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In Defense of Ferris Bueller

June 14th, 2011 - 7:10 am

When I was barely-out-of-diapers-young, one of my favorite books was a collection of jokes for kids. The big finish — the joke they just had to save for last — was a simple riddle: “What’s big and red and eats rocks? A big red rock eater.”

Try the veal and don’t forget to tip your servers. I’ll be here all week.

Since then, I’ve read the poetry of Jim Morrison; the columns of Maureen Dowd; the backs of countless boxes of Boo Berry Cereal; the 1988 Libertarian, Republican and Democrat political platforms in their entireties; the works of various Brontë sisters; particularly heartfelt lines from love letters I wrote to my high school sweetheart; I even read George Friedman’s The Coming War with Japan — which he wrote in 1991.

These are the credentials you need to know when I tell you: In the 38 years since I learned to read, I have read some really stupid shit.

But I have never read anything quite so stupid as Alan Siegel’s article in The Atlantic, insisting that everyone “get over” Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

On the movie’s 25th anniversary, Siegel’s problem with Ferris Bueller is Ferris Bueller, appropriately enough, whom he derides as “banal.” The primary complaints all come from the middle of the piece, where Siegel complains that “Nothing challenges Ferris. Unlike most teens, his life is free of adversity.” That the movie is “dripping with classism.” And while John Hughes’s other movies “may not channel Dickens, but they’re at least populated with teenagers who’ve had it rougher than Ferris.”

Boo-hoo, I suppose, because Bueller didn’t bear enough boo-boos. But let’s try and remember that the movie is about a kid’s day off. It ain’t The Basketball Diaries, nor is it supposed to be. And anyway, accusing a teenage boy of being banal is like accusing… a teenage boy of being interested in sex. Why, I never!

Siegel’s complaints about Ferris generally break down to “kind of sad where they aren’t plain wrong.”

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