“Don’t make friends who are comfortable to be with. Make friends who will force you to lever yourself up.”Thomas J. Watson
We come across hundreds of people in our lifetime and we choose to keep only some close to our heart, and some in it. I don’t think there is enough one can say about friendship and yet there is plenty that has been said. What is friendship? Is it some sort of transaction? – of advice, affection, anger and tons of other emotions? Or is it an understanding of the being, the soul of oneself and of the other? Is it sticking with someone through their adversities and good fortune, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, for better or worse? And isn’t that what love is?
Now since we are getting deep into it, I might as well be frank – my mother always told me things like, “Don’t depend on your friends”, “Your friends are not going to be there whenever you need them, you know” and, “do well in your life… you’ll find your friends won’t even pretend to know you if you’re not on the same level as they are” and I never believed her. I was naïve then (still am a little bit) albeit in my defence, I had brushed off all the negative experiences I’d had as just my “friends” having a bad day or some other excuse.
Which brings me to The Breakfast Club – a cult favourite, a classic, and a really great movie. To be honest, I had not heard of it before I watched Pitch Perfect and I didn’t get around to watching the movie until a few months ago and then re-watching it again a few days ago, which consequently got me thinking of friendship and what it means to me.
So, The Breakfast Club is a movie about 5 High-schoolers who end up in detention on a Saturday. This group of 5 has a standard composition of – The jock – Andrew, The Prom Queen – Claire, The Nerd – Brian, The Weirdo – Allison, and last but not the least, The Rebel Bad Boy – Bender.
Andrew wrestles and puts on a tough act like every stereotypical jock ever; Claire is in the popular girls’ clique – uptight and somber, well behaved, pretty princess who brings sushi for lunch (yes, really; with soy sauce and all). Brian is a boy who has always aced all his tests and Allison is just really, really, really weird. Bender looks like he might be in a gang, carries a knife around, has a guillotine in his locker (not kidding, it’s pretty cool!) and smokes weed.
The class is assigned to write a thousand-word essay by the end of the day by their teacher Mr. Vernon, who has a real dislike for Bender because he thinks he is a low life that will never amount to anything and he makes sure Bender knows this.
Apart from his absolute crap sense of fashion, what one will love about Bender is his unsettling self-awareness and sharper-than-knife mouth, that starts cutting the moment he starts talking.
The first half of the movie is just him provoking the rest of the four – by either declaring truthful observations in the most insulting way possible or picking fights and throwing stuff around – to get literally any sort of reaction (even though the best some can do is repeat “Shut up” a bazillion times or call him a “butt face”). Vernon also continually picks on Bender and goads him, calls him useless and pathetic which everyone else seems to agree with (and I don’t blame them – there’s a fine line between being honest and being hurtful)
It is in the second half of the movie after Bender gets some weed that all the kids smoke up when they actually start talking about themselves.
“Ultimately the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or in friendship, is conversation.”Oscar Wilde
Andrew reveals how he is carrying the weight of his father’s expectations on his shoulders – how he’s expected to be perfect at wrestling and how he bullies people only to look cool to his father. Brian talks about getting an F in his test and Allison well – apparently, she’s a compulsive liar. Claire, on the other hand, has no real problems as Bender points out except not being able to confront her friends about not wanting to be so perfect all the time. It sounds shallow when I put it this way but if you watch the movie (I recommend it) it would make sense and I really don’t know how else to put it.
In the end, everyone realises they’ve formed a bond with each other in this short period of time that can only exist that day. Once they’re back into their normal routine lives, no one can actually be friends because they all have to fit in with their pre-existing cliques – which don’t allow mixing. (sometimes I wonder if this is what inspired High School Musical). Anyway, Bender, Brian and Allison are really offended because as they point out – their friends are not people who would mind different people interacting with each other. After a few minutes of silence and thinking it seems like they all realise they can be better people and keep this friendship alive.
The movie ends with a pretty sappy yet sassy essay that Brian is made to write by all the others (because he’s the smartest of them all). Some of Benders dialogues are pure gold.
Going back to what my mother said to me – she was right at that point in time. I was in the stage Andrew and Claire were in. I have had my share of really crappy friends and I didn’t realize that until I found the friends I have now. It was then that I understood what friendship really meant.
It really was love in its purest sense, and above all – acceptance. It was respect, for me, my decisions and for who and how I was. I was never once made to feel I was inferior in any sense and there was always someone to hold my hand or give me tough love whenever or if ever it was needed. And I found this in many people. I see so many posts on so many social media websites about how you can have only a few good friends and I always think “THIS IS SUCH BULLSHIT”
Why are people so afraid to admit that there can be as many people who are good and pure – those who can be trusted, just as there are many who are not so good and who can’t be trusted.
This bandwagon effect of not recognizing and appreciating ALL the real bonds one can have because it’s trendy to have only a few – is harmful in the long run.
To me, friendship is something that makes you a better version of yourself – something that pushes you to do better. And it’s normal to fight with your friends or have disagreements. It is also normal to want space from your friends and spend time apart. What’s important is you’re there for them when they need you and vice versa.
What I think I learnt from the movie is that people can be polar opposites in every way and still find something that brings them together, however small it may be. It also taught me that everyone is a misfit – doesn’t matter if you’re the most popular girl or boy in your school or if you’re the least liked; and also that everyone needs somebody they can be completely themselves with and have the freedom to be as stupid or as child-like as they want. Who would have thought that a weirdo like Allison and a boy like Andrew would end up understanding each other so well?
Basically, what I mean to say is, be close friends or best friends with how many ever people you want to, and don’t limit yourself because of “quality over quantity” or something like “the higher your vibe, the smaller your tribe” (eye roll) and try to have as many friendships as you can, after all, there’s a lesson in everything, even the bad ones!
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