For those of a certain age the Brat Pack are synonymous with heady teenage years. Remember St Elmo’s Fire and The Breakfast Club? In the 1980s these were the coming of age films and their stars were the heartthrobs of the time. The core group that sent teenage hearts fluttering were Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, and Ally Sheedy.
According to author Susannah Gora (You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried: The Brat Pack, John Hughes, and Their Impact on a Generation), these films "changed the way many young people looked at everything from class distinction to friendship, from love to sex and fashion to music." They are considered "among the most influential pop cultural contributions of their time."
It seems, even today, the Brat Pack continue to walk the same territory, albeit not together. Last year Rob Lowe released his memoir. Stories I Only Tell My Friends. It is a smart, wry look at the world of celebrity. The highs and the lows of living a life in the spotlight, where temptation abounds.
Lowe was not born into celebrity culture and status. Instead he began life in Dayton, Ohio. His mother moved her family to Malibu, for the cleaner air, after her second divorce. Lowe’s escape from his fractured upbringing was to throw himself into an unreal world. His neighbours were the Sheens and the Penns. He began by making short amateur films with them, doing his own stunts and suffering the consequences. Lowe practically grew up in the Sheen household, heading off to auditions side by side with Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez. His motivation and his drive to succeed seemed infallible.
Lowe glosses over the sex tape episode, which landed him in some trouble. Today, as he says, with sexting and social media such things are common occurrences, back then it was big news.
At Lowe’s lowest ebb he booked himself into rehab in Arizona and attempted to get his life back on track. Since then he has married, had two boys and made a name for himself as Sam Seaborn in The West Wing.
Lowe’s passion for politics is evident. His first foray into the world of politics was on the coat tails of campaigner Jane Fonda. In 1986 he joined a number of celebrities, led by Jane Fonda, including Whoopi Goldberg and Michael J Fox on the “Clean Water Caravan”. The celebrities travelled in a Greyhound bus along the coast of California. Their message was to prevent the release of cancer-causing chemicals into drinking water by increasing enforcement efforts and stiffening penalties against toxic polluters. Lowe says it was a successful campaign.
Lowe is obviously intelligent, charming and driven. Perhaps, perfect combination for politics? He has shown a continual interest in politics. Maybe this book is just one step towards cementing his next goal in life.
Following on from Lowe’s book, both Andrew McCarthy and Molly Ringwald have released books this year. It seems they too are keen to remove themselves from the Brat Pack image that, for years, has defined them.
Andrew McCarthy has reinvented himself as a travel writer and describes his writing as his “second act”. His book, The Longest Way Home, a travel memoir, tracks his life from "an oversensitive youth" to travel writer. McCarthy still gets regular TV work, but seems to relish his travel writing.
On Twitter Molly Ringwald describes herself as an actress, singer, writer, mother and your former teenage-crush. Perhaps she didn’t take the Brat Pack image quite as seriously as her fellow members.
Ringwald has opted to release a selection of linked short stories, which looks at the complexities of modern relationships. Heartbreak, deception and betrayal are key themes in When It Happens To You. So far Ringwald has received high praise for her literary debut.
While all three continue to act, Lowe, McCarthy and Ringwald have successfully made names for themselves outside of the industry that defined them for more than a decade.
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