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  • Dani Cipolla

An open letter to John Hughes


Saturday, March 24th, 2018

Manhattan, New York 10012

Dear John Hughes,

Well, here we are; I want to thank you for creating a timeless movie. 

       The Breakfast Club is more than just a movie.  I believe your creation has opened me up to be more accepting of society.  You helped me see the world for more than its simple definitions.  It's a pure work of genius. You not only broke down teen angst with authority, but you broke down society, all in a "high school movie."  (You are a genius).

       The Breakfast Club helped shape the person I am today and it continues to teach me new things every time I watch it.  At a young age (maybe 4 or 5) I watched this movie with my dad (probably younger).  From the day I could remember, I knew I needed to watch it repeatedly. Lucky for me it was my father's favorite too. By age ten I knew almost every line in the movie (My dad would always tell me to "stop" right before certain lines). I don't know exactly when I figured out every word in the movie but now at age 24 I know not only every line; I know all the movements the characters are about to make(... I love this movie.)

It started with a simple crush on John Bender. He was witty and funny to me and I understood him the most. (shit even today, Bender is hot)

As I got older I began to truly understand this timeless piece that I was watching. Each scene teaching me something new, not only about myself but about society. With The very first quote by David Bowie (thanks for listening to Ally Sheedy) to the epic ending with Judd Nelson raising his fist in the air, you show great depths that no movie, in my opinion, has ever done. 

I won't go too crazy with this letter and write you a novel. So I want to tell you how just one character you created, a character who hardly speaks the entire movie, has helped me become who I am today and also helped me understand others.

Allison Reynolds--The basket case. She isn't my favorite character (Bender is), I won't lie I didn't get her at first. But as I got older, I began to understand her character.  The quiet girl no one notices. For 33 min she doesn't talk, and I hardly notice the girl. She sits in the far back corner and when I see her at first, I can tell she wants attention; but soon I forget about her. There are the subtle flashes of her smirking and drawing but I never really care to notice her; this is what makes her so powerful.  

You first introduced Allison when she is being dropped off by her parents It's obvious her parents could give a fuck less; she goes to say goodbye and her dad speeds off(... dick.) With that, you gave me the first impression that she is ignored. 

For the first 24 minutes of the movie Allison sits back and listens to everyone while she draws, observing everyone while no one notices her. They say Allison is silent for the first 33 minutes in the movie; I disagree, and I have to ask... do you agree? She doesn’t really speak as much as she makes a noise, but to me her “Ha!” spoke volumes. I can only imagine what you were thinking when you wrote this character and this moment. The basket case who is looking at the princess thinking she has it all-- a mommy and daddy who love her and shower her with riches.That's exactly how Bender saw Claire as well. So when Allison shouts “Ha!” to Claire's sob story about her parents not giving a shit, that moment must have been so freeing for her. She wasn't alone anymore, but better yet, her angst was the same as Claire's. Only Claire hid hers; unlike Allison who wore it on her sleeve.

Your occasional thief was a complete shadow, you even prove this when they are running away from Vernon in the halls. You have her slowly walk behind them, or lean against lockers just to prove this point. I always admire Allison.  Even though she lurked in the shadows she was always straightforward when she spoke. She called Andrew out on his bullshit; and though she lied, she finally got Claire to admit what everyone was wondering. What amazed me about this is I could see what she's doing before she did it. While Claire asks Andy if he would  “show up to school naked”  you have Allison look over the situation (as she's done throughout the movie). She sees Claire teasing Andy and then she looks to Bender, who is bored by the conversation. Then begins her lie. Right when she says “I’ll do anything sexual” she looks over to Bender. To me, this hints at her saying I'll  get your answer for you (which she does.) I said before she was a powerful character, this shows you how. By lurking in the shadows she figured out a way to lie and get to the truth. We see this a lot in society, yet no one notices.

These simple moments helped me understand her and others like her, but there are two scenes where she helped me understand myself. 

“You wanna see what’s in my bag?” 

Though the boys rejected--she didn't care and proceeded to dump the contents of her bag on the couch inviting the boys into her life. She talks about running away from her unsatisfying home and exploring the world. 

“ I don't have to run away and live in the street. I can run away and I can go to the ocean, I can go to the county, I can go to the mountains. I can go to Israel, Africa, Afghanistan." 

 We all go through a time in our lives when we want to hide. We want to run away from the hell we are living in and never return. Though I never wanted to run away from home in the way she did, I always dreamed of getting out and exploring the world. I never limited myself to the streets like Brian tried to limit her. I thought like Allison, I thought I could go anywhere I wanted. Honestly, it's one of the reasons I became a model. The idea of traveling the world and getting away from where I was. Allison helped me realize this. Though people will try to limit you, never limit yourself. Our home lives may be unsatisfying but that doesn't mean our futures have to be.

   The last scene that helped me personally is when Claire gives Allison a makeover. Recently I read an article about Allison and I must say the guy had a very crude outlook on this and I want to say he is wrong. In this article, the guy says Allison lost herself and her individuality by letting Claire give her a makeover, that the lesson was you have to change yourself into the girl next door to get the guy you want. John, I know this isn't why you made this scene, and I want to let you know I saw the message you were truly displaying. This scene wasn't about changing who you are, this scene was about coming out of the shadows and showing people who you are. Yes,Allison looks uncomfortable. She's not used to showing her face. She wants to hide-- that's why her bangs are always in her face and she wears all the dark eyeliner throughout the movie. I will say Claire's intention probably wasn't to do this, but yours as the writer and director was to show a girl coming out of her shell(... right?) In the end Andy shows us this by saying…

" I can see your face.” 

“that good or bad?” Allison said, looking worried he would think its bad 

“its good,” said Andy

This adorable moment between the two characters shows this wasn't a moment of her changing herself this was her showing herself. Allison opened herself up to the world and let people finally see her. She didn't magically get that top from Claire she already had it. It was under all the “rags”.  This ending scene with Allison helped me to not hide anymore. It helped me to understand I shouldn't lurk in the shadows or hide who I truly am. I will never forget the day I started modeling. All my friends were confused and questioning how the girl who came to school in hoodies and sweatpants could be a model. I always thought of this scene, where a beautiful girl finally took off her “rags”; wipes off all the dark makeup which hid her beauty and finally showed her face.

I could go on for days how each of your characters have changed my life for the better, but we shall save that for another day. I just wanted to thank you for teaching me that we all have a little "basket case" in each of us and that's okay. 

Sincerely yours,

Dani Cipolla

#BreakfastClub

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