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How Ferris Bueller's Day Off Epitomizes Gordie Howe Legacy
On June 10th, 2016, the hockey world lost one of its biggest icons when Gordie Howe passed away at the age of 88. The all-time hockey great wasn’t just a brilliant player but also a remarkable sports personality. Howe embodied all the qualities of a hockey player: he was tough and rugged but also humorous and charming in his own way.
His popularity transcended beyond the National Hockey League most evident in works of pop culture like John Hughes’s classic, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in 1986. Ironically, Howe’s death was one-day shy from coinciding with the movie’s 30th-year anniversary.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off Red Wings Jersey
The film takes place in Chicago where three high school students led by Ferris Bueller (played by Matthew Broderick) go gallivanting around the city during school hours. Howe is indirectly a central character in the story as seen by his eponymous number “9” Detroit Red Wings jersey being worn by Cameron Frye (played by Alan Ruck), the titular character’s best friend.
Cameron is arguably the most interesting character of the film as he goes through many internal conflicts. On one hand, he is a devoted friend to Ferris and on the other, he is bound by his responsibilities towards his strict father.
It’s curious that Frye wears a Howe jersey despite being a Chicago kid and the Red Wings being an archrival to the home city’s Blackhawks. This oddity was not done by accident and serves as a security blanket for the heavily-tormented Cameron whose long face was both literal and metaphorical.
According to Ruck, Hughes decided Cameron’s relationship with his father would be horrible but his relationship with his grandfather would be better. As a child, Cameron’s grandfather, who lived in Detroit, took him to Red Wings games. It is never really fully explained beyond this but one can assume Cameron wears the jersey as either a tribute to his childhood memories of his grandfather and as a rebellious gesture towards his father.
“It was something that made Cameron feel good about himself, even though he was a Chicago kid” Ruck says. Howe was the perfect jersey choice as opposed to other legendary Red Wings players like Red Kelly or Terry Sawchuk because Howe symbolized toughness, courage, and a bit of a rebellious streak. Cameron was your average high school kid. He wore khakis and loafers and didn’t stand out beyond his bright red Gordie Howe jersey.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Trailer
Towards the film’s end, Cameron finally unleashes his pent up rage against his father resulting in the destruction of his prized Ferrari. Despite Ferris’s insistence on taking the blame, Cameron, now having fully achieved the courage to stand up to his old man, decides to take all of the blame.
Even if he never actually physically appears in the film, the spirit of Gordie Howe lives on through Cameron Frye. He will be sorely missed. Rest in peace, “Mr. Hockey”.
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