Friday, November 21, 2014

Does Ferris Bueller’s Day Off deserve a B?

            In the 1986 classic film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off directed by John Hughes, the main character, Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broadbent), is seen in many different ways by different people. To his parents, he is the perfect child. To his peers at school, he is the funny good-hearted friend. To his sister and dean of students Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) he is a lying, cheating, manipulative 17-year-old boy who never gets caught cutting class.  
            Faking sick several times already during the school year by lying to his parents, Ferris is down to his last day of cutting class. If he is caught he will be forced to attend summer school. He along with his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) and his best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) spend a fun filled day exploring downtown Chicago, doing whatever they can to avoid Ferris’ parents, his sister Jeanie (Jennifer Grey) and Mr. Rooney.


            By using the Representation Test I explain the criteria involved that resulted in giving this film a B. On the Representation Test page, the test is described as, “ A media literacy tool meant to spark learning and conversation around representation in film, and to encourage more overall diversity on screen and behind-the-scenes in Hollywood.” The test is broken up into 6 sections: Women, Men, LGBT People, People with Disabilities and Bonus Points.

             The first section, Women, is focused on how women are portrayed in the film. In Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the film scored three points in this section. The film scored a point in “does the film include one or more women of color, in speaking roles, who are NOT reduced to racial stereotypes.” There is one character in the film, an African American nurse, who has a minor role. The nurse is part of Ferris’ plan to get his girlfriend out of school. The nurse delivers news to Sloane that her grandmother has passed away and that her father is going to pick her up from school. Even though the nurse has a minor role, she still has a speaking role, and there are no racial stereotypes towards the character, so I believed this justified rewarding the film a point. This example can also be used for the film accumulating another point in the Women section. The next category is, “Does the film represent women in speaking roles with diverse body types?” The African American nurse could be classified as a little overweight. These criteria could be viewed as controversial but the test is not specific enough so I thought this justified awarding it another point. The final point was earned for, “Does the film represent women as more than “objects for the male gaze”?” There are no examples in the film where the men are viewing any woman just for their looks. Some might argue that Sloane, Ferris’ girlfriend, is an attractive young woman, but she is represented as more than just a girlfriend but as a best friend as well. Even though some of these arguments could go either way, the test is not specific enough to prevent me from awarding these points. Now on to the Men section.
            In the Men section, the film earned three points as well. The first point was earned for, “Does the film avoid glorifying violent men?” Ferris is not the stereotypical, Hollywood, high school popular male. Ferris is not an athlete. He is not a big, strong guy. Most importantly he is not violent so I awarded the film a point for this. The film also earned a point for, “Does the film avoid perpetuating an extreme and unhealthy body ideal for men?” The film does the exact opposite. One could argue that all of the men in this film look skinny and healthy. The final point was earned for, “Does the film include men in non-stereotypical roles? (i.e. caregiver, competent involved parent, etc.). I might get some criticism for giving the film a point for this, but let me tell you my reasoning. Ferris’ dad, in one scene of the movie calls to check in on Ferris from his office downtown. Stereotypical men tend to be busy at work all day and don’t call to check in on their children if they are sick, they expect the mother to do that. So with that said, I thought the Dad took on a caregiver role, so I gave it a point.
            Moving on to the next section, Race, Ethnicity & Culture, there is only one point possible. The point is described as, “Does the film avoid celebrating offensive racial, ethnic, and cultural stereotypes?” There is one scene in the film where Ferris is participating in a parade where people from all different backgrounds are singing and dancing to “The Twist and Shout”. I thought the film prevented any stereotypes by taking a popular song and filming many different races of people from different backgrounds altogether having a great time.
            The film received no points in the LGBT People, People with Disabilities and Bonus Points sections. These sections focus on if any characters with speaking roles are homosexual or a person with a disability, which this film does not have.
            It seems that for this particular film, the movie scored well for on the scene things but not well for behind the scene things. The film received no points for things like, directed or written by a woman or a person of color, or a person with disabilities.
            Overall the moving scored a grade of B, but in my opinion everyone can score the Representation Test differently. This test allows the scorer to make all the decisions and use their own personal criteria to make their decisions. For example, something that is viewed as stereotypical might be different for you than it is for me.
            With that being said I think the test is a good scoring system on a personal level but not on a public level. The way this test could improve is by making the sections more specific. This will allow each person to make their decisions because everyone has different views on some of these topics.  

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