Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is the best of John Hughes’s teen films, no contest. And Cameron Frye is one of his most compelling young characters. Alan Ruck plays him flawlessly, and one of my favorite things about Alan Ruck is his lovely, cartoonishly expressive face. Ferris is my top Hughes’s joint (and one of my all-times, period) because it strikes such a perfect balance between his tendencies toward the surreal, and his knack for realistically depicting young torment. There’s essentially no cheese (cough, cough, BREAKFASTCLUB, cough), the slapstick is nuanced and clever (cough, cough, WEIRDSCIENCE, hack, cough), and it’s just perfect. Cameron is a particularly great character because his angst is so relatable. He carries the weight of the world on his shoulders, and it has a very easy time of crushing him. His and my baggage don’t come from the exact same place, thankfully (my parents are not destructively cold, repressive, or intimidating). But I definitely feel an affinity for the imperfect, fearful, angry neurotics of the world. And that feeling grows as I get older and more and more existential.

Cameron Frye is definitely on the old tribute wishlist that I’ve mentioned before. It feels good to be making some decent headway within it, finally. Nothing really compares to the excitement you feel when you’re young and you find something new that you love. Lots of grand ideas floated through my head when I was in the throes of my Beatles infatuation, and my Clash worship, and all that. But I didn’t know where to start then, and I wasn’t sure I could tackle them, so I just wrote them down and carried on. Now I know I can finally do it and it feels awesome (except for the CURSED ACHES AND PAINS, BLEURGH). These bigger tributes are taking me longer than I’d like. Sometimes the ideas seemingly won’t come. But as Mr. Strummer says: “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistance. Talent will not. There is nothing more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not. The world if full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” Phew. How can we not love Joe?

Several years ago, it struck me for the first time that it was possible for me to utterly fail. It was a slow dread realization that dragged on throughout the year. It’s the absolute worst thing about growing up. I could feel the wheel starting to roll on without me. I felt doomed. And then I stepped back and knew that all that was shit. After all, we’re just the Pale Blue Dot. Some obstacles– like making enough money, dammit– feel impenetrable. But if we all die in the end, it’s probably worthwhile to try to get over them, right? So I started thinking seriously about how to use that new point of view. In that process, I drew inspiration from things like Cameron’s passionate monologue at the film’s climax. And I finally understood the movie.

“No, forget it. Forget it. I gotta take a stand. I’m bullshit. I put up with everything. My old man pushes me around, I never say anything! Well he’s not the problem, I’m the problem. I gotta take a stand. I gotta take a stand against him. I am not gonna sit on my ass as the events that affect me unfold to determine the course of MY life; I’m gonna take a stand. I’m gonna defend it. Right or wrong, I’m gonna defend it.”

I still spend a lot of time ruminating apprehensively on my future. I still sometimes fear that I am doomed, that there’s no more time, etc. But, I do my best to always put my foot down when I close those thoughts. Because ultimately, despite how insistently outside forces might hold me down, I am in charge.

(You can purchase a print of this piece here.)

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