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Ferris Bueller: What Could Have Been


This weekend marked the 25th anniversary of the release of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. As Kathryn has written, the original script for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off contained a bunch of conservative lines, including this gem:

My uncle went to Canada to protest the war, right? On the Fourth of July he was down with my aunt and he got drunk and told my Dad he felt guilty he didn’t fight in Viet Nam. So I said, “What’s the deal, Uncle Jeff? In wartime you want to be a pacifist and in peacetime you want to be a soldier. It took you twenty years to find out you don’t believe in anything?” [snaps his fingers] Grounded. Just like that. Two weeks. [pause] Be careful when you deal with old hippies. They can be real touchy.

Only one problem: They didn’t make the final cut, for some odd reason (my theory: studio execs didn’t want to offend liberals … like them). Instead, what we got from Ferris Bueller was a proto-Simpsons view of adulthood and being a teenager. All the adults in Ferris Bueller are invasive morons — including a principal who wants desperately for Ferris to stop cutting class — and all of the adolescents are brilliant, witty, and charming. That was the conflict that summed up John Hughes’s world: he was a conservative, but he was also an advocate for taking teenage angst just a bit too seriously for conservative tastes. The only moment of responsibility-taking in Ferris Bueller occurs after Cameron’s ill-fated use of his dad’s Ferrari, and it’s played as a statement of teenage rebellion rather than of maturation.

Hughes deserves credit, however, for doing something most conservatives never even bother doing: making a good movie with certain conservative undertones. Where else would you hear a character (Ferris) explaining, “-Ism’s in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an –ism, he should believe in himself.” Of course, that message is buried in a punch line: “I quote John Lennon, ‘I don’t believe in Beatles, I just believe in me.’ Good point there. After all, he was the walrus. I could be the walrus. I’d still have to bum rides off people.” But at least Hughes makes the attempt.

Ben Shapiro is author of Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV.


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