How Ferris Bueller Changed the Future...and Fucked Up My Day Off
Early last month, we literally zoomed past a quietly-obscure factoid: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off turned – I don’t know – thirtyish; like, who the fuck cares, let alone honors a movie with a birthday in the first place? I had read a couple of earlier pieces on this curiosity, this probable-throw-away of a film, at best an amuse-bouche for a culturally-starved society caught in the dream-fever of an ‘I Want My MTV’ mentality. Yes, it has become enshrined as a classic in the hearts of millions. More than that, though, it has lately become most accepted and cherished by the veritable institutions symbolizing the concepts that the film’s key character would seem to have placed under attack – namely, authoritarianism and commercialism. No doubt, this flick is a cinematic mainstay with much of its script swept into the lexicon of film history and lore. What the hell, we are a country of crass commercialism if nothing else, and so Ferris and friends gets incomprehensibly immortalized for a diversity of reasons that mainly start and end with a decidedly simple-minded, albeit superbly-written, John Hughes story about miscreant teens exercising their Constitutional right to magical thinking, and the use of other tropes [Hello, George Burns?] as they gad about local Chicago on a stolen day from school. This? This is what ‘revolutionized’ the industry? The industry being that of good, old Hollywood and all that it entails. Well, and ho, that old chestnut is definitely another story for another five rantings or so. Stick to the script. Bottom line, while the movie was good, it ain’t great, in cinematic terms. Not only that, and this is offered in the spirit of being adversarial, not to mention just to be a shmuck, there are compelling reasons why Ferris Bueller has actually helped fuck up society, not to mention ruin my day off.
In a nutshell, this shell of a nut, Ferris, ruined future generations from taking any type of initiative toward becoming engaged in reality. Oh, sure the kid and his merry band of gruntlings, including his bff, the über-neurotic, gawky bean-sprout of a guy who grows to manhood in a single day, but only after he freakishly and manically tips his father’s prize pig – er, Ferrari – out the garage bay door, and down a ravine, are likeable to a degree…but that’s irrelevant. Why the car was kept in such a precarious position in a locale such as it was in the first place is anyone’s guess. Mine? The dad’s an asswheel who purposefully set up his kid for failure. You call ‘bullshit?’ Happens all the time. Go ask Freud [good luck getting a less than a 150,000 Deutschemark/hour answer out of that fucking tightwad].
Regardless, the flying car was certainly a tipping point. That type of trauma will only destroy, or make a man out of, you. Of course, these are just actors we’re talking about so it’s not that important. You be the judge. And then you have the squeeze that would be Ferris’s right-hand person and, possibly, his Pear Tarte Tatin, should they both agree, of course. Notice, I said ‘both.’ No means no, Ferris, you horny teen-aged bastard. And, if you are not crazy about French desserts, change it to whatever today’s trendy organic, hot-in-California, post-meal treat might be called. I don’t know, let’s say Chewy Rice Cakes, who the fuck cares?
I leave out most of the other characters that roamed the film; they may be cute and funny and perverse and pertinent, but you know the vehicle is all about the kid. And, who really gives a shit about them. Ferris, no, he is the precursor of teens of Christmases yet to come. In a restaurant, Ferris famously mugs, “I do have a test today, that wasn't bullshit. It's on European Socialism. I'm not European, nor do I plan on being European, so who gives a crap if they're socialists? It still wouldn't change the fact that I don't own a car!” Me. Me. Me. End of the Pepsi Generation meets beginning of the ‘Me’ Generation. It’s always about ‘me,’ the whiny chant and refrain of generations to come. This, not to mention all the moral implications of staying out of other people’s business abroad unless it involves ‘me.’ This indeed has spawned a line of lazies and zanies among us laced throughout the land and in Government that aren’t going away anytime soon. Though his antics and hijinks seem cute, if not brave, they are usually founded on some act of cowardice, or conducted under a blanket of suspicious behavior. The kid basically neutered adventurism and intrigue for the next millennia. Everything is done on the sly, not a speck of him being standup, standout, or open-handed. Even the maître d couldn’t resist, “I weep for the future.” Well, you can stop weeping, Gaston. The future is now.
And, I could go on, but I have other shmucky stuff to tend to. Important need-to-know shmuck stuff. And…. Aside from the major emphasis on changes, subtle or otherwise, harbingered by this film, it is necessary to roam outside the film’s timescape and engage in a bit of time travel. Step in the worm hole with me and zoom, if you will, to the future. Ah, skip it, get off at the next stop…we’re already there. I am talking about now. If I see one more idiotic commercial that blatantly rips off scenes from that movie, I may just have to pull the plug. No, not my plug. Shmucks. On the goddamned television. Oh, this is not a new thing; it’s been going on for a few years now. That seems to be the way it goes. You live long enough and you end up hearing that beautiful rock ballad you wrote back in the 80’s now playing as the background dirge of a commercial touting the benefits of packing your eight kids into the rear of one of those dark, overdone, hippo-like SUV’s roving the range. Family values, folks, family values. Where have they truly gone? Songs we sung as anthems in celebration of our youth and independence are now playing in the background of shimmery, glimmering commercials glorifying the very fucked-up authoritarian institutions we protested against back in the day. That’s right, young shmucks, ‘protest’ is – at least was - a word of action. Look it up. Not today. Not today. Today, I had a day off from the gig at which I toil. Let’s just say it is a demanding gig that provides service to others; to real human beings. So, on this rare day off I am watching some type of professional sporting contest – guess…no, not lacrosse – on the tube. Alone for a while, minding my own business, and BAM! I hear it, the humpy-jumpy-thumpy music that is accompaniment to the antic jiving and shucking of a young kid leaping over lawn hedges and car tops, dodging swimming pools and half-naked chicks, all for…..A PIZZA. PIZZA?! Original Ferris was trying to get home in time so kids everywhere could rejoice knowing you actually CAN get away with it. We're the kids of America, damn it. Not the kids of corporate obesity. Or are we?
Oh, you again, Ferris. And, you again, corporate Madmen, sifting through and mining the cemeteries of dead celluloid and song sheets for material you can plunder and use to excite in new, insidious ways, a fresh, unsuspecting public. A public modeled into laziness and reaching out to touch only the things it wants, only when it wants it. And Ferris Bueller helped make it happen. Indeed. The world has changed and merged with you, Ferris, on your run to slip one past authority and achieve…well, not a whole helluva lot. But, you did it. You made it. And, we made it. You got away with one…and then…you married Sarah Jessica Parker.
Thanks for changing the future…and for fucking up my day off.