Sixteen Candles Por Vida: Still Remembering John Hughes

09/23/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Lots of news to report: Tom Daschle is a lobbyist, there's weed killer in our tap water, cold summertime soups look delicious and difficult to make, and John Hughes is still missed. Damian Kolody, an independent filmmaker in New York, on why some people were really affected by his death:

Who am I? Where do I belong? These are the fundamental questions of youth on the quest for discovering their identity. In adolescence, there were some of us that just didn't seem to belong to any of the group identities that were available to us. Or perhaps the idea of faking behavior and taste to find approval from peers was a less than palatable option. Or more likely, the groups didn't want to include us. Conversations about us were sure to involve the words, weird, strange, and different.

In any case we were the minority, often left to dwell on our thoughts and insecurities in solitude. We would gravitate to others who perhaps had this shared feeling of being outcast or at least for one reason or other were outside the acceptance of the majority. This feeling of mutual understanding kept us away from the precipice of self-destruction. Because when one truly feels alone and isolated beyond hope, future prospects appear quite dim, and therefore self-preservation is low on the priority list. Our innate desire to belong to some group has been fostered over thousands of years of humans existing in small, codependent communities, where all members were necessary for survival of the larger group.

There were many circumstances why some in modern high schools were excluded, but more often than not, the common factor of these outcasts was above average intelligence. John Hughes was very familiar with this feeling of separateness, as he discusses in a 1986 interview about the film Some Kind of Wonderful: "Peer pressure is the single most destructive thing that you'll face, it's the source of all of those problems. It is so important for you to belong when in trying to identify yourself, who am I, where do I fit, that pressure to belong is so enormous that it can be extremely destructive. And it excludes people. It's something that needs to be continually reviewed."

Due to the nature and depth of his understanding of being an outsider, he is able to connect through his film work with others who have experienced this isolation also. This type of connection in finding someone that relates in feelings of loneliness and emotional depravity creates a bonding experience that temporarily fills the void of belonging and acceptance. That is why for some, probably a general minority, his films remain entrenched in our psyche. It is because for perhaps the first time in our young lives there was a message of hope geared directly at us.

These films reassured us that we were not alone in feeling this way. We were not alone, and given the circumstances of our reality, it was ok. There was still a possibility for us to achieve normal social patterns and not only integrate, but elevate above our close-minded peers. The ability to connect with John's voice, through the characters in his film, had a healing and reassuring effect. It was a session in psychotherapy that actually achieved a breakthrough so powerful, that we were able to draw on it for strength for years to come! That is why the death of John Hughes was so poignant for some, though not the majority.

Despite the fact that he hadn't produced any creative work in years, the traumas and emotions of youth are always something that stays with you throughout ones life. Messages of reinforcement can be lifelines when they are coming from an honest source. John Hughes concludes his Some Kind of Wonderful interview by asserting his message to disaffected youth: "I hope that they come out of the film with the fundamental belief in one self and certainly self reliance. Don't bother in what others say about you. Proceed in the path of what's right for yourself; listen to your own feelings. And respect yourself."

Thank you, Mr. Hughes for telling us that we were not alone. It made a difference in our world.