I originally hadn’t planned on posting anything about John Hughes, as I was a fan but not an obsessive one, plus I think we’re all choking on the noxious
fumes of over-saturated celebrity tributes this summer. But then I remembered that Hughes directed and wrote Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and that’s the movie that got me into college. How, you ask? First, in honor of that terribly difficult task, let’s watch the Diplo remix of the Twist and Shout scene.
So when tackling the college essay when I was applying for schools some lost millennium ago, you had the option of several essay questions. The one I chose was “Talk about a piece of art work that has influenced your life, and how.”
Instead of picking to talk about obvious things that fit this description, like a book (the choice probably would have been Catcher in the Rye at this point in my life, though it also possibly may have been any number of Dean Koontz books that had a particular impact on my upbringing, particularly Night Chills, wherein I had my first encounter with the Literary Boob Shot), or a movie (Batman, obvs) or art (which you may be surprised to learn there was a dearth of in Ocean County, NJ, save of course for the tie-dyed sign of Tie One On at the boardwalk or the occasional MTV-
commissioned beach-house mural, which did influence my life in so much as it gave me the divine purpose of dedicating myself to never having to hear Jesse Camp’s voice again, which is heading towards a major win).
But instead, I chose to write about Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, a movie I had watched no shortage of times on TBS and, indeed, did hold a special place in my heart, but was probably chosen more out of a desire to be different and a lack of cultural exposure on my part.
The essay (which I hope to crap does not still exist somewhere as I would hate to be reminded of the low writing standards of our nation’s college admissions offices) focused on the nature of the impact the static character (Ferris) had on the dynamic characters (Jeanie, Sloane and, of course, Cameron), and the whole of the I’m sure relatively short essay was a treatise on the value of seizing the moment.
Had I a blog back then and the endless repository for speculation it provides, I could have ruminated further on the deeper text of the movie, the ubiquitous nature of rote boredom and the human desire to escape from it, the idea that the popular concept of “adulthood” is misguided and obsolete (a theme underscored when Ferris asks Sloane to marry him on a whim), tempered with the perpetual desire of the new generation on the cusp of adulthood to recraft the world in a freer, nobler, less provincial version of the one our parents left behind, one that embraces the wonder-lust appeal of education in the twists and turns of the adventurous life and rejects the Ben Stein hammer-on-nail education in a context vacuum.
But this was high school, and I didn’t. I included this quote at the top of the page: ” Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” I got into school. The school I got into was George Washington University, where I would two years later run away from as a broken, beaten, bruised transfer student thousands of dollars in debt and tired of dealing with asshats who thought the winners of the gd student elections immediately took up residence in the White House and were awarded a staff of fertile interns.
I wrote my transfer essay for Maryland on how much like a gingerbread house the GW experience was. Ferris Bueller was not mentioned at all. But if I had just sat around lamenting my situation like Cameron in his bed, I would never have left and I would have had a much more unpleasant college experience.
So thanks to John Hughes and Ferris for getting me into college. But looking
back, I probably should have written my essay about the Hughes-penned movie Dutch, just so I could tell at least one more person in the world how terribly underrated that movie is. What college that would have gotten me into, I can only wonder.