In the movie, The Breakfast Club, the antagonist known as Bender (Judd Nelson) berates Ally Sheedy’s character. Molly Ringwald, in defense of Sheedy’s character, instructs her (Sheedy) to ignore him to which Bender replies, “Sweetie, you couldn’t ignore me if you tried.” And hence, the title of the book.
I’m coming home from my late shift at the library on a Thursday night, and I’ve got Big Country blaring through my headphones (I had nominated that week as 80s week on my Zune). Ah, mp3 players, don’t you just love them. It is like have your own portable radio station. One week its 80s, the next is grundge … and once in a while it is all things Irish, Canadian and New Age (Enya, Clannad, Loreena Mckennit). Splendid bit of technology. And it seems that I have detoured. Dear, oh dear.
Written by Susannah Gora, the book was a very intimate, behind-the-scenes journal of all those classic wonderful, teeny, 80s movies. For me, that grew up as a teen during the 80s, this was literary time machine that brought back a heightened sense of nostalgia. Ah yes, women with big hair, oversized shirts clasped in double-crossed belts, neon lipstick … oh such neon colours. Sorry, can’t help those bloody flashbacks. In some way, at most, Ms Gora’s book is a fitting tribute to the mind behind those timeless teen movies: the late John Hughes. What is revealed in the book is the astonishing relationship that Hughes had with his teen stars and the complete trust he had in their acting abilities to the point that he’d let them make changes to scripts. In some cases there was a hint of a possible romance between Ringwald (as she got a bit older, of course, none of that Polanski bollocks) with the Hughes. One of the interesting facts that came out of this book was the strange link of the Simpsons and Futurama to one of Hughes most popular teen films. If you’re expecting me to be a wanker and spell out the answer to for you, well I guess again … yes, you proper bollocksed up on that one. You Couldn’t Ignore Me is about as intimate as we could get with the life of John Hughes and the inspiration behind his movies. By the way, did you know there was an alternate ending for Pretty In Pink that pretty much got booed at the test screening? Interesting stuff. In an age where teen movies seem more about pushing socio-political messages or cause celebre down unsuspecting audience’s throats, Hughes movies were about teenagers being … well teenagers. Yes, there was scenes of abortion (well implied anyway) teen sex and drugs but the movie didn’t revolve them. Rock concerts, mall trips, clothing, the popular girls, the jocks, the nerds, and getting your driver’s license – you know, the fun stuff that made being a teenager being fun …until cell phones, texting, and possibly the Internet (note I didn’t say computers) came along and cocked it all up. A moment of silence for this cheated generation. Aye, so much for that.
If you grew up in the 80s, love the 80s or loved the John Hughes movies, the You Couldn’t Ignore Me is the absolute must-read book to … well, read. Ms. Gora does a fantastic job of “archiving” the 80s through the eyes and the movies of Mr. Hughes. And it is no coincidence that so many 80s references are popping up in teen movies recently. Of course, they are just bloody rip-offs and the death of originality, but there …. To optimally enjoy this book (though you really DON’T need to DO this) would require you to create a playlist consisting of Spandau Ballet, Simple Minds, Thompson Twins, Psychodelic Furs and Orchestral Maneuvers In the Dark (what a bloody pompous title for a band) purring over your earphones or speakers as you enjoy the mental time travel. Sure, you might get blind by the bright colours, bombarded with smells of Aqua Net mousse (or for some of us Soul Glo or whatever the major Jeri Curl brand was) … but whatever you encounter, just enjoy the ride. Thanks Ms. Gora for the time travel. And thanks for the interesting teenage years, Mr. Hughes, we’ll miss you.
Pathetic confession: It was my last day at school back in Guyana and I remember leaving the gate and walking over the field, that we played a lot of softball cricket on, and raising my fist in the air. No, I didn’t grow up to be a criminal, just a computer technician and a librarian. Yeah, I know.