When a filmmaker like John Hughes dies, every middle-aged reporter uses it as an excuse to dredge up old adolescent memories. Nobody else had an impact on teenagers in the 1980s the way Hughes did, and the ageing Gen-Xers are now wiping away tears as they recall how Ducky from Pretty in Pink really spoke to them. Check out such “back in the 80s when I was cool” posts as Paul Katz’s at The Huffington Post. He was hip enough to have been at the Chicago premiere, and writes, “I was fifteen, a sophomore in high school, and attended with my friends Jenny and Tracy, two girls heavy into the punk scene”
To keep up liberal credibility, The Huffington Post also points out that Hughes’s movies were not exactly racially diverse – although they do add the qualifier “but that’s ok”: John Hughes Films Weren't Racially Diverse, but That's OK
For more mainstream media tributes, see the CBS morning show panel’s attempt to make sense of the significance of Hughes’s like and work. It’s half a laugh:
From a less sarcastic perspective, the outpouring of sentiment over Hughes’ death is different to what you usually get when a Hollywood director dies. If Scorsese pegged it tomorrow, there would no doubt be an avalanche of columns discussing what an influential and talented director he was, but there wouldn’t be the same degree of warmth involved. He never really got to the sentimental center of people the way Hughes did. The Breakfast Club and the rest of the Molly Ringwald trilogy, not to mention Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, captured the spirit of youth in a way that no other filmmaker has been able to before or since, and have become intertwined with teenage consciousness. These movies form a big part of the way we remember our younger years, and our memories from that period are the strongest of all. A.O Scott makes this point vividly for The New York Times, as does Peter Howell for thestar.com who writes, “The many people mourning his [Hughes] passing this weekend are also mourning their own memories of better days.”
Hughes' death also shows the way bloggers affect the news cycle these days. Alison Byrne Fields of We’ll Know When We Get There revealed that the filmmaker was her pen pal in the 80s, which other blogs and news organizations picked up on, so much so that this little story has become part of the greater Internet memorial to him: Sincerely, John Hughes.
Perhaps the best eulogy comes from Ben Stein, the actor who uttered the immortal lines “Bueller….Bueller….Bueller”: he said, “I don’t think anyone has come close to him as being the poet of the youth of America in the postwar period. He was to them what Shakespeare was to the Elizabethan Age.”