RIP John Hughes ... Conservative? Politicizing Ferris Bueller

Was he a Hollywood conservative? Do we really care?


By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

The Corner's Kathryn Jean Lopez reprints an email from a reader with excerpts from Ferris Bueller's Day Off including one where Ferris tweaks his uncle for being a Vietnam hypocrite, one in which the three main characters hint at being anti-abortion, and a third in which a Russian cab driver says America is better than the U.S.S.R. All of this is presented as evidence to suggest that the late, great director was a conservative. There are a couple of problems with this line of argument.

First, none of these scenes appear in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. According to something called the Internet Movie Script Database, all of the scenes are from the movie's shooting script, which was written by Hughes. But director Hughes apparently didn't see fit to leave them in the movie. Why were the lines in originally and why were they taken out? Who knows. (Former Nixon speechwriter Ben Stein was cast in Bueller ... could that have been a secret shout-out to the great silent majority? It's ... the DaBueller Code.)

And more importantly--and here's the bigger problem with this line of argument--who cares? Hughes' films are for me, like many 30-somethings, cultural touchstones. Would I enjoy them more if I found out he was a raging liberal? Or would I banish them from memory if he was indeed a conservative? No. Sometimes a movie is just a movie, after all.

But as I've noted before, conservatives seem to have a special fixation with finding political messages and meaning in film, and not just the ones that are obviously political films. Hence the various lists of best conservative movies of all time. If you doubt me Google "best liberal movies" and you'll find the top result is a list of conservative movies. And most of the top search results are written by ... conservatives. ("Ten Liberal Movies So Lame They Make Even Democrats Want to Vote Republican") The progressive contribution to the search results comes from DailyKos, put together in response to an NRO list of best conservative movies.

The whole thing rather reminds me of the occasional Marxist nutters one would run across in college who would try to read patriarchal this or class-based that into everything.

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