"When You Grow Up Your Heart Dies"
BY Dave White
August 07 2009 12:00 AM ET
In their original theatrical releases, those first three films were pretty much the only big studio products that acknowledged the fact that the '80s ran on multiple cultural tracks instead of the mandated one where everyone loved Ronald Reagan and Top Gun and other bullshitty stuff that was depressing. Eccentric characters were the stars and not the punch lines. As a weird person myself, I knew those characters well. When Duckie (who was pretty much flat-out coded gay or at the very least got read as homo by me and other young audience members who got the references) sat alone in his room pining for Andie in that weird androgynous way, listening to the Smiths, I knew what that was about instantly and I also knew that other people in the multiplex might not.
Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club
But after that trilogy hit TV and stayed there permanently, I knew I could always find one of them if I needed it. Right after I got out of college, during my first years of working with grown-ups as peers and realizing that they all mostly hated their lives, I could go home from my crap job -- equally depressed -- to my tiny apartment, shut the blinds, eat some chocolate cake for dinner on the floor (I owned no couch yet), and watch Ally Sheedy bemoan impending adulthood and the death of her heart while making a meal out of bread and Cap'n Crunch. Doesn't sound awesome, I know. But it was comforting. And I liked Ferris Bueller's happy announcement, "We ate pancreas!" better anyway. It was comforting and cheering. I could not remain bummed out over my job while watching the "Twist and Shout" part for the 27th time.