Whatever Happened to Shermer High?

By Tom Dunn

I bet you wish you’d gone to Shermer High. Sure, it may not have had the
greatest academic record, or the most amazing sports facilities and its
teachers were far from inspiring. But the students were something else:
larger-than-life figures armed with sassy tongues, bright ideas, and some classic ‘80s pop to back them up should they need it. The world was at their fashionably-adorned feet and everything was for the taking. But when the parade floats had been dismantled, the prom bunting torn down and the last detention bell rang what became of everyone’s favourite American teens?

John Bender: In the original script for The Breakfast Club (1985), Dick Vernon said that Bender would wind up killing himself. If by killing himself he meant making loads-a-money he was absolutely correct. Little did Bender know, when he gave that triumphant, love-struck air-punch on the school football field (Simple Minds, oddly, playing quite loudly in his head), that Claire’s father was the Deputy CEO of a major cable network. Seeing potential in the bold brat’s unorthodox conversational style, Mr. Standish convinced Bender to play mascot for the channel’s post-watershed schedule. Despite trying his best to sabotage the network and resist “selling out to the man”, Bender’s witty vitriol ensured that he quickly became a household name. He did the talk show circuit for a while before crossing over into celebrity cameos on popular sitcoms. A stint as John Goodman’s nephew “Tim” on Roseanne proved to be particularly memorable for fans, and is still fondly spoken of today.

Cameron Frye: When he accidently sent his father’s Ferrari careering out of the house and into the woodlands behind, the neurotic Cameron had something of a personal epiphany and found a new confidence with which he could confront the harsher aspects of the world that terrified him so. However whilst Ferris was busy making sure he got home on time, and the arrival of his own father drew ever closer Cameron’s resolve started to break. What would his dad do? The burden of possibility came to be too much for Cameron. Quickly packing up some essential supplies, he headed out into the wild of the surrounding forest. What was intended as a “lying-low” period quickly turned into something more when he befriended some of the local wildlife; finding himself accepted without prejudice for the first time in his life Cameron decided to stay in the forest. He is now considered something of a local legend, with tourists often venturing out to try and capture a photo of him wandering out of his cave.

Wyatt Donnelly: Having created the world’s first artificial woman, Lisa, with best friend Gary, things were looking up for geeky little Donnelly. The bullies thought he was kind of okay after all and he’d got a girlfriend and everything! Life was almost complete. Full of pep, Wyatt continued his experiments exceeding himself time and time again until, in his final year of college, he made both the greatest and most terrible discovery of them all: he was a fictionalised character portrayed by Ilan Mitchell-Smith. This forced Wyatt into a major identity crisis. Ironically, Ilan Mitchell-Smith’s wooden acting skills had left Wyatt with a poor emotional range and consequently his displays of existential panic came off as hilarious stand-up to his friends and family. Realising this, he accepted his lot and became a successful stand-up comedian, reaffirming that bitter truth: the clown is the saddest of us all.

Andie Walsh: Things were going well for Andie at first. Blaine was his usual – slightly boring-but-always-friendly – self, and her skills in fashion design had increased exponentially at college. She didn’t want another embarrassment like that shapeless prom dress she had so loved at the time so for her final exam she put together a wardrobe that utilised shiny bottle caps and brightly coloured food wrappers. It was intended as a commentary on how people’s bodies “wear” their diet by way of Andy Warhol but the only comment the head examiner made was that it was “quite funky”. The road was then paved for a career amongst the top fashion houses of Milan, Paris and Hull to the point that it looked as though Andie herself might become a richie. All this changed however upon the reappearance of Phil “Duckie” Dale, who, after spending three years in the army, had returned a new, formidable man. Determined to win Andie back from what he saw as the false bourgeois charm of Blaine he continued the feud that would end the lives of our three central romancers as well as threatening the future of their various ill-begotten children. Only the intervention of young Andrea, daughter of Andie, along with the melodramatic death of Duckie, ended the bitter saga and the moors were quiet again (Any parallels with the novel Wuthering Heights are purely coincidental).

Ferris Bueller: Ferris Bueller went on to make a name for himself in his dad’s firm surrounded by friends, family, and his one-time childhood sweetheart, now wife, Sloane Peterson. His shenanigans at Shermer High, whilst frequently the topic of happy nostalgia, were left firmly in the past as Ferris moved on with his life and focused on raising his own teenage children. He currently owns a comfortably sized house in the suburbs and sometimes plays the clarinet at the local jazz club with some work buddies. Given the stunts he used to pull back at Shermer High one might have expected Ferris to go on to lead youth riots or become some kind of anarchistic activist; he’s the first person you’d expect to see with a megaphone in hand. Unexpectedly, however, he was the one who lived a normal life. As the Americans themselves say: go figure.

In Issue 2 of New Empress Magazine we will be exploring the death of the 1980s high school rebel in depth.

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