Saving Ferris Bueller

I have always, always wanted a “SAVE FERRIS” t-shirt. I want to wear it every single day until my body odor eats holes in the armpits and I’m too noticeable to be ignored—though there is a fine line between being noticed for my “SAVE FERRIS” shirt and being noticed for my repulsive hygiene, and it’s critical that I don’t cross it.

I could buy lots of “SAVE FERRIS” t-shirts and alternate them.

No, that would defeat the purpose. It wouldn’t be nearly enough of a statement.

Like most of my intelligent ideas, this one happened by accident. I watched the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off “Twist and Shout” scene on Youtube. It was freshman year. It was spring semester. It was reading period, and everyone hated each other almost as much as everyone hated their classes, but not as much as everyone hated themselves.

“Life moves pretty fast.”

The choice I had was between writing an essay for a teaching assistant I hated and watching Youtube videos, which is a choice in the same way that free will is actually free. That’s how I ended up in Chicago at a parade with Ferris Bueller, side-by-side with Cameron and Sloane. I watched him give his soulfully lip-synched rendition of “Danke Schoen,” but that wasn’t really his style. No. Ferris needed something to dance to, and so he danced with girls dressed in whatever you call the female version of lederhosen—as we all should, particularly when we’re under the influence of German beer.

I hate people who shame people for not watching movies, because I’m usually in the latter category and I don’t see myself moving to the former (at least not yet; I don’t think I get my Pompous Cinephile license until I’ve seen more Tarantino, and in any case I’m running out of room in my wallet for membership cards). I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you’ve seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and I’m not going to give you shit if you haven’t. If that’s the case, though, then I know what it feels like to spur an entire city into an impromptu dance jam and you don’t, which you should at least consider feeling bad about.

Of course, like any normal person, my dream is to commandeer a parade float and to be applauded by thousands of people for it. If that doesn’t become your dream while you’re watching Ferris Bueller then you’re watching it on mute with the TV facing away from you.

But enough about you and me. More about Ferris.

Ferris Bueller—the character—is a cocky, reckless, puffed-up narcissist who is one of the more brilliant thinkers of my non-acquaintance and is, possibly, secretly, a Kennedy. He’s an idiot, is what I’m trying to say. His best feature is that he can’t possibly be real. Everybody knows now that Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is really about Cameron and that hasn’t changed a single thing about how much we adore the sweater-vested asshole that nearly wrecks Cameron’s life. Everyone loves Ferris Bueller, which is the point. There are two people in this movie who are absolutely not real, because one of them is universally loved (Bueller) and the other is universally hated (Dean Rooney) and real people are never one or the other. Ferris isn’t fake in the sense that the entirety of Chicago hallucinated him, but in the sense that all the characters besides Rooney grew from the seedy grey matter of some actual person out there in the world. Not Ferris, though. He’s faker than Dolly Parton’s tits. It’s sad, I know, but you can’t make people or breasts that good if you insist on making them true, too. Holden Caulfield would have punched Ferris in the nose and then gone to a museum to cry. Holden Caulfield’s as real as they come, by the way. He’s one of the better human beings out there: too true to ever be any good.

If Holden Caufield saw me wearing my “SAVE FERRIS” t-shirt(s) that I don’t own yet he’d probably punch me in the nose, too. The shirt is for a good cause, though. Why, you ask, do you want to save Ferris if Ferris isn’t even real? Well, I don’t know about you, but I hardly see the need to save something that already exists. Ideas are flighty little sons-of-bitches though, and Ferris is more idea than he is person, which is why he needs a whole lot of upkeep. Raising awareness for this fine cause is an act of charity—nay, it is my duty, a mitzvah. That’s why I need the shirt.

One of the great parts of Ferris being a complete phony in the whole “doesn’t actually exist” way is that his motives are infinite—he could have had no reason for stealing the show and he could have had every reason. That means, at least in part, that he stole a parade so that I could dance the “Twist and Shout” in my room during reading period and get a very early start on setting my priorities up good and right. I had my own goddamn parade. Containing exactly one person, it was small enough that calling it a parade means making a careful adjustment to the word’s meaning, but I bet it’s more of a parade than you’ve ever had. (If you’re on a Boston sports team or a president, I apologize and retract the preceding statement.)

“If you don’t stop and look around sometimes, you could miss it.”

I ended up getting violently sick and handing in the paper late, and my TA was a jerk about it. Ferris would have rolled his car down a hill. I just limped back home and vowed to hate him for at least six more years.