And even when it’s not tackling those darker subjects in a subtle, yet compelling way, it’s still presenting us with a tale of finding common ground with people with whom we seemingly have nothing in common.
To bring back my definition of films that matter for a moment, — using the medium of film to express, explore, or examine the ideas that interest us, our personal struggles, and our personal and cultural beliefs on a microcosmic level — it’s easy to see how this particular film fits the mold.
The Breakfast Club isn’t about class struggle or bullying or suicide or bad parenting. It’s not explicitly telling us how to think or feel about these issues. It’s a microcosm of them, certainly, but first and foremost it’s an entertaining story full of relatable characters. And that’s what makes it so powerful once it veers off into emotionally complex material.
All in all, The Breakfast Club is a meaningful film, made with intention, that accomplishes something profound while still managing to be wildly entertaining. Sure, it’s a bit cliche at times, but it doesn’t matter. If you’ve watched that film, the confession scene in particular, you most likely came away from it a slightly better person. And ultimately that’s the point.
The main takeaway here is that you can infuse any film with meaning and purpose. The style of the film doesn’t matter, nor does the genre. You don’t have to sacrifice entertainment or humor for some serious message.
WHY IT’S SO DAMN IMPORTANT TO MAKE FILMS THAT MATTER
At this point, I’ve hopefully convinced you that it’s not only possible to make films that are truly meaningful, but that these films can also be entertaining and have wide appeal.
But now let’s talk about why it’s important to take that approach. In my last article on the film business, I said:
Quite frankly, this weird, broken world we live in doesn’t need more watered-down films that pander to lowest common denominator audiences. We need more smart films, unconventional films, and films that challenge our foundational beliefs. Even if they reach fewer people, these films are vastly more important than the ones that achieve mainstream success, but are ultimately vapid and empty.
This is something that I truly believe at my core, and it comes from a simple idea that art is one of the most powerful forces in the world.
Sure, there are other forces that we can use to exert influence, money being chief among them. But most of us don’t have unlimited supplies of money. What we do have, however, is our unique perspective and the unfettered ability to create art.
HOW ART MAKES THE WORLD BETTER, ONE PERSON AT A TIME
I read something recently that summed up the point I’m trying to make better than I ever could. It was an open letter to the future generation of artists, penned by Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock, two of the greatest jazz musicians the world has ever known.
Though I suggest you read the letter in full, here are a few of my favorite quotes from it.