Monday, August 10, 2009

Let my Cameron go

You guys probably think Ferris Bueller's Day Off is a comedy. Most people also think it's about Ferris.

I know I'm not the first person to say this, but it's become something of a facination to me whenever I catch Ferris on TV some afternoon.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off
is about Cameron.

Ferris starts out a loveable scamp who magnficently avoids getting in trouble. He ends up a loveable scamp who magnificently avoids getting in trouble.

Cameron starts out a tight-ass boy, too old for his body, desperately wanting to relax but unable to shake his fear of upsetting his cold-hearted father. He ends the movie destroying his father's car and planning to tell him to fuck off. That's a hell of a character arc.

Yes, I said arc. This movie has a beautiful arc, one that moves me every single time I watch it.

I love my parents. They're great people. But I spent my childhood absolutely paranoid that I did something wrong. I was a lot like Cameron. I was afraid of my stepdad.

I don't think I realized this until just a few days ago when I suddenly started crying during the scene when Cameron finally decides to stand up for himself. I kept shaking my head when Ferris said he'd take the heat. No, Ferris. This is Cameron's task. He has to man up now.

"My old man pushes me around," he says, tears welling up in his eyes. They well up in mine too. I remember being a helpless teenager wanting to escape.

I love my stepdad now. He's a changed man, a good man, and I'm grateful for everything he's done for me in my life. But he'll tell you that back then, he was a messed up dude. And I still remember the day I did the equivalent of what Cameron did and freed myself from the fear.

This post is a little late in coming. I started writing it the night John Hughes died and kept putting off finishing it. I love The Breakfast Club. I love Uncle Buck. I don't love Sixteen Candles so much because of the Asian stereotyping and the fact that Anthony Michael Hall essentially rapes that one dude's girlfriend and she's totally okay with it. I love Pretty in Pink even though her dress is hideous and the whole movie ended up having absolutely nothing to do with the lyrics of the song.

But there is only one John Hughes moment that hits me where I live. When Cameron finally smiles at the thought of how much he's about to piss off his dad, I smile too because I'm proud of him, and I'm proud of me.


  1. The same moment, for basically the same reason, hits home with me.

    The only way to fix it is to man up and confront it.

  2. Great post.

    I will be watching FBDO very soon again...

    Thanks Emily!

  3. Jesus, Emily, that was a really touching post. I

    I've always kind of shrugged at FBDO for the reasons you mentioned...our main character really doesn't undergo any major crisis or catharsis or change... he just is a force of nature. Not that it's a bad thing (great for comedic purposes), but the film did get a bit tedious for me, even as a teenager, because it was merely an episodic look at some punk flipping off the system and going home. I wasn't pissed off at the system enough, I guess, to get my rocks off on that. (My friends certainly were though...)

    But the Cameron angle. Yes. Wow. Definitely. Your take on it certainly has given me a new appreciation for the film.

  4. Does anyone knows who sings the song Cameron is listening in bed?
    When Cameron was in Egypt land... let my Cameron gooo!


  5. That's an old slave spiritual about Moses and the Exodus. "Let my people go" is the line.


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