August 9th, 2009
07:43 AM ET

Dear President Obama #202: The passing lane

Reporter's Note: I write to President Obama every day. I have never written to anyone else so much in my life, and as a child I would rather have had my wrist broken. But I’ve come to enjoy it for the most part. Not sure how he feels about it.

John Hughes was behind some of the most beloved films of the 1980s.

John Hughes was behind some of the most beloved films of the 1980s.

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

In the excitement over the good employment news this weekend, I failed to mention the passing of filmmaker John Hughes, and I wanted to share a few thoughts about that.

I really liked Sixteen Candles, Uncle Buck, Planes-Trains-And-Automobiles, and maybe my personal favorite, She’s Having a Baby. Oddly enough, I was never so much into Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or The Breakfast Club, but I enjoyed them just the same.

His movies, I think, resonated with a lot of younger people because they spot-on nailed a transitional time in our culture. For young Americans, the 1950’s were about the post-war boom, the birth of rock, sock hops, and waking up to the idea that this would not be our father’s Oldsmobile. The ‘60’s is when the party got out of control, furniture was broken, feelings hurt, and while some enjoyed the bliss of their lives, others were realizing, “yea, but Mom and Dad are going to come home and then there will be hell to pay.” The ‘70’s turned to disco; a mindless, fun groove for a mindless, fun decade. (Well, sort of. That whole Watergate business, the end of Vietnam, and the economic turmoil took some shine off of the apple. Come to think of it, I guess disco was more like a painkiller, which is really hard to believe.)

But the 1980’s were the heartland of John Hughes’ territory. Just like Samantha in Sixteen Candles, I think a lot of us were feeling as if old traditions were being forgotten in the rush of the moment; “I can’t believe this. They ___ forgot my birthday.” We were feeling the first real tickles of confronting a wider world; “What’s happenin,’ Hot Stuff?” The tech-age was roaring in like a freight train, and the only people who really “got it,” didn’t seem to “get” life at all; “By night’s end, I predict me and her will interface.”

I think that is when kids really started growing up too fast, parents started checking out too much, and our whole complex, confusing world grew more so, even as we tried to hang onto the core values of who we were amid a whole new set of puzzling social questions; “Can I borrow your underpants for ten minutes?”

Hughes wrote all of those lines, and captured all of those moments, and somehow just knowing that someone had noticed enough to make it into a movie, I think, helped a lot of people feel not so alone. His movies were light, and sentimental, and fun, and not easily forgotten, which is saying something compared to most of what we see in that genre. They were hopeful. And hope is something we can never get enough of.



Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Isabel • Brazil

    Hi Tom!

    In a day down-hearted I just watched ‘Ferris Buell’s Day Off’ and everything was ok! Unforgettable scene when Ferris Buell invades a parade and sings “Twist and shout,” of the Beatles.

    ‘The Breakfast Club’ is another classic film of my adolescence.

    About the movies, our reviews may be different, but in thinking about the talents of John Hughes, we agree!

    Great post! Thanks!

    August 9, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  2. Erik H

    You should do a story on the rise of Right-Wing extremism. Its pretty scary if you consider the trend. The killings at the Unitarian Church last year, the killing of the abortion doctor, the riots at the town hall meetings. Its all pretty scary.

    August 9, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  3. Phyllis Roth

    Dear President Obama,
    I believe that the American people need to know how much of our health care dollar is consumed by the insurance industry. This money does nothing to improve our health-it only benefits the insurance industry. The insurance industry could offer to cover those with no insurance and/or pre-exisiting conditions. The only obstacle is greed. This is why we need a government option.
    Thank you for addressing this issue with the American people.
    Phyllis T. Roth RN, MS, Np

    August 9, 2009 at 12:17 pm |