'Nothing Prepared Me For The Firestorm': Writer Who Coined Brat Pack Term Opens Up About Backlash

David Blum defends coining Hollywood's Brat Pack, reflecting on its lasting impact. Andrew McCarthy's new Hulu documentary explores the group's legacy and initial resentment.

Published on Jun 17, 2024  |  11:27 PM IST |  38.9K
Image via IMDb
Brat Pack Term (Image via IMDb)
Key Highlight
  • David Blum coined the term Brat Pack in 1985
  • Andrew McCarthy's documentary Brats on Hulu revisits the term's impact

The phrase Hollywood’s Brat Pack has become a part of American pop culture. The term was created by journalist David Blum when he wrote his article for New York Magazine in 1985. This article was about Emilio Estevez, along with other young actors. 

In this interview, David Blum narrates how he came up with a cover story that evoked mixed emotions among readers.

Origins of the Brat Pack

Blum, who was then 29 years old, had not anticipated such controversy surrounding his article. He recently wrote an essay on Vulture regarding how he named it when writing about Emilio Estevez and others like Judd Nelson and Rob Lowe.

There was a photograph of all three taken from St Elmo’s Fire, where they were seen drinking while smiling broadly at each other. The author had expected some resentment from the stars as well as their managers, but what happened afterward went beyond expectations.

“I figured my cover story — with 'Hollywood’s Brat Pack' splashed above a publicity still from St. Elmo’s Fire that fortuitously caught Estevez, [Judd] Nelson and [Rob] Lowe in a bar, grinning and hoisting brewskis — would likely annoy these young stars for a few days, and perhaps cause some brief agita among Hollywood publicists who tend to want to control the stories that come out about their clients,” writes Blum, “Nothing prepared me for the firestorm of attention that resulted.” 

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While many people reacted negatively to the topic of his text, David initially didn't receive any feedback on the matter, expecting it would just go away quietly. Years later, however, Estevez called him and asked why he chose to say so.

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Lasting impact

Fast forward to 2024, and Brat Pack is still a cultural touchstone. One such example is the documentary Brats, directed by Andrew McCarthy. In this piece done by David Blum on Vulture, he wonders at first why there should be such an attention-seeking showcase in Times Square featuring billboards mounted at its entrance.

In the documentary Brats, the actors initially appear resentful about being labeled the Brat Pack. However, Andrew McCarthy states that there are no hard feelings between them now. As Blum said, “McCarthy’s cleverly edited film, even while purporting to portray the Brat Pack as put-upon by the phrase, manages to smooth over the fact that no real animus exists any more between the Brat Pack actors and me.”

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During the documentary, Blum explains to McCarthy his intention had never been to offend those actors. He simply wanted an exciting way to define them. Now, at 61 years old, McCarthy talks about his initial upset with Blum’s article, which seemed to suggest that their prime focus was fame and partying rather than artistry. However, he has since forgiven him and has even spoken highly of him on various occasions.

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Reflections and reactions

He says that he stands by his writing because it is part of what journalists do; they tell stories with elements of truth in them. Although he takes pride in the term still having some impact today, he does not want it to be what defines him as a writer. When asked if there could have been a softer way for him to put his point across, Blum called any hurts suffered as mere collateral damage. 

"Here’s a bunch of people who have become very famous and popular, and I’m calling them the Brat Pack. I guess I feel like, you know… sticks and stones,” he concludes.

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In retrospect, Blum admits that McCarthy had realized at least how much this phrase meant or meant in his life. Today, however, Blum only regrets the strength of his reaction would be pointless as he speaks about it with nostalgia.

Currently available for streaming on Hulu, Brats delves deeper into both the phenomenon of The Brat Pack and David Blum’s iconic phase, which became its long-standing legacy.

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FAQs

What was David Blum's intention behind the term Brat Pack?
Blum aimed to define a group of young actors in an interesting way, not to demean them.

How do the Brat Pack actors feel about the term now?
Initially offended, they have come to terms with it, and there is no lasting animosity towards Blum.

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About The Author

Shovan has a Masters in Mass Communication and Journalism degree from Calcutta University. He loves to live in the

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