So, this isn’t going to be a particularly thorough entry, but I recently rewatched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and really just couldn’t quite move on without writing something about it.
There are a lot of different ways to classify the ships/pairings that I write about on this blog and my reasons for writing about them. I’ve recently realized that a lot of my brother/sister ships are sort of template ships. What I mean by that is that it isn’t just the specific brother and sister and their specific relationship that appeals to me, but the type of relationship they have – their dynamic – and the inherent possibilities in that dynamic. The template is an outline, easily filled in with other characters in stories that run parallel. This mostly applies when the characters are stereotypes or slightly over-the-top, or when there is an easily-definable trait that makes their relationship fun to ship
For example, Axl and Sue Heck from The Middle fit a template because they have extreme personalities which conflict with each other in a very ship-teasing way. Nuada and Nuala from Hellboy II: The Golden Army fit/make-up a template because there is a supernatural element to their twin-ness so that what happens to one affects the other. Zuko and Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender fit a template because they are rivals for their parents’ affections and enemies. I mean, those are all gross oversimplifications, but you get the idea. They aren’t just relationships, they are types of relationships. And one could take those traits – the template – and apply them to a new story, a new relationship.
And I think the same is very much the case for Jeanie and Ferris Bueller from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Because I do ship them specifically, and while I am watching the movie I am constantly spinning things towards that end, but I think the greatest shipping appeal is simply in their easily described dynamic and not in a certain je-ne-sais-quoi unique to that specific pairing. (For example, I do not think that I could take what’s between Cesare and Lucrezia on The Borgias and easily apply it to a different set of characters, if I, say, wanted to write an original story about a similar relationship. The same with John and Sam from Doom, for another example, or Michael and Lindsay from Arrested Development. There’s just something very particular that comes about from those characters in that situation that just can’t be recreated and applied in a parallel fashion elsewhere without being a very direct and obvious copy.) I mean, Jeanie and Ferris barely have any scenes together, so it’s not as if they have all of these sexual tension-laden moment or amazing chemistry. It’s really more an intellectual (ha!) study on the potential of such a dynamic leading to an incestuous relationship. (Though, the few scenes that Jeanie and Ferris do have are pretty charged, in my humble and biased opinion.)
I always just assume that everyone loves Ferris Bueller’s Day Off because I have always considered it to be a well-known classic that is rather universally enjoyable, but perhaps that’s a faulty assumption. For those of you unfamiliar with the movie, it’s a 1986 teen comedy from the formidable oeuvre of John Hughes (Home Alone, Sixteen Candles, etc.). Matthew Broderick plays Ferris Bueller, an extremely popular, charismatic, and revered high school student who pretends to be sick to skip school and takes his girlfriend Sloan and his tightly-wound friend Cameron on a whirlwind day of adventure as graduation looms over them, while their principal and Ferris’ sister Jeanie (played by Jennifer Grey) try to bust him.
(I always thought of Jeanie as the older sister until I actually thought about it and realized that since Ferris is a senior and they go to school together, either they’re twins or she’s younger. Sloan is also a year younger.)
Ferris is loved by everyone; he’s able to do pretty much what he wants and always gets away with it, and this drives Jeanie crazy. Particularly since she doesn’t seem to be able to get away with anything.
The parallels with Candace and her brothers on Phineas and Ferb are fairly obvious to anyone familiar with both stories. Both Candace and Jeanie are filled with resentment and obsessed with getting their bold, clever, and charming brothers into trouble merely for the pleasure of it, and both end up getting themselves into trouble instead.
The movie begins with Ferris pretending to be sick, his parents fawning over him while Jeanie sees right through his lie from the start. Ferris makes no attempt to hide the truth from her, even asking her to help with his deception.
Jeanie, of course, shares her suspicions with her parents immediately, thrilled by the idea of Ferris not getting away with his ruse:
I’m not really sure what she’s doing here.
Ferris’ name is well-known around their smallish town, and after he makes a few calls to acquaintances at school to vaguely describe his illness, news of his sickness spreads and mutates so that Jeanie can’t walk from one door to another at school without being asked of his condition or to donate money for a fund for him, which just fuels her resentment.
She’s kind of a bitch, but I like that because she’s the complete opposite of Ferris, and I love the opposites thing.
Ferris’ friend Cameron is also the opposite of him – reserved, neurotic, repressed. Ferris ropes him into the day’s activities against his will, recruiting him first to help get Sloan excused from class.
The funny thing is that the principal isn’t even suspicious at first, just saying, “So that’s how it is in their family” with slight distaste, as if he were looking down on them for having dinner at McDonald’s rather than passionately kissing on the mouth! Kind of makes me wonder what they get up to in that town.
Obviously I’m rooting for Ferris and Jeanie here, but I do actually like Ferris and Sloan quite a bit, especially considering they’re already dating when the movie begins. (It’s probably worth repeating that I’m not usually that into established relationships. I prefer the build up.) They just seem to have a really nice relationship (a little boring for a movie, though) and to be in a really good place with each other. Ferris basically says that he wants to marry her, so he considers it to be serious.
But it behooves me to point out that in one of the final scenes, when he’s racing through the neighborhood to make it back into his bed before his parents get home, he actually stops and introduces himself to two girls who were sunbathing in bikinis. I mean, not only did he see two hot girls and go and flirt with them, but he was actually sprinting to get back to his house, in serious danger of making it back too late, and still he stopped to talk to them. So, clearly, he doesn’t only have eyes for Sloan.
I actually ship Sloan with Cameron quite a bit. I know, if it walks and talks and looks like pair the spares then it probably is. But I’m actually not sure if I shipped Sloan and Cameron first, before I ever shipped Ferris and Jeanie. I can’t remember.
Due to all of Cameron’s personality issues, he really needs to be with someone as well-adjusted as Sloan is. I don’t want to do Sloan the disservice of calling her personality-challenged, but as far as I can tell, she’s written as perfect. She has just the right amount of everything. She’s fun-loving but responsible, funny but serious when it’s appropriate, etc. Even though Ferris and Cameron have been the best of friends forever, and Cameron really needs Ferris to bring some excitement and light-heartedness and perspective to his life, there are also a lot of problems in their friendship and Cameron resents him quite a bit. Cameron doesn’t need someone who is the opposite of him like Ferris, he needs someone sane and balanced like Sloan. (Just to illustrate: Cameron and Jeanie would be the worst couple ever – a complete disaster.)
I don’t think the fact that he wanted to see her naked means that they’re meant to be together, but it’s still nice that there was a hint of interest. And I think it’s interesting that she asked him, especially since she never chastises him, she just states comfortably that she’s not embarrassed. And I don’t think that she was embarrassed, but she did seem a little…I don’t know. It’s a very odd little exchange.
Ferris wasn’t bothered at all, which I loved. That he is that confident in his relationship with Sloan unfortunately makes me like them even more, but what I really appreciated was how it reflected on the Ferris/Cameron relationship.
When they were talking alone with each other, they didn’t just talk about Ferris. And all of the times that Cameron freaks out, Sloan is very attentive. She reaches the perfect medium between mollycoddling him and just wanting him to snap out of it, like Ferris.
Ferris is full of trinkets of wisdom that he shares directly with the viewers. One of them is that you can’t respect someone who kisses your ass. And he meant it in an entirely different context, but it made me think right way about his relationship with Jeanie. She seems to be the only person on the planet (except for Rooney, the principal) who doesn’t think he’s the most amazing thing ever. Given how effortlessly charming he is, I think he’s definitely better off with someone who has a grounded opinion of him, who isn’t going to be swept away by a smile and a speech. Even Cameron and Sloan marvel and adore him, particularly Sloan.
I also like the idea of Jeanie being the one person that Ferris doesn’t try to charm. Realizing it never works on her, he gets to be fully himself. I mean, I wouldn’t say he’s not real with Cameron or with Sloan. But we see the way he is deceptive with the staff at school, with the other students, with his parents. He’s definitely not that way with Jeanie. And I think, because he feels he has to maintain his relationships with Cameron and Sloan in a way that he doesn’t with Jeanie, she gets to see a whole other peeled back layer of him.
(The only thing Ferris seems to resent about Jeanie is the fact that she got a car and he got a computer. It’s the thing she tells herself to make herself feel better.)
At this point word of Ferris’ illness has spread so far that Save Ferris has actually been painted onto the town water tower, which Jeanie sees on her way home.
Ferris has rigged up an extremely complicated system involving a pre-recorded message and the doorbell/intercom, a snoring tape, and a mannequin in his bed hooked to his doorknob in order to fool anyone who comes by his house, including his mother. Jeanie smiles like the Grinch when she confirms that he’s not at home, and sets about getting him caught. But ends up running into the principal who has been stalking the house.
She calls the police on him (thinking he was just an intruder), but he gets away and she’s picked up by the police for making a phony call. (That bit seemed unrealistic. Even if it was a phony call, how could you prove it?)
She’s complaining about her younger brother, about how he can do whatever he wants, and never has to pay the price.
I mean, he makes some good points. But come on. She’s right that it’s not fair. It isn’t fair, and we’re shown that, especially when her mother comes to pick up and she’s in trouble for skipping school and the phone call thing. But she would also be a lot happier if she just let go of her resentment towards Ferris. In fact, she might even reap some benefits if she became part of his circle. (The same could be said about Candace a billion-fold. If she would just take advantage of her brothers’ skills instead of trying to bust them, she could be queen of Earth as well as Mars.) Of course that’s the last thing I want her to do.
Even if she wanted to get away from thinking about Ferris, it’s really not an option.
I think Bad Boy recommending that she talk to Ferris is just the perfect example of the fact that some of her frustrations are justified.
So, earlier in their conversation Bad Boy told her that she wears too much makeup. (It’s almost as misogynistic to tell a girl she’s wearing too much make up as it is to tell her that she ought to wear some.) And then he said that his younger sister wears too much make up too. So, we have him equating Jeanie to his younger sister. And then when he advises her to talk to Ferris, he’s equating himself to Ferris since he’s basically saying that he and Ferris have the same opinion about this, only that Ferris is better than him.
So, taking all that into consideration, I don’t really mind when they start making out. And they make a pretty good ship, if only in that moment. I think even as Jeanie’s making out with him she knows he’s not a good long-term investment.
Jeanie is in a much better mood when she leaves the police station, even if her mother is angry with her. But then she drives right into Ferris when he’s crossing the street (while their mother is looking away), and their eyes meet through the windshield, and he can see it in her face that she’s determined to get him busted. So he takes off running even after, and she begins driving like a mad woman so that she can get back to the house first and show their mother that Ferris isn’t there.
The last time I watched this movie, a few years ago, I start writing a bunch of headfics about this part. Maybe an AU where they were on foot trying to beat each other home through a forest or park, all of that adrenaline and competitiveness sort of exploding in the moment.
Well, they get there at about the same time, but Rooney the principal is also there, hoping to bust Ferris as well, and holding the key that Ferris needs to get in through the back door.Jeanie (who is now apart from her mother), does a 180, and blackmails Rooney (because she found his wallet and had figured out that he was the intruder) into letting Ferris off, much to Ferris’ surprise and pleasure.
Ferris rushes up to his bed just before his mother comes up to check on him.
Thus endeth the movie.
I’d like to think Jeanie helping him out was sort of a one-time thing, just because I enjoy all of the antagonism. (Although the way she’s winking at him makes me think I’d probably enjoy whatever comes next.) I’m sure Jeanie will come down from her make-out high soon enough. I seriously doubt she is permanently enlightened. Even if she understands on an intellectual level that she is being immature about Ferris, that doesn’t mean she won’t still feel that resentment and be driven by it.
I don’t even know what this entry was. But I always think about Jeanie and Ferris when I watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, so I sort of felt like a little bit of discussion belonged on here.
I mentioned they were a sort of template ship. In this case, it’s the dynamic of the charmed-life brother and the sister who can’t get away with anything. Everyone loves the brother, no one likes the sister. This is a favorite dynamic of mine so it’s really no wonder that I’m going to take a big interest in any brother/sister relationship that falls into it.
And…I was just looking up some pictures, and found out that Matthew Broderick and Jennifer Grey STARTED DATING DURING THE FILMING OF THIS MOVIE. Someone commenting on a photo of them together even said that the fact that they were dating made the “weird tension” between Ferris and Jeanie even weirder. AWESOME. I love it when someone not even inclined to ship them thinks there was some sort of vibe.