I watched “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” over Christmas and, more recently, “Dazed and Confused“. I wish I could measure the correlation between those two (and possibly others in the same vein) and the state of our planet in 2017.
I might be biased here… I can’t stop thinking about David Hopkins’ thought provocative article on “Friends” and I think my opinion is a by-product of it as opposed to coming to be on its own. Nonetheless, here’s what I think: if you grew up in the late ’80s / early ’90s then you watched these movies at a stage of your life when “impressions” had a big impact in shaping your character. If you did, then how influenced were you by their tone and message?
Ferris, the hero of the movie, is a guy who skips school, has no respect for authority, drags others alongside him, lies, cheats and thinks of himself as the smartest guy in the Universe. It’s a mistake to interpret this as the irreverence of a Rebel who wants to stand up against the status quo. When the chips are down, he’s nothing but an idiot.
The characters in Dazed and Confused are not that much better: they destroy public property for fun, have no respect for the environment and present public humiliation acts as “rites of passage” that are meant to “build character”.
I get that not all movies are written with the purpose of changing the world or making it a better place. I love Richard Linklater’s work and I honestly believe that he was probably just trying to portray a reality that is certainly a lot closer to him than what it is (or could ever be) to me. But going back to the title of this post, how much of an influence did movies like these have in shaping the world we live in today? A world where discrimination based on gender, religion, sexual choice is still everyday news? Is it that hard to imagine the folks from Uber that Susan J. Fowler described in her recent article as the kind of people who would watch these movies and have a really good laugh (and think its OK)? Is it that much of a stretch of the imagination to correlate an audience who finds these pieces of art “great” to a population that is complacent towards a climate change crisis?
Perhaps these are bad examples of the point I’m trying to make or perhaps I’m not presenting it will enough… I think the poor state of our planet in 2017 owes a lot to the poor cultural content served from the 80s onwards (and I find these two movies to be prime examples of it).
I could go on and start talking about Big Brother and Fox News but this post is already long enough and I have a bag of carrots waiting for me in the fridge.