Win Ben Stein’s $: On the Significance of Truancy, Absenteeism & Voodoo Economics

Repost from Found Item Clothing.

Editor’s note: today we welcome a guest blogger to our site. Say hello, then to Erin Popgun, a reformed bad girl with a cutting wit and even keener eye. Going forward, she’ll be weighing in with periodic dispatches on the best — and worst — bits of contemporary culture, punk rock, food, fashion foibles, the joys perils of higher education, and the occasional tee. Put simply: she has read more books than you. Or I. Combined.

Earlier in the week, we featured a looped video of the infamous Roll Call scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and that got us here at It Goes to 11 thinking… why exactly does this moment continue to resonate with audiences? Is it commentary on the emotional detachedness of the American teen? A wry jab at the ineffectual nature of the teaching profession? An emasculation of patriarchal authority? These questions and more are touched on below…

“This whole exchange — Ben Stein calling attendance for what feels like fifteen minutes, delivering an excellent ad-libbed monotone on the Republican Congress of 1930 and the effects of the Great Depression — has become so iconic, so ingrained into our collective consciousness, that I find it almost crippling to say anything about it. The endless number of Youtube parodies should provide some kind of insight about the whole thing, but they have proven to be simply exhausting.”

“Why does this scene hit a chord, enough that we incorporate it into our daily repertoire of stock jokes and funny-elbow-in-the-rib-cage asides? Anyone? Certainly it calls to mind some Bakhtinian ideas about art and addressivity, or what I like to think of as “being fundamentally alone in the world.

Not a month or so goes by that someone at a meeting or an overworked and exasperated teacher will do something that brings to mind Ben Stein, joyless, droll, completely oblivious to the circumstances around him, delivering a talk or a presentation or pitch or lecture on something no one gives two shits about.

But it’s part of the curriculuum, right? The Depression? The Holly-Smoot Tariff Act? So let’s all just get through these next fifty minutes while you mindless blobs sit there open-mouthed, slack-jawed and gaping thinking about… Christ, who knows? Your lunch? Notes folded up into little pointed star shapes that contain complex algorithms about your conjugal future? The fact that I’m still stuck here teaching a bunch of wanknuts from the overprivilged suburbs of north Chicagoland while you bide your time, dreaming maybe about getting a Wall Street gig like some asshole from a Bret Easton Ellis novel, all shiny suits and slicked back hair and business cards and male grooming products and coke and hookers?

Okay, erm, right…back to Voodoo economics. Vice-President Bush!”

(Editor’s note: thanks Erin!)

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Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it: travis@founditemclothing.com

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