What is it about older entertainment that still causes younger audiences to enjoy it to this day? Many say it's nostalgia, but there are those who didn't see and hear these entertainments upon their first release who enjoy it anyway. What it is, at least to me, is that younger audiences connect with this material on some level. They can relate to it because they see something of themselves in it, or if they don't see themselves, then at least there's a sense of fascination with the behavior and looks of the entertainers.
With that, let's go to the movies.
The first movie I would like to bring up is "The Breakfast Club".
This movie was first released in 1985, but there's something in it that makes it still popular to this day. To me, that something is the matter of the difficulties of meeting new people. We have our families and our sets of friends, but life is an ongoing process...A series of comings and goings. As life progresses, we meet new people. They have their own joys and sorrows, and taking the time to talk to them can be hard, but it can also be rewarding.
To me, this is best reflected in the scene where the "criminal" John Bender (Judd Nelson) compares his home life to that of the "brain" Brian Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall).
Bender impersonates his idea of Brian's family, the type with a caring mom and a loving dad and 2.5 kids, and Brian seems somewhat amused. His skin is rather thick. Bender then impersonates his own father and devolves into screaming and cursing. It serves as a window into his psyche. It helps explain his behavior.
It's possible to relate to this because some of us are trapped in abusive families and we view other families as happy, and the other way is true as well. Students aren't as cut-and-dry as they may be perceived, and I think that John Hughes was able to capture that quite well.
The next older entertainment that can be related to by younger audiences is the 1983 classic "Scarface".
This is a case of a movie that became a classic through a younger audience. Believe it or not, this movie was a critical and box-office disaster in 1983. The critics didn't care for the violence or language, and they didn't care for Al Pacino's acting or accent.
Oh, how times have changed. Here we are, a quarter of a century after its' release, and the movie is even more popular than it was when it first came out.
With the assistance of VCRs, young people were able to get easier access to movies like this. What we saw in it was a tale of one of the greatest anti-heroes of our time.
Tony Montana (Al Pacino) is a man of confidence...He doesn't take shit from anyone. He just does his thing, and does it well. His activities shouldn't be emulated...His attitude should. We're all familiar with the saying "Nice guys finish last". It isn't a matter of being nice or mean...It's a matter of being confident. It doesn't matter what your attitude is...As long as you're confident, then things can end up working out for you. That's what so many younger people get out of the movie...Confidence. It's something that doesn't come naturally to everybody, but it's something to aspire to anyway.
Next, we come to a movie that, although it was made in 1982, has a message that resounds throughout the years.
That movie is "The Last American Virgin".
For those of you who haven't seen it, it's a movie about a trio of young men and the woman that two of them love.
The 3 young men are the mild-mannered Gary (Lawrence Monoson), the prideful Rick (Steve Antin) and the overweight party boy David (Joe Rubbo). They have only two things on their minds: Sex and partying...Or at least that's how it seems.
(From left to right: Gary, Rick and David)
Gary is actually looking for both love and lust, and the woman he selects as his object of desire is named Karen (Diane Franklin).
She's going out with Rick, and that pisses Gary off. He's willing to do anything to be with her.
Rick gets Karen pregnant and wants nothing to do with her. Gary steps in and offers to pay for Karen's abortion. He financially stresses himself, and because of all he went through, he thinks he has a chance with Karen, even going so far as to say he loves her.
For her birthday, he wants to give her a present. As he's going to give her the present at her party, he sees that she and Rick are back together again. The sight destroys him and has him leaving the party, driving away in tears as the credits roll.
There's a lesson to be learned here, and the lesson is "Assholes finish last". Many people say the lesson is "Nice guys finish last", but what's so nice about letting the air out of a girl's bike tires, or playing Peeping Tom while she and her boyfriend are making out? These are things that Gary does in his quest for Karen's love. Gary isn't nice...He's a fucking creep. He's needy and greedy and other things that aren't appealing to women.
Rick may seem like the asshole, but the argument he and Karen have is merely a lover's spat. When lovers argue, they may say things like "I never want to see you again", but those are things said out of frustration.
This is a movie that's still viewed by younger audiences. I was reluctant to watch it for many years, despite having a copy of it on VHS. I was afraid of crying, but reading the plot online and seeing clips of the movie on YouTube convinced me that there was nothing to be afraid of. What came of it was a rewarding viewing experience and one that should be viewed by everyone. If the IMDB message boards are any indication, then viewings are still going on.
The next movie I would like to talk about is "Beaches".
I'm a guy, but I'm not ashamed of enjoying this movie. This film has gained a tremendous reputation among younger female audiences since it was released back in 1988 (Yes, the movie celebrates its' 20th anniversary this year).
If I could make a guess as to why this movie has continued to thrive throughout the years, I would venture to say that it's because it deals with the matter of friendship. The friendship shared between the upwardly mobile Hilary (Barbara Hershey) and the versatile entertainer C.C (Bette Midler) carries a feel to it that connects with many people.
The connection is one of how we reach out to others. You see the trouble that another person is going through, and you want to help them. Whether it be a troubled co-worker or a mistreated neighbor, a thought comes to mind..."How can I make this person feel better"?
That's what Hilary and C.C's relationship is like. They meet as kids (respectively played as youth by Marcie Leeds and Mayim Bialik), the former struggling with a lack of friends and the latter struggling for show business success even at such a young age.
As they grow older, they each gain things that the other has difficulty with, Hilary coming from old money while C.C is in possession of great talent. Arguments over a lover the both of them shared split things apart between them for a while, but they ended up becoming friends again, and remained that way up until Hilary's death, upon which C.C ends up taking care of Hilary's daughter Victoria (Grace Johnston).
At the end of the movie, C.C performs the song "The Glory Of Love", one of the first songs she ever sang. As she walks off the stage and alongside Victoria, we flash back to when Hilary and C.C took their pictures in the photo booth (That's where the picture of their youth comes from).
It's a very sad movie, but life can be that way. All friendships end up fading away eventually in one way or another...There's just no getting around it. The content of the friendship is what matters, though, and every one of us has had one very good friend in our lives...The kind we can tell everything to, good and bad, and that's what I think many get out of that movie to this day.
On a more macho note, the next movies I would like to talk about are the "Beverly Hills Cop" trilogy and the "Back To The Future" trilogy.
The reason why these movies have remained popular with younger audiences is because they're frequently aired on TV. You can't turn on your TV without catching at least one movie from either of these trilogies on one of the channels.
In the case of the "Back To The Future" movies, I think those who were born in the 80s and further past that enjoy these movies because of the time-travel conceit. Who hasn't wanted to go back in time and rectify damages, say things that went unsaid, or just enjoy what they missed out on due to their youth? Granted, things may end up getting messed up if it were to happen in real life, but fantasy is often what keeps us going through the day.
The music is also popular as well. Huey Lewis And The News' "The Power Of Love" still has its' own power to this day.
YouTube comments on various videos of this song garner a lot of praise from those born in the 80s and later. They don't view the band in an ironic context...They listen to the song and they hear a great message. The lyrics just make sense:
"It's strong and it's sudden and it can be cruel sometimes,
but it might just save your life".
Truer lyrics were never sung. Love can be tough, but it can also be wonderful. Romantic, brotherly, familial...If you have love, you have a lot, and that's why so many of us can relate to it.
Let's get out of the aural and back to the visual by capping off this article with talk of the "Beverly Hills Cop" movies.
This is another trilogy that straddles decades, with the first two coming out in the 80s and the 3rd coming out in the 90s. These movies are very popular among younger audiences because of the fantasy element. The fantasy? Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) behaves like we do, or at least how we would like to if the rules of decent society allowed it.
Over the course of the trilogy, Axel behaves like a real wise-ass and somehow gets away with it. Whether quickly flashing a badge to pretend he's a security man in the first one, impersonating a reggae psychic in the second one, or raising Cain in an amusement park in the 3rd one, Axel is always having a great time and getting the jobs done at the same time as well.
It's tough for many in the real world. Not all of us have the gift of gab or the ability to change things at the drop of a hat, but in our minds, we're putting bananas in the tailpipes of our co-workers' and teachers' cars and driving around, damn the gas prices and to Hell with the others on the road.
To cap it off, I'm 25 years old now. I'm technically an adult, but I don't always feel like one. I might not be the right person to be speaking on a subject like this, but I have seen all these movies and I can relate them to events in and details of my life, and I feel that many others born in the 80s (and later) can relate to it. Whether it be the realities of losing friends and the pains of love or the fantasies of traveling to the past, surviving getting loaded with bullets or just saying smart-aleck things and not getting in trouble for it (Not that much trouble, at any rate), movies can help us out. They always have and they always will.
So, any thoughts, guys?