February 22, 2024

When you think of the Brat Pack era that swept the nation in the 1980s, Francis Ford Coppola‘s The outsiders probably not the first movie that comes to mind. Released in 1983 before the Brat Pack genre really took off, The outsiders It follows a group of teenage Greasers in 1960s Oklahoma as they struggle to make ends meet and avoid the violent taunts of wealthy Socs. The film deals with themes of love, grief and suicide, complex themes that are further complicated by the socio-economic circumstances of the main characters.


Flash forward a few years, and the Brat Pack genre was dominant, then the Socs. in movies like The Breakfast Club, San Elmo fire, and Sixteen Candles, the protagonists come from different family backgrounds, but all share a distinct air of privilege and a general lack of self-awareness. When we go up against those Brat Pack staples, The outsiders It tells a much more compelling narrative because these kids not only have to deal with the family issues and growing pains that other Brat Pack teenagers have to deal with, but also have the added burden of their own financial and social status, which gives it a more grounded perspective. told them

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Who were the members of the Brat Pack?

Rob Lowe as Danny Martin and Demi Moore in Debbie Sullivan: About Last Night (1986)
Image via TriStar Pictures

For a bit of an accident, the term “Brat Pack” was originally coined in one 1985 New York Magazine articleand refers to a group of young actors from the 80s — ie Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, Anthony Michael Hall, Andrew McCarthy, and Demi Moore. Meanwhile The outsiders isn’t always included in Brat Pack discussions, the inclusion of Lowe and Estevez as Sodapop Curtis and Two-Bit Mathews cements its place as one of the first films of its era. Although the genre classification was more than just a matter of actors, the films typically revolved around teenagers and young adults – almost exclusively white and middle-class – struggling to figure out their identities and their places in the world.

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‘The Outsiders’ Greasers Fight

The Outsiders cast - The Greasers
Image courtesy of Warner Bros.

In The outsidersPonyboy Curtis (C. Thomas Howell) and his older brother Darry (Patrick Swayze) and Soda struggle to keep their small family together after the tragic death of their parents. Darry works hard to keep the lights on and keep his brothers out of the boys’ home, and Soda drops out of high school to work at the gas station and earn money. The Curtis brothers are part of the Greasers, a tight-knit group who live below the poverty line and are constantly butting heads with the rich Socs who live on the other side of town. Ponyboy is a thoughtful teenager who tries to stay out of trouble and mostly hangs out with his best friend Johnny (Ralph Macchio), a shy but sweet boy who has been abused by his parents and the Socs. After a bitter fight ends in the death of a Johnny Soc, the two young greasers are forced to flee town. As the film progresses, we can see how the group of young people struggle to see themselves as more than thieves and criminals, as they are forced into this archetype by their circumstances.

How does ‘The Outsiders’ compare to other Brat Pack movies?

The sit-down breakfast club
Image via Universal Pictures

As for other Brat Pack movies, John HughesThe Breakfast Club it’s probably the one he shares the most The outsiders, albeit skewed through a middle-class lens. The parents in both films are absent or abusive, and the older teenagers are brought together by the authorities and dismissed as burnouts and delinquents. Like some kids The outsiders, The Breakfast ClubJohn Bender’s main bad boy (Judd Nelson) has an abusive father, and the other kids also have strained relationships with their parents. Their problems are valid, and we cannot ignore them completely. Yet these teenagers walk into Shermer High School with such melancholy, you’d think they were headed for hanging rather than a detention Saturday.

throughout The Breakfast Club, we can see how while these children are struggling in different ways, they also have an incredible right. Popular Claire (Molly Ringwald) pulls off an entire sushi board in the library and then can’t stand being called out for her wealth and social status, and Andrew’s (Emilio Estevez) biggest complaint is the pain he’s caused another student — personally. Andrew, I feel worse for the kid you ripped his ass off of.

In The outsiderswhereas Socs like Cherry (Diane Lane) and Randy (Darren Dalton) resent the reputation of their elites and feel trapped by the situation. Also, while the teenagers are entering The Breakfast Club they all have justified emotions and insecurities, what these characters all have in common are the glaring blind spots that come along with incredible privilege. Beloved as it is, this cult classic is essentially an hour and a half of teenagers learning basic empathy and working their way out of total self-absorption. Meanwhile The Breakfast Club he is forced to write a self-defining essay for the main group, which of course they refuse to do The outsiders‘ Johnny, Dally (Matt Dillon), and the Ponyboys must literally run into a burning building to prove their mettle to their community.

‘The Outsiders’ cannot be ‘St. Elmo’s Fire’ and ‘Sixteen Candles’

Rob Lowe on fire in St. Elmo
Image via Columbia Pictures

As the children enter The Breakfast Club they’re far from perfect, nothing compared to their over-coiffed, self-important twenties. San Elmo fire. These recent college grads are a bit unkind and downright insufferable, most of them bemoaning the stench of ignorance and superficial issues to anyone who will listen. I understand anyone’s plight as an aimless graduate, and even though I cringe at the fact that these characters have to wait tables and give away cars to rich dads while their screams are echoed through the bricks of their incredibly massive apartments. In comparison, the director’s cut The outsiders It opens with Ponyboy being chased, jumped and torn apart by a gang of soc predators for walking alone on the street. I think most viewers San Elmo fire would pay good money to see the film’s straight leads in a rumble with the Greasers and Socs. The outsiders.

Another John Hughes classic, the quintessential ’80s rom-com Sixteen Candles It’s a film that once again highlights the struggles of adolescence, but it’s shrouded in an annoying veil of entitlement, and in this case, egregious racism. Molly Ringwald’s Sam is horrified that her family has forgotten her sixteenth birthday, which is, frankly, enough. However, in front of the popular game Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling) and frustrated by the relentless bullying of Ted the Geek (Anthony Michael Hall), watching Sam wallow in his anguish becomes a bit tiresome. Once again, our protagonist is facing dire straits, but we can’t deny Sam’s white, middle-class status. Sixteen Candles it provides an undeniably privileged point of view.

The Brat Pack movies legitimized the 80s youth experience

In general, when we compare The outsiders to other Brat Pack films of the era, we have to admit that privilege and socioeconomic status play a big role in the viewing experience. To reiterate, not every movie has to be a gamble in life, and most of the problems we face in life are not large-scale disasters. What the Brat Pack movies do well is show that when you’re young it feels like the end of the world. This genre legitimized the youth experience in a new way and is an undeniable foundation of 80s pop culture.

However, it deserves to be recognized when compared to a film like this The outsiders, the problems of the middle class are more and more surface. When we see The Breakfast Club, San Elmo fire, and Sixteen Candles with this idea in mind, it is obvious that most of these characters suffer more from the emotional turmoil they create within themselves than from the actual situations they find themselves in. As Cherry and Ponyboy argue. The outsidersWhile these teenagers may all see the same sunset, they certainly don’t live in the same world.

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