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  • Siegel’s Brain’s Day Off

    Posted by Shannon Love on June 15th, 2011 (All posts by )

    Noted internet alcoholic Stephen Green takes the pseudo-intellectual Alan Siegel to the woodshed for Siegel’s pompous and error filled critique of the John Hughes ’80s classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

    Here’s my take:

    Siegel is simply revealing his own egocentrism in his review. In the guise of lambasting Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, he is really shouting, “This movie isn’t about me! It doesn’t make people think about me and how I should be more important!”

    Siegel wants people to care more about the political issues Siegel is publicly identified with and by extension to make Siegel more important. Virtually all leftist criticism of art comes down to this dynamic. They like art about themselves and art that makes them feel more important. It’s kind of disturbing how deeply the modern American Left has absorbed the world view of the fascist and communist wherein politics was the only valid purpose of art.

    I think Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a great movie because it explores universal human themes.

    You could redo the movie’s story in almost any culture and people would relate to it. The movie explores the universal themes of the desire for freedom and the envy against those who have it. We all desire to be the kind of smooth operator that Bueller is. We would all like to have his charmed life. We would all at times like to escape the rules and roles we must follow. We all empathize with the characters like his sister who resents Bueller’s charmed existence because she follows the rules but he gets the greater rewards. We all envy those who do what we only fantasize about. (In my personal experience, people who have a strong negative reaction to characters like Bueller are individuals with envy issues.)

    The movie is clearly not intended to be taken literally. After all, Bueller’s escapades border on magical realism. Clearly they are amusingly symbolic. Bueller is the suburban avatar or perhaps the secret love child of the coyote spirit. He is rule breaking and mischief without serious consequence. We both adore him for his abilities but also resent him out of envy.

    I agree strongly with many of Green’s commenters that Cameron is the actual protagonist of the story and I think that Cameron’s plight is highly subversive to the leftists’ narrative. Siegel gives the game away when he says:

    Hughes’s other movies may not channel Dickens, but they’re at least populated with teenagers who’ve had it rougher than Ferris.

    By evoking Dickens, Siegel is clearly meaning “rougher” to mean material poverty but Cameron’s plight is one of material wealth and emotional starvation. Cameron has all the material benefits that leftists fantasize they can give the poor, but Cameron is still miserable to the point of suicide because of his emotional deprivation. The moral is that money doesn’t make you happy, family and friends make you happy. The moral is that it’s better to come from a poor but loving family than it is to come from a wealthy but unloving one. (All modern scientific research agrees, BTW.)

    This is a highly subversive subtext for leftists because it undermines their whole redistribution argument. They claim they will make people happy by redistributing material wealth even as they work to destroy the bonds between individuals. The last thing they want to see is a miserable wealthy character because they claim to make people happy by making them more wealthy.

    Siegel hates the movie because it subverts his arrogant and egocentric world view. It isn’t about him so he hates it. End of story.

    In this Siegel represents modern leftism, perhaps all of historical leftism, in a nutshell. He is so self-absorbed, and so certain that only the things that he cares about are truly important, that he can’t evaluate a work of art from any other perspective than of how it advances his own political agenda. It’s the Left’s world and the rest of us are just annoying bit-players or stage props. If you don’t cast the limelight onto people like Siegel, you’re just in the way.

     

    6 Responses to “Siegel’s Brain’s Day Off”

    1. Michael Kennedy Says:

      I am no expert on the movie having seen it maybe twice. Your take on it seems to me to apply equally to “Risky Business”, Tom Cruise’s best movie. That is also fantasy.

      The last thing they want to see is a miserable wealthy character because they claim to make people happy by making them more wealthy.

      I do disagree here. I think “wealthy” people are seen by leftists as cardboard figures of evil. Of course, they see all people that way. Lenin had no interest in people. They want to make the poor happy, not wealthy. Often, because of their own twisted logic, their definition of “happy” would not fit any image appealing to the actual, real live poor.

      The best example of the thinking of leftist students, not leaders, is in a video made of a protest at Columbia several years ago. The leader of the protest refuses an offer of bottled water that the university makes to placate the agitators. The leftists then have a discussion about whether it is “corporate” water. They have no more idea of what a corporation is than they do of the aspirations of the poor.

    2. sol vason Says:

      The problem is the liberal obsession with asking questions. Ferris asks questions. They just happen to be the wrong questions. They are liberal questions and he generates liberal answers.

      Why do we have private property? Why can’t we just share — especially things that belong to others. (Liberals do get touchy over intellectual property — that’s one place where liberals claim ownership needs respect).

      They ask: What is right? What is wrong?

      Society exists because people cannot survive and reproduce alone. Society cannot exist without harmony. Prisons have harmony. So do free markets. Liberals are attracted to the predictability and presumed equality of prison life.

      Some of us like the unpredictability and inequalities of free markets.

    3. Paul Milenkovic Says:

      Haven’t seen the movie, but I have seen the Ben Stein “Bueller . . . Bueller?” clip.

      Having been on both sides of the fourth wall in the classroom, Ben Stein’s rendition of the boring Social Studies teacher is beyond priceless.

      But it isn’t just the boring Social Studies class period, it is also the topic: Economics, where Stein delivers a Conservative/Libertarian polemic on the contrast between Reagan cutting taxes and boosting the economy and Republicans of an earler time raising taxes (the Hawley-Smoot Tariff) and wrecking the economy. And the ensemble acting of the students — the guy asleep, mouth open and drooling, the gal with the bubble gum, Ben Stein not caring that any of this is going on.

      I mean who wrote that scene where Stein lectures on Reaganomics and in a Hollywood movie of all places? Did they let Ben Stein simply play himself as the son of Herbert Stein and ad lib this? And then the woman student who is called upon to attempt to explain where Bueller is and her convoluted hearsay explanation of what a friend told a friend about Bueller being ill . . . if that doesn’t have you in stitches, nothing will.

      As to the rest of the movie, however, I cannot tell you. But this one scene, one of the classics of moviedom.

    4. James R. Rummel Says:

      “We all desire to be the kind of smooth operator that Bueller is. We would all like to have his charmed life. We would all at times like to escape the rules and roles we must follow. We all empathize with the characters like his sister who resents Bueller’s charmed existence because she follows the rules but he gets the greater rewards. We all envy those who do what we only fantasize about.”

      You have just defined the appeal of entertainment with murderous gangsters as the protagonists, such as The Sapranos.

      Let us not forget that the great villain of the picture is Mr. Rooney, the hapless school principal who is doing nothing more than his job. And he is punished greatly for it, as well.

    5. Current Says:

      Ferris Bueller’s day off is very similar to another great movie:
      http://boingboing.net/2010/07/15/ferris-club-fight-cl.html

      I think that comparison brings to the forefront the internal problems people have with Ferris Bueller’s day off that they have a problem articulating. If you read the book “The Game”, especially the parts about Tyler Durden, it makes even more sense.

    6. Shannon Love Says:

      James R. Rummel,

      Let us not forget that the great villain of the picture is Mr. Rooney, the hapless school principal who is doing nothing more than his job. And he is punished greatly for it, as well.

      That was not my interpretation. At no point does Rooney voice that he is worried that Bueller skipping school will hurt Bueller and that it is Rooney’s job and duty to protect the child from himself. Instead Roony is a petty tyrant who sees Bueller’s flaunting of the rules as a personal affront to Rooney’s own ego. A real dutiful principal would never abandon his school for an entire day to go out and personally track down a truant student. That Roony does indicates it is ego and duty and concern that motivates Rooney.

      You can see in Rooney a cautionary parable about being to trusting in rules and authority. People in authority aren’t always trustworthy and don’t always use their granted authority in way the people intended. (Of course, the writers probably just created Rooney as the most obvious foil for Bueller and didn’t have any grand symbolism in mind.)

      We need tricksters and even outlaws constantly pushing against authority to keep authority honest and dutiful. There must always be a space uncontrolled by the state even if that produces short-term harms like crime. There needs to be an underground available when things get bad.