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Monday, April 7, 2014

The Brunch Club: The Breakfast Club at 30

Today's posting is all about the popular 1984 teen film "The Breakfast Club" directed by the late great John Hughes as it relates to the past vs present.

If you're too old or too young to remember the film, this blog will probably hold little sentimental meaning yet we believe still hold some relevance..

So last month was the 30th Anniversary of its release, a film about five teenagers of different socio-economic backgrounds who under normal circumstances would never socialize with one another due to their cliques but must spend an entire Saturday together in detention in the school library.
~ Character names L to R: Bender (outcast), Andrew (athlete), Allison (misfit), Claire (cool rich girl) and Brian (nerd)

We watched it over the weekend on Netflix and had many observations connecting directly or indirectly to finance, markets and the general economy.

The first thing the popped into our minds is how refreshingly un-politically correct we were as a nation back then.

If 'Breakfast Club' was being made (or remade) today, there would be some bean counter producer or casting agent that ensured that like every commercial and TV program, every race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and diverse culture was represented perfectly among the five.
Molly Ringwald's snobby character Claire would have probably stayed lily white or possibly have her background be Jewish to play up the tired 'JAP' stereotype and someone would insist Judd Nelson's bad boy character Bender be black so the inter-racial love interest angle could be pushed hard onto audiences faces.

Emilio Estevez's athletic character Andrew would probably today be made as very Hispanic and given a name like Alessandro, Anthony Michael Hall's book nerd character Brian would be Asiatic- Indian, Japanese or Chinese,  and Ally Sheedy's anti-social character Allison would probably be lesbian or at least bi, and possess an avant garde set of spiritual beliefs.

Sorry if we offended just now.. wasn't our intent.  That's simply Hollywood today-- An industry that on one hand tries to teach the world to be color blind then goes out of its way to use every crayon in the box to increase accessibility and maximize profits.
The second thing we thought of is their ages..  Today the five of them would be in their late 40s..

Amazing how different a time it was technologically then vs today. No cell phones to call and text friends with messages of irrelevance.  Not even beepers back then.  Computers were very archaic and only true geeks knew how to use them.

We also wondered how many if any of them would have been severely impacted by the 2008 market crash and this ongoing recession-depression?

We imagine wealthy Claire would either have suffered the most or been the most unscathed depending on how cleverly she invested Daddy's money.  Then again, we can see her marrying someone with money whether due to her own choice or parental pressure.
Science whiz Brian would have had struggles the past few years for most of the jobs which were eliminated since 2008 were jobs requiring specialized degrees and replaced by temp and low-intellect/low salary work.  And Lord help him if he picked up the Finance Trader or Business Administration bug between then and college graduation.

If rebel Bender picked up a marketable skill somewhere in his journey of life such as fixing cars or air conditioners, he would have pretty well off in the grand scheme not feeling much of a bump economically as his chances of being downsized, his profession outsourced and more importantly, out of a job for any length would have been minimal.

Of course if he ended up a criminal, his life would have been hell.
Wrestler Andrew is hard to peg down (pardon the pun) because it wasn't just that he needed wrestling to get a college scholarship but you sorta got the idea that without playing that sport, he might not have gotten accepted to too many colleges based on mere grades.

But we always saw his character as making safe choices and could see him one day being a Phys. Ed teacher/wrestling coach.

Goth-like Allison is the most difficult to figure as to her career because her transformation from inward to outward personality occurs at the very end of the film, and really is just in its budding stages.

She had artistic talent as shown by her drawing of a winter landscape compete with dandruff 'snow' so how much the economy would have affected her would have been based on whether she found a niche or just one of those people who paint and draw then try to sell their works at flea marts.
We also thought of where there lives would have been today had the characters been real people..

How many would have married?   Then divorced?   Then re-married?  And re-divorced?

How many would have had children or adopted?  How many would have had to deal with custody battles and visitation rights fights?

What types of home or apartment would each of them live in?   How many would have not been able to pay their mortgage due to bad economy and being over-extended?  How many would have to deal with Sheriffs knocking at the door serving papers then eviction after the foreclosure?

How many of those five would at one time or another be battling addiction problems or dependency issues of some kind?   All five smoked marijuana during the latter part of the film (oregano for real).. For how many would that have been a gateway drug?
How many would have had to file for personal or professional bankruptcy around 2006-2010?

And how many of them would have had the inward strength no not only cope the new reality but have the strength and resilience to fight back against the system?

We also remembered there were two adult characters in the film:  Principal Richard "Dick" Vernon played by the late Paul Gleason who had to watch over the kids in detention and Carl the Janitor played by John Kapelos who himself drew generalizations about them as they did toward him.

Vernon's character was 47 years old on that specific Saturday back in 1984 which means today he'd be 77 and retired as a Principal or higher administrator (assuming he wasn't previously kicked out for unethical conduct)
We assume he was a practical man who saved his money, built up his pension and lived a somewhat comfortable life without having to go back to work as a Senior just to make enough to pay his property taxes and health insurance like so many are today.

Of course we can also see 'Dick' as a man with no interests or hobbies or love life who vegetates the days away in front of the TV when not going

Carl the janitor would be 58 years old and could still be janitor all these years later.  Or maybe he took some risk and found his true calling.  We can't see him as someone with much of a nest egg built up either way so we can see him working two.. maybe even three jobs to make ends meet in the current economy.
Interestingly as we were writing this post, we came upon this piece of trivia care of IMDB.com:

"Among the cut scenes from the movie (some filmed, some only written) are: Carl predicts where the five kids will be in 30 years. 

Bender will have killed himself, Claire will have had "2 boob jobs and a face lift," Brian will have become very successful but die of a heart attack due to the stress of the high paying job. 

Allison will be a great poet but no one will care, and Andrew will marry a gorgeous airline stewardess who will become fat after having kids"
How do you see the 'Breakfast Club' today?

How did you see yourself thirty years ago?