“(Shake it up, baby) Twist and shout” –
The Isley Brothers, The Beatles, Ferris Bueller… Bueller?… Bueller?…
Sometimes I marvel at the wondrous, magical buffet of endless choices and possibilities known as the internet. I have two pieces of vintage 80’s photography equipment. One is the all plastic One Button Polaroid camera produced and sold beginning sometime around 1981. The other piece is my (one-time parents’) GE HQ Movie Video System camcorder for VHS circa 1988.
I took many a picture with my One Button back in the 80’s, but the main problem was the fact that the SX-70 instant film only contained a maximum of 10 photos. I could run through 10 photos really fast and my parents were not exactly going to keep funding the random photography whims of a preteen between 1981 and ’83.
The first VHS camcorders were released in 1987, so I thought this piece of equipment that my parents purchased was about the coolest thing ever. I used it all the time – family holidays, events, music videos, and driving around with some of my best friends in high school and college. I have hours and hours of old VHS tapes still sitting in a large tub in my garage just begging to be digitized. Some of my friends are begging that they don’t ever become digitized. I even found a brand new (still wrapped in plastic) VHS tape in that same storage container.
For the past few years, my workplace has always held their annual Christmas party in January after the hustle and bustle of the holidays. I suppose these things are not rare and practically en vogue now. The planning committee gathered a few months ago and (to my positive support) settled on an 80’s themed holiday party, so I thought I would add some authenticity to a party that was going to be attended by many that were not even born by the time the 80’s wound to an end nearly 34 years ago. The only problem is that I had no idea if either piece of equipment still functioned.
So one weekday night I sat down with both pieces and my computer. A very quick search on Amazon resulted in finding easily available film for the camera (now reduced to 8 photo packs). For the camcorder, I was able to plug it into a wall outlet and it worked. The two batteries I had in the case didn’t, so another quick search of Amazon and voila’ a battery was found and ordered as well as the film for the camera and a flash bar to make the already dark photos just a little less dark. Both packages arrived fairly quickly and I was able to test each piece of equipment. Both functioned initially so the next thing was to determine what my wife and I would wear to this event.
After gnashing of teeth and sleepless nights (ok not really), but after hours of internet research that included researching fashion styles for the preppy look, the prom look, the rock star look, and even the Miami Vice look, we settled on a classic 80’s movie look – Ferris Bueller and his girlfriend, Sloane Peterson.
Thankfully, the rumors that had begun to spread about my wife and I not being able to attend proved false. Apparently, my best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who’s going with the girl who saw me apparently pass out at 31 Flavors one night. Everyone thought it was pretty serious. It wasn’t, and so off we went.
“You know you twist, little girl
You know you twist so fine
Come on and twist a little closer now
And let me know that you’re mine, woo”
For many latchkey kids, Ferris represented an idealism of sorts. He represented escape and pure freedom back in 1986 and a laissez faire attitude. It was freedom from parents, teachers, and generally anyone in authority. Some 37 years later, Ferris still represents those things but also represents a more innocent, simpler time in the lives of those of us who grew up in the 80’s. We can also give ourselves a different perspective through the experienced eyes of parents and even grandparents in some instances.
John Hughes classic still holds up over time and I think most of us, with years of experience behind us, can find new appreciation in the characters John created for the movie- not just Ferris, but in the underrated girlfriend Sloane Peterson, bitter, jealous sister Jeanie Bueller who gets some words of wisdom in the police station from a young Charlie Sheen, and especially in best friend, the cynical and downtrodden Cameron Frye, whom has issues with his father and needed the day off more than anyone.
“Come on, come on, come, come on, baby, now
Come on and work it on out”
When my wife and daughter and I went to Chicago seven years ago, we visited the former Sears Tower now known as the Willis Tower where Ferris and Sloane and Cameron visit during their skip day. The Willis Tower even pays homage to the movie on the 103rd floor where you can buy memorabilia or take an iconic photo looking down from the glass windows.
Myself on the left with fake Sloane Peterson and fake Cameron Frye to my right.
Today’s song version was over 20 years old by the time this movie was released, but thanks to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” (and to a lesser degree Rodney Dangerfield’s “Back to School,”) the Beatles’ version of “Twist and Shout” reemerged onto the top 40 peaking at #23 in the summer of 1986. John Hughes was a huge Beatles’ fan and was rumored to have listened to The White Album everyday for 56 straight days during filming of the movie. “I quote John Lennon, ‘I don’t believe in the Beatles, I just believe in me.’ Good point there. After all, he was the walrus. I could be the walrus.”
***As an aside, the creators of “Cobra Kai” are working on production of a Paramount Pictures feature titled “Sam and Victor’s Day Off.” If you’ll recall, in the original film, Sam and Victor were the valets who took Cameron’s father’s red Ferrari on a joyride through the city. No release date has been announced yet, but I do look forward to seeing what those two crazy valets did on their own day off of sorts.
The late John Hughes wrote the screenplay with Matthew Broderick in mind, so shake it up, baby and enjoy the next three and a half minutes from a movie that was the 10th highest grossing film of 1986. And no, the DJ at my party never played “Twist and Shout.” I’ll forgive him though as he looked a little too young to know any better.
As always, danke schoen for reading these sometimes silly posts. I really hope you get a day very soon where you just spend it being in the moment with good friends or family and enjoying every fleeting moment, because always remember…
………… You’re still here? It’s over!