A spirited and completely biased defense of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

22 Jan

I was somewhat horrified this morning when I read this economic critique of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in the Paris Review (h/t The Daily Dish).

I can’t even pretend to be objective about this – FBDO stands alone as my favorite film of all time. Nevertheless, the critique, which seeks to interpret the film as some kind of capitalist pean, profoundly misses the point.

Before my eyes, therentier class was daydreaming a special dream, a dream of getting away from the drudges and the scolds …

It continues…

But I would like to argue that the movie advocates not supply-sider ideology per se, or not only supply-sider ideology, but something more pernicious.

Perhaps there may, in some way, if you look at it right, be some evidence that maybe Hughes was making some kind of pro-market allusions (though I doubt it). But if you’re watching FBDO for the first time (or at least the first time in a decade, as the author claims) and your first thought is What A “Pernicious” Pro-Capitalist Film, you are profoundly missing the point.

FBDO is at its heart a romantic story. It drives its characters into the coming great unknown of adulthood while urging them to hold onto the beauty and humor that makes life about more than just existing – a beauty and humor that children grasp easily but adults (such as the principal) lose sight of.

The film is precisely NOT about economics. None of the decisions Ferris, Cameron and Sloane make sense from an economic perspective, but that’s the point: that sometimes living is about throwing your concerns to the wind to embrace a moment that points to something more important than day to day normalcy and existence.

The setting of FBDO is not universal. It portrays a midwestern, middle to upper-middle class teenage experience. But the aspiration to break free, at least temporarily, from the bonds and responsibility of daily life to experience something grander, I believe, is much more universal.

This comment on the Paris Review post put it best:

I think this is a gross over-analyzation of a movie that was really vicariously being the person we all wanted, but were all afraid, to be: Ferris.

After reading this, I went to my husband. I said, “Remember the movie, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? Remember his friend, Cameron? Remember the Ferrari? What was the deal with the Ferrari?”

To which my husband replied without missing a beat, “He thought his dad loved the car more than he loved him.”

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