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They think he's a righteous dude.
June 11, 2013 9:37 AM   Subscribe

It's the 27th anniversary of Ferris Bueller's Day Off. "Unlike almost every modern protagonist I can think of, whether it be comedy or drama or superhero movie, Ferris Bueller wasn’t defined by his exclusion. He didn’t wear some dumb label, like “jock,” or “drama geek” or “bro” or “nerd,” he was just himself. He was a little bit of everything, and that’s why people liked him. On his day off, he went to a ball game and an art museum."
posted by Cool Papa Bell (292 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm gonna just throw this here.
posted by nathancaswell at 9:39 AM on June 11, 2013 [15 favorites]


Just saw it at the Gene Siskel Film Center last week and hadn't seen it for a long time. I don't know if I'm just old or what but Jesus, Ferris is a dick.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:42 AM on June 11, 2013 [42 favorites]


It's true, Ferris is very inclusive and accepting. He's part of the In Crowd of every crowd, yet above it all at the same time. He's his own crowd.

That said, I was always a little put off by his entitled richitude.The car, the expensive music equipment, the super nice house, the ability to pay for t he Chez Ritz (unless Abe Froman got that on his tab).
posted by DU at 9:43 AM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Having JUST seen this movie at the Siskel Film Center ( what could be more Chicagoian?) I had a few new thoughts from watching as an adult for a first time.

1) Wow there is a lot more cursing and character moment stuff then I remember.

2) There is even less plot then I remember, it's almost arty

3) Did this get funding from the Chiacgo tourism board?

4) Maaan young Matthew Broderick looks like young RDJ, so I'm just going to imagine this as a Tony Stark High School AU ( seriously it fits.)
posted by The Whelk at 9:44 AM on June 11, 2013 [13 favorites]


He wasn't any of those labels. He was a douche before we had a term for it.
posted by Eideteker at 9:49 AM on June 11, 2013 [19 favorites]


Full list:

The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads - they all adore him! They think he's a righteous dude.
posted by ColdChef at 9:51 AM on June 11, 2013 [29 favorites]


Having JUST seen this movie at the Siskel Film Center ( what could be more Chicagoian?)

You did it while drinking beer
posted by shakespeherian at 9:52 AM on June 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Maybe it was because I was nine when it came out...but everyone I know wanted to be Ferris Bueller when we grew up.
posted by jb at 9:52 AM on June 11, 2013


Greatest tag list ever.
posted by Dr-Baa at 9:53 AM on June 11, 2013


When Cameron was in Egypt's land.... let my Cameron go...!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:54 AM on June 11, 2013 [21 favorites]


Kudos on the tags.
posted by 256 at 9:54 AM on June 11, 2013


Greatest tag list ever.
Kudos on the tags.


Thank you, Simone.
posted by ApathyGirl at 9:57 AM on June 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Little known fact: Chicago did, in fact, boast a "Sausage King" at one time. His story is not a pleasant one.
posted by Iridic at 9:59 AM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


He was a douche before we had a term for it.

Douches don't visit art museums or wear towels on their heads.
posted by DU at 9:59 AM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


I guess we're getting a John Hughes thread once a week now on the Blue - ain't gonna complain.

As a proud Chicagoan, not gonna fight the sales job on our city.

The beach at the end scene, where Cameron freaks out - when I was in high school, I had to clean that by hand at 2.a.m. once, because the local police didn't appreciate my being there with a girl and a special cigarette.
posted by C.A.S. at 10:01 AM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've said it before, but I thought of Bueller as sort of Eddie Haskell raised by really rich parents.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:05 AM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


C.A.S.: I guess we're getting a John Hughes thread once a week now on the Blue - ain't gonna complain.

Mark your calendars, the annual Juggalo post will be here before you know it!
posted by dr_dank at 10:06 AM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I also notice little things, now that I actually live in Chicago, like how there's a parade down Dearborn on a weekday (?) and when Ferris is singing 'Twist and Shout' Cameron and Sloane are looking right up at him from three blocks away and his dad looks down on the parade from his office building a half mile away. That sort of thing is always fun for me but I imagine if I lived in New York I would never be able to watch anything ever again.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:07 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ferris is a Time Lord - easist explaination
posted by The Whelk at 10:10 AM on June 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


No no see he was a bro.
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 10:12 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think a bro would hang out with Cameron.
posted by DU at 10:17 AM on June 11, 2013


Ferris is a bit of a shit, sure, but it is not out of malice. He is mean to Cameron, sort of, but it is small meanness in the service of a larger kindness, and the sort of thing that happens in a long, deep, odd friendship like they obviously have. Cameron is undoubtedly the better for it (the Ferrari, not so much.) The worst thing that Ferris does, probably, is play his sweet kid role with his parents, but what else is he going to do? Playing, and overplaying, his role in personal interactions is what Ferris is all about. The fact that he IS the role he is playing, to some degree, complicates it only slightly. That's WHY the sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, and dickheads all adore him. Because he interacts with them.

The real question about FBDO to me is: why the Red Wings?


Also: 27 years ago? But but but! I was in high school when it came out! I saw it in the theater! I question your math!
posted by dirtdirt at 10:19 AM on June 11, 2013 [11 favorites]


Douches don't visit art museums or wear towels on their heads.
"Yes they do, Otto. They just don't understand it."
posted by Flunkie at 10:19 AM on June 11, 2013 [31 favorites]


I remember talking to a guy I knew in college. He said "who didn't want to be Ferris Bueller when they were in high school?" I said I had always wanted to be David Lightman instead. Ferris Bueller scammed a table at a fantastic restaurant. David Lightman stopped the end of the world.
posted by Hactar at 10:22 AM on June 11, 2013 [12 favorites]


I know for a fact that there are Mefites who have never seen FBDO.
I won't name names, but you know who you are!
posted by QueerAngel28 at 10:23 AM on June 11, 2013


In the Hughes universe, we need look no further than Steff to find the proto-dudebro douche.
posted by ApathyGirl at 10:23 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think I can probably still recite 90% of the dialogue in this movie verbatim.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:30 AM on June 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Chicka-chik-kaah
posted by The Whelk at 10:33 AM on June 11, 2013 [28 favorites]


Also also Ben Stein always gets remembered as the Econ teacher but how awesome is Del Close (DEL CLOSE!!!) as the English teacher?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:35 AM on June 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


So does a car's odometer go backwards if you go in reverse?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:35 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Things I regularly say:

"Mm mm mm. What a little asshole."
"Le jeu sont fait. Meaning, the game is up. Your ass is mine."
"Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate your concern for my well-being."
"Let my Cameron goooo." (Never any real reason for that one.)

Among others. I think this makes me a douche also. (Or just very, very sad.)

I also love it as it was the first time I registered hearing of John Lennon, and the first hearing of Twist and Shout.


And it's NOT 27 years old. It's just bloody NOT!!
posted by billiebee at 10:38 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]



These are the things that drive me crazy, crazy, crazy....
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:38 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


//The real question about FBDO to me is: why the Red Wings?//

John Hughes was a Red Wings fan.
posted by COD at 10:40 AM on June 11, 2013


I love, and have always loved, this movie. My first record, at age 5, was a Beatles 7inch with Twist and Shout on one side... I would play that record over and over again, on my Fischer Price turntable, while dancing on the couch and pretending it was the float. And I used to watch the Art Institute scene over and over again, and feel like the scene with Seurat and Cameron was the most important scene ever filmed. In 30 seconds I felt I knew more about Cameron than about my own parents.

2 years ago I moved to Chicago and I finally had the ability to go to the AI and see this painting in person. I had a map, I knew where A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jette was, and I was slowly making my way torwards it. As I got closer - as I got to the room with the Toulouse Latrec's and Picasso's - I started feeling this tremendous pressure. I was having trouble breathing, I was panicked. The next room had this painting that I'd seen, hundreds of times, on a screen, but finally I was going to get my moment with it. It felt so important, and I hadn't realized I was going to feel this way.

I got up the courage and I went into the room. Facing the wrong way; the way I'd entered Sunday Afternoon was to my back. So I turned around, and there it was. And I just started crying. It is such a huge work of art. I just lost it. and there's a monkey on a leash!

I got an AI membership because of Cameron. I don't want to give too much credit, but I swear the whole reason I love art began with Cameron. At 5 years old, 7, 10, 15... time and time again I've watched this scene and found meaning in it, and now I can go there, any day, and see this art and feel emotions.

I love this movie, and I love the Art Institute. In fact, I'm going to go there right now.
posted by special agent conrad uno at 10:41 AM on June 11, 2013 [116 favorites]


The real question about FBDO to me is: why the Red Wings?

It's an old, original 6 rivalry. In 1986 when this movie came out the Red Wings were terrible. Cameron is a stick-in-the-mud and a bit of a sad sack. Kinda fits with his character, no?
posted by Hoopo at 10:43 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Have a moment in front of the American windows for me
posted by The Whelk at 10:43 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I remember talking to a guy I knew in college. He said "who didn't want to be Ferris Bueller when they were in high school?" I said I had always wanted to be David Lightman instead. Ferris Bueller scammed a table at a fantastic restaurant. David Lightman stopped the end of the world.

Actually, I wanted to be Chris Knight. Nowhere near smart enough, though. Sigh.
posted by Palquito at 10:45 AM on June 11, 2013 [30 favorites]


Imitate a Rodin for me.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:46 AM on June 11, 2013


I always figured I'd end up more like Jimmy Garrett.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:47 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


DU: "That said, I was always a little put off by his entitled richitude.The car, the expensive music equipment, the super nice house, the ability to pay for t he Chez Ritz (unless Abe Froman got that on his tab)."

Ferris doesn't own a car, that's an important plot point.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:48 AM on June 11, 2013 [16 favorites]


Chicago did, in fact, boast a "Sausage King" at one time.

And he was a really nice guy, compared to H. H. Holmes, who opened a block-long hotel near the 1893 Chicago World's Fair to, uh, 'cash in' on his 'clientele'.
posted by Twang at 10:49 AM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]



Ferris doesn't own a car, that's an important plot point.

And the car he complains about his sister getting is a Fiero...

I owned a fiero. Fun car. Still, not the height of 80s automotive innovation
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:49 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I get a computer, she gets a car. How's that for being born under a bad sign?
posted by gauche at 10:50 AM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ah, you fellas have nothin' to worry about. I'm a professional.
posted by the painkiller at 10:51 AM on June 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


No, but he got the computer instead of a car. Back when those were not exactly cheap.
posted by Hactar at 10:51 AM on June 11, 2013


Like most of John Hughes' movies (except Dutch), It hasnt aged well.
posted by jonmc at 10:51 AM on June 11, 2013


Professional what?
posted by Chrysostom at 10:52 AM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


i still have my Leisure Rules button I got when I saw it in the theater :)
posted by akaJudge at 10:54 AM on June 11, 2013


How did I forget he didn't have a car! And now you'll all keep correcting me, you'll keep correcting me until I come over, you'll keep...I'll just...I'll just...I'll go! Just...I'll go!
posted by DU at 10:55 AM on June 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


The real MVP of the film has got to be Edie McClurg as Grace.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:56 AM on June 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


"Le jeu sont fait. Meaning, the game is up. Your ass is mine."

It's "Les jeux sont faits". The games are done. But it's pronounced more or less how you wrote it because all of the final consonants are silent.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:59 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Like most of John Hughes' movies (except Dutch), It hasnt aged well.

I haven't seen that in years, though I keep meaning to find it every time I see a Modern Family promo.

(Never realized it was a John Hughes screenplay though)
posted by madajb at 11:00 AM on June 11, 2013


It's a little childish and stupid, but then, so's high school.
posted by clavicle at 11:02 AM on June 11, 2013 [16 favorites]


Like most of John Hughes' movies (except Dutch), It hasnt aged well.

I just saw it a couple years ago and it was great. What are you talking about?
posted by DU at 11:02 AM on June 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


Last summer I introduced three of my nephews to the film. It was such a joy to do so.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:04 AM on June 11, 2013


I liked Dutch. The rest of his stuff just reeks of the 80s to me.
posted by jonmc at 11:05 AM on June 11, 2013


I used to skip school to stay home and watch FBDO. It's a little sad and ridiculous, but, in my defense, I lived in the Texas panhandle where art museums and French restaurants are actually against the law and baseball is just a testosterone placeholder until football season starts again.
posted by malthusan at 11:07 AM on June 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


How could Cool Papa Bell post this without mentioning his own Fight Club theory (in the very first response)?
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:07 AM on June 11, 2013


Ferris is a lot less 80s than most 80s films. Even Breakfast Club, with the fashionable Ringwald, is far more 80s. Ferris and Cameron both dress like pretty much a normal teen boy since the 50s. Except for the computer and the lack of cellphones, there's no technical datedness and neither of those are major plot points.
posted by DU at 11:07 AM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


shakespeherian: "The real MVP of the film has got to be Edie McClurg as Grace."

Particularly her imitation of Ed Rooney on the phone.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:11 AM on June 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Palquito: "Actually, I wanted to be Chris Knight. Nowhere near smart enough, though. Sigh."

Mitch Taylor for me, but that's mostly because I had a crush on Michelle Meyrink.
posted by brundlefly at 11:13 AM on June 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


Except for the computer and the lack of cellphones, there's no technical datedness and neither of those are major plot points.

In fact, for an 80s movie, hacking in to the school's records and changing grades/absences is strangely prescient.
posted by Hoopo at 11:14 AM on June 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Meyrink was also the girlfriend in Revenge of the Nerds.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:15 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


For me, a movie being firmly located in time and place is part of what makes it enjoyable. And I don't think the larger themes of Hughes' movies have ceased to be relevant now that it's no longer the 80s, at least not if the reaction of modern tweens to The Breakfast Club is anything to go by. (Why yes, I am drawing on memories of NFTY sleepovers.)
posted by ostro at 11:20 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Was there anyone who DID NOT have a crush on Jordan? She wasn't just smart and weird but she also didn't get hot when you took her glasses off, because she didn't have any. She was weird to the bone. And she wore a one-piece swimsuit when all the hot girls wore bikinis.
posted by DU at 11:21 AM on June 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


My sister and I actually saw FBDO three times in the movie theatre when it came out. She named my nephew after Cameron Frye.
posted by MeatheadBrokeMyChair at 11:23 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wanted to watch Django Unchained the other day but it just reeks of 2012 to me.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:28 AM on June 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


"Jeannie...Jeannie....Shawnaaa Jeeeaaaan!

Shawna...Shawna...Shawnaaa Jeeeeeaaaan!"

Wait, what article?
posted by nosila at 11:29 AM on June 11, 2013


I had a crush on Jordan too, but that's a different movie.
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:29 AM on June 11, 2013


I had a crush on Jordan too, but that's a different movie.

Not different than the one mentioned in the comment I'm responding to.
posted by DU at 11:32 AM on June 11, 2013


"Jeannie...Jeannie....Shawnaaa Jeeeaaaan!

Shawna...Shawna...Shawnaaa Jeeeeeaaaan!"


But the best part is when they sing "Shawneee... Jeanaww..."
posted by schoolgirl report at 11:34 AM on June 11, 2013


Real Genius is the reason I got a bob the week before high school started. Thank you Michelle Meyrink, for having such rad rad hair.
posted by bibliogrrl at 11:34 AM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


He wasn't any of those labels. He was a douche before we had a term for it.

You oughta spend a little more time dealing with yourself, little less time worrying about what your brother does. That's just an opinion. There's somebody you should talk to...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:36 AM on June 11, 2013 [18 favorites]


Actually, I wanted to be Chris Knight.

Me too, but I just wasn't fun enough. You know, all brain, no penis.
posted by cottoncandybeard at 11:37 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


This thread is now officially the Real Genius thread.

Which is totally fine with me, I love Real Genius.

Now we're doing the cha cha.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:39 AM on June 11, 2013 [14 favorites]


This thread is now officially the Real Genius thread.

Now if we can just keep it from exploding!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:40 AM on June 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


*makes popcorn*
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:41 AM on June 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Okay - that's too much popcorn.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:42 AM on June 11, 2013 [21 favorites]


I think Ferris is likely a "best in breed" of the whole 80s genre that had the protagonists escape from suburban anomie through adventures in the city. The explicitly feminist adult version Desperately Seeking Susan is another good one in the genre. Of course, a decade later you'd have The Ice Storm and Donnie Darko say that suburbia was even worse than just dull and devoid of meaning.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:44 AM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


"I don't think a bro would hang out with Cameron."

He would if it meant access to a Ferrari. (I was cynical, even as a kid. Thanks, bullies!)
posted by Eideteker at 11:44 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Look at the facts! Very high powered, portable, limited firing power, unlimited range.
posted by dr_dank at 11:45 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


SAVE FERRIS! I loved this movie so, so much.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:46 AM on June 11, 2013


This combination of electrical plus chemical cyanide is dumb! We're going in the wrong direction.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:46 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not different than the one mentioned in the comment I'm responding to.

Sorry 'bout that. I'm off to the cleaners if anyone needs anything.
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:47 AM on June 11, 2013


Could you pick up Lazlo's pajamas while you're out?
posted by rewil at 11:51 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bring me four fried chickens and a Coke.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:52 AM on June 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Be sure to use a coupon, if you do.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:52 AM on June 11, 2013


I want to start seeing more of you around the lab.

Fine, I'll gain weight.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:52 AM on June 11, 2013


So, if there's anything I can do for you - or, more to the point, *to* you - just let me know.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:00 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


HEY! I WAS HOT AND I WAS HUNGRY.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 12:00 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Am I missing something? Has no one really posted the Askme question that spawned CPB's famous Metatalk comment and its subsequent industry?

Was in high school when this came out. My biggest memory at the movie theater is everyone, including my father, laughing hysterically at the coughing sounds on the keyboard.
posted by Melismata at 12:00 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ferris's computer didn't indicate he was rich -- Broderick also had a computer in Wargames, and the hacking moment is a nod to that.

Ferris is definately entitled, to the extent that a middle class suburban white boy is. I mean, he breaks a lot of laws. But he's not entitled in the way 1980s movie villains are. He doesn't use his privilege to bully in a cruel way -- at worst he bullies Cameron into having some fun. He isn't guaranteed to get away with what he's doing -- Steff, from Pretty In Pink, wouldn't be as afraid of Ed Rooney as Ferris is, and wouldn't spend the last 20 minutes of the movie running. He'd just have his daddy make a call and Rooney would face disciplinary action, and then Steff would jet off to Florida to pick up some primo blow.

The film is aware of Ferris's shortcomings. His fantasy about marrying Jordan is popped and fizzled the moment it happens. He's clueless about what is going to happen after high school and, while people think he's going to coast on pure charm and verve, him taking a day off is actually as much defined by chaos as it is by accomplishment. Things work out for Ferris in the film, but they work out until they don't, and I think the film presents Ferris as somebody who is capable of pressing his friends unfairly into tight spots.

When Broderick was making Election in Omaha, a lot of the kids who were in it thought they were in a sequel to Ferris Beuller. And I like to think of the film that way. Ferris just couldn't leave high school, and so he became a teacher, but now all of his schemes for pleasure go belly up, and he turns vindictive against a teenage girl simply because she aggressively pursues what she wants, rather than simply having it fall into her lap. I think that's a fair, if depressing, way to imagine Ferris's life having gone after high school, and, to me, it means the film is more complicated than just "entitled douche gets what he wants."
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:02 PM on June 11, 2013 [20 favorites]


Ferris's computer didn't indicate he was rich

He has a Gretsch White Falcon, a Bassman, and an E-mu Emulator and his own bedroom with a computer and a television in a swanky Chicago suburb in the 80s. His guitar alone cost more than his sister's Fiero. And his father apparently eats regularly at Chez Ritz. He was filthy, stinking rich.
posted by The World Famous at 12:09 PM on June 11, 2013 [12 favorites]


In movies, you have to move people down one class, in the same way you have to adjust a dog's age up. Movies represent middle class in a way that we would think of as rich. The working poor in movies own houses with two-car garages.

Ferris is not rich. Cameron is rich.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:13 PM on June 11, 2013 [21 favorites]


Drugs?
posted by dry white toast at 12:13 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think Ferris is likely a "best in breed" of the whole 80s genre that had the protagonists escape from suburban anomie through adventures in the city.

No love for Adventures in Babysitting?
posted by Gelatin at 12:14 PM on June 11, 2013 [11 favorites]


When Broderick was making Election in Omaha, a lot of the kids who were in it thought they were in a sequel to Ferris Beuller. And I like to think of the film that way.

I have always seen it that way.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:14 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


(For reference, Ferris Bueller's E-mu Emulator sampling synthesizer had a list price when new of $9,995. The original MSRP for a 1986 Pontiac Fiero was $9,269.)
posted by The World Famous at 12:15 PM on June 11, 2013 [12 favorites]


And his father apparently eats regularly at Chez Ritz.

What the fuck does Ferris's dad do for a living that he spends 30% of the workday in cabs or at lunch?
posted by shakespeherian at 12:15 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


No love for Adventures in Babysitting?

Yeah, I'll include Adventures in Babysitting near the top of that list.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:16 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Actually, movies like Rivers Edge (murder notwithstanding) Over The Edge, Fast Times at Ridge ont High, and later stuff like Clerks much more actually captured the time, IMHO.
posted by jonmc at 12:17 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


shakespeherian: "What the fuck does Ferris's dad do for a living that he spends 30% of the workday in cabs or at lunch?"

Combination taxi/health inspector.
posted by brundlefly at 12:17 PM on June 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


Election is only the sequel to Ferris Bueller's Day Off if you hated Ferris, which is understandable because some people hate Ferris Bueller, much in the way that some people hate fireworks or rollercoasters.

We don't have a true sequel to the movie if you like Ferris, though.
posted by mightygodking at 12:17 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


FBDO is one of my favorite movies, and Ferris does lip-synch to "Twist and Shout" on a parade float, but he does not sing the blues with Albert Collins.
posted by Gelatin at 12:18 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


No love for Adventures in Babysitting?

Heh. When that came out, I was like "it's the same plot as Ferris Bueller!" (See also: Working Girl and The Secret of My Success.)

However, it redeemed itself because "Then He Kissed Me" is one of the greatest songs ever.
posted by Melismata at 12:18 PM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


What the fuck does Ferris's dad do for a living that he spends 30% of the workday in cabs or at lunch?

He is Ferris Bueller's dad. He does Ferris Bueller stuff for a living. Ferris didn't pull his ability to succeed in spite of constant dickery out of the ether.

Ferris is not rich. Cameron is rich.

They're both rich. They live in the same rich suburb and go to the same rich public school. Cameron's car is a pile of crap worth a tenth of what Ferris' synthesizer cost.

Election is only the sequel to Ferris Bueller's Day Off if you hated Ferris, which is understandable because some people hate Ferris Bueller, much in the way that some people hate fireworks or rollercoasters.

If you did not have an asshole friend in high school who constantly took advantage of you, made your life more difficult, and got you in trouble and then justified it by thinking he or she was trying to teach you a valuable lesson about life, there's at least an outside chance that you were that friend to someone. I like FBDO, but Ferris is an asshole and a terrible friend.

Election is only the sequel to Ferris Bueller's Day Off in a fantasy world where people eventually get what they deserve for treating others like crap. In the real world, Ferris Bueller continues stepping on his friends and getting success at the cost of others.
posted by The World Famous at 12:22 PM on June 11, 2013 [10 favorites]


While I could barely understand any of the words at the time, as I've aged, the line "I'm not European. I don't plan on being European. So who gives a crap if they're socialists? They could be fascist anarchists; it still wouldn't change the fact that I don't own a car" has become one of my favourites from the movie. It is this line that tells you that whatever he does in high school, Ferris knows what he needs to know for adulthood.

Now I'll just go sit with entropicamericana while he/she waits for their food.
posted by dry white toast at 12:23 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


In the real world, Ferris Bueller continues stepping on his friends and getting success at the cost of others.

So...you're saying he goes into high finance then?
posted by nubs at 12:24 PM on June 11, 2013


Speed is the proper sequel to Ferris Beuller, assuming you believe that Cameron is the true star. And it's about how he has become a tight-assed lawyer who just needs to be broken out of his routine for a day-trip to see the sights of Los Angeles. He has a cocky, take-charge friend, played by Keanu Reeves, and his perky girlfriend, played by Sandra Bullock. They take charge of a fast-moving vehicle that belongs to none of them and risk constant trouble from a former authority figure who has now become obsessed, played by Dennis Hopper.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:26 PM on June 11, 2013 [15 favorites]


What the fuck does Ferris's dad do for a living that he spends 30% of the workday in cabs or at lunch?

Advertising. Specifically, accounts. Ferris Bueller's dad is Roger Sterling's son.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:26 PM on June 11, 2013 [20 favorites]


When I was in high school -- this was in the '80s, kids, the actual grinding conformist '80s, not the nostalgic retro everyone-was-into-Joy-Division version -- my friend Clint and I would put on a tape of Ferris Bueller's Day Off at parties and recite the entire opening monologue in unison until people basically begged us to stop (or threw things at us).

I have no idea why we found that funny, but we did, we did. (Kids, in the '80s we were so bored and so confused about what actual subversion was that we'd be obnoxious for no reason whatsoever.) And now, almost any time a political discussion devolves into labels and epithets, or the topic of Europe comes up in any context, I think (and sometimes say), "I mean, what's the point. I'm not European. I don't plan on being European. So who gives a crap if they're socialists? They could be fascist anarchists -- that still wouldn't change the fact that I don't own a car."

Fast-forward 15 years. March 15, 2005. My wife put up a post on her blog saying it was her due date with our first child and we had a boy's name picked out but the girl's name was still up for debate. A post appeared a couple hours later. Some guy -- a sysadmin from some small Ohio college -- apologetically explained he was googling for pics of trampolines (we have a trampoline) and wound up reading some of our backstory (there'd been some drama in recent months) and we seemed like good folks and he felt weird writing in but decided what the hell, and so in any case if we still needed a girl's name, he suggested his daughter's name was a pretty good one. He'd gotten it from a beloved movie of his youth.

My wife showed me the post. We read the name out loud. First girl's name we both loved immediately and equally.

Our daughter Sloane was born four days later. She just turned eight. Big baseball fan. Her first Little League team's coincidentally called the Cubs. So I pretty much have to take her to Wrigley some day pretty soon, right?
posted by gompa at 12:28 PM on June 11, 2013 [47 favorites]


Advertising. Specifically, accounts. Ferris Bueller's dad is Roger Sterling's son.

* eyeball twitch*
posted by The Whelk at 12:30 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ferris Bueller's dad is Roger Sterling's son.

I don't know if it's ever mentioned in the movie explicitly, but I always assumed he was in advertising. And I'm pretty sure the same actor plays Steve Martin's advertising colleague in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, right?
posted by condour75 at 12:31 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


By the way, if you think Ferris Bueller's parents are the stars of Ferris Beuller, they have their own sequel. Lyman Ward and Cindy Pickett, who were actually a married couple for a while, get brutally attacked in Sleepwalkers by Alice Krige.

Take that, douche dad.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:32 PM on June 11, 2013


The only sequel to Ferris Bueller's Day Off is Timecop, in which Sloane has married a timetraveling Jean-Claude Van Damme (so that's how it is in their family) and gets blown up.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:32 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


John Hughes was in Chicago advertising before he started writing scripts. She's Having a Baby is somewhat autobiographical.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:33 PM on June 11, 2013


What the fuck does Ferris's dad do for a living that he spends 30% of the workday in cabs or at lunch?

He is a Zen Master. How else to explain how he can stand steps away from his son in front of a restaurant, and then later drive along side him in his suburban enclave, and not notice him either time!?

(I love the movie, but the suspension of disbelief required to make either of those things plausible was always the movie's major flaw in my mind.)
posted by dry white toast at 12:34 PM on June 11, 2013


Bunny Ultramod: "Speed is the proper sequel to Ferris Beuller, assuming you believe that Cameron is the true star..."

How does Twister fit into all of this?
posted by brundlefly at 12:36 PM on June 11, 2013


He is a Zen Master. How else to explain how he can stand steps away from his son in front of a restaurant, and then later drive along side him in his suburban enclave, and not notice him either time!?

Three times. You forgot the bathroom stall.
posted by Melismata at 12:37 PM on June 11, 2013


By the way, I believe the restaurant in question was not Chez Ritz, but Chez Quis.
posted by chimaera at 12:37 PM on June 11, 2013


Twister is a sequel to Square Pegs, answering our question about what happened to Muffy.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:37 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


According to the IMDB:

"The French restaurant Bueller crashes is "Chez Quis" which is a pun, as said aloud it would be "Shakeys", the pizza chain. "Chez Qui" means 'the house of whom' in French."
posted by Melismata at 12:41 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Three times. You forgot the bathroom stall.

Indeed I did.
posted by dry white toast at 12:42 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I always think of Chez Quis as being the same place as Chez Paul in The Blues Brothers.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:44 PM on June 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


ROONEY EATS IT!!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:45 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


The sequel to Ferris Bueller's Day Off is American Psycho.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:47 PM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


shakespeherian: "What the fuck does Ferris's dad do for a living that he spends 30% of the workday in cabs or at lunch?"

Three days!
Three acres!
Three THOUSAND men!
Only one will win THE GREAT OUTDOOR FIGHT!
posted by boo_radley at 12:49 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't know if it's ever mentioned in the movie explicitly, but I always assumed he was in advertising.

Like everyone in 80s movies worked in advertising.
posted by sweetkid at 12:52 PM on June 11, 2013


Might as well get it out of the way cause we're all humming along to it in our heads.
posted by The Whelk at 12:53 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


"I wanted to watch Django Unchained the other day but it just reeks of 2012 to me."

To be fair to jonmc, it could be that his problem isn't that he finds 80s films dated, but that he just hates being reminded of the 80s at all.

Which is something I strongly sympathize with. I was 21 when this film came out. I think for many or most people my age, the 80s was their decade, it was the best times of their life. But not me. I had some wild fun the last couple of years of high school, although I was otherwise a really pissed-off, unhappy self-destructive teen (but that was apparently mostly internal, socially I was easy-going and got along with everyone) and the year after high school was sort of interesting as I was a full-time commercial radio disc-jockey, but then, for the most part, the whole rest of the decade was awful for me. The different universities I tried, the different cities I moved to, the different jobs I worked at, I never really fit in anywhere and the whole zeitgeist of the 80s started out rubbing me the wrong way and it only got worse and worse.

Then in 1989 I met a frighteningly hip Toronto girl (she was nineteen), we ended up married, and a couple of years later I found my way to the school where I found my people and, really, myself. I didn't really become me until 1992, at the age of 27. And the zeitgeist of the 90s was so, so much more like my own sensibilities. The 90s ended up being the best decade of my life so far.

The 80s? I hate them. I mean, at the time I didn't like them but, in retrospect, I hate them passionately. I was unhappy and I hated the politics and the hair and most of the music (partly that was because I didn't have anyone to turn me on to the music worth listening to then) and yuppies and people who did cocaine. I didn't think that highly of the 70s at the time, but at this later stage of my life, compared to the 80s, the 70s look pretty damn awesome.

"this was in the '80s, kids, the actual grinding conformist '80s, not the nostalgic retro everyone-was-into-Joy-Division version..."

Yeah, this.

When I watch 80s movies I like, I still reflexively flinch from all the 80s trappings. I mean, the 80s were just plain ugly. People dressed ugly, their hair was ugly, their cars were ugly. This included me, I admit it. I don't like the reminder.

Twenty-one isn't that much older than 17, but somehow Ferris Bueller's Day Off passed me by. I'd loved Sixteen Candles and Breakfast Club. But Pretty in Pink was less interesting to me, I don't even remember Weird Science, and by Ferris I think I just wasn't really interested in movies about teens. That was a phase I got over, but at the time a movie about a teen skipping a day of school seemed remote and unimportant to me. I wish, really, that Ferris was a touchstone bit of culture for me, because it's a very good movie.

"Actually, movies like Rivers Edge..."

That's a great film. Why don't people talk about it more often?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:55 PM on June 11, 2013 [11 favorites]


Saw FBDO in college and to my delight ever since it's where I first came to know about Sigue Sigue Sputnik!!!
posted by Randwulf at 12:57 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Like most of John Hughes' movies (except Dutch), It hasnt aged well.

I think it is a great document of its time, but for me, the John Hughes movie that really still holds up is Uncle Buck.



Of course, I think it may have been Ferris Bueller that first triggered my crush on (original nose) Jennifer Grey.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:57 PM on June 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


I mean, the 80s were just plain ugly. People dressed ugly, their hair was ugly, their cars were ugly.

Huh. I disagree. I think the fashion was pretty cool. I was a little young for it though.
posted by sweetkid at 12:58 PM on June 11, 2013


I mean, the 80s were just plain ugly. People dressed ugly, their hair was ugly, their cars were ugly.

I invented the piano key necktie, I invented it! What have you done?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:02 PM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't know if I'm just old or what but Jesus, Ferris is a dick.

It's funny. I thought he was a total dick when I saw it (... 1985-6? I was 13ish.) I have softened my opinion as I got older.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:02 PM on June 11, 2013


'80s culture sucked - clothes, cars, music, movies. So glad we've moved on to a '90s retread. The 2000s were abominable.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:03 PM on June 11, 2013


I imagine if I lived in New York I would never be able to watch anything ever again.

Try living in SeVancouverattle.
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 1:04 PM on June 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


there's a parade down Dearborn on a weekday (?)

Crazy as it seems, the timing and location of the parade are the two least unlikely elements of that scene. Chicago used to hold the St. Patrick's Day parade on weekdays, if March 17 so happened to fall on one. For another movie example, the parade Harrison Ford runs into in The Fugitive was not staged; that's the actual parade down Dearborn Street on Tuesday, 3/17/1992, and they shot it in real time. (And for what it matters, I was there, too.) However, I don't recall any floats with Tyrolean go-go dancers doing Twist and Shout, and instead of Ferris Bueller they had Roland Burris, so it was relatively lame by comparison.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 1:07 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


(I love the movie, but the suspension of disbelief required to make either of those things plausible was always the movie's major flaw in my mind.)

I just assumed he was drunk after all those 3 martini lunches trying to get the Abe Froman account.
posted by madajb at 1:10 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I imagine if I lived in New York I would never be able to watch anything ever again.

Oddly, the movie that I can remember really getting NYC geography right was Shame. When he left his apartment to go for a run I knew exactly where he was ( Koreatown more or less) and since it was pretty much shot in real time I could figure out where he was going from the backgrounds and such.
posted by The Whelk at 1:11 PM on June 11, 2013


I'm still pissed that there's exactly one shot in all of The Lost World that is actually San Diego at all.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:12 PM on June 11, 2013


Uncle Buck! So good. "Here's a 20. Hire a rat to gnaw that thing off your face."

I enjoyed FB as a movie, and Cameron in particular, but Ferris himself was always the kind of Extrovert from Hell that I did my best to avoid, now and then. Because, like Cameron, I knew it would all end in disaster.

Sloane was an almost-great role. It would have been great if she'd been more of a active part of the scheming, and less of an ornament.
posted by emjaybee at 1:13 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fast Times at Ridgemont High actually nails it better than FBDO seem to. It's funny and escapist, but more realistic in that everyone's pessimistic about the future and everyone has a job, which none of the kids in FBDO. Plus there's topless Phoebe Cates and the famous bathroom scene.
posted by jonmc at 1:15 PM on June 11, 2013


I once saw a birth announcement where the parents (who were of the appropriate age for the movie to have been a first date) had named their child Cameron Sloan.
posted by madajb at 1:15 PM on June 11, 2013


Sure, but Fast Times is pretty much the greatest movie of all time, so it's no knock on FBDO that it doesn't live up to it.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:17 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, then I'm happy and sad for you.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:19 PM on June 11, 2013


Why in the name of the Wanda Trussler School of Beauty isn't Real Genius on blu ray?
posted by Ber at 1:26 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


'80s culture sucked - clothes, cars, music, movies.

Mainstream '80s culture sucked. There was a lot going on that didn't really get represented through popular channels, and sadly isn't much remembered now. See the Raymond Pettibon post just above this one, for example. Or things like this. Actually, John Hughes movies were interesting in that they were one of the few places that actually hinted at cultural products other than the ones being sold to the general public on a massive scale. For example.

I'd been watching The '80s: The Decade That Made Us series on National Geographic, and I realized how much of the '80s hideousness I'd actually blocked out. Selective memory (and alcoholism) can be useful.

Of course, the '90s were a fucking breath of fresh air after the '80s...and now, this shit.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:27 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fast Times at Ridgemont High came out the fall of the year I (barely) graduated from high school. It spoke to my experience in many ways; I loved it at the time. And, my god, Phoebe Cates was like some sort of ideal to me, a vision I couldn't get out of my hormone-drenched teen boy brain. Ally Sheedy in Breakfast Club took her place in my head, though, which pretty much reveals the development of my personality over that period.

I don't think I've seen FTARH since the eighties. I intuit I wouldn't enjoy it so much now. Maybe I'm wrong. I'd still love Sean Penn, I bet.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:27 PM on June 11, 2013


I also notice little things, now that I actually live in Chicago, like how there's a parade down Dearborn on a weekday (?) and when Ferris is singing 'Twist and Shout' Cameron and Sloane are looking right up at him from three blocks away and his dad looks down on the parade from his office building a half mile away. That sort of thing is always fun for me but I imagine if I lived in New York I would never be able to watch anything ever again.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:07 AM on June 11


You're absolutely right. I'm sitting in my office in Ferris's dad's building RIGHT NOW and looking out over the Merchandise Mart.
posted by slmorri at 1:31 PM on June 11, 2013


Fast Times is unassailable. Ferris Bueller's Day Off was just a little late for me, but eschews the gritty reality of Fast Times for magical realism. I think I have some small bias against it as well ever since I heard it was Dan Quayle's favorite movie.

There must be some kind of personality test by 80s movies--I probably prefer Say Anything to all of these movies, because I was, and some part of me remains forever, a mopey, witty romantic who likes the Clash. I was never much at kickboxing, though.
posted by Kafkaesque at 1:35 PM on June 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


There must be some kind of personality test by 80s movies

Well now what does it say that I go to Brazil and Blue Velvet.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:40 PM on June 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Well now what does it say that I go to Brazil and Blue Velvet.

Well, of course--me too. I'm talking about a certain oeuvre here, though.
posted by Kafkaesque at 1:42 PM on June 11, 2013


"Mainstream '80s culture sucked. There was a lot going on that didn't really get represented through popular channels..."

Yeah, I grew up and mostly lived in the wastelands during that period and because of the choices I made, during that whole decade I really had no contact with the kinds of people who could have introduced me to all the cool stuff that was happening underground.

That girl I married grew up in Toronto, graduated high school in '88, but she'd been plugged into the music culture there all through her high school years. I mean, her (significantly older) boyfriend while she was in high school was a guy who later was in one of the most popular alternative Canadian bands of the early 90s. She knew all those people. The boyfriend before me was in television. She introduced me to a whole world of things that I'd previously known little about.

And so, by the early 90s, I slowly discovered all these super cool things that had been brewing in North American culture through the 80s that I'd been totally oblivious to. It really pissed me off, actually.

I think that's a big part of why I hate the eighties so much. It's displaced anger at myself for not having the sense to go somewhere interesting and find people that shared my sensibilities. I just wandered through that eighties conformist hell. I mean, in 1986 when Ferris came out, I was living in Amarillo, waiting tables, and going nightly to the most popular nightclub in town dancing to fucking Robert Palmer. Just thinking about it now makes me want to go back in time and toss a grenade into that place.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:43 PM on June 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


but eschews the gritty reality of Fast Times for magical realism

Gritty reality indeed.

Every kid in Fast Times has a job. Movie theater, ticket scalping, pizza place, hamburger joint, fish joint, convenience store.

Everyone, that is, except for Spicoli and Jefferson. But hell, Jefferson is getting paid to play football and come on, bud, you know Spicoli is dealing on the side.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:45 PM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Gritty reality indeed.

Well, Fast Times is a true story. Cameon Crowe actually went back to school at Clairemont High School in San Diego, recorded his experiences, turned them into a nonfiction book, and that was the source material for the film, which hews surprisingly closely to the book (minus stuff that was probably unfilmable, such as a long, surreal sequence in the bowels of Disneyland.)

That being said, my 80s film is Valley Girl.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:56 PM on June 11, 2013


I'm talking about a certain oeuvre here, though.

BTTF?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:56 PM on June 11, 2013


Well, three of those jobs are Brad. He gets fired from his decent job at All-American Burger, then quits Captain Hook Fish and Chips due the uniform being so embarrassing. And he gets held up at gunpoint at the convenience store. That's not what I'd call a super successful employment year.

But, yeah, your point that some kind of job, even if shitty, was around, is valid.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:57 PM on June 11, 2013


The book FTaRH is EXCELLENT. I was lucky enough to work at a used bookshop where we would get it in stock occasionally.

If you ever come across a copy in the wild, and it's less than $20, snap it up. We sold every copy we had for 100 or more.
posted by bibliogrrl at 2:01 PM on June 11, 2013


interesting. Did not know.
posted by sweetkid at 2:01 PM on June 11, 2013


I don't think Adventures in Babysitting is the same as Ferris Bueller at all, aside from the adventures in the big city. But Babysitting has actual honest to God peril in it, with shootings and kids hanging from windows several stories in the air. It also has Elisabeth Shue's dickish boyfriend played by Josh Lyman, which is perfect.
posted by cottoncandybeard at 2:02 PM on June 11, 2013


This might be blasphemous, but I'm just gonna say it... I would've loved to have seen a Ferris Bueller's Day Off II.

Unfortunately, it would only have worked in the 90s. Matthew Broderick would have been the right age and John Hughes could have written and directed it himself before he retired from filmmaking.

It would take place during that first job you get after college -- long hours and slave wages. If John Hughes had written and directed it, you know it would take place in an ad agency. Ferris would be a lowly Assistant Account Exec, and have to deal with not being such hot shit anymore like he was in high school (and college). He would've skipped out on a day at the office while avoiding trouble from middle managers, senior co-workers and clients. Would've been a great challenge to see Ferris squirm like that.
posted by Dirjy at 2:03 PM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Adult Ferris Bueller
posted by Chrysostom at 2:17 PM on June 11, 2013


It also has Elisabeth Shue's dickish boyfriend played by Josh Lyman, which is perfect.

I have a VIVID childhood memory of my mother screaming at our TV when Josh Lyman says Elisabeth Shue's legs are "locked together at the knee".

"THAT'S HOW THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO BE AT 17 YOU LITTLE ASSHOLE."
posted by like_a_friend at 2:19 PM on June 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


It's a gross thing to say about women at any age.
posted by sweetkid at 2:20 PM on June 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


I learned about menstruation from "Sixteen Candles." So, there's that.
posted by ColdChef at 2:27 PM on June 11, 2013


Fast Times at Ridgemont High actually nails it better than FBDO seem to. It's funny and escapist...

What? Escapist? Where's the escapism in a 15 year old trying to pay for an abortion?
posted by maryr at 2:27 PM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ferris is absolutely a dick. I have a great deal of affection for the movie, but my highschool boyfriend was basically Ferris Bueller, and while we did have a lot of grand adventures (including a couple epic skip days!), the rest of the time he was thoughtless, pushy, manipulative, and pathologically dishonest, and still somehow managed to charm his way through life.

I started watching Psych last year, and I'm pretty sure that Ferris Bueller + a few years = Shawn Spencer.
posted by rhiannonstone at 2:28 PM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


I may have to break down and watch this movie after avoiding it for 27 years so I can know what you all are talking about.
posted by octothorpe at 2:37 PM on June 11, 2013


It really annoys me that Charlie from The West Wing is playing second banana to that smug jackass on Psych.
posted by brundlefly at 2:38 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I never aspired to be Ferris Bueller. I always tried to be more like Lloyd Dobler. His best friends were girls. He was a goddamn gentleman. He wore his heart right out there in the open.

Diane Court: Nobody thinks it will work, do they?
Lloyd Dobler: No. You just described every great success story.

posted by ColdChef at 2:41 PM on June 11, 2013 [11 favorites]


rhiannonstone: “I started watching Psych last year, and I'm pretty sure that Ferris Bueller + a few years = Shawn Spencer.”

It baffles me how much I enjoy that show. Shawn Spencer is an annoying kind of bro-douche with absolutely no sense of responsibility or nobility or decency whatsoever. He's just ceaselessly charming, but in the most childish way imaginable. Why do I like watching him so much? I guess there's some part of me that's dying to believe that he'll wake up one day and be charming and responsible. Then again, I guess that's the whole point of most of the story arcs of that show – the eternal waiting for that to happen. (He is quite charming, too.)
posted by koeselitz at 2:48 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maryr: I meant that parts of it were escapist (like most of Spicoli's scenes), but that it was actually FAR more realistic than most teen flicks. Chalk it up to awkward phrasing.
posted by jonmc at 2:49 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


"No. The world is full of guys. Be a man. Don't be a guy."
posted by Chrysostom at 2:49 PM on June 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


*learns about Cuba*
*has some pizza*
posted by jonmc at 2:51 PM on June 11, 2013


This might be blasphemous, but I'm just gonna say it... I would've loved to have seen a Ferris Bueller's Day Off II

It sort of exists, and it's pretty decent. With the box office success of FBDO, networks perked up and decided to try to copy it. (Unofficially that is... for legal reasons). One of the results was a TV series "Parker Lewis Can't Lose".

Like other TV shows (especially with young actors) it takes a few episodes before the actors start to become their characters, but it got pretty good. It was also a pioneer in that kind of visual style where the protagonist's viewpoint/imagination humorously takes over, metaphors are sometimes depicted as happening literally, etc.

It's not FBDO, but it's worth checking out.
posted by anonymisc at 2:56 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's a gross thing to say about women at any age.

Absolutely. At the time, however, I was six years old and had no idea what it meant. I only knew that my mom (the well-behaved parent) thought it was mean enough to cuss about, which was awesome.
posted by like_a_friend at 3:00 PM on June 11, 2013


(Parker Lewis Can't Lose episodes are probably best viewed in correct sequence, or at least roughly correct; characters are introduced and developed throughout the show, allegiances shift, etc)
posted by anonymisc at 3:00 PM on June 11, 2013


Also also Ben Stein always gets remembered as the Econ teacher but how awesome is Del Close (DEL CLOSE!!!) as the English teacher?

I like how the vertical bars on the wall (I don't know the word for them) echo the vertical lines he draws on the board to emphasize "prison."
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:01 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Parker Lewis Can't Lose was pretty great, at least in memory. Plus, it provides a way to describe fully buttoned up shirts.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:04 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like how the vertical bars on the wall (I don't know the word for them) echo the vertical lines he draws on the board to emphasize "prison."

Which incidentally seems like exactly the kind of echo that that teacher would love.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:05 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I may have to break down and watch this movie after avoiding it for 27 years

I think you should. Because, you know, life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
posted by nubs at 3:08 PM on June 11, 2013 [16 favorites]


I think that's a big part of why I hate the eighties so much. It's displaced anger at myself for not having the sense to go somewhere interesting and find people that shared my sensibilities. I just wandered through that eighties conformist hell.

I think you've got this a bit harsher than is warranted. My suspicion is that the 80s was like that for everyone; by modern standards, everyone was blind little isolated islands without good ways to connect, there was no way to plug into anything except by dumb luck combined with large investments of (often wasted) time, and even then, you'd only be connected to a larger, but still largely isolated island. Even if plugged into a scene, there was the feeling that it wasn't The Scene, but no way to find out. It's the human condition to suspect that the real party is elsewhere, and other people are in the loop and living the life, but I think the reality of the world back then was one of little parties and little "scenes" everywhere rather than a big underground Scene that all the cool kids (but not you) were in on. The woman you mention, once you get past the awesome anecdotes and tales, probably wasn't having a much better time of the 80s than you.

Wherever I go in the world, people think the real scene is elsewhere - often the place I just came from (while the people back there think the scene is here). It's also a bit like Impostor syndrome. I've come to the view that the real scene is you - it's wherever you are, and whatever you do. That cool shit you get tantalizing glimpses of happening away over there that you wish you had access to but don't? Most of them are just like you, doing stuff like you, sometimes wishing they were part of something bigger, like you. There isn't something bigger, there's you. You're the scene, you're the real deal. Do what you want.
posted by anonymisc at 3:20 PM on June 11, 2013 [16 favorites]


There's a theory that the sequel to Ferris Bueller was actually Election.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:26 PM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


In the 80s, you would hear about some cool underground band or movie or anything and it was like ... OK, how do we get it? We can't? Oh, and when we can, it's some ridiculous price we can't afford to pay for some format that might not work on our devices.

Kids today...

I supposed the 80s weren't all bad. There was Faces of Death II, III, and IV.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:32 PM on June 11, 2013


It sort of exists, and it's pretty decent. With the box office success of FBDO, networks perked up and decided to try to copy it. (Unofficially that is... for legal reasons). One of the results was a TV series "Parker Lewis Can't Lose".

Actually, there was an official sitcom, too. Jennifer Aniston was in it!
posted by Sys Rq at 3:39 PM on June 11, 2013


It was a network race to see who could get the first TV version, much as had been done years earlier with Animal House.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:41 PM on June 11, 2013


My suspicion is that the 80s was like that for everyone; by modern standards, everyone was blind little isolated islands without good ways to connect

That's exactly it. By modern standards, we're living in a dream. Anecdotally, I can tell you that in the 80s, there were significant cultural differences between Los Angeles and San Diego, and those are two cities just 100 miles apart, in the same state, bordering the same ocean, with the same fucking weather. But you'd go down there and whoa -- another world!

Today, if you want to see what's happening in another city ... use a webcam.

There isn't something bigger, there's you. You're the scene, you're the real deal. Do what you want.

Which is, if you think about it, the real message of all the John Hughes movies. They were all about the struggles of people to do what they want, be they non-conformists by choice (Duckie), non-conformists by nature (The Geek) and the would-be conformists that had the power to peek behind the curtain and the wherewithal to act on it (Jake Ryan).

Then you can move into the other parts of the Hughes oeuvre and you get movies about the struggle for normalcy in a world that refuses to conform to expectations.

Finally, there's just the pure shit done for a paycheck. Hey, whaddya goin' do?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:49 PM on June 11, 2013


Advertising. Specifically, accounts. Ferris Bueller's dad is Roger Sterling's son.

And Joan's too, right?

I somehow missed Ferris, which is funny because I was 16 when it came out, so prime target audience, you would think. Possibly I had moved on from John Hughes by then. I hated Pretty in Pink, so that might have done it. I saw it at some point in the late 90s, probably.

But I watched it again with my kid in the past month or so, and I, too, think Ferris is a royal asshole. But I genuinely wasn't sure whether I was supposed to be rooting for him. I mean, clearly I was supposed to root against Rooney, but Cameron was the only character I really liked, the only one who is transformed in any way. Sloane is just a cardboard cut-out of a girl. But Ferris: is he supposed to be an unreliable narrator? an ambivalent hero? Because it seems like he's being painted as a straight up righteous dude, but I so wasn't feeling it. It's the kind of thing that would normally make me feel really old, but instead it just made me feel confused.

The Breakfast Club, on the other hand, rules and always will.

And holy crap, 1980s Charlie Sheen. Man, I'd completely forgotten he was, at one time, super hot.
posted by looli at 3:55 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Speed is the proper sequel to Ferris Beuller, assuming you believe that Cameron is the true star

One of the screenwriting texts I read described the protagonist as a character that changes throughout the film. Bueller doesn't -- he's the same guy at the end of the film -- but Cameron does. Of course, much of the plot is Bueller's plan *to* change Cameron, or at least give him a good day. As smugly entitled as Ferris is, he does do that one good deed.
posted by Gelatin at 3:56 PM on June 11, 2013


When Broderick was making Election in Omaha, a lot of the kids who were in it thought they were in a sequel to Ferris Beuller. And I like to think of the film that way.

> I have always seen it that way.


Me, too. I remember renting Election years ago, watching in growing amazement and horror, realizing that the irrational, burning resentment Jim McAllister feels for Tracy Flick --- which, don't get me wrong, makes a certain ugly sense in the movie's universe --- is even more perverse if McAllister once was a Ferris, a kid full of easy confidence and privilege skating by on charm and quick wit, now brought down to rough reality by the Systemic Confidence Failure that can come to haughty youth along with the burdens of adulthood.

Perhaps because I re-watched Election recently and inspired by the above-the-fold mention of FBDO's anniversary, just this morning I wrote a double-feature suggestion based on this premise for The Fella's weekly VideoRePort. He won't get it posted at that link until later today or early tomorrow when the print version goes out, but here's what I wrote:
Hey, y'all, it's the 27th anniversary of Ferris Bueller's Day Off! (Just a heads-up: if you saw this in the theaters, you might not be young.) What better time to revisit the classic coming-of-age movie in which madcap suburban senior Ferris (Matthew Broderick) treats his game girlfriend Sloan (Mia Sara) and morose best buddy Cameron (Alan Ruck) to one last epic day skipping school before graduation.

I'll tell you the truth: I always felt a little wary of Ferris, who lies so fluently and frequently, who puts up a façade that appeals equally to almost everyone he encounters (“The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads, they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude”), who cheerfully and adamantly imposes his wishes even upon his reluctant best friend --- through peer pressure, through guilt, through emotional manipulation, and even through trickery when necessary. Maybe that's why, when I saw Election 22 years later, I immediately imagined Broderick's suburban high-school teacher as Ferris Bueller all grown up.

It's easy to see, isn't it? After high school, it's harder and harder to skate by on charm and a handful of social tricks, and Ferris' act would get a little stale. He'd have to buckle down and start working --- really working --- for the first time in his life. And if he ended up in a small-town teaching job instead of whatever grandiose, unfocused life plan he imagined, a character like Ferris would feel frustrated, stifled, and --- above all --- more than justified in trying to smite down ambitious junior Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon). She's everything young Ferris wasn't: diligent, studious, responsible, meticulous, and completely charmless. Witnessing this swotty little grind slog her way to middling success would pluck the last vestigial strands of Ferris' long-dormant ambition and drive him to undermine her at all costs. It all makes sense, if you squint just right.
posted by Elsa at 4:08 PM on June 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Advertising. Specifically, accounts. Ferris Bueller's dad is Roger Sterling's son.

And Joan's too, right?


The actor playing Ferris's dad was born in 1941.

That'd mean he's Roger's first love child, right before he shipped off to the Pacific for World War II.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:13 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


She gave me a pen. I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen.
posted by triggerfinger at 4:23 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fast Times at Ridgemont High actually nails it better than FBDO seem to.

It's not about the same 'it'. The way I see it:
* Fast Times nails that period of the 80s that was really just the hangover from the 70s. It's 80s only by date.
* FBDO and the other John Hughes stuff is roarin' 80s, the pure stuff, kids of the baby boomers growing up as their parents have slid into cultural irrelevance.
* Heathers is the late 80s becoming the 90s; those same kids feeling overhwhelmed by a world of shit.
posted by fleacircus at 4:33 PM on June 11, 2013 [13 favorites]


Proposal: Metafilter's Day Off.

We choose one day in July, in the middle of the work week, and just FUCK OFF from our responsibilities, whatever they are, go out and do whatever seems right at the time, and then report back what happened.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:14 PM on June 11, 2013 [15 favorites]


"My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with a girl who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night."

I can still do that from memory.

I got my driver's license the summer that movie came out, and with my newfound mobility I ended up seeing it so many times I lost count (I also saw Star Trek IV, The Karate Kid II, and Rocky IV several times each).

On an unrelated note, when did self-censorship like "f*ck" become acceptable?
posted by mgrichmond at 5:15 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wherever I go in the world, people think the real scene is elsewhere

To quote another great teen flick:

"Well, all I'm saying is that I want to look back and say that I did I the best I could while I was stuck in this place. Had as much fun as I could while I was stuck in this place. Played as hard as I could while I was stuck in this place..."
posted by jonmc at 5:32 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I just saw that movie recently and I was completely repulsed by the title character. He seemed like a textbook psychopath to me, frankly.

A "detail" that everyone seems to forget is that he fakes a grave illness. I don't have to speculate as to what a terrible effect such things have on a community, as this happened to someone I know - her whole little subcommunity mobilized to help one of their own with "leukemia" - when it came out that it was a fake it destroyed the group permanently, and I'll bet that all of the participants will be triply careful before helping anyone in future.

Faking a serious illness is one of the creepiest things you can possibly do.

He steals his friend's father's car - I personally think very little of cars but this is the car of his dreams that he's spent his life working for - and is basically responsible for its complete destruction.

Bueller manipulates everyone to get exactly what he wants, and he shows no regret. He no doubt ended up working for the Bush Administration and now has a job at a hedge fund.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:53 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


A "detail" that everyone seems to forget is that he fakes a grave illness.

No, he fakes being sick, and the rumor mill escalates it to a grave illness. That's one of the jokes, that every mention by someone else makes it sound more serious.
posted by pmurray63 at 6:03 PM on June 11, 2013 [14 favorites]


Watching it again. Reactions so far:

- This is cut way quicker than I remember it
- Matthew Broderick was in really good shape back then
- The kid who plays "Anderson" in the roll call scene was also that guy in Drugstore Cowboy and Gummo
- In 1985, Ben Stein points out that George H.W. Bush was calling bullshit on the Laffer curve
- Cameron lives in a house designed by someone on a level just below Mies van der Rohe, and his dad owns a 1961 Ferrari. His family is pretty rich. The reason he drives a shitbox is that his dad is a dick
- I miss Chicago
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:13 PM on June 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Metafilter : Then your problem is you.
posted by fullerine at 6:18 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just saw that movie recently and I was completely repulsed by the title character. He seemed like a textbook psychopath to me, frankly.

People need to stop thinking they should say things like "textbook psychopath." Like out loud.
posted by sweetkid at 6:23 PM on June 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


no doubt ended up working for the Bush Administration
I mean really, what's the point? All the children who faked being sick in order to skip school could have ended up working for Al-Qaeda, it still doesn't change the fact that I don't own a car.
posted by relish at 7:08 PM on June 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


The thing that impresses me most about John Hughes movies now is how utterly, bred-in-the-bone suburban his movies are, and in particular that era of suburbia when it was almost exclusively white and middle-class. That mindset explains how, in an otherwise sweet and decent movie like Sixteen Candles, you have the most egregiously racist stereotype of an Asian since Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany's; why The Breakfast Club's epitome of a tough working-class kid is John Bender; and why Ferris' idea of a madcap, life-affirming adventure is basically just going to Chicago, where I spent my entire adolescence. As appealing as he was able to make that vision--and he was very successful at it, to the point where he was able to buy a very nice house on the lake (it went on the market a few years ago, after his death, as did Cameron's house from FBDO and the house from Home Alone), even though he retired some years before his death--it's still very limited and the movies don't age well IMO. Contrast that with Cameron Crowe's Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Say Anything...
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:19 PM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


lupus_yonderboy: "I just saw that movie recently and I was completely repulsed by the title character. He seemed like a textbook psychopath to me, frankly.

A "detail" that everyone seems to forget is that he fakes a grave illness.
"

As pmurray63 points out, he does not fake a grave illness. He fakes being generically sick - his parents don't even call a doctor. I don't think faking having a cold or flu to blow off school on a nice day is psychopathic.

He steals his friend's father's car - I personally think very little of cars but this is the car of his dreams that he's spent his life working for - and is basically responsible for its complete destruction.

He doesn't steal the car. He admittedly pushes Cameron into their taking it, but Cameron has agency there. I don't where you get the idea that Cameron's dad worked his whole life for it, that's nowhere in the script - he loves it, and spent a long time restoring it, but that's all we know. And Ferris is not responsible for its destruction. Cameron is the one who goes off on the car, causing it to crash into the canyon. We also know that Cameron's dad cares more about the car than about his son, which somewhat lessens my sympathy.

Ferris may be manipulative, as some people in this thread have said. But his actual behavior doesn't really match up with what you've described.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:21 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Further reflections:

-Ferris' family is doing OK, but they're probably over-extended on the faux-Colonial in Naperville (?). That's why his mom sells real estate and drives a LeBaron wagon
-Holy Laura Ashley wallpaper!
- The "Do you speak English?" line was pretty shitty. That's probably the thing I like the least about him
- The Red Wings Jersey is probably because Cameron's family is from Michigan or something. Also Gordie Howe is awesome
- Why would Ferris be in the pizza joint right across from his mother's office? THINK ROONEY!
- IMPROMPTU PUBLIC DANCE SEQUENCE!
- Until now, I thought Rooney was just feeding the flower arrangements to the dog. I just realized that he beaned the dog with one of them. Fuck you Rooney
- Rooney still eats it
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:29 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Give Ferris a break, he spends his entire day trying teach his best friend how to get outside his comfort zone and beat back his anxiety and depression and does he get in return? His future wife leaves him for a bunch of unicorns and Tom Cruise.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:31 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


lupus_yonderboy: A "detail" that everyone seems to forget is that he fakes a grave illness.
No, Ferris specifically advises that the key to faking out parents is the nonspecific symptom: clammy hands. With a fake fever, you could end up in a doctor's office.
"You fake a stomach cramp, and when you're bent over, moaning and wailing, you lick your palms. It's a little childish and stupid but then, so is high school." (YouTube clip)
Pmurray63 has it:
pmurray63: No, he fakes being sick, and the rumor mill escalates it to a grave illness. That's one of the jokes, that every mention by someone else makes it sound more serious.
It begins with the movie's most famous line:
Ben Stein: Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

Simone: My best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who’s going with a girl who saw Ferris pass-out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it’s pretty serious.

Ben Stein: Thank you, Simone.
(YouTube clip)
That line is the pinnacle of unattributed, run-away rumors by which all others are judged. His illness is an urban legend in-the-making (and presumably serves the function of indicating just how popular he is).

Soon, rumors escalate his illness to a fever:
A singing telegram: "We heard that you were feeling ill, headache, fever, and a chill. I came to help restore your pluck, because I'm the nurse who likes to..." [door slams] (YouTube clip)
Later:
This guy in my biology class said that if Ferris dies, he's giving his eyes to Stevie Wonder. Oh, he's such a sweetie.
Another:
Shermerite: Save Ferris?
Jeannie: Excuse me?
Shermerite: Well, a group of us are collecting money to buy Ferris Bueller a new kidney. They run about 50 g's, so if you wouldn't mind helping out...
Later a water tower is seen with the words "Save Ferris" (later the name of a 90s Rock Band). (Wikipedia)

Near the end of the movie:
Police Sergeant : Oh, by the way, I hope your son is feeling better. Tell him all the guys at the station are pulling for him.
I'm sure I'm missing a few...

**** IMPORTANTLY, there's a long backstory about Charlie Sheen's character, Garth ("Oh, you know him?") which got cut from the movie. Garth was from a bad home, Ferris tried to help, but failed. He didn't want the same thing to happen to Cameron, so he's making an extra effort.
Ferris: "I'm really worried about Cameron."
The backstory actually explains Ferris' character and motivation: he is skipping school that day to help his troubled friend, Cameron.
posted by Davenhill at 7:32 PM on June 11, 2013 [11 favorites]


"It's not that I condone fascism or any 'ism' for that matter. Ism's, 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.' A good point there. After all, he was the walrus. I could be the walrus. I'd still have to bum rides off of people."
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:33 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: THINK, ROONEY!
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:39 PM on June 11, 2013


you have the most egregiously racist stereotype of an Asian since Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany's

The Donger had a lot more going on than anyone ever knew. Dude was trying to put the moves on Andie right from the get-go, had completely snowed the grandparents with a bulletproof polite demeanor, hooked up with a girl at the dance, then got blind drunk and ridiculed the grandparents right in their puckered faces.

Long Duk Dong goes back to (insert Asian country here) a goddamned CHAMPION.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:43 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Breakfast Club's epitome of a tough working-class kid is John Bender

Spoken like someone that's never been burned with a cigarette as punishment for spilling paint in the garage.

Do I stutter?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:46 PM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


he spends his entire day trying teach his best friend how to get outside his comfort zone and beat back his anxiety and depression

Oh for crying out loud. He pressures his best friend into stealing a $350,000 car so Ferris can spend the day with his girlfriend and make Cameron ride sitting on the trunk of the car. The way he "teaches" Cameron is by having a great time himself and letting Cameron have the privilege of acting as a spectator. Ferris is a complete dick at Cameron's expense, and anyone who can watch the movie and think otherwise is under the same delusion as either Ferris or Cameron.

The primary weakness of the Fight Club theory is that Tyler Durden was never as much of a dick as Ferris Bueller.
posted by The World Famous at 7:48 PM on June 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


//Anecdotally, I can tell you that in the 80s, there were significant cultural differences between Los Angeles and San Diego...//

In 1983 I was living on a military base 40 miles from the nearest town in the Utah desert. However, because of the incoming traffic of people on a military base, trends got there quicker than you would expect given just how remote Dugway Utah is. So we had Vans. Everybody, and I do mean everybody in the school was wearing black and white checkered Vans. I was on the basketball team and when we traveled to play other 1A teams in northern Utah kids would gather around to gawk at our freaking shoes. It was unreal. Kids in high schools 60 miles away had never seen nor heard of Vans, yet most of us were on our 2nd or 3rd pair by then.
posted by COD at 7:51 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another thing about the movie - there is little kids art on the fridge door in a couple of scenes. There must have been an elementary age sibling in the original script whose part cut left on the editing room floor.
posted by COD at 7:54 PM on June 11, 2013


I think that Ferris' genuine concern for his friend when he falls into the pool, as well as his willingness to take the heat for the Ferrari is pretty good evidence that he is not a "psychopath" in any sense of the word.

Kind of a narcissistic manipulative punk? Sure.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:58 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Long Duk Dong goes back to (insert Asian country here) a goddamned CHAMPION.

Uh bit of a derail but don't defend that crap.
posted by sweetkid at 8:02 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I always thought the Sausage King was John Hughes's tip of the pen to Preston Sturges.

Stay off of 'em, you'll live longer
posted by pxe2000 at 8:09 PM on June 11, 2013


You know, I always thought there should be a FBDO for adults. And then Officespace came out.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:31 PM on June 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Final thoughts:

- Cubs still suck
- Ben Stein is still a useless hack
- I think the two guys who got to drive a Ferrari around the south side for an afternoon pretty much come out the winners in the whole scenario
- I still hate the Art Institute's new layout
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:34 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Spoken like someone that's never been burned with a cigarette as punishment for spilling paint in the garage.

Didn't Bender's dad use a cigar?

even if my opinion of the movie has changed, I still saw it more than once, in the theater.

my personal theory is that Bender completely lied about his background and Judd Nelson's character in TBC became his character in St. Elmo's Fire after his teen-rebel-thug phase.

posted by Halloween Jack at 8:43 PM on June 11, 2013


Also: Adrian Tomine, The Donger and Me.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:47 PM on June 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


When Cameron was in Egypt's land.... let my Cameron go...!

This still goes through my head every time I'm laying in bed sick.
posted by jimmythefish at 10:21 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


brundlefly: "Palquito: "Actually, I wanted to be Chris Knight. Nowhere near smart enough, though. Sigh."

Mitch Taylor for me, but that's mostly because I had a crush on Michelle Meyrink.
"

HellsyesImeanwhywouldn'tyoufindherincrediblyattractiveinthatmovieImeanareallycutesmarthhyperactivegeekgirl?Madeofawesome.
posted by Samizdata at 10:38 PM on June 11, 2013


I'm gonna just throw this here.

That's, um... That's an interesting theory.
posted by homunculus at 10:50 PM on June 11, 2013


cottoncandybeard: "It also has young Elisabeth Shue's dickish boyfriend played by Josh Lyman, which is perfect."

FTFY.
posted by Samizdata at 10:52 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


And i need to say here that growing up, I hope and prayed 85% of Real Genius would happen in real life. Preferably to me.
posted by Samizdata at 10:53 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


seanmpuckett: "Proposal: Metafilter's Day Off.

We choose one day in July, in the middle of the work week, and just FUCK OFF from our responsibilities, whatever they are, go out and do whatever seems right at the time, and then report back what happened.
"

Mkay then, but who's going to provide me the cute girl companion?
posted by Samizdata at 11:03 PM on June 11, 2013


I'd write a relatively long comment on how much I liked Ferris Bueller as a kid, then disliked him once I became a teenager, but I get the feeling if I bothered someone would just quote part of it and then respond with a quote from the movie and nothing else.
posted by KChasm at 11:21 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


The band that made the car music was named Yallo, and at one time I owned the album it originally appeared on (not the Ferris soundtrack) as a cassette. I've not been able to find that album in CD or mp3 formats.
posted by newdaddy at 11:53 PM on June 11, 2013


The band that made the car music was named Yallo, and at one time I owned the album it originally appeared on (not the Ferris soundtrack) as a cassette. I've not been able to find that album in CD or mp3 formats.

Here ya go.
posted by ApathyGirl at 12:00 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nostalgia attacked, so I just dug up and re-watched some Parker Lewis Can't Lose to check my rose-tinted shades, and I think it stands up and became in many ways better than Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
Parker often gets called on his shit, and often learns from it. He ends up in the crazy situations for reasons that are often more obviously because he's struggling to do what seemed to be right at the time. It's narrated in a similarly ego-centric way, but seems less likely to push people's asshole/psycho buttons. (I think it's kinda trying to moralize to teens actually, yet somehow it isn't annoying about it. How is that even possible?). There's more airtime to have a larger cast of characters and tell some of their story too, etc.
And now that I think about, back in the day, while I liked FBDO, I liked PLCL more. (Also, PLCL had that pre-internet prize thing going, where you had to know about it and even with expenditure of great effort there was very little you could do to get it, it was mostly luck. FBDO you could rent at any video store, but PLCL... if you hadn't managed to VCR it off a TV broadcast (or knew someone who had) you were SOL.)
posted by anonymisc at 1:54 AM on June 12, 2013


Also, I have decreed that the 80's didn't start until 1983, and lasted until at least 1991. Don't try to do the math, that's just how it is.
posted by anonymisc at 2:01 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


You're thinking of the 19A0s.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:15 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've narrowed down the start of the 80's to January 2nd, 1983, with the release of "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson.
posted by anonymisc at 3:42 AM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thanks ApathyGirl!
posted by newdaddy at 3:47 AM on June 12, 2013


Cameron lives in a house designed by someone on a level just below Mies van der Rohe

For the record, A. James Speyer (house) and David Haid (pavilion/garage). Landmark. Speyer was, in fact, a student under Mies.

the two guys who got to drive a Ferrari

One was the great character actor Richard Edson, btw.

Rooney still eats it

Ah, one has to admire his scenery-chewing performance, all the while keeping in mind that in the end, Jeffrey Jones was an actual creep.
posted by dhartung at 3:49 AM on June 12, 2013


In movies, you have to move people down one class, in the same way you have to adjust a dog's age up. Movies represent middle class in a way that we would think of as rich. The working poor in movies own houses with two-car garages.

See also: Pretty in Pink. Even adjusting for the cultural difference, given that it would be a little unusual here in the UK for a teenager to own a car (there was a total of six parking spaces at my sixth-form college because so few had them - the insurance if nothing else is prohibitive), she's supposed to be dirt-poor but not only has a car but a very large wardrobe to get dressed from each morning
posted by mippy at 4:21 AM on June 12, 2013


If the only thing at all that John Hughes filmed were that three minute art museum montage, he would have died a great man. Because it not only ennobles the art, and the museum, but it very clearly shows characters we identify with in the museum, looking at the art, being affected by the art. How many people of a certain age, myself included, use this bit of memory as a template for how they approach art?

Let me also say, the discussion upthread about whether Ferris' family is 'rich' is more telling about this generation than that one. Ferris' family has two working parents, a nice but not ostentatious house in a well-kept neighborhood, two working cars for adults and a starter car for the daughter. And a pool. That we think they're rich is evidence of our own diminished expectations.
posted by newdaddy at 4:31 AM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I saw all these films in the late 90s, after I got my own personal VCR player and after I got a job in a second-hand music/video shop - at this time, videos in the UK were about £15, the rental shop I'd go to for Land Before Time and Garbage Pail Kids as a child was closing shop, and the stores we had in our small town were too small to stock much more than new releases. I had, and still have, a love for the 80s, perhaps because I was born in 1982, right when the Falklands started, grew up imagining Reagan's 'nuclear button' as an actual red button that sat in the corner of the big mixing desk necessary for a president to control America, covered in 'break for emergency' glass; by 1988 I was reading second-hand Jackie annuals from car boot sales and copies of Smash Hits alongside the Beano.

It all seemed exotic - people dressing like the Fifties, the Smiths in the charts, and Thatcher sitting on the news like an odd cross between a garden gnome and a gargoyle. I always think of 1999 as a bum year in many ways - it was terrible for me personally, but artistically and pop culturally it seemed like everyone had given up before the Millennium came to Change Everything. (Of course, I look back with some nostalgia now - my first goes on the internet, the TV shows I loved, setting my video at Christmas to tape films because I'd never know when I got to see them again - and I've spent the last few months watching a lot of early-90s sitcoms.) Bands were releasing terrible new albums, my favourite TV shows were turning terrible, and I couldn't give a shit about Star Wars; I was seventeen and young and melodramatic enough to feel, like, culture is dying on us, and I was stuck in a crappy small town where the only leisure activites were underage drinking and, if you were lucky, getting fingered in the toilets by a greasy boy with curtains, and I didn't want any of that.

After years of reading schlocky YA novels set in US high schools that I picked up second hand, to see these worlds and their mysterious cheerleaders and cliques and people wearing weird outfits to school actually on screen was amazing, and I devoured all the John Hughes films that summer. On my so-far-only trip to the US, I picked up an NTSC copy of Fast Times At Ridgemont High at Sam Goody's, and when I finally found something to play it, I realised that we'd visited the same movie theatre from the film. I loved that Ferris went to art galleries, something viewed with suspicion where I grew up -why are you looking at naked women, are you lezzer or something? - and was still a cool dude, and I really, really wanted to go out with Lloyd Dobler. Still do, a little bit.

Also, the joy of teen movies that are, for you, anachronistic, is that it never feels depressing to watch them. I never saw Skins, because I didn't feel like watching kids who were younger, richer and better looking than me have fun in a way I was way too old to do, I found Napoleon Dynamite to be a mixture of over-hyped and surprisingly mean-spirited, but I can happily watch Heathers over and over without it feeling like arrested development.
posted by mippy at 5:16 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jumping back in the conversation a touch, but christ I hate The Breakfast Club. If I ever have kids I will not willingly expose them to that corrosive pile of dung.

In the end, the kids are still just stereotypes. The weird girl gets the jock because she is given a makeover and made to look (at least to my eyes) rather hideous. The rich girl goes with the poor boy, but we all know how long that sort of thing lasts and how it will end. And the nerd ends up doing everyone's homework, like usual. What heartlifting message am I supposed to draw out of this? Rebel, but only in a socially acceptable way? If you want to be loved imitate the popular people? That if you should simply accept your place in the grand hierarchy of things?

It's not quite as bad as Empire Records (and that had Liv Tyler in a bra and plad skirt, one of its few redeeming (at least to my teenage brain) moments), but it's retched. Perhaps I saw it at the wrong age, already being 20 when the girl I was dating sat me down to watch it. I do remember having to go for a long drive afterwards to clear the anger out of my system.

Maybe John Hughes made some good movies. But The Breakfast Club was not one of them.
posted by Hactar at 5:20 AM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


how utterly, bred-in-the-bone suburban his movies are,

As someone who didn't grow up in, or has ever spent too much time in the kind of American suburbia John Hughes idolized, I've always found the movies to be a bit exotic? If that makes sense?
posted by The Whelk at 5:40 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was lucky enough to see The Breakfast Club when I was sixteen. Like Morrissey, see it too young and it's whiny and boring, see it too old and it's whiny and embarrassingly adolescent.
posted by mippy at 6:42 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think there's anything wrong with there being an ideal age for things.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:05 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe John Hughes made some good movies. But The Breakfast Club was not one of them.

This is why I've never seen BSDO. I hated Breakfast Club so much that I never saw another John Hughes movie after it.
posted by octothorpe at 7:21 AM on June 12, 2013


octothorpe: “This is why I've never seen BSDO.”

Bruce Sterling's day off? I would totally watch that.
posted by koeselitz at 7:40 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah Chrystosom - see it when you're sixteen or so and it's the most profound work in the English Language.

My SO and I have this discussion about Catcher in the Rye - he read it at 15, me at 19, and what we took away from it was quite different.
posted by mippy at 7:53 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


ApathyGirl: "The band that made the car music was named Yallo, and at one time I owned the album it originally appeared on (not the Ferris soundtrack) as a cassette. I've not been able to find that album in CD or mp3 formats.

Here ya go.
"

The band Yello has an amazing back catalog. Every album they've made has crazy and inventive gems on it. In a lot of ways, it's a shame that people only know them through FBDO. If you just look at the album that Oh Yeah was on, Stella, you'll find eleven tracks that just give their all in different ways.
posted by boo_radley at 7:55 AM on June 12, 2013


koeselitz: "octothorpe: “This is why I've never seen BSDO.”

Bruce Sterling's day off? I would totally watch that.
"

I have no idea how I tried to type FBDO and managed to output BSDO.
posted by octothorpe at 8:03 AM on June 12, 2013


The Breakfast Club does presents the idea that if you relentlessly mock and sexually harass a woman, she'll end up dating you. It's like an early film adaptation of the textbooks of seduction community.

Rewatching it recently, I was surprised to discover that the most sympathetic character is Emilio Estevez's. He continually stand-up against bullying, he's genuinely open and friendly toward people who would ordinarily be out of his peer group, and he feels almost unbearable shame because a prank he did caused another kid profound embarrassment.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:03 AM on June 12, 2013


The rich girl goes with the poor boy, but we all know how long that sort of thing lasts and how it will end.

I don't entirely disagree with you but you're really grasping with this one.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:04 AM on June 12, 2013


The rich girl goes with the poor boy, but we all know how long that sort of thing lasts and how it will end.

I thought that was kind of the point. It's poignant. They act like things will change but they won't.
posted by sweetkid at 8:38 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


They act like things will change but they won't.

I think instead of this it's the number of implications that are used. I mean, factually there's the two adult cars and garage and pool and stuff, but the money and lifestyle is implied by the reader/viewer. The more implications that are just remotely close the more the reader/viewer feels that the story is about them.

And let's be honest, that's the genius behind most of John Hughes's's's movies, and the same thing that made Seinfeld a thing: we've all been there, so obviously all of the story lines are about us.
posted by Blue_Villain at 9:59 AM on June 12, 2013


Parker Lewis Can't Lose was pretty great, at least in memory. Plus, it provides a way to describe fully buttoned up shirts.

Like Buffy The TV Show but without the official name, PLCL was actually better than the movie that inspired it (Bueller).
posted by mrgrimm at 10:23 AM on June 12, 2013


As someone who didn't grow up in, or has ever spent too much time in the kind of American suburbia John Hughes idolized, I've always found the movies to be a bit exotic? If that makes sense?

Having grown up in those types of middle / upper middle class neighborhoods, and would've gone to that high school in The Breakfast Club if my family had stuck around Chicago, they definitely presented an appealing way if life. But then again that is why those movies were so successful.

Or what Blue Villian said.
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 10:34 AM on June 12, 2013


all these super cool things that had been brewing in North American culture through the 80s that I'd been totally oblivious to

Aha. I spent the 80s in Toronto and Montreal doing a million zany and interesting things, and am only just now -- reading through this thread -- starting to understand why all my friends who grew up in US suburbs have such dismal memories of a time I remember very happily.
posted by tangerine at 12:27 PM on June 12, 2013


starting to understand why all my friends who grew up in US suburbs have such dismal memories of a time I remember very happily.

80s in the US not suddenly "dismal" because of this thread.
posted by sweetkid at 12:32 PM on June 12, 2013


Aha. I spent the 80s in Toronto and Montreal doing a million zany and interesting things, and am only just now -- reading through this thread -- starting to understand why all my friends who grew up in US suburbs have such dismal memories of a time I remember very happily.

Well, I grew up mostly in the suburbs of the suburbs of Toronto, and this is basically the story of my life.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:41 PM on June 12, 2013


I grew up in the suburbs in the U.S. in the 80s and it was pretty great in most ways. I mean, I was in high school for four of those years, so there was all the crap that comes with high school. But that's high school's fault - not the fault of the 80s.
posted by The World Famous at 1:10 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


"80s in the US not suddenly 'dismal' because of this thread."

That's not what tangerine wrote. She said that her friends who grew up in the suburbs in the US report the 80s being dismal and from what people have written in this thread, she now understands why. She wasn't in any way asserting that everyone's experience in the 80s was dismal, nor have I. But for some of us it was and that's as valid an experience as that it wasn't dismal for others.

"Well, I grew up mostly in the suburbs of the suburbs of Toronto, and this is basically the story of my life."

I think that North York (where Geddy Lee grew up) in the 60s was pretty bad. Not really the city at all. I recall my ex saying that Rush was from Thornhill, and she said so kind of sneeringly.

Which is ironic because she grew up (partly) in Markham in the 80s. But, as I mentioned, she spent a large portion of her adolescence in the city as much as possible. Her friends and boyfriend were musicians, she got into all the clubs. Which makes sense, because from my visit to Markham, I can totally see why you'd want to spend as much time elsewhere as possible. Totally suburban North America. She could have had an 80s, conformist suburban adolescence, but she's the type to make sure that sort of thing doesn't happen to her.

After we married and she was only 20 years-old, we lived in Albuquerque which was, to her, some sort of hellish cultural wasteland. So over the eighteen months we lived there, she threw much of her energy into helping build a live music scene — she became a booking agent who booked performances in venues in the area, she helped open a performance space, she hosted a live music performance program on public radio. Twenty-three years later, some of the things she had a hand in building still exist. She had barely turned 20. In high school, she wrote a musical and conceived and established a puppet theater that performed in elementary schools educating children about safety issues, it was turned into an Ontario-wide program a few years later.

What someone wrote above is really true: there are better and worse places, and especially back in those days it was harder to find and connect with interesting scenes, but, nevertheless, a great deal depends upon your own motivation to make your life interesting. Some people, like my ex, seem to have a preternatural level of motivation and energy for doing this. I knew some people in college that lived lives that I had trouble getting my head around. There are people here on MeFi who just make interesting things happen, wherever they are, and so they seem almost mythic in their reporting of the things they've seen and done.

That's part of what FBDO is about, of course.

I'm not sure that those exceptional people should be the standard by which the rest of us judge ourselves. But, on the other hand, they are examples of what might be possible if we made things happen ourselves instead of wishing that things were happening which aren't.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:21 PM on June 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Jeffrey Jones's arrest for child pornography has soured my enjoyment of the "your ass is mine" line and pretty much his appearance in anything else...
posted by Ogre Lawless at 2:09 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jeffrey Jones terrified me in Howard the Duck, which I saw before FBDO so I pretty much always hated him - even more horrifying to find out he was a real life villain.
posted by sweetkid at 2:10 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bunny Ultramod: Rewatching [The Breakfast Club] recently, I was surprised to discover that the most sympathetic character is Emilio Estevez's. He continually stand-up against bullying, he's genuinely open and friendly toward people who would ordinarily be out of his peer group, and he feels almost unbearable shame because a prank he did caused another kid profound embarrassment.

I totally agree. He also plays one of the better characters in St. Elmo's Fire, which is sort of a Brat Pack TBC quasi-sequel.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:26 PM on June 12, 2013


Hmm, I don't think I've ever thought of Kirby Keager as one of the better characters in SEF.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:50 PM on June 12, 2013


Just a heads-up: if you saw this in the theaters, you might not be young.
I did. I'm not.
posted by HillbillyInBC at 7:55 PM on June 12, 2013


anonymisc: "I've narrowed down the start of the 80's to January 2nd, 1983, with the release of 'Billie Jean' by Michael Jackson."

I guess I see where you're coming from, but this seems so wrong to me. So, so wrong. Punk is an 80s thing, right? It was the death of the 70s. I've always imagined the 80s as stretching from something like 1978 to 1987 or so. (After Fugazi formed it really wasn't the 80s anymore.)

Anyway, I think anyone with ears has to admit that the greatest 80s pop album ever recorded, a record which defined that decade in pop (at least for me), was released on 4 February 1980, so maybe the decade was more conventional than either of us believed.

"Could this be the plastic age? ..."
posted by koeselitz at 9:33 PM on June 12, 2013


Oh, and the NWOBHM totally started in '78, and what's the 80s without metal? By 1980 Saxon were already looking back: "Where were you in '79 when the dam began to burst?" So there's one more point in favor of the 80s actually starting in '78.
posted by koeselitz at 9:38 PM on June 12, 2013


At least the end date for the 90s is obvious.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:43 PM on June 12, 2013


Ivan Fyodorovich: "The 80s? I hate them. I mean, at the time I didn't like them but, in retrospect, I hate them passionately. I was unhappy and I hated the politics and the hair and most of the music"

As time has passed I've come to appreciate the '80s more. We had great acid, like an abundance of fluffy, pure stuff, cheap as hell or free in many cases. Mexican weed was not bricked and was halfway decent and cheap. There was a lot about music I didn't like that characterized the '80s, but that was mostly how older bands were changing their sound to fit the times, which is not really where the most interesting music of any era is happening. Although punk in the UK was getting old, in the US it was just getting started. New wave, no wave and industrial were born. Towards the end of the '80s house music and techno were born. George Carlin was at the peak of his career. The Dead had never been so popular. Zappa was still around and touring. Hunter S. Thompson had a regular writing gig. Terry Gilliam made Time Bandits, Brazil and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Kubrick made The Shining and Full Metal Jacket. This is just off the top of my head ... Used bookstores were everywhere. Gas was cheap. So was food. Yeah, so looking back the fashion and hairstyles we wore were silly, but that's always true.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:05 PM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Reminds me of my husband and I's first date. Each event was very last minute and we just went.

1. horseback riding
2. Cubs game
3. lunch
4. ice cream

It was date-a-palooza.
posted by stormpooper at 7:08 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I could see "SAVE FERRIS" being painted on my local water tower while walking home from school. I heard it was another John Hughes movie, but I was like WTF? What could "Save Ferris" possibly mean? It stayed up for a long time, and the movie didn't come out for at least another two years as I recall.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:15 AM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wasn't there a thread a while back that said the 80s started with Phil Collin's written-in-79 recorded-in-80 released-in-81 'In The Air Tonight'?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:11 AM on June 14, 2013


Yeah, the Phil Collins gated reverb snare drum sound is a pretty good contender for the sound of the eighties.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:01 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


The 80s started and ended with Bloom County.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:06 AM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wasn't there a thread a while back that said the 80s started with Phil Collin's written-in-79 recorded-in-80 released-in-81 'In The Air Tonight'?

The 80s started on August 8, 1980 and ended August 27, 1991.

And yes, they sucked royally. You can look back on it fondly all you want, but I remember well those junk-bond-, cocaine- and bad-merlot-fueled years when Ronnie Reagan was the most powerful person on the planet, people were dying in huge numbers from a new sexually transmitted disease, and indeed, the future looked so fucking bright we all started slathering on 45spf every fucking day and haven't stopped since.

I'll give you the good acid (tho the 90s had plenty too), Brazil, and The Shining (I'll even throw in Buckaroo Banzai, Blue Velvet, Tapeheads, Repo Man, and Hal Hartley), but that's really, all those things are in the wrong decade-they belong in the 70s or 90s. The rest of the decade can go fuck itself.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:28 AM on June 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sys Req

Yeah, the Phil Collins gated reverb snare drum sound is a pretty good contender for the sound of the eighties.

And I now live in sight, down the street, from the sadly now defunct studio, Townhouse, where that sound was created.

Although I like to reflect on the XTC and Jam records made there rather than the gated drum. There were good eighties as well as the well-noted bad eighties
posted by C.A.S. at 10:55 AM on June 17, 2013


At least the end date for the 90s is obvious.

I'm torn between January 1st, 2000, when Y2K doomsday didn't happen, and Sept 11th, 2001.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:11 AM on June 17, 2013


Def September 11th.
posted by sweetkid at 11:15 AM on June 17, 2013


October 2, 2000.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:43 PM on June 17, 2013


I'm torn between January 1st, 2000, when Y2K doomsday didn't happen, and Sept 11th, 2001.

I was a child in the 90s, so the Y2K scare seems like one of those adorably frivolous nonevents which retrospect has made a central feature of the time. But my view of the 90s would be much different if I had been older then.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:59 PM on June 17, 2013


I had taken computer science classes and had met enough actual programmers to know that the y2K thing was nothing.
posted by sweetkid at 3:03 PM on June 17, 2013


I partied like it was 1999.

sweetkid, you were a smarter person than me. I had taken computer science in university. I still had kind of an uncertain feeling on NYE.

I even took a COBOL course, imagining I would have some role to play in Y2K preparedness. Which is laughable given my level of actual experience at the time.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 3:17 PM on June 17, 2013


"I had taken computer science classes and had met enough actual programmers to know that the y2K thing was nothing."

You were misinformed. Probably because Y2K was much more in the province of MIS than it was in CS. There was a huge industry in the last few years of the 90s of mainframe programmers, primarily working with COBOL, painstakingly going through decades-old code to avoid Y2K bugs.

It wasn't ever going to be the case that elevators would fall down their shafts or planes would crash, but that huge swaths of corporate computing, primarily financial, would break. And this mostly didn't happen because there was a lot of worry about this and consequently a lot of money was spent to make sure it didn't happen.

I'm a little stymied about how to explain this. I didn't get a CS degree, but I'd taken programming courses off-and-on from 1984 through 1994, and through the second half of the nineties I worked in software, first in geophysical modeling for an oilfield services company, then in internet software. But also I grew up with mainframes and mainframe business programmers. That's what my dad did. And his older brother. And his older brother's wife. And my mother's older sister. And when my dad remarried, also his wife. One of the first programs I ever wrote was a COBOL program that ran on an IBM 360 when I was a kid.

And these two cultures — the mainframe (primarily business) culture and the rest of computing (scientific mainframe programming, UNIX and small computers, etc) — never had almost anything to do with each other or even had the barest clue about each other (excepting the earliest years, the 50s through the mid 60s). During that run-up to Y2K and all these old COBOL guys going through 25 year-old code, none of the people I worked with had any clue about the software that calculated and printed their paychecks. None. Their opinions on Y2K were utterly uninformed. Just like the opinions of my family about the rest of computing were also utterly uninformed.

Pruitt-Igoe says that he took a COBOL class. I find that interesting because as early as 1984 at a large state university I attended, the CS department didn't offer a COBOL course. Probably the business department did. (Not that I would have taken such a course — like many people on the CS side of things, I'd rather cut off my own hand than program in COBOL.) Through the 80s and 90s, my dad was the technical director of a joint project between a mainframe shop that did insurance risk analysis and, separately, two of the largest US insurance companies. And despite my education and experience in computing, what they did was mostly a mystery to me. It was a different world. And what they did, with huge databases running on large mainframes, was even then, still mostly in COBOL.

And most of these COBOL shops ran code that was decades old. Partly because you could. These platforms were stable. And guys writing a payroll app in 1972 didn't worry so much about what would happen with two-digit dates in 2000.

The press hyped the Y2K danger and the industry itself hyped it. But understandably because no one really had any clue how bad the problem really was. The only thing to do was to actually go look, and no one would have spent the money to do this if people weren't pointing out how bad it would be if the problem was very large and no one had bothered. In the end, from my second-hand observation, pretty much nothing bad happened because of a combination of the problem being less severe than feared and that the huge effort had mostly found and corrected the bugs that existed. But it was a very real problem and things would have broken, causing a lot of collateral damage, had there not been a big effort to fix these bugs in time. The conventional wisdom about this (that Y2K was "nothing") is wrong.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:26 PM on June 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


University of Calgary had a COBOL course in the CS department in the late 90s, taught by Dr. Anton Colijn. We had to use some trial COBOL interpreter for DOS that would only allow 2 or 3 recordsets open at the time.

I remember hating it and finding it totally limiting. But I did well in the course, and I suspect the experience came in handy a few years later when I was forced to do some general computing things in TSQL.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 4:38 PM on June 17, 2013


mrgrimm: “The 80s started on August 8, 1980 and ended August 27, 1991. And yes, they sucked royally. You can look back on it fondly all you want, but I remember well those junk-bond-, cocaine- and bad-merlot-fueled years when Ronnie Reagan was the most powerful person on the planet, people were dying in huge numbers from a new sexually transmitted disease, and indeed, the future looked so fucking bright we all started slathering on 45spf every fucking day and haven't stopped since.”

Ivan Fyodorovich: “The 80s? I hate them. I mean, at the time I didn't like them but, in retrospect, I hate them passionately. I was unhappy and I hated the politics and the hair and most of the music (partly that was because I didn't have anyone to turn me on to the music worth listening to then) and yuppies and people who did cocaine. I didn't think that highly of the 70s at the time, but at this later stage of my life, compared to the 80s, the 70s look pretty damn awesome.”

One thing people sometimes don't realize nowadays – even us people in our 30s, who actually remember the pre-internet days – is that you really had to have somebody to turn you on to good stuff back then; it was so much harder to know that something cool was happening somewhere, even if that somewhere wasn't so far away. So even though there are awesome musical touchpoints during the 80s that I would go back to if I could (seeing the Belleville Three in 85 or 86 or 87; seeing the Minutemen in Pedro in 87; seeing some of those hung-over road shows that Pere Ubu was running; seeing the Fall in New Zealand in 83; etc) I sure as hell wouldn't have known about them then unless I was very, very lucky.

But another thing is: I have a theory that we often tend to idealize the era just before and just after we were born – those things we suck up and consume, the first glimmers of the world around us, they often end up becoming sort of the childhood fables we look back on later. So – I was born in 1979. And I remember that era very vaguely but with some fondness. It's sort of where I came from, even if a whole lot of it sucked. Maybe that's just the sentimental idiot in me, though.
posted by koeselitz at 5:12 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Guh, Minutemen in 84, I mean. Dunno how I screwed that up.)
posted by koeselitz at 5:23 PM on June 17, 2013


I'm on my phone so I can't quote and reference the way I want, but I think people would be surprised how much the financial system still relies on 40 year-old COBOL programs. I regularly work on systems with comments in the source code from the 1970s.

Y2K was a non-event mainly because thousands of people put in thousands of hours to make it that way. I personally did two years worth of work in the six months prior to Oct. 1st, 2000 to help move a municipal water department onto a Y2K capable system.
posted by ob1quixote at 5:39 PM on June 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, I'm in agreement with Joshua Glenn's periodization scheme when he says, "Members of this misidentified cohort [The Reconstructionists, born between 1964 and 1973] were in their teens and 20s in the Eighties (1984-93, not to be confused with the 1980s); and in their 20s and 30s in the Nineties (1994-2003)."
posted by ob1quixote at 7:46 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


It wasn't ever going to be the case that elevators would fall down their shafts or planes would crash, but that huge swaths of corporate computing, primarily financial, would break. And this mostly didn't happen because there was a lot of worry about this and consequently a lot of money was spent to make sure it didn't happen.


Yes I knew this.


Y2K was a non-event mainly because thousands of people put in thousands of hours to make it that way.


I also knew this. So I wasn't "misinformed."
posted by sweetkid at 7:47 PM on June 17, 2013


Okay. It's just that "the y2K thing was nothing" is a weird way to say what you meant, especially because in pop-culture the conventional wisdom about Y2K is that it was a hyped non-problem, not that it was a real problem that was averted.

So I guess you meant that what was "nothing" was the fear of a collapse of society on January 1st? Yeah, I don't recall thinking much about it at all, really, around then. I think I was curious to see if there were any sporadic failures that were big enough to notice because of bugs that escaped the net.

But there were a lot of people who took the lack of any big failures as proof that the whole thing was a kind of hoax and that view has sort of become the dominant narrative about Y2K.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:20 PM on June 17, 2013


Yea I felt like the fact I mentioned that I'd taken classes and met programmers (alums, internship people, professors) made it clear I knew a lot of work was going into it. Maybe I wasn't clear. But I definitely didn't think it was magically fixed or a hoax or what. I was taking computer classes in 98-99 so people were talking about it a lot and professors explained how it was being worked on. And I was dating an electrical engineering major. So I wasn't worried.
posted by sweetkid at 9:02 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, if anyone should get reproved for their ignorance, it's me.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:04 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


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