Monday, June 5, 2017

Ferris & Cameron, This One’s for You!

By Caroline Kelly & Sky Destrian

Ferris Bueller, you’re my hero.

Haven’t we all wanted to be that kid up on the parade float, loving life recklessly and with abandon, just to put a smile on our best friend’s face? I’m far too self-conscious to be him, but I’ve always hoped I have a spark of Ferris in me, down deep—where things like fear of my bad singing voice and spending hours wondering if something I said was slightly awkward don’t matter at all. I mean, at least I can pretend to be that cool, in alternate life, maybe.

But I’m generally pretty light-hearted, and the past few years I’ve watched as, little by little, some of my anxieties about travel, spontaneity, and adventure have fallen away. Sky, one of my closest friends, and I have said many times that we’re Cameron and Ferris, and if being Ferris means me tugging on her hand to take her on an adventure when I’m scared myself—to watch her shake her head at me and say You’re crazy! as I do something ridiculous—then I’ve never been prouder to be associated with a fictional character.

All of that to say: Ferris Bueller is one of those characters we all wish we could be at some point, which he’d find ironic; he’d probably look confused and say, “What are you still doing here? The movie’s over.” But this has led me to think about how much time we—or at any rate, I—spend thinking about other worlds and lives. Some of them are fictional lives of my own creation, while others have been thought about by millions of other people. We project our own ideals and feelings onto these characters, and who’s to say that we’re wrong?

But ultimately, Ferris is right. The movie is over: what are we still doing here? I like to think it’s because we take a little of each character with us, a little of everyone from everything we love. So I don’t own one of Ferrari’s 1961 California Spiders, but you can bet my reaction would be identical to Ferris’ if I ever got to exist in the same room as that car. And my mind is really always dancing to "Twist and Shout." It’s not 1986 and my best friend and I aren’t skipping out to downtown Chicago for the best day off ever, but hey, we don’t need to: offscreen, we’re laughing our way through life right here and now, as much as we can. The movie’s over, and this is where living begins.



Adolescence was hard for me, like I think it is for everybody. I first watched Ferris Bueller when I was sixteen. I remember because it was one of the hardest years I had ever had thus far. I was having allergic reactions, two of my best friends had left, and I was falling apart. In the midst of all this, my dad decided it was time that I watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I had no idea that it would shape me for the rest of my life.

I was at a very shaky, vulnerable point in my existence. I’d lost a lot of confidence—if I’d really even had any to begin with—and I didn’t know who I even was. I had wrapped up my identity in my friends and other people who had left me. I had let other people define who I was and tell me what to do. I had depression and anxiety. I had let the events that affected me determine the course of my future. So I guess it’s no surprise that I related so deeply to Cameron Frye. Cameron, my sweet summer child. The kid who’s wound so tight that if you stuck a lump of coal up his ass, you’d have a diamond. In him, I found myself.

This movie is so clearly a physical journey, and for me, it was an emotional journey. I didn’t just watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, I lived it, too. I watched as Ferris took his tightly-wound best friend on a journey to loosen up. I saw the emotional stakes. And then I realized that there were emotional stakes for me, too. I remember the pivotal moment in Cameron’s dad’s garage when the car’s miles won’t come off and Cameron decides to face his father.

“I am not going to sit on my ass as the events that affect me unfold to determine the course of my life. I'm going to take a stand. I'm going to defend it. Right or wrong, I'm going to defend it.”
Something clicked inside of me, and that’s when I realized that’s what I had to do, too. I could not continue to sit on my ass and watch my life go by. (Life goes by pretty fast, after all.) I had to take a stand. I had to defend it. From that day on, that’s what I did. I’m still not perfect, and there are days where I’m still scared. After all, bravery doesn’t mean your hands don’t shake. But whenever they do, I think of Sloane, Ferris, and Cameron. I think of this movie—my home in film form—and I feel a little bit braver.

As another one of Caroline’s and my favorite movies, Dead Poets Society, says, “No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” The words and ideas in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off changed my world.  I honestly believe that without it, I would not be who I am today. I would continue to be the scared, broken sixteen-year-old who didn’t know how to live or how to keep going. In dark places, stories turn on the light. In pits of despair, characters reach down and hold out a hand. Don’t ever tell me fiction doesn’t matter; I’m here today because of it.

To this day, Cameron remains one of my favorite characters—my soul character—and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is my favorite movie of all time. When I found out Caroline liked it too, it cemented our friendship even further. Like C.S. Lewis said, "Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'" That’s the moment when I knew we were destined to be friends. And when I found out today was Ferris Bueller’s Day, I knew we had to write this article together. We’re Ferris and Cameron, and she’s made me see every day, every moment as an adventure.

Cameron Frye taught me how to live. Cameron Frye saved my life. I’ll forever be grateful to John Hughes, Ferris, and Cameron for that.

Ferris Bueller, you’re my hero.


Caroline Kelly is a rising senior in college from North Carolina, studying English and art history. If she’s not ranting about her favorite World War Two miniseries, she’s proclaiming her endless love for John Steinbeck to anyone who will listen. She’s happiest by the ocean or with the grass under her feet. Career aspirations, realistic and otherwise, include museum curator, auto-racing journalist, U.S. Marshal, and professional novelist. You can follow her on Instagram.


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