Years ago, Elan, a former colleague at my satirical campus rag, secured a post as communications commissioner in our alma mater society and came up with the bright idea of making and selling T-shirts bearing the slogan “Save Ferris”. As I’ve often had to explain, this had nothing to do with the band by that name. Both the T-shirt and the band’s name refer to the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, in which the titular character fakes sick in order to play hooky from school; one of the jokes is that rumours of his impending demise spread to the point that his worried fellow students start raising money for a kidney transplant to save Ferris. So, Elan thought it would be neat if he could get our entire student body to wear “Save Ferris” T-shirts as a salute to the film.
This never quite ended up working out, but I was one of the few who bought one of these T-shirts, and I’m glad I did, partly because it’s been much-admired over the years but also because it’s turned out to be damned near indestructible, surviving more than a decade of regular wear and thus providing excellent value for the fifteen bucks I originally paid. I’m wearing it right now, in fact.
A little while ago, one of my co-workers noticed my shirt and read the slogan on the front. “Save … Ferris,” he said, slowly sounding out the syllables.
“Not the band,” I wearily began to explain. “It’s a reference to the movie.”
“Like … a ferris wheel?”
I blinked. “Ferris Bueller.”
He stood there with an uncomprehending look on his face.
“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” I said.
“You haven’t seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?”
“I’ve never heard of it,” he said.
“What year were you even born?” I asked.
“Well, there you go,” I said. “It came out in 1986.”
“I’ll go Google it,” he said. “Then we can continue this conversation.”
When he gets back, I’m going to ask him how many Star Wars movies there were. If he says three, I’m going to cry. Or slap him. Or cry while slapping him.
I’m not the only one crying. “Oh my God, say you are joking! That is tragic!” says my friend Mary Beth. “I keep hearing this cheesy remake on the dance stations of ‘Africa’ by Toto and I always think how these kids just think it’s some new song. They have no idea that it’s a classic 80’s track! We are ancient!”
I know what she means. This seems to happen every time an ironic cover of a cheesy ’80s song becomes a one-hit wonder for some pop-punk band, like Alien Ant Farm’s “Smooth Criminal”, the Ataris’ “Boys of Summer”, and Orgy’s “Blue Monday” — and Save Ferris’ version of “Come On Eileen”, for that matter.
I suppose it’s not worth getting worked up over. I should just try to relax. Maybe I’ll take my high-school friend Kobie’s suggestion on Monday morning and show up wearing my “Frankie Say Relax” T-shirt.
* * *
Incidentally, not all of my co-workers are unfamiliar with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Another one says he used to watch it regularly until he suddenly realized that Ferris Bueller was actually a spoiled brat and couldn’t stomach the film anymore. This is much like when my mother, previously a fan of Murder She Wrote, abruptly gave up the show upon realizing that Jessica Fletcher was just a meddling old biddy.
I’ve never had this problem with the film. Ferris Bueller essentially did his penance for being a smart-alecky little jerk when Matthew Broderick, the actor who portrayed him, essentially took on the role of Bueller’s nemesis, Dean of Students Ed Rooney, when he later played the antagonistic history teacher in Election.
I never watched the Ferris Bueller TV show, but that’s mostly because I blinked and missed it. Critically maligned as the TV version was, I’m glad it existed, because it made for an interesting coincidence. The TV version featured a young Jennifer Aniston as Ferris’s sister Jeannie, a role previously played on the big screen by Jennifer Grey. Aniston, of course, went on to much greater success as Rachel Green on the sitcom Friends. At the beginning of that series, Rachel had just left her fiancé, Barry Farber, at the altar; however, he rebounded and later married Rachel’s best friend Mindy, who was played by one Jennifer Grey. So, where Jennifer Aniston had once succeeded Jennifer Grey in the role of Ferris Bueller’s sister, Grey later succeeded Aniston in the role of Barry Farber’s fiancée. (In real life, by the way, each actress dated the actor who played her brother, which is faintly disgusting — Aniston dated TV Ferris Charlie Schlatter, while Grey was engaged to Broderick.) Also, where Aniston’s character Rachel is significant for having had a nose job that dramatically altered her appearance, Jennifer Grey had one in real life.
Anyway, I never had a problem with Ferris Bueller, but I did refuse to watch the other TV show inspired by the film, Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. Why would I watch a show called Parker Lewis Can’t Lose? Where’s the drama? What’s the point of watching, if you know the main character’s always going to win? You can’t cheer for the underdog. I’d be much more interested in a show called Parker Lewis Can’t Win. I’d rather watch a Fox sitcom about a sad sack who always loses, and I know I’m not alone. This is why we got only three seasons of Parker Lewis, but eleven of Al Bundy.
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