One of the most representative movies of my generation, Ferris Bueller is the epitome of Generation X. He is a slacker, he is unmotivated, rebellious and disrespectful of authority. Or is he? If he is such a bad representative, why do we love him so much? Are all Gen-Xers so nihilistic and negative?
Well, there is no arguing that we Gen-Xers are pretty pessimistic and want to buck any system that tries to classify or group us, either for good or ill. However, I think Ferris is an example of the generation for some of the good qualities we share.
Sure, Ferris goes to great lengths to skip school and rebel against the authority in his life, but not necessarily for bad reasons and not simply out of a desire to do nothing. Towards the beginning of the film, he acknowledges the immaturity of his actions, but take a look at what he is rebelling against.
“The key to faking out the parents is the clammy hands. It's a good non-specific symptom; I'm a big believer in it. A lot of people will tell you that a good phony fever is a dead lock, but, uh... you get a nervous mother, you could wind up in a doctor's office. That's worse than school. 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.”
We get a chance to see Ferris’ school and he is right. This is not a place of learning, it is a daycare where the teachers are just as unmotivated as the kids. What Ferris has planned for his friend is a day that will serve their lives much more than any day in that environment ever will. If this were a Millennial film they would likely skip school to lay in bed and play computer games online. Ferris and Cameron go to one of the most renowned art museums in the world. Ferris’ real concern is experiencing life and making sure the friends he cares about do as well.
And it is his plan as well. Lest you think this is all just a spontaneous act, look at all the planning that has gone into it. Ferris has had to create a lot of recordings and had to set up a lot of intricate cover-ups. He knew exactly what he was up to the entire time. At the start of the film we even see him practicing the song he will sing at the parade while he is showering.
So sure, Generation X is a little immature, a little rebellious. But the real thing that drives us is relationships and meaning in life. We can’t be bothered with the system when it is broken. And we take care of things for ourselves. Other may wait for life to hand them everything they deserve; we just get busy living.