The answer to the second question is the focus of this blog post-as I was sitting in my bed relaxing tonight I was thinking about my work environment and the way college/higher education is portrayed in film. Film rarely portrays things as accurate but there are traces of authenticity within the subtext. College films are interesting hybrid-many show the gross over representation of partying/drinking/ and the non academic focus (because well that would make the film less interesting.) Now I know some college students drink and part, I realize this, but it made me think what should college movies be about-what movies about college are out there and what do they say?
I never was in a fraternity, and I don't directly work with students in fraternity and sororities on a day to day basis, but films like this often give students who are entering college a false impression. Many students think and or look to join these organizations because they are one giant party-but there are also great leadership opportunities involved and tremendous networks.
As a lover of film, I look at Animal House as a hilarious comedy that helped shape many successful careers like John Belushi, Tim Matheson, and Kevin Bacon. There are so many classic like scenes and lines that I don't think ever stop laughing when I watch this movie. I don't find the movie offensive, but yet I work in the profession/field they are criticizing. This movie was released in 1978 but was set in 1962 where there was a shift in higher education-the Vietnam War was about to happen, and the student mentality at that time was question authority. This film was a reflective piece of history in a period of turmoil in higher education.
Now I may be making Animal House sound smarter than it is-in fact I know I am. There are many negative portrayals in this film that carried onto Van Wilder, Road Trip, and many other films centered around either a fraternity or male behavior in college. An accurate portrayal of college would be a great change of pace. The sad part about this is that audiences may not be willing to want to understand higher education more, thus preventing future students from understanding its purpose.
Now off my higher education soapbox-Films have a powerful impact on viewpoint and perspective. Animal House is just one college film (from 1978) and its cultural influence still impacts my job and professionals who work in colleges. Think about your own jobs and how the media portrays, is it accurate? With many more college films than Animal House I could go on forever-but after my long trip it is time for bed.