Do You Know How Popular I Am? - Film - The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:
Earlier youth movies like Rebel Without a Cause, Easy Rider, Saturday Night Fever, even Risky Business, offered a more or less binary system for audience identification. You were a straight or a rebel, a conformist or an original, an us or a them. Hughes's works expanded the language of youthful alienation. His social cosmology was infinitely more elaborate and self-aware. The hyperarticulate, culturally plugged-in kids in his films understood that the identities available to them were merely arbitrary roles, each burnout as predetermined as every jock—all equally subject to ridicule by rich, beautiful jerks who lived to make you feel unpopular, uncool, unloved. The finales were uplifting, but finales weren't the point (sometimes they sold us out, like Allison's makeover and Andie choosing Blane). The twin suns of the Hughes galaxy were shame and dread. Funny, cute, and underdoggy as they were, his characters were gripped by terror that they might fail to choose a viable self.