John Hughes was a hack

I received an email from a good friend which contained the following giggle-ditty:  ...the John Hughes montage from the Oscars last night made me feel all warm and nostalgic inside.

The lengthy recognition that The Academy bestowed upon the late Mr Hughes (who's creativity died twenty-three years ago) was extremely generous for such a hack-writer.

For twenty-nine years between 1979 and 2008, John Hughes wrote almost 40 screenplays for film and TV.  While six of his films, released between '84 and '87, were good-to-great:  Ferris Bueller's Day Off; Sixteen Candles; The Breakfast Club; Planes, Trains and Automobiles; Pretty in Pink; and Some Kind of Wonderful (the last of which is debatable), Mr Hughes only directed four of those gems.  I recognize Home Alone is popular with six-to-eight year olds—and those who were that age twenty years ago—nonetheless it's as much a vacuous, ham-handed, template-driven, piece of shite, as Drillbit Taylor, Beetoven, and all his Vacation movies were.

For every good film that came out of John Hughes's head, he wrote four absofuckinlutely terrible movies.  He got by with a 15% good to 85% terrible ratio.  And don't forget...he was so ashamed of the dreck he was generating towards the end, that he wrote under the pseudonym Edmond Dantes (and yes, I think he was trying to send a message of some sort by using the character's name from The Count of Monte Christo, but I don't care enough about him to hypothesize what that might've been).

For comparison:
  • Stanley Kubrick         wrote/directed about 15 films      60% good to 40% bad.
  • Akira Kurosawa         wrote/directed 60+ films             18% good IN THE US!
  • Cohen Brothers        wrote/directed 18 films                45% good to 55% bad.
  • Kevin Smith               wrote/directed about 9 films        50% good to 50% bad.
This is how Kevin Smith could become the next John Hughes:  with the handful of good films he already has under his belt—all he has to do, now, is continue to spew out the same unwatchable movies he's shat for the last decade (at a rate of one-turd-a-year) and die of a heart attack around 2023.  The Academy could, then, compile a montage of Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, and Dogma and have Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, Matt Damon, Chris Rock, and Selma Hayek provide verbal tributes.
There’s always the chance you could die right in the middle of your life story. — Chuck Palahniuk


Davecat said...

It's the whole 'quality v. quantity' argument. I'd rather go with the Kubrick method of an artist / musician / director / writer put out a few good works where they're polished to a fine brightness, rather than having them crank out junk due to studio or other external pressures. But unfortunately, an artist's gotta eat, and even if they do manage to knock one or two out of the park, how long can a person coast on royalties, especially in today's current Hollywood climate?

It's really unfortunate that the arts are seen, particularly in the States, as a commodity, rather than a mode of expression. When did this happen?

veach st. glines said...

I think the business-people-purchasers of art have always viewed it as a commodity or investment, while the museum-viewers, theater-goers and artists themselves focus on the creative expression (if they are not just focused on being entertained for a moment).

The 'artist's gotta eat' angle doesn't work for me. The late Mr. Hughes stopped creating art in the late '80s and started generating and selling a business product in order to maintain his affluent lifestyle.

'One needs to struggle for one's art' is not just an aphorism.

I question if Mr Hughes even wrote the later scripts attributed to him...maybe he did what Lawrence Sanders did: sold his name to be put on someones else's scripts...something an artist wouldn't do.