Disorganized rant concerning "Ferris Bueller's Day Off".

"Ferris Bueller's Day Off" is a movie that I've been fascinated with since I was 12 years old. I think about it a lot and it pops into my head at random times. In fact, it popped into my head this morning while I was getting ready for work. I was thinking about one of the charges often leveled against this movie by its detractors--that the behavior of the movie's main characters makes no sense. "A bunch of high school kids skipping school to eat at fancy restaurants and visit museums? Absurd," they say. I can see the merits of this argument on a purely rational level, but the movie has always convinced me so thoroughly of the characters' sincerity that I've never been able to buy into this argument. This morning I finally realized why that is.

See, Ferris Bueller, as a character, is not what he seems. He comes off in the movie like some charismatic big man on campus, a mysteriously powerful student who commands the universal respect of other students and causes endless frustration for the faculty who, nevertheless, are unable to stop him. He seems like some kind of preppy high school superhero. What I realized this morning, though, is that he's a nerd. No, seriously, there's so much evidence for it. Look at the Rube Goldberg devices he constructs around his parents' house to fool any potential investigators (including his own parents) into thinking that he is actually at home sick. Look at who his best friend is--Cameron Frye, the brilliant yet neurotic child of wealthy, remote parents, who has learned to come down with psychosomatic illnesses whenever he gets too stressed out. The movie makes clear that all the kids love Ferris--so why does he hang out with Cameron instead of, say, the captain of the football team?

I was not one of those kids who overcame my nerd-dom while still in high school. Hell, I haven't overcome it now. I may have wished to grow up to be Ferris as a 12 year old seeing it for the first time, but that doesn't matter. If I'm anyone in this movie, I'm Cameron. That said, I had friends like Ferris--friends who were nerds in middle school, who lucked into a perfectly timed growth spurt, who learned how to charm women and get along with jocks, who were able to skirt the edges of trouble but never really get busted, who manipulated the system so that high school was a blast for them. They may still have gotten good grades, but they didn't make a fuss about it, so no one pointed out to them that they'd seemed a lot more nerdy back when we were all in sixth grade. And they made a good life for themselves in high school. They ended up like Ferris Bueller.

And when they wanted to hang out, they hung out with guys like me. We had been their friends since back when they were no better off than us, and they could talk to us about stuff they couldn't talk to the preps and the jocks about. That's who Cameron is for Ferris--a guy who speaks his language. Thus the two of them making goofy "Hey batter" jokes at a baseball game, and poking fun, through gestures, at stock traders.

Sloane Peterson, Ferris's girlfriend, is another example of what I'm talking about. People get blinded by the fact that the actress playing the role, Mia Sara, is gorgeous. But that's not the predominant characteristic of Sloane as a character. She's friendly, she's obviously intelligent, she's sensitive and caring. And she's up for whatever silly crap Ferris wants to pull at any given moment (see the taxicab scene for evidence).

I don't know where I'm going with all this, really, but it's just something that I was thinking about. I will admit that on some levels, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" indeed makes very little sense. The time sequence of the movie, for one thing, is all fucked up. How does Ed Rooney end up on a bus full of schoolchildren at 6 PM? That said, I think the characters are very real, not at all contrived, and I like that the makers of the movie weren't afraid to create people who didn't just fit into a stereotype. Even if one of them creates Rube Goldberg devices that so clearly would not work in real life.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey weird question but do you ever talk to M someone somehere scorned anymore? if so point him toward the band Static Towers he may find them interesting... hope your new year is a pleasant one.

be well, i'm disappearing again

8:42 PM  

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