• Joe Pace

Favorite Fictional Characters, #138: Ferris Bueller


"We'll just tell them I have bone spurs."

Ferris Bueller shouldn't be anyone's hero. He's a borderline sociopath, using everything and everyone for his own purposes with express disregard for the fallout. He exhibits a shred of humanity later for his concern over Cameron in the wake of the car murder, but I suspect some of this is fear that he'll be implicated. Ferris is a hedonist, a slick-talking con artist in search of his next experiential high, destined for a future as a Wall Street bankster. He lies, he cheats, he steals. And yet...he does it all with such charisma, such sheer abandon, that it's hard not to want to follow along.

Looking back now, it's pretty simple to identify his appeal. He's freed himself from the strictures of society through inventive shirking and cunning resourcefulness. He lives the life he wants to live, aware of the theoretical risks and yet seemingly assured of his own invulnerability. He is a tightrope walker who has never fallen, a pitcher working on a perfect game, a blissful and blithe child still at play while others fall victim to maturity. It's something every one of us can aspire to in our weaker moments of adulthood. Who doesn't long to max out on absences from work or school, spend a day at the ballpark or singing on a parade float, fibbing our way into fine restaurants and living for a change?

It's a tempting mirage. And yet as seductive as the Bueller archetype is, we're not Ferris. We're Cameron. We wake up feeling half-dead, knowing that getting out of bed is a sucker's proposition, drawn like a moth to the flames of our sexier friends who seem to skip happily through better lives. There are consequences for what we do, and even if we put them off, we have to deal with them eventually. Let my Cameron go? Not anytime soon.

Still, given the choice, we'd all probably still rather be Ferris. Which probably explains a lot about the society we've built.

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