Hughes Nation: A Love Letter


A Love Letter

john hughsDear Mr. John Hughes,

This love letter is long overdue.  I know that now.  But something, not even on the news of your death in 2009, would let me compose it until now.  I guess I needed time.  Or maturation.  Something you were always against, I’m sure.  I look at the arc of your movies, starting with the success of your one-two punch of Vacation and Mr. Mom and ending with your Home Alone run and I see the way forward. 

But that’s not what this letter is about.  Simply put, this letter – composed on the eve of Valentine’s Day – is one full of adoration, thanks, and a deep well of respect for the films you’ve left for us to continue to remember you by.  Ferris Bueller’s Day Off means more today – as far as influences go – than it ever did upon its release.  And don’t even get me started on how Some Kind of Wonderful fares the older it gets. 

hughs bueller

You’ve influenced a great many person and you will continue to do so.  That’s the truth behind this letter.  And that’s based on what you were able to do in bringing teenagers – complicated and readily identifiable – to life in a way few writers in Hollywood knew how to do.  And I want to thank you for that.  Even the comedic highs of Weird Science tell many a truth about the geek in us all.  As a youth growing up in the middle of Kansas, without access to much in the way of culture outside of a farming community, I cannot tell you how influential Sixteen Candles was to me.  The story.  The music.  The style.  The nerds.  And that’s all because of you.  Thank you.


And thank you for giving voice to Judd Nelson’s role in The Breakfast Club.  The actor might never have reached the highs of that character again in his career but, for one sane and solitary moment, a major Hollywood film gave voice to the causes of juvenile delinquency through John Bender in a way that most never did.  It was alarming, unexpected, and necessary as the 1980s went on.  Adults never understood how their actions affected their own kids.  They looked to blame our heavy metal music and out New Wave styles.  Many a kid looked to Bender’s fist-in-the-air swagger as the light out of the darkness.  Many still do.

Breakfast Club

There is something insanely special about The Breakfast Club.  It is, in fact, timeless in how it communicates to teenagers as I still hear teens talking about it as their favorite movie.  And it unnerves me to think that at the time of its original release you rarely got much credit in how honest your characters were written.  The adults never saw the truth that we did.  Your movies were too broad they said; too teen-centered; too full of angst.  Critics were harsh.  Overly so. 

hughs ferris fest

Thank you for sticking with Molly Ringwald.  She might not have been the most amazing actress but she was the face that so many of us needed to hear your words pour out from.  In a world where the men reigned supreme, having her voice real concerns instilled within many like myself a need to grant women the floor and to sit down and shut up.  Pretty in Pink is the high-water mark where she absolutely nailed the angst felt by many.  But, without a doubt, it is that film which introduced me to the soul of Harry Dean Stanton and, thanks to Jon Cryer’s record store lip-synching of “Try a Little Tenderness”, the music of Otis Redding.

hughs pretty in pink

And thank you for your longstanding friendship with John Candy.  He was an amazing talent.  While you launched many a career – from Michael Keaton and Anthony Michael Hall to Bill Paxton, Matthew Broderick, and Macaulay Culkin – what you did with the comedian with Uncle Buck, The Great Outdoors, and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles will never be forgotten as the laughter created can still be heard echoing through neighborhoods.

hughs Uncle Buck john candy

Critics might have turned their backs on you but the fans never did.  Never.  Even Career Opportunities holds a special place in my heart.  And the reason is because of your voice in creating characters that, when taken out of their usual elements and placed together, have no choice but to find commonalities.  We could use a bit more of that in this time and place.  After all, even dramatists William Saroyan and Eugene O'Neill suggested that such a format, putting different people in isolation, could illicit sustained and meaningful communication. Do we dare suggest otherwise? 


The truth is that thankfully we will never know what Monday brought for many of these characters.  We don’t need to know.  The worlds they created when brought together is what his films are about.  Every moment.  Even the music rang true. 

Your films, Mr. Hughes, gave us all we needed.  We are One Nation under Hughes.


I love you for that.

Thank you.



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