In the 1985 movie The Breakfast Club, Brat Pack members Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, and Ally Sheedy play high school students at an all-day detention. Each character is portrayed in stereotypical fashion as a member of a different social group, and the plot follows them as their initial conflict and suspicion of each other transitions to a deeper understanding of each other as individuals and the things they have in common. As part of the detention requirements, the students must write an essay describing who they think they are. In excerpts from the essay that open and close the movie, Hall’s character, Brian Johnson, highlights a central tension of the film by calling out the way that simplistic, group-based labels do not acknowledge the deeper commonalities between characters.
While the specific social groups depicted in the movie may seem outdated to viewers of more recent generations, the idea that people are often categorized (and categorize themselves) by their group affiliations remains a common way of understanding identity. The theme of group affiliation versus individuality is common in films, particularly those with teenage protagonists. Members of younger generations will recognize this theme in the High School Musical trilogy, for example.