The Universal Message of The Breakfast Club

Breakfast Club Freeze Frame

However you feel about The Breakfast Club, there’s no denying that it’s a classic beloved by many. For many, its value may be simply that of a fun ’80s coming-of-age film, and that’s a-okay. But, like most forms of art, for those that are looking for a deeper level of meaning, it’s there to be found.

At the core of the movie, we have our 5 brat pack teenagers from wildly different cliques, the brain, the athlete, the basketcase, the princess, and the criminal, who would otherwise never socialize with one-another, forced to spend a Saturday detention together. Out of sheer boredom, and with a common authoritarian foe, they begin to interact with each other, eventually, over the course of the day, breaking down the barriers of fear, hatred, prejudice, and ignorance they first walked in with to learn that their similarities actually far outweigh their differences.

At first glance, one might see all their grief as mere teenage angst, but that’s bullshit. Most people, fundamentally, at least morally, become who they’re going to be for the rest of their lives pretty early on. What some might consider childish, immature, bratty behavior or teenage drama, I witness from the average adult every single day. No matter what age, these same boundaries of classism, racism, sexism, ageism, and prejudice exist in each of us, at least to some extent.

With that said, I believe the messages in The Breakfast Club hold a certain universality. We all have a certain shell or facade, that once gotten past, you’ll usually find just another person who’s insecure, struggling, and that generally wants all the same things in life that we all want: happiness, love, respect, financial security, and so on. If we could only stop judging each other so harshly all the time and concern ourselves more with improving our own selves instead of the defense mechanism that is putting each other down. If we could just be locked in a room together more often to be forced to get to the root of what our perceived differences are really all about.

Heart to Heart

Personally, as someone that never belonged to any clique, I always had a unique perspective, from day one. While I’ve certainly been a loner throughout different times in my life and certainly always a weirdo, in school, I was actually friends with pretty much everyone. It didn’t matter, goth kids, jocks, musicians, skaters, nerds, whatever. I probably didn’t understand it in the deeper psychological way I might analyze it now, but it just made sense to me. If I like this person and they’re fun and they’re nice to me, I want to hang out with them. What do I care how they dress, what music they like, etc.?

But, we’re certainly not going to get out of this article without first discussing just how cruel school can be too. I’ve been bullied and I’m also guilty of having been a bully. It’s all just fear and everyone’s feeling it, even the cool kids. But, to the unfortunate poor few that get it the worst, that never make it out because they kill themselves, it’s just so stupid. I wish I could talk to them and let them know it’s not the end of the world, if they only knew that everyone in high school is an asshole and that it gets better. I mean, most people are still assholes the rest of their lives, but the difference is, you grow out of caring, out of giving weak people the power to put you down. In the end, everything is pretty much okay.

That’s the deeper meaning I take away from the film. It’s almost an examination of the basic id, ego, and super-ego in all of us. That, and The Breakfast Club also has a pretty cool theme song: