I never got out of the single digit ages when I lived in the 80s and for me that worked fine. I had a great time enjoying things like the Smurfs and “Alf.” But as I watch all those movies I love from that decade I realize I wish that was when I was a teenager, despite the fact that I would be a lot older today. 80s movies teenagers took back the reigns from the disco loving jerks of the 70s and made it cool to be a teenager again. But eventually the cool teen would be replaced by horny morons who bang baked goods. But for one glorious decade they were king.
So many of these 80s teens taught me that I can overcome bullies or uncoolness with one totally bitchin’ competition. Daniel Larusso was the new kid in town and was attacked by bullies, so what did he do? He learned karate and kicked everyone’s ass. Lane Meyer taught a lesson to a total douche bag by beating him in a downhill ski race. 80s movies teenagers could solve any problem with some kind of competition that a lot of people were inexplicably into. Kids these days just throw down by the oak tree at 3 o’clock.
These teens were also always better at whatever the competition was than anyone in any other age. Lane Meyer looked like he could out race Bode Miller, and Lane was still spending most of the day in school or fixing an old Camaro or drag racing Asian kids on a suburban street. And these teens always had some off beat way of training. Daniel Larusso learned how to kick ass by doing chores at an old man’s house. Cru Jones got obvious advice from Aunt Becky after his paper route. But the most important lesson from these competitions is that the best way to win at basketball is to become a werewolf.
And all of this was done without the aid of energy drinks. Though the 80s were known for the rampant coke use, but we can only speculate about whether these teens used any.
But aside from being bodaciously awesome at competitions, there was another great reason to be a teenager in 80s movies: John Hughes. All the teens in his movies served as models of how great life can be. As bad as life seemed for these people, it was always the absolute opposite by the end of the movie. And their problems were never that bad to begin with.
Samantha Baker felt neglected at home, what with her sister’s pending nuptials, but within 24 hours she’s getting some birthday cake and deep dickin’ from the school heartthrob. In the Breakfast Club five strangers are picked to spend a Saturday together, and we see what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real. A whole Saturday is blown but in the end these teens made some new friends and essentially told their principal, “fuck you!” John Hughes’ teenagers all learn a lesson and they have fun, or what looks like fun, in their attempts to learn said lesson.
Then there’s Ferris Bueller. Who wouldn’t want to be this kid? Is there any way this kid could have had this kind of day in the decades following the 80s? I would guess no. With cell phones, GPS, lo-jack and other technological advances it seems to me Bueller wouldn’t get too far. Though I am always amazed by the number of teenagers I see hanging around downtown in the middle of the day. Maybe the school system just doesn’t care anymore and we should view Ed Rooney as more caring than he appears to be.
I think what I love most about being a teen in an 80s movie were the troubles and worries were so much lighter. They weren’t concerned with kids coming to school with guns or pipe bombs. They were worried about karate, and kids with skis, and being so embarrassed they would shit and die. The times seemed much simpler and I envy that. Even overcoming an evil corporation like Mongoose Bicycles was just another weekend afternoon.
If reincarnation is a real thing, I hope to come back as a teenager in an 80s comedy, or a male lion.
See ya at Helltrack…
06 Apr 2010 Lee S. Hart