The Yellow Pages

Life's questions completely unexplained

Confessions of a Basket Case

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Theme: “We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all”

Regardless of whether you like eggs and bacon or pancakes and waffles—you’ll definitely love The Breakfast Club. It’s the iconic example of adolescent self-discovery, Saturday detention, and fantastic ’80’s music that transcends cinematic boundaries and leaves us with the question: Who Am I?

It’s also just a really good movie.

For those lost souls who have yet to see it, The Breakfast Club is about five socially- divergent teens: the Brain, the Athlete, the Basket Case, the Princess, and the Criminal, who are asked to discover their self-identity during Saturday detention.

The first time I saw The Breakfast Club, my friend and I assigned each other characters: he the Criminal, I the Basket Case. It may be that he was in his bad-boy phase and I only had two girls to choose from, but at the time the personas seemed to fit.

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The five characters begin their day with snide remarks, pointed jokes, and streams of eye rolls. No one knows why the others are there and no one really cares. The morning passes with nail filing, knife sharpening, a legendary game of paper football, and cumulates with a synchronized whistling number. Each character sits inside their stereotype and has no interest in standing up.

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However, as time passes and boredom runs high, something changes within the group. Together they escape their prison, avoid their warden, and find interest in their fellow delinquents. After some illicit activity, a quick dance party, and an impressive lipstick application using cleavage, the Breakfast Club finds themselves in a truth circle.

This is my favorite part. Gone are the snide remarks and pointed jokes and in their place is a deep sense of vulnerability. Here we find out the reasons for each character’s presence in detention and the underlying factors that drove them there. These intense confessions shatter the bulletproof glass of their stereotypes. Behind the lipstick, cigarettes, and straight-As, all of them are pretty bizarre. Cross-legged and vulnerable, the Brain, the Athlete, the Basket Case, the Princess, and the Criminal, shed their labels and become the Breakfast Club.

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The Breakfast Club may just be a movie, and a good one at that, but there is a reason why it resonates. It’s for this same reason my friend saw himself as the Criminal and I the Basket Case: we tend to see ourselves the way others want to see us. We fill these personas, for the good and the bad, in order to draw a distinct line between ourselves and the rest of the world.

We draw these lines to relieve the pressure of defining self-identity. The pressure comes from outside sources as well as our own inner voice saying: “What should I major in? What should I do with my life? Who am I??”. This uncertainty is scary so we latch onto the best persona that crosses our path.

But this isn’t good enough. I am no more the Basket Case than my friend is the Criminal. Being a Basket Case may be fun but it isn’t even close to describing all that I am. And no one, not even ourselves, can confine us to one persona. When we surpass defined labels, we find out that we’re all pretty bizarre, some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.  

 “You see us as you want to see us: in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain and an athlete and a basket case and a princess and a criminal.”

 Does that answer your question?

  Sincerely yours,
 the Breakfast Club.

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– j

Unanswerable Question: Who are you when you don’t define yourself?

And some solid ’80s music

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