No, Not Even Close

J. D. Salinger is no John Hughes.Okay, so far today (well, it’s still today to me, as in Thursday, but I suppose that technically, it is Friday and has been for nearly six hours … ah, the joys of being marginally employed AND telecommuting) I’ve read and or heard people compare John Hughes to no less than Chekhov and Salinger. I have only one thing to say about that. Several things, actually — more than several. And here they are:

No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. And finally, just let me emphasize … no. Not. Even. Close.

Look, I’m sorry he’s dead, okay? Death sucks; I’ve had a ring-side seat for it a few times now, so trust me on this one. Wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Really. But he apparently went quick, no lingering in a hospital being poked and prodded and toyed with like a lab rat, only to have his suffering prolonged. So there’s that. And he made it to 59. Okay, that’s well under par for Western standards, but for much if not a majority of the world, that’s a ripe old age; most people in Asia and Africa are damn lucky to see 59 years.

Nope, not a John Hughes movie. And I realize his fans were legion; I guess I’m the only Gen X’er who made it out of the ’80s thinking that his movies were at best, okay, and at worst, sucked ass (in a bad way, as a girl I used to date would say — ah, I still carry a torch for you, Brandy). This is the man responsible for the Home Alone franchise, after all. Okay, for all of those people that will accuse me of being negative, I’ll say this: his movies were better than Armageddon or anything touched by Jerry Yuckheimer; the Breakfast Club didn’t make me want to stick a fork in my eye. And I really liked Say Anything . Oh, wait, yeah, that was Cameron Crowe, wasn’t it? Your Honor, the defense rests.

Okay, in all honesty, there are a few pieces of the Hughes oeuvre I genuinely like: Vacation. That’s good stuff (he was the writer but not the director on that one).  Ferris Bueller had a few moments, granted.  And the fact that he authored The National Lampoon Sunday Newspaper Parody with P.J. O’Rourke way back when almost makes up for the Home Alone franchise. If you find this in a used book store, buy it; you won’t be disappointed. And then send it to me; I haven’t read it since my j-school days in college.

But please, comparing John Hughes to Anton Chekhov or J.D. Salinger is like comparing the Monkees to Mozart. I don’t care how much 16 Candles or any of his other flicks tickled your angsty adolescent fancy. Just because they may have explored some of the same issues and themes does not an apt comparison make. The Monkees made a few clever pop tunes — I even liked “Pleasant Valley Sunday” — but Mozart was a musical genius. And this wasn’t some moron on an Internet chat board or some random wall posting on Assbook. I quote from the Associated Press story:

A native of Lansing, Michigan, who moved to suburban Chicago and set much of his work there, Hughes rose from comedy writer to ad writer to silver screen champ with his affectionate and idealized portraits of teens, whether the romantic and sexual insecurity of “Sixteen Candles,” or the J.D. Salinger-esque rebellion against conformity in “The Breakfast Club.”

Anton Chekhov. NOT John Hughes in the '70s. No. The Breakfast Club is nothing even close to or remotely resembling Catcher in the Rye. No. Not. Even. Close. Although I guess Chekhov did kinda look like John Hughes. Of course, maybe they’re somewhere in the next world, knocking back vodka and Chekhov is saying “No really, I thought it was an apt comparison. I’m flattered, really.”

Or not.  In any event, it’s getting light out, and birds are chirping. I should probably go to bed.