On Writing: Lessons From The Breakfast Club

Last night, I took a trip back to high school with the “Brat Pack” to good ole Shermer High. It’s easy to see why The Breakfast Club became a cult classic and iconic portrait of high school in the 80s and beyond.

the Breakfast Club castThe main lesson of the film is one to remember when writing (or creating marketing campaigns). Don’t stick with stereotypes. Sure, it’s easier, and somewhat expected, but it doesn’t allow you to create rich, three-dimensional characters.

In the movie, five high school students from different cliques end up spending their Saturday in detention together. At first, they only take each other at face value and think the others are shallow representations of the stereotypes they represent: the Jock, the Princess, the Brain, the Basket Case and the Criminal.

After spending an eventful day together discussing their lives and outwitting their “evil” principal, Mr. Vernon, the group realizes that they have more in common than they thought — mainly that they all have issues with their parents. (What teenagers don’t? 🙂 )

But the main theme of the film is stereotypes, and how they don’t fit very well. Sure, Andrew Clark (played by Emilio Estevez) is a talented varsity wrestler, but he also has feelings and isn’t stupid. Plus, he admits toward the end of the film that he feels so much pressure to excel at wrestling and please his “old man” that he sometimes wishes he couldn’t wrestle at all. This theme continues with the other characters.

As Brian’s paper, on behalf of the group, concludes at the end of the film, “You see us as you want to see us — in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…

and an athlete…

and a basket case…

a princess…

and a criminal…

Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.”

Join the Club!

  • Which character did you resonate with the most?
  • Did Allison’s character sell out?
  • What was your favorite moment in The Breakfast Club?
  • What books or authors (or marketing campaigns) move beyond stereotypes?

Rooting for the Brain,

p.s. Do you feel like you’re stuck in detention when you try to write? Let CCC help!

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