Anthem for Angst-Ridden Youth (RIP John Hughes)

By Clare Langley-Hawthorne

It’s hard to believe he’s gone – John Hughes, the director of my teenage years – but looking back I have to confess the angst and confusion of that time have never really left me (probably why writing a YA book doesn’t seem a stretch) and so today I pay homage to the great teen films of the 1980s…OMG, I can’t believe I’m actually looking back on those years with nostalgia…So bring out the Tears for Fears and New Order albums, put on those pointy black shoes (Yes, I still have them) and the neon orange socks (sadly worn through) – brush that hair mascara on for it’s time for my top five 80’s teen movies (in ascending order and only the first two I confess are actually John Hughes’ movies).

Number 5: The Breakfast Club – Oh, to have been my namesake at that school. Miss Popular eating her sushi in detention and falling for the bad, bad boy…wait that was me at school…NOT!…I was actually on exchange in Canada the year this movie came out and as far as I was concerned ‘Don’t you Forget About Me’ was the anthem for my time there.

Number 4: Pretty in Pink – ditto on my desire to BE Molly Ringwald. Hell, in Australia I went to the all-girl Methodist Ladies College – we only had the Catholic Xavier schoolboys for our angst fix…
Number 3: Say Anything – This was a little before my time but when I saw it I was hooked…What’s not to love about John Cusack with a boom box above his head belting out Peter Gabriel to the girl of his dreams? I still love the line “I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen…”

Number 2: Valley Girl – Okay, I admit this was WAY before I really hit my teen angst stride but Nicholas Cage (before he became the loser conspiracist-action-hero dude) was the boyfriend I always wanted. I also wanted to speak like a valley girl but that’s a whole other (sad) story…

Number 1: Looking for Alibrandi – Finally an Aussie movie and at number 1 no less (I am cheating a wee bit though as this didn’t come out in the 1980s though I think the original book did)!
This one came out well, well after I was a teenager but when I saw it on a Qantas flight back to Australia I confess I teared up. I’m not Italian and had no Nonna spy ring but the story of a precocious teen trying desperately to get into law school, stymied by the confines of her private school upbringing, and falling (of course) for the wrong, bad boy…how could I resist?

I let my husband read this post – he’s had to put up with my addiction to 80’s teen movies long enough. I met him, after all, the first week of university (in 1987!). I was just seventeen and yes, New Order was the soundtrack to our dating. I was also in law school (idiot that I was). I’m still with him today – but when I see these movies I can easily be transported back to the 80’s…and I wonder what happened to all the bad, bad boys (and for that matter Molly Ringwald!)

So what film was the anthem for your angst-ridden youth?