The high school experience is something that will forever dominate the psyche of most American adults. It was an unforgettable time of fun, rebel-rousing, summer loves and parties. It was a time of warm summer days at the pool and chilly autumn nights, watching the football team and wondering were the party was going to be that night. School dances and hotel parties. Seems like all I can remember are the good times. High School is a very emotional time for many teens and everything matters. The insidious problems that I had to face are but a smudge on my memory, things like too much homework, zits, mean people, gossip, and algebra. The social atmosphere that permeated every aspect of high school could make or break your popularity.
In the movie, The Breakfast Club, five young adults are portrayed to a tee, representing a cross cultural view of the teens attending high school in suburban Chicago in 1985. The year in which the movie is set is immaterial, because the game is the same, whether it is 1955 or 1995.
The opening scene of this classic movie shows the five students arriving to school at approximately seven thirty in the morning, Saturday, to serve their punishment, the dreaded Saturday detention that many of us had to submit to. This grievous application of student torture was utilized by school administrators to punish, reform and deter schoolboys and schoolgirls from breaking any rules and regulations. The scene is narrated by the brain of the group, the know it all, dorky, goofy, nerd whose idea of fun was to grow fungus and compete in the academic decathlon. In a dry and sardonic voice he leads you into the movie and their day in Saturday d-hall.
Stereo-types abound in life, but in high school the social caste system is magnified, into a hierarchy of cool to zero, with subtle varying degrees in the spectrum.The Breakfast Club characterizes this phenomena by depicting the jock, the brain, the basketcase, the princess, and the juvenile delinquent. In the movie each character is representative of the social class to which they belong. The jock signifies the sports star that can do no wrong, but the movie character bullies another boy and when caught all he received was detention. Although on the other hand the delinquent who is a dope smoking, foul mouthed punk, received the same punishment for talking back to a teacher. Administrators and teachers are very quick to meet out severe punishment to those students that they have deemed worthless, while good kids get a slap on the wrist. The movies jock is placed in Saturday detention, instead of being suspended, so that he may wrestle in an upcoming tournament; a case in which Hollywood makes an accurate depiction. This is the holding of power that Wehlage and Rutter spoke about in their study, High School and Beyond. Students who receive better treatment seem to do better in school when subjected to an orderly environment, a committed and caring faculty, and an emphasis on academic pursuits(Nieto,100).
The movie goes on to compare and contrast the princess and the basketcase, both seventeen year old girls who endeavor male attention, yet one is the cool crowd prom queen and the other is the loser, burnout crowd weirdo. Brian, the narrating brain, is a fifteen-year-old sophomore who is having trouble coping with high school. He looks up to the older, cool kids, yet his parents unbearably demanding academic expectations have driven him to thoughts of suicide. Students who drop out are usually uninvolved and passive participants in the school experience(Nieto,101).The movie focuses on how each teen copes with their individual stresses and how they interact among two thousand hormone driven teenagers. Some of the funniest and most memorable movie scenes in cinematic history take place in the high schools library. This movie came out before I attended high school, yet I envisioned my experience to be similar. Now, I watch the movie and I get that nostalgic feeling and realize that high school was exactly that way.
In todays world the names and faces may have changed, but all in all kids stay the same. The rules and parameters of this game called, high school, may have changed in order to stay current with the nineties, teenagers coming of age in society have stayed practically the same. You hear a lot of teachers say that the kids are different and that things just arent the same, it is the teacher who has failed to adapt and modify themselves. High School is a paradox. A beautiful and painful experience that will stay with someone for the rest of their life, whether enjoyed it or hated it.