80s Movies, Crossing Boundaries, and Jesus

Can't buy me loveI have a great appreciation for 80s movies, the ones we recognize as classics today. I admit I had not thought about the lead actress from Can’t Buy Me Love, Amanda Peterson, in many years until the news broke yesterday that she had passed away. Can’t Buy Me Love is the iconic 80s film that made Patrick Dempsey famous the first time around. I once made several people in my youth ministry watch it because they had only seen the horrible mid 2000s remake and I could not in good conscience let them go through life without seeing the original. 

I wonder why these movies still hold a prominent place with many, even though they seem in many ways to be horribly outdated. Perhaps its because they speak to issues with which we still struggle today. The particular plot of a classic 80s film is not all that different from much of the biblical story surrounding Jesus’ ministry. There are insiders and outsiders, those who hold power and those who don’t, those who run with the right people and those who don’t. You get the picture. A brave soul will dare to cross social boundaries and all will be right with the world until another figures out that the boundary crosser isn’t supposed to be there. An outcry and grand effort made to restore social order. Recognize the story? if you read the Gospels, you should.

In the Gospels it is Jesus who reminds those around him of the truth about what it means to be human, to be made in God’s image. Jesus was a boundary crosser, one who messed up the social order of the day completely. In an 80s movie, it becomes the job of the main character(s) to set things right, as it is in the Gospels.

Take for instance Ronald Miller at lunch in the courtyard in Can’t Buy Me Love:

Nerds, jocks. My side, your side. Man, it’s all crap. It’s hard enough just trying to be yourself. I know cause I messed up. I tried to buy my way in. But Kenneth, he’s not trying to buy anybody, he’s just trying to make friends; being himself

Or how about the words written to the principal after a day of detention by the iconic Breakfast Club

Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us…In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…an athlete…a basket case…a princess…and a criminal…Does that answer your question?

Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club

You know when Jesus and 80s movies are telling us the same thing, it has to be from God.

Thank you God for making us all equal and creating us so there are no easy definitions other than child of God

Thank you Jesus for giving us permission to cross boundaries

and thank you 80s movies for showing us how its done.

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