What Ferris Bueller’s Day Off Would Look Like Today

It’s been 26 years since the Cheshire-grinning Ferris Bueller whisked away his rodeo jacket-tasseled girlfriend and perpetually angst-ridden best friend for a day out in Chicago, as brush-stroked by John Hughes, and certainly befitting the sausage king of the Midwest, Abe Froman. The day itself was a measuring stick for people who knew that another day spent lamenting amongst disinterested teachers and administrators with daily vendettas as if hot lunch items just wouldn’t cut it. Ferris Bueller taught children of the ’80s and ’90s that a day of fun wouldn’t be spent hot-boxing various rooms with ticklish vapors dubbed kush, crash, splash, dash or Westside OG. Rather, it would be spent absorbing the surrounding cultural flavor through a series of peripheral osmosis. The day off was so thoroughly complete that the trio of northshore explorers left the Windy City truly winded.

It’s easy to look back at yesteryear through sepia-toned eyes and think that what came before was inevitably better because nostalgia sticks to those memories like pinkelponkers do to liquidambar trees. While things in the past were simpler, new world amenities have made life easier for a generation that still plays hookie from work like it was third-period chemistry. But what exactly would Ferris Bueller’s Day Off look like if he took a mental health day in 2012?

The question isn’t “what are we going to do,” the question is “what aren’t we going to do?”

What he did: Took in a ballgame at The Friendly Confines.

What he’d do today: Set his fantasy baseball lineup.

The fantasy sports phenomenon has turned even the most fair-weathered fans into die-hards for the simple fact that they root for a win and loss result as opposed to statistical bukkake. It’s not enough anymore to attend a game and bask in the physicality involved with playing professionally. Instead, we expect these athletes to deliver timely hits and lights-out pitching performances so that our fantasy team can outplay a guy with a single syllable name from accounting in the first round of the playoffs. There was a time when “play ball” truly meant to “have a ball.”

What he did: Took part in a rousing rendition of “Twist and Shout” by The Beatles during the Van Steuben Day Parade.

What he’d do today: Look at videos of people covering “Twist and Shout” by The Beatles on YouTube.

It seems that more and more folks experience the world around them through a screen that is peppered with spittle from gut busting videos of people falling down and kittens so painfully cute that you want to bake them into a orange tabby custard. People consume life experiences in even tinier optical boxes than their predecessors, and children of the ’80s and ’90s were practically parented by the television.

What he did: Observed some of the great works of art at The Art Institute of Chicago.

What he’d do today: Leave anonymous comments on blog posts.

It seems only fitting that Ferris’ romp through Chicago included a visit to The Art Institute where he notably observed George Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, which depicted a leisurely day spent along the spearmint shores of the Seine. What made Ferris, Sloane and Cameron’s day so special is that while only teenagers, they weren’t oblivious to the great and wonderful things that had come before them. They didn’t despise things because they didn’t understand them. They didn’t loathe an image because they were shameful that they would never be able to create something like that for themselves. It was their humility that made them transcend being characters and turned them into real people. It seems the same can’t be said for many folks who take it upon themselves to police the internet with the intellect of a tumble weed and the sharp sting of a boot spur. Your opinion matters, but it shouldn’t matter all of the time.

Perhaps Ferris would even use his free time to become a spam emailer. Certainly he’d have more success than his Royal Highness Ibrahim Mbenga from Zimbabwe. Who wouldn’t open an email that was labeled, “SAVE FERRIS?”

What he did: Saw the city from spectacular heights.

What he’d do today: Get high and forget he cooked a Hot Pocket.

Anything is peaceful from one thousand, three hundred and fifty-three feet.

Big cities have the tendency to humble even the most braggadocio individuals with a swift kick to the rump. That’s what makes the survival that much sweeter when your old zip code is as distant in your mind as the thoughts of the individuals 1,353 feet below. It’s hard to imagine that a seventeen-year-old kid in today’s society would dare to think of others when those around them have fluffed their egos and turned them into medicated Adonises.

What he did: Swam in a complete stranger’s pool.

What he’d do today: Tended to an imaginary farm.

Ferris Bueller you’re my hero.

Triumphs in 2012 come in the form of being fictional, yet successful land baron/ baronesses where fatback output proves to be more valuable than real life or death decisions. Would Ferris react, or would he replant a bushel of rutabagas?

What he did: Ate a decadent lunch at ‘Chez Quis’.

What he’d do today: A hundred crunches so he’d have transcendent abdominal muscles.

A carb was nothing but a carburetor back in the 1980’s. Pie holes ran over with intricate sauces and abominable, ice cream mounds, unlike today, when people treat food like it’s been poisoned by Wesley from The Princess Bride. There are two type of people in the world: people who think about the food and people who think about how the food tastes.

What he did: Borrowed a red 1961 Ferrari 250GT California.

What he’d do today: Love his own car more than his friends and parents.

People have argued that there is perhaps a Fight Club/ Tyler Durden element to the John Hughes classic, where in Ferris is merely a figment of Cameron’s imagination. It seems only apropos to offer the following assessment: “the things you own end up owning you.” While it was the car that ate away at Cameron’s very essence in the ’80s, it’s the material nature at which we value our relationships in the present day that would lead one to believe that Mr. Bueller would love his things more than his living, breathing counterparts. As it turns out, Ferris Bueller would still very much need saving in 2012.

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. TC mark


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  • Anonymous

    Just my inner pedant coming out here, but there’s no character named Wesley in The Princess Bride.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=612928768 Samie Rose

      Thank you for saying exactly what I was going to say. <3

  • http://twitter.com/BenTweetsWords Ben Conner

    I reject this. I have faith that today’s Ferris Bueller could find a way to be awesome.

  • Sophia

    This is depressing.

  • Jennifer

    I dislike the idea that Ferris Bueller’s Day would become mundane and normal. I think he would still find a way to be awesome. 

    • http://twitter.com/BenTweetsWords Ben Conner

      haha. we think alike.

  • Shannon

    The things that Ferris did on his day off were things he wouldn’t have done every day. It would have been a stupid movie if he sat on the phone talking to his girlfriend, watching TV, and playing Atari — kids did mundane things in the 80s just like they do now. To say that a kid wouldn’t find 10 interesting and ridiculous things to do in one day in 2012 is dumb. Didn’t like this article at all.

  • Anonymous

    Tabby Custard is actually the name of my band

    check us out on myspace, good sound

  • http://www.facebook.com/grc15r Gregory Costa

    Ferris Bueller was the man.  He was already hacking into the school computers in the 1980s to change the number of absences, so just imagine what he could do with today’s computing power.  He also was able to convincingly pretend to be ill with analog equipment, so I can’t even envision what he’d do with an iPod…….On top of all that, he was able to avoid being molested by Principal Rooney, a convicted pedophile…he’d be just fine in the 2000s. 

    • SS

      …fine in the 2000s, sure. but what about the 2010s? (just kidding he’d be totally fine in the 2010s too).

  • maSHOCKe

    I take it that you’re one of the people that thinks about the way food “tastes?”

    Although you’re intended message here is vague at best, caring about what the food actually is becomes far more important in today’s mass produced, megagriculture, highly processed, GMO, fat ridden foods that many have been convinced as proper sustenance.

    Like everyone else, I found this article depressing.

  • Fredricklamone

    This article was the tits!

  • Guy

    This is way too bitter and misanthropic.

  • Zack

    This is such a lazy critique. People have been writing thoughtpieces like this since before FBDO came out – honestly, people like Ferris will make their own meaningful fun in any era. People like you will find a way to find the hackneyed worst in everything.

  • Aagh

    So those who were at some point among the most awesome people would be boring today.  Then how can anyone hope to not be boring? This article is based on the assumption that everyone in 2012 is bland and disaffected. 
    You’re either projecting and negative, or only know boring people.

  • Alee663

    poor form, in every sense of the word.

  • D Rudd

    This article should be titled “If Ferris Bueller Was A Fucking Loser Instead of Just Being Ferris Bueller.”

  • Guest

    Everyone here needs a reality check. This article is completely true, kids today don’t know how to have fun

  • Thestatethatimin

    I hate when things have so much potential and then just come off contrived and painful to read.


    I suggest you actually watch the movie.. Figure out that ferris (then and now) has more creativity than you are giving him.. And write this article again.

  • Harringtone09

    This is the laziest and least thought-provoking article that I’ve ever read on Thought Catalog.  You sound like old-man Thomas Friedman talking about how this generation of young(hip)sters is the do-nothing generation.  Obviously we use technology much more now, but how about incorporating this into the true nature of FBDO and thinking hard about how it might be applied, rather than just following the simple narrative of: kids these days don’t do anything but computer-stuff (in old-man voice)…

  • ts

    I agree with most people. The title had lots of potential. But Ferris Bueller would NOT spend his day off like that.

  • Yup

    Alec banks, you are a crank.

  • Sophie

    this is amazingly terrible.  shockingly so.

  • dip

    The trick that us north shore dwellers have learned is to do everything Ferris did while stoned, naturally.

  • Guest

    I see your point: If you are going to take time to fuck around, you’d better fuck around in the most unforgettable way, while you are young, at least. I get that, I’ve suggested that as a sort of “group” new Years resolution to my close friends. It could be liberating. 

    BUUUTTT there are two things that I think you’ve failed to realize: Ferris is privileged, and so are you. I understand your point, but to CONDEMN us for not living like Ferris suggests to me that you have little grasp of how difficult some people have it. For me, your advice is the annoying hipster cousin to the Gene Mark’s piece, “If I Were a Poor Black Kid.” How clueless are you?

    Not everyone has access to a museum, or has time to spend in one, or has fucks to give about one. “they weren’t oblivious to the great and wonderful things that had come before them.” Agreed, we should strive to reconnect with the past, but not everyone can access that nostalgia in a museum, nor should that have to. 

    I like your point at the end, that money, and the pursuit of it has corrupted us, and our relationships as it did Cameron and his family. But your piece is like condemning Cameron for not being more like Ferris — Not everyone has the privilege to be delinquent  for no reason. Not everyone is carefree. 

    **and your bit about “commenting on blogs”………a cheap attempt to silence your critics. 

  • Em

    Alec Banks, who hurt you and made you so bitter and cynical about such a beautiful movie?

  • Mike

    this may have been said before, but GEE, how depressing are you?

    ok, so we have new-ish things like “the internet”

    but Ferris Bueller was intelligent. he used what network he HAD to screw around with his grades. he used sound bytes to do the whole “sick over the phone” thing. and he STILL went out and did all that stuff too.

    you say that Society changed. and that it would change how Ferris spent his day off but the point was, he was smart in SPITE of the society he was in. and he used that intelligence to (screw people over? bitch at people he didn’t know? no.) have a good time. I’d still go to the top of a building like that and marvel at the insanity of the view.

    In my opinion, Ferris Bueller wouldn’t change. and neither would his day off.

    so, seriously… get off your high horse about the people of this generation (we’re not all like that, you know) and don’t let the horse kick you on the way out of the stable.

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