Rachel Bunting

losing a pop-culture icon

John Hughes passed away yesterday from a heart attack while walking in Manhattan.

Hughes’ movies shaped a good portion of my adolescence into adulthood. I believe Molly Ringwald is the perfect woman, and I used to (sort of still do) overidentify with her characters. I have an Iona, an Allison, a Randy in my circle of friends. My love life was a mish-mosh of Hughes’ characters: I wanted Jake Ryan to be my boyfriend; I dated Blane McDonough and Farmer Ted in high school; I spent about ten years with Bug; now I’ve ended up with Duckie Dale. (Not a bad finish, actually – he was more constant than the rest.) And Hughes’ soundtracks informed my musical taste in a lot of ways – because of him, for years I included in my poetry bio the sentence, “Rachel is a dedicated fan of British bands from the 80s.” My favorite Smiths song “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” was featured in my favorite scene from Pretty in Pink, when Duckie is alone in his room, tossing playing cards at his hat, and my first introduction to Otis Redding was Duckie’s dance scene at Trax.

Hughes, who was not yet 60, seemed too young. But he left an incredible canon of work behind him, including Career Opportunities (featuring a very young Jen Connelly), Some Kind of Wonderful, Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Only the Lonely. It was through Hughes’ movies that I learned about the comedic genius of Steve Martin and John Candy, and now, as an adult, I can relate to the feeling of suburban alienation in She’s Having a Baby. It’s funny how much Hughes’ movies have impacted my life, in ways I never realized before.

Here’s to you, John. Thanks for making everything so relatable.


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