that spoke to my generation. In the era of raunchy teen romps like Porky's, Hughes treated his teenage protagonists with respect and understanding--a revelation to youth like myself who felt like parts of our real lives were actually being portrayed on the big screen. What adults don't often understand is just how serious everything seems when you're struggling to find yourself amongst the lockers, proms and classes. But John, he got it. Got the alienation, the unrequited love, the angst, all of it. Whether you are a Blane, a Ferris, a Cameron, a Donger, or an Andie (me, I will always be a Duckman), Hughes understood you. And he did it again and again, with scary accuracy.
It was a bummer when Hughes went the way of Salinger, disappearing from the public eye, his stamp gone from the teen films hitting the multiplexes, giving way to glossy, stupid, vapid portraits of youth (the films of one Mr. Freddie Prinze, Jr. come to mind). I was always waiting for him to come roaring back one day, back to the youth that so badly need him. His passing was indeed tragic...but the work he left behind is timeless. Generations to come will sympathize with Cameron Frye ("He'll just keep calling..."); watch the Griswolds circle endlessly on the west bank ("Look kids! Big Ben! Parliament!); recoil in embarrassment as Samantha Baker gets felt up by her own grandmother ("Fred! She's gotten her boobies!"); and laugh as Bender takes on Vernon ("Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?").
Thanks for understanding, John.