Friday, February 09, 2007

Rethinking Belonging II

There is nothing inherently wrong with peer groups or cliques. They are common to every middle and high school, typically based on friendships and mutual interests. However, they do have the potential to twist and mold an adolescent into their own image. The coming-of-age movie The Breakfast Club (1985) illustrates this state of affairs in an entertaining yet poignant way. The entire movie takes place in a Saturday detention hall in a suburban Chicago high school. Represented is one member of each social group in the school.

As each student strolls into the detention hall, the air is thick with posturing and posing. The camera pans over the five students, and you can see that each bears the emblems of their social group—buttons, sport shirts, jeans jackets, eye makeup, pocket protectors. Slowly, they are pushed by one another out of their comfort zones and forced to be real about who they really are on the inside. If you can look past the strong language, this film provides a great study on the concept of the formation of identity. Think about this for a moment. You were probably a member of at least one clique during your school years. What often acts as the glue or the bond that keeps these peer groups together? It is fear, plain and simple—the fear of being left out, of being different, of being nobody.

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