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John Hughes, Generation X Icon and Director of Breakfast Club Dead at 59

Another Generation X icon has died too soon.

John Hughes is dead at 59. He died today in Manhattan of a heart attack. He’d just finished his morning walk.

John Hughes was the director of all of my coming-of-age favorites. My brother, Billy (b. 1962) who just recently became convinced that he is a member of Generation X, introduced me to him.

“You’ve got to see this film called The Breakfast Club,” he said. “The whole thing takes place in a library.”

It sounded so boring to me, but then I watched it, and became a John Hughes fan for life.

I wanted to date bad boys like Judd Nelson, even though I never did. I wanted to learn how to do that lipstick trick that Claire did. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re not a true Xer.

I saw Pretty-in-Pink my sophomore year of college. Man, I wanted to make my own formals. I started to shop at thrift stores all over Oklahoma City. I’m kind of ashamed to admit it now, but I actually bought old men’s shoes in my size and wore them. I really don’t know what I was thinking. It worked for me. It was a phase that passed after one semester.

I also bought old formals made out velvet; cut them up and made them into skirts. I carried those bags from the 1960s covered with gold and turquoise jewels.

Yes, there was a character in every John Hughes film with whom I identified. From Ferris Bueller to Sixteen Candles, John Hughes will forever be remembered by Generation X as someone who gave rise to all our adolescent and young adult angst.

Just yesterday, I posted a link to a wonderful retrospective on The Breakfast Club. Please scroll down to find the link to Blogomatic3000’s blog.

Rest in peace, John Hughes. I know this is entirely too late, but, thank you.


Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. runescape gold

    Wow this is a sad moment, Sixteen candles and Weird Science are classics. His films and MTV were what made the 80’s fun for someone like me to growing up in.
    I was just posting on my blog about him. He will be missed.
    runescape money

  2. Jennifer K

    I think my fave John Hughes movie was “Some Kind of Wonderful.” Sadly, it kind of got over shadowed by his other films.

    Jen, I linked to your blog from my John Hughes tribute.

  3. jenX

    @JENNIFER – You should be writing for Salon. What a great comment, in the Gen X vernacular. “He got our nerd…he understood better than we did what life was like for us.”

    I’ve been wondering for the last several years what Hughes was up to. I wonder if he knew how much he meant to an entire generation. And, has any other movie producer held a position like that? Thank you!

    @SUSIE – Yes, they did – If we didn’t find ourselves in his films, we found who we wanted to be. I always enjoy your comments and input into the Gen X discussion.


  4. jenX

    @ JIM SMITH – Wonderful comment. Post-worthy. I wasn’t really cool enough for the re-fashioned prom dress either. Ha!

    @VGSMOM – I totally forgot about seeing that cover the other day until you mentioned it. I wonder what she’s thinking and if they kept in touch.

    @SHAWN – I kind of agree with you – the body of his work resonated on a deeper level with me than Jackson’s. Also, I think Hughes’s work was more definitively/squarely Gen X than Jackson’s.

    @ROD LOTT – All these years I thought Hughes directed that brat-pack film, too. The funny thing is, now that you mention, it was the movie I liked the least. I still liked it, but I detested the Jules character (Demi Moore), so the movie never held the nostalgia for me the others did. I did think the ivy league grad working as a mechanic was very archetypal/Gen X. Thank you for pointing this out!! YOU READ MY BLOG!!! Follow @bookgasm ya’ll. =)

  5. missqokc

    The Brat Pack films definitely defined who we were, thought we were…wanted to be. Again, you out do me by actually going out and making outfits out of thrift store finds while I was sitting around doing nothing, dreaming about someone like Jake Ryan(Sixteen Candles) noticing me.

    Am I the only one who can’t watch Two and Half Men without thinking, “Ducky’s all grown up.”

    Another loss for GenX. Thanks Jen, for giving us a place to connect.


  6. Rod Lott

    Hughes had nothing to do with ST. ELMO’S FIRE. It might actually be good if he had!

  7. Jim Smith

    Well I guess I qualify as a genx’r as I remember well the Molly Ringwald lipstick trick. The truth is that these days I never set out to watch “The Breakfast Club”, but inevitably if I ever see it on when surfing the channels, I can’t stop watching it until Claire gives Bender her diamond stud earring and we hear Brian ask the “Does that answer your question? Signed the Breakfast Club.”

    St. Elmo’s is still one of my favorite movies. I always wanted to be cool enough to pull off wearing the dangling cross and feathers earring that the Rob Lowe character wore throughout the movie. It’s a movie that our children will never get…but man those characters…all the John Hughes characters…they were us and they made us feel okay about all our insecurities and our reckless dreams.

    Great tribute Jen.


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