Ferris Bueller and Me

John Hughes died four years ago and I wrote this post that day August 6th 2009 before I had a blog of my own. Just found it again thanks to the interwebs. Four years on things aren’t quite the same for President Obama but we 40 somethings still miss John Hughes, so here it is.

In the middle of a recession, with job cuts everywhere we turn, it might seem hard to understand why the death of a man who made movies 25 years ago about self-absorbed Chicago teens matters too much to Generation Xs in their 30s and early 40s.

But here goes…

My sister Saira always wanted to be Molly Ringwald in “Pretty in Pink”. This morning I asked her why.

“In the 80s in Britain no one was making movies about teenagers,” she said. “It was a fascinating insight into a world where teenagers (with their own cars!) were making their own decisions.

“I loved the independence of Molly’s character – despite her dysfunctional family. I loved that she cooked her own breakfast, had a pink car and pink accessories.

“There was a pure escapism to those films, but with issues we could related to.”

For British Asian girls like my sister and me, it was also a fascinating glimpse into a world we knew nothing about – a world of boyfriends and dates.

Though I suspect the sunshine, the affluence and the perfect skin and teeth of the youthful stars were just as exotic to any British teen watching those movies. And then there’s the music. The soundtracks that we all listened to.

I have to confess, I’ve never watched “Pretty in Pink”. Probably because my sister liked it so much. While “Sixteen Candles” and “Some Kind of Wonderful” seemed pretty lame.

Broderick & Hughes (from www.theawesome80s.net)

Broderick & Hughes (from www.theawesome80s.net)

But “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is the perfect distillation of John Hughes’ style. There’s the wildly eclectic soundtrack (everything from Yello to the Beatles to Wayne Newton); the fabulous dialogue, and the mocking of authority often through extreme slapstick. No coincidence, that Hughes was a fan of Hal Roach, who made the great Laurel and Hardy films.

In an age when almost every children’s TV show mocks teachers and parents or plays pranks on them, it’s hard to believe how original Hughes’ jokes about grownups were. And how much charm there was to his characters. “Drillbit Taylor” scripted, like many other of his other recent screenplays under a pseudonym, showed Hughes was still doing it.

Barack Obama understood, of course.

His hugely successful internet election campaign culminated in a magnificent viral (see above) – Matthew Broderick reprising his Ferris Bueller role to exhort a nation of his peers – now many turned into middle aged parents and worker drones like their own parents before them – to unleash their inner teen and vote.

You could say John Hughes helped change the world.

About samiraahmed

Journalist. Writer. Broadcaster.
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