While Allison and Claire are depicted unfairly, John, Andrew and Brian were far more developed and multi-faceted. John is an asshole, but he’s also a victim of abuse, and when faced with actual conflict, he repeatedly backs out. The football jock Andrew is also sweet, but protective over the women, and is under a lot of familial pressure. Brian’s conservative but desires equality, judging no one for their intellect rather their character, and while being hesitant, tries the new things he’s presented, whom also seriously contemplated suicide. Compared to the underdeveloped female representation, androcentric ideas are further instigated through putting interest on the three teenage boys and their hyper-masculinity.
The boys never fail in gender policing each other’s actions. Bender attempts in humiliating Andy by announcing that as a wrestler, he wears tights, and Andy’s remarks become defensive (“No, I do not wear tights. I wear the intended uniform”), as Brian sits in the back laughing at him. After Bender’s attempt to emasculate Andrew, the athlete himself retaliates by calling the criminal a faggot, and eventually their paralleled masculinity leads to a fight. When Andrew wins, of course, Bender doesn’t admit defeat, however, reveals a weapon.
The Breakfast Club consistently shows Bender asserting dominance, all while policing masculinity in the other boys, especially Brian. In the first scenes, Bender forces the brain to move tables, which Brian is shown to have moved back to when Bender was removed from the library, refuses to address him by his name, bullies him during his lunch, and humiliates him for being a virgin. John also lights matches with his teeth, emphasizes that he’s not monogamous, and is seen celebrating his romance with Claire in the final shot, with the iconic fist-in-the-air ending.
The few adults in the film emphasize gender-policing and hyper-masculinity just as Bender does. Vernon calls the group “girls” as an insult, tells Andy that he “expected a lot more from a varsity letterman”, and challenges John multiple times throughout the movie, threatening him on occasion. John’s father abuses his son physically, while Andy’s father has detrimentally affected his son’s mental health. “Guys screw around,” he tells his son in the beginning, however, disciplines him on getting caught. Once Andy had committed his detention-deserving act (taping Larry’s butt cheeks together, an act of dominance in of itself), he admits to have been concerned for the humiliation Larry would have to endure from his father, (“All I could think about was Larry’s father, and Larry having to go home, and explain what happened. And the humiliation. The fucking humiliation must be hell. Must have been unreal… How do you apologize for something like that? There’s no way. And it’s all because me and my old man. I fucking hate him. He’s like this mindless machine that I can’t even relate to anymore… “I won’t tolerate any losers in this family””)
Segregated masculinity and femininity proved to be important to the brain, athlete, princess, basket case and criminal. The parallels towards the group’s reactions to Claire’s virginity, double-edged sword conversation ending with a proclamation by Andrew that “You’re a tease and you know it. All girls are teases” and Brian’s shameless lie that he’s “laid lots of girls” illustrates the different standards that are set for men and women. When Bender proclaims that he didn’t believe in “one girl and one boy”, Claire shrugs it off as a part of his masculinity, but tells Allison that she’ll never be respected for sleeping around, especially with an older man such as her shrink.
Whilst sitting in the circle, Andrew admits he would drive and appear at school naked for a million dollars, which the group applauds and finds charming and funny. However, when Allison admits to being open to the same situation for the same amount of money, the idea is no longer funny, but revolting to the group. In the same discussion, Allison discusses her mental health issues admitting that she’s a compulsive liar and that she goes to therapy, to which Brian responds “obviously she’s crazy if she’s screwing her shrink”. Nevertheless, when Brian admits to having severe depression, having debated suicide, the group is much kinder, telling him “suicide is never the answer”, only introducing comic relief when finding it goofy that the gun Brian brought to school shot off in his locker.
But despite this shit, this movie will forever hold a place in my heart. During my junior year of high school, I was a part of the school’s newspaper, a job only four other people could have admitted. We called ourselves The Breakfast Club, and I represented the Allison of the group, given that we have the same name. Brian as a walrus is still my header image for majority of my social media, and the movie is anything but short of relatable quotes, like “when you grow up your heart dies”, or “we’re all little bizarre, some of us are just better at hiding it”. But I also think admitting that we should stop romanticising the messages of the movie is an important step for our society, I think that people having the ability to recognize the shitty things portrayed in this movie, will begin more people to think more of their own socialization. Because what you watch growing up matters. You might think I’m crazy for writing an essay on what I think The Breakfast Club really is, but you probably saw the movie as you wanted to see it – in the simplest of terms, in the most convenient of definitions.
Does that answer your question?