“The philosopher of adolescence” – Rest in Peace

One of our very favorite movies in this house is the 1986 released Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  While in Chicago last weekend for a homeschool conference, my daughter and I learned from Chicago’s talk radio WLS that the writer/director John Hughes unexpectedly passed from a heart attack.
Who’d have known that Dan Quayle and I had this preference in common? 
An academic shared her analysis of Ferris’ sister Jeanie Bueller
(with her secret Shauna life), along with many questions that could likely only be researched by an academic who gets paid to do such:

Places of Empirical Subjects in the Event of Mass Culture
Jeannie Bueller and Idealogy
– Janet Staiger

During the 1990 US presidential campaign, various contenders were asked their favorite movie, perhaps, as one columnist explained, just in case everything else evened out for the undecided voter. Youthful forty-two-year-old Dan Quayle picked Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, explaining: "it reminded me of my time in school." 
For a critical theroist, such a choice would seem to indicate something worth considering, but the question is, just what does Quayle’s choice mean?  Why was he so perfectly the subject addressed by that film?  What was its productions of meaning for him?  Or rather, how can we use a film such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to consider and reconsider Louis Althusser’s [Marxist philosopher] theories of ideology, aesthetics, institutions such as schools and families, and mass culture?

Despite his grassroots acclaim, John Hughes never won a major award in his field.  He retired to an Illinois working farm.  My kinda guy.

I always thought that Ferris Bueller’s day off in the Windy City was the epitome of what homeschooling teens should and often do experience.  The trio’s slow trek through the Art Institute is a prime example.  No official field trip, no crowds, no hurry while enjoying great art.  That would be an enjoyable learning experience that sticks.

Here’s some of my faves from Day Off.

  • This is my ninth sick day this semester. It’s getting pretty tough coming up with new illnesses. If I go for ten, I’m probably gonna have to barf up a lung.
  •  Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
  • Not that I condone fascism, or any ism for that matter. Isms in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an ism, he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon: "I don’t believe in Beatles, I just believe in me." Good point there. After all, he was the Walrus. I could be the Walrus, but I’d still have to bum rides off of people.

Principal Ed Rooney: What is so dangerous about a character like Ferris Bueller is he gives good kids bad ideas. Last thing I need at this point in my career is fifteen hundred Ferris Bueller disciples running around these halls. He jeopardizes my ability to effectively govern this student body.
Grace: He makes you look like an ass, is what he does, Ed.
Ed Rooney: Thank you, Grace, but I think you’re wrong.
Grace: Oh, he’s very popular, Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wasteoids, dweebies, dickheads — they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude.
Ed Rooney: That is why I need to show these kids that the example he sets is a first-class ticket to nowhere!

This last quote below reminds me of a precocious redhead (setting off on a successful adventure the traditional way) and his Dude best friend (my son following the non-traditional route). 

Ferris: If you’re not over here in fifteen minutes, you can find a new best friend.
Cameron: You’ve been saying that since the fifth grade.
Ferris: I’m takin’ the day off. Now get dressed and come on over.

Rest in peace and God Bless, Mr. Hughes.

How could I possibly be expected to handle school on a day like this? ~ Ferris Bueller


“The philosopher of adolescence” – Rest in Peace — 10 Comments

  1. I am feeling sad that Mr. Hughes is no longer with us. Although FBDO was a bit past my school days, I frequently took days off to do things like finish a really good book, take a walk through the winter cornfields, or go do Chicago, St. Louis or even Indy. My agreement with mom was that as long as my grades stayed high, the occasional day off was a good thing. Now, even with my high GPA and status as a National Merit Scholar, mom and I would have been hauled before the court due to “habitual truancy.” And they say this is a free country!

    God, but I hated high school. I got a good education, I suppose,, but it was excruciating.

  2. Our family also loves to watch FBDO. We’ve always leaned toward homeschooling but sent our oldest to traditional kindergarten anyway. It became apparent that if we continued on a traditional track we’d eventually run afoul of the school attendance policy. I found it perfectly reasonable to call my kids in absent for the day to watch a kidding, go shooting in the Owyhee mountains with their grandfather, take their dogs to the lake to swim, and in order to visit ethnic festivals and the Special Olympics. There was nothing they would have learned in school any of those days that had more value than the experiences they gained in the outside world.

  3. My grades weren’t good, and I surely hated high school. I don’t know how my grades were as good as they were, considering I rarely did the assignments.
    BUT I loved my mentor/coach and wanted to play field hockey, badminton, and track…so I showed up. Skipping school, except for the last hour (with a pass) would be un-thinkable in my family, darn it.

    We pulled our kids out of elementary school to do a Farm Progress Show. One of the kids’ teachers said: “Go for it! It’s not going to be this close again for some time.”
    We liked her a lot.

  4. Dropping by from the Carnival–what a wonderful post! FBDO is one of my favorites, and I was very sad when I learned of the passing of John Hughes. I really love the way you have connected FBDO to homeschooling. Now I love that movie even more! There are some wonderful lessons to be learned from it.

  5. Pingback: Check Out the Carnival of Homeschooling « The Expanding Life

  6. I have very fond memories of the first time I saw Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I had never really connected the film to my educational philosophy, but looking back on it after reading your post, I do see how then & now I felt many aspects of organized activities (be it public school or even taking a vacation with a tour group) can strangle the individual and not allow for the time to value things that call to each person.

    Thank you for the insight!


  7. To me that movie is a classic. I always wanted to be like Ferris Bueller and I still try to live by those standards. Now I’m a father and I homeschool my kids. We have lots of fun! Other Hughes’ movie that I really like is The Breakfast Club. He really had a way to show what really goes on in kids minds.

  8. Pingback: Philosophers adolescence | Fotolimb