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John Hughes - Bigger than Spielberg?

Call me naive, or blame it on the freshness of his death today, but I'm pretty sure at this point, that John Hughes had a bigger impact on popular culture and popular film than any director of the last thirty years - and yes, that includes Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas.

Don't get me wrong, both Uncle George and Stephen have done wonderful things for film, but just hear me out.

First of all, look at the resume of all three - George and Stephen have, together, produced a hand full of what I believe to be classic movies - The Star Wars Trilogy, Indiana Jones, Jaws, Schindlers List, and Saving Private Ryan - to name a few. And while I don't diminish their impact on popular culture (Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Jaws, mostly) or their impact on the art of film (Schindlers, Private Ryan), I still don't see their overall mark on the popular culture of movies and life to be as massive of that of John Hughes.

Look at his resume:

Mr. Mom - changed the way America looked at the traditional family structure, and it's even helped make what guys like me do more acceptable.

National Lampoons Vacation (The whole series) - Who hasn't referred to their vacation as Griswoldesque, at least once? Christmas Vacation, at least in my home, is required viewing during the holidays. And, anyone who has ever been to England, I'm sure, has probably pointed to Big Ben, Parliament, in the same way Clark Griswold did.

Ferris Buellers Day Off - My cousin Mike made it a tradition to watch this movie every time he returned home from college. Now, I'm not as BIG a fan of this movie as he was and is, but there's no doubt that this is a classic. I know I've even called out Bueller....Bueller, a couple of times in my head during roll call while in school.

Sixteen Candles - When even my wife, who isn't nearly as immersed in pop culture as I am, can quote a movie, I have to give it props for the impact it has made overall. Dong!!!

Pretty in Pink - Another great teen flick, set the bar for the rest of the teen movies that would follow. Plus, who doesn't like the Psychedelic Furs theme song?

The Breakfast Club - my all time fave - What appears as a simple teen comedy is actually a deep examination of teen culture that spans the generations - yesterdays criminal is today's misunderstood thug. Yesterdays Prom Princess is the same as Today's Prom Princess. I could go on and on, but I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone in the Western World that doesn't relate to one of the rich characters in this movie.

There's more - Planes, Trains Automobiles, Weird Science, The Great Outdoors, Uncle Buck, even Home Alone. All of these are movies that anyone can relate too, and has related to over the years. And that's where I think Hughes impact is the largest; While stuff like Star Wars reaches an esoteric audience (albeit, a LARGE esoteric audience...)the movies of John Hughes are relatable to anyone who has ever been a teenager, or a twentysomething, or a married guy trying to relate to his in-laws.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Hughes. Thank you for everything.


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