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Peer Pressure in the Breakfast Club

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The Breakfast Club is a classic movie consisting of an interesting mix of teens. We follow five kids from different walks of life who meet for detention on the weekend. Tears were shed, personalities were dissected, and there were angry moments. These five students challenged, confronted, and even taunted each other. Eventually, they formed a bond over their feelings and shared experiences. The Breakfast Club is a great example of a “coming of age” movie. These students live in a world where adults do not understand them, and a world where they are pressured socially and academically. Adults seem to always judge teens, pressure them, and stay clueless and a bit arrogant. On top of that, these kids have the burden of trying to fit into the crazy societal and academic standards placed upon them. Adolescents greatly differ from adults in the ways they make decisions, solve problems and behave. Adults, on the other hand, tend to ignore the mental and emotional aspects of the child and pressure them to have certain grades, high scores, etc. The Breakfast Club greatly portrays both sides of the spectrum as we learn more about the struggle and wide gap of the teen and adult relationship. In this film, we learn that kids experiencing coming of age struggle to please family, peers, and society, to find acceptance which comes with great consequences, and how these issues shape their lives.

The Director of The Breakfast Club, John Hughes used a group of 5 teens who each fit in the stereotypical category. Each teen represents a different clique in high school. There is “Princess”-Claire Standish, the “Athlete”- Andrew Clark, the “Brain”-Brian Johnson, the “Criminal”- John Bender, and finally the “Basket Case” Allision Reynolds. These students rarely interacted with each other and believed they were extremely different from one another. They were wrong. After spending eight hours in detention, they realized they were not all that different and they all struggle with coming of age and the pressure from both society and adults. Take “The Athlete”, Andrew Clark as an example. He is your typical stereotypical high school jock. During the group therapy, Andrew opens up about how he is sick and tired of the standards and high expectations his father and society placed upon him. To prove how strong of a man he is, Andrew duct-taped a boy’s butt cheeks together in the locker room. This is the reason why he ended up in Saturday detention. Although Andrew was extremely remorseful and regretted his actions, his father approvers of this behavior and praised his son. Constantly trying to prove to others that you are better at what they view you as can lead to the worst. A lot of teens struggle with the same issue as Andrew. Some kids will find themselves in a position where they feel like they must do a certain thing regardless of the consequences to get praised and feel accepted. Andrew’s father and his teammates cheered him up. This made Andrew feel proud of himself. Bullying to prove his masculinity to his friends and father is an example of what peer pressure can lead you to do. Parental and societal pressures can also damage a child’s self-esteem and can lead to severe consequences such as depression. When students do not meet their parent’s expectations on anything, it creates a sense of worthlessness.

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Peer pressure is an issue heavily portrayed in The Breakfast Club. We see multiple scenes of it and also get to see the characters discuss peer pressure. Claire also known as “The Princess”, opens up and explains to others the pressure she feels and how she must always look the prettiest, dress a certain way and only talk to certain people just to please her peers and feel accepted. When Brain asks the group if they will ever speak to each other again after detention, Clare replies, “No what would people think?” She goes on to justify her position. Claire thinks that if she stands up for any of the four students, none of her popular friends will like her. This further shows the pressure she feels to stay above certain people at school and is afraid to lose her “princess” title. Brian, on the other hand, is pressured into things he usually would not do just to fit in and be accepted by his peers. In the scene where Bender offers Brian marijuana, he is a bit hesitant and skeptical. However, Bender persuaded him into smoking weed. If Brian were to kindly deny the offer, he would have been bullied and made fun of. This is one of the thousands of examples of peer pressure. Adolescents are pressured into doing things that have consequences just to fit in or look cool. Peer pressure can also have a toll on your mental health. Your self-esteem will drastically drop, you feel like you are not accepted by society for being yourself. Hughes did a fantastic job of showing realistic issues that teens face daily such as peer and societal pressure.

There is also a huge amount of parental academic pressure placed upon students. Putting too much pressure on teens to do well academically can backfire and end up affecting the student negatively. For example, “The Brain”, Brian Johnson. He is the stereotypical nerd out of the group. When the group came together to talk, Brian admits that the reason he is staying at Saturday detention is that he brought a flare gun to school. He tells everyone that he wanted to commit suicide because he received a bad grade on an assignment. This is a prime example of what parental academic pressure can do to a child. Unfortunately, there are a lot of stories about students committing suicide and academic pressure is the reason. The focus should not be placed on academic success whatsoever. The focus should be on developing their passion for learning. Students will begin to believe that success is only based on perfection and if they cannot accomplish that, they should just give up and quit. Grades should also not determine wheater or not a student is smart. Rather than yelling at a child for having a B in English, parents need to support their child and praise them whenever he/she feels proud of the work, not shout at the child which can cause them to give up and feel uninspired a final note, The Breakfast Club is a well-produced movie concentrating on the real struggles of coming of age. These characters can look past the labels and stereotypes, break barriers and see each other for who they really are. This is a huge step in the coming of age for all five students. In The Breakfast Club, we can dive deep into the lives of the characters and understand what it really feels like to be a teenager. Unlike most high school movies, Hughes took the time to represent realistic issues adolescents face every day. He does a great job focusing on realistic issues such as parental academic pressure, societal pressure, and peer pressure. Although drugs, sex, and alcohol are things some teens deal with, moviemakers tend to portray these issues exaggeratedly. Thus, The Breakfast Club is a unique film where we see the real struggles of a teenager regardless of their background or which high school cliques they represent.

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