Even affable, extroverted Ferris Bueller believed that his best friend Cameron Frye walked through life so uptight that, as he put it, “if you stuck a lump of coal up his ass, in two weeks, you’d have a diamond.” However, as we eventually saw in 1986’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the titular character’s embattled buddy had his sporadic moments of rebellion. In fact, there’s an interesting story behind one such instance that was actually in front of our eyes for most of the movie.
In an interview with WeAreMEL, actor Alan Ruck, who played Cameron in Ferris Bueller, told a rather fascinating story, revealing the actual reason behind Cameron’s memorable choice in jerseys. While that jersey might be considered an antagonistic move in the sports-obsessed Second City, it seems that it represented something deeper to Cameron.
According to Ruck, the Red Wings jersey was initially part of a character-building narrative for Cameron that writer/director John Hughes ultimately had to cut from the film. As Ruck explains:
“John [Hughes] had spent some of his boyhood in Detroit. [Hughes] had decided that Cameron had a horrible relationship with his father, but a great relationship with his grandfather, who lived in Detroit and would take Cameron to Red Wings games. That’s all it was, and it was never explained in the movie.”
While Cameron spent much of the film immersed in a neurotic fear of getting in trouble while lamenting his emotionally-absent father, it seems that Cameron’s Red Wings jersey apparently reminded him of better, less-oppressive times with his never-mentioned grandfather. Thus, as he braved his (psychosomatically induced) illness to risk venturing outside with Ferris to have a rare moment of fun in his life, that jersey helped the ever-anxious adolescent gather his courage, acting as a security blanket. Ruck continues, stating:
“The psychology was that it was something that made Cameron feel good about himself, even though he was a Chicago kid…If you look at the rest of what I wear [in the film], it’s pretty straightforward — khaki pants and loafers. Nothing too crazy. [Cameron] was kind of a bottled-up kid, and his dad was authoritarian and had a lot of rules. The Red Wings jersey was his own little act of defiance—of saying, ‘This is who I am.’”
Cameron’s conflicting psychological makeup was exposed in the film, despite the omission of this poignant detail. His anxiety-addled exterior persona hid desires to be free from the oppressive constraints that manifested his fears. Even the iconic 1961 Ferrari 250GT that Ferris abducts from Cameron’s father’s garage – a trinket that was perpetually kept indoors, only rubbed with a diaper – seemed to partially represent Cameron and the affection that his father never directed toward him. While Cameron was initially mortified that Ferris would have the temerity to take the vehicle (colored red like his jersey,) he easily acquiesced, because despite his meek protests, he did wish to leave. Moreover, Cameron’s wrecking of the car in the end was his final cathartic act of self-hatred, forcing him to confront his fears.
Nevertheless, the tremendous tidbit about Cameron’s jersey adds yet another fascinating layer to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Sure, Ferris told us, “it’s over, go home” in the post-credits, but it’s unlikely anyone will actually heed that advice.