The Lessons We All Learned From 80’s Movies



As a girl born in the 90’s, I know about pop culture. And part of being a milennial is the joy of an old film. My favorite is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Because I used to skip school all the time, and he was my icon. But 80’s movies taught us kids a thing or two, besides the fact that our parents are very nostalgic for the child-free times.

Let’s start, shall we?

1. Faking an illness could lead to the best day of your life:

FERRIS BUELLERS DAY OFF, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, Matthew Broderick, 1986, (c) Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection

Yes, I’m talking about my favorite movie….., Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  ‘Life moves pretty fast’ and it’s okay to pull a sickie. I took that lesson to heart in high school, thinking that every time I skipped school to go and sit on my then boyfriend’s couch, I was about to have the best day of my life, singing at a carnival and bluffing my way into nice restaurants….

2. Don’t judge your peers

THE BREAKFAST CLUB, Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, 1985. ©Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

The Breakfast Club focuses on a group of teenagers in detention, all from different social standings and in different ‘cliques’. At first you see them acting as their ‘group’ would suggest, but by the end of the movie each character has revealed something deep about themselves and they’ve formed a bond.

This movie taught us that you can find common ground in the unlikeliest of places, and that coming together to fight authority is what being a teenager is all about! Who’s to say that afterwards everything didn’t fall back into its place but the characters seem to have a new respect for each other. They learn that everybody has something going on underneath, no matter what ‘category’ they fit into.

3. Women can be badass too


Marion in Raiders Of The Lost Ark was the first truly, bad-ass woman I’d seen. I had the biggest crush on Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones and as a kid I got used to seeing his romantic interests in the same way that James Bond’s were, just a pretty accessory with an ulterior motive.

Anyone who watched Raiders Of The Lost Ark must have been pleasantly surprised. Marion’s character is just so cool. I wish they’d made a series about her. Also, who can forget the two most iconic scenes of all time. We also learned that greed and evil will make your face melt off. A lesson to truly cherish.

4. Don’t wish your siblings away, no matter how annoying they are 

LabyrinthReboot-970x544There was a time when my little sister held a pair of scissors to me because I ate her chocolate yogurt. Right about then I would’ve asked the Goblin King to take her away. But I didn’t, and luckily she’s still here. After watching Labyrinth we all kind of wished a Goblin King like David Bowie would appear and take us on a mystical adventure, but we also knew the true value of our snotty little siblings.

5. The bad guy might just be your dad


Ok, not a great life lesson to learn but at the time the big reveal in The Empire Strikes Back was so shocking that it made cinematic history and became a much-used trope in popular culture. We learned a lot of lessons from Star Wars, I actually love how well-developed the female characters are. Particularly Rey in the new movies. But The Empire Strikes Back taught us that you can’t do anything alone and that you can overcome any evil if your friends have your back.

6. Belief will get you far


Dirty Dancing taught us that in order to execute the perfect dance, Johnny and Baby have to trust each other and believe in each other. While we can’t say we executed any perfect

lifts since watching it, it definitely taught us about the seductive power of dance.

It taught us that it’s okay to put your trust in someone and that you shouldn’t listen to jealousy and accusation. Most of all it taught us to believe in romance. It had us swooning and tapping our feet and wanting a Patrick Swayze of our own.

7. You can start again 


Okay The NeverEnding Story is seriously mind-bending for a child. It doesn’t come to a satisfying ending and there are devastating parts (Artrax the horse and the Swamp of Sadness for example) but even after all the devastation there is a grain of sand with which Bastian can create a new Fantasia. It ends with hope and with possibility.

I guess it’s a good life lesson to take. As you’re watching the film and inwardly saying “No! No! It’s just getting worse!” there is light at the end of the tunnel. Just like in real life, when we mess up, we shouldn’t give up.


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Managing Editor

Beth is the Managing Editor of CGD. She is a graduate of the Penguin Writer's Academy, has published a short story and loves to read creative writing manuals in her spare time.

  • Camille Beygui

    Thanks for sharing

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