Party foul

Maggie Nepomuceno

Think “Animal House” or “Old School.” Imagine “Van Wilder,” “PCU” or “The Rules of Attraction.” The Hollywood vision of college is basically a non-stop party complete with illegal drugs and binge drinking. Very little of the time do we actually see anyone studying or doing homework.

But is this wild, alcohol-deluded world an accurate portrayal of the average college student’s life?

The answer is yes. And no.

College has been immortalized by Hollywood in terms of crazy pranks, frat parties, naked girls and obnoxiously fun behavior. In the classic 1978 frat comedy “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” the Delta Tau Chi boys of Faber College live by an endless supply of beer, ladies and of course, toga parties. Never mind that the Delta House members can’t pass their exams or that they’ve had to be put on double secret probation. For them, life is all about the sex and booze.

“Animal House” also creates for us a classic college stereotype in John Belushi’s character, John “Bluto” Blurtarsky, who fashioned the infamous “COLLEGE” sweatshirt. Like many other stereotypical Hollywood college men, Bluto is a reckless alcoholic with few career aspirations. What we admire about him is not his strong academic record. Instead, we applaud his 0.0 GPA and his ability to perform miraculous feats such as chugging an entire bottle of Jack Daniels.

Recent movies like “Old School” and “Van Wilder” have updated the “Animal House” model, portraying similar comedic bouts of drunkenness and loveable party connoisseurs, like Will Ferrell’s “Frank the Tank” or Ryan Reynolds’ “Van Wilder.” Plenty of young people look at these characters and find themselves thinking, “Why can’t college be that way for me?”

Hollywood tends to neglect the fact that school actually takes place in a college environment and that students do come to learn. But moviemakers know what college students look for in a movie. We want to see acts of perversion and outlandish behavior, because ultimately, we want to laugh. What college student is going watch a movie about students that go to class and study? As a result, many students have a preconceived idea of college and immediately feel the need to live up to it.

However, college life isn’t the big sex orgy that Hollywood makes it out to be. College students don’t just party and plan to party. Everyone isn’t always high on some kind of drug. And as appealing as it may sound to have a KY jelly-wrestling match, parties are almost never that exciting.

One of the most skewed Hollywood images of college is that of the fraternity. From what we see in the movies, we expect drinking, sex rooms and naked girls. Greek life, however, isn’t based around parties. There are the business aspects, the grab-a-dates and the philanthropy.

Granted, there has to be some semblance of truth in order for the college party life to be portrayed in the fashion that it is. We would be kidding ourselves if we didn’t admit that there are stereotypes that are true to life. There is the kid that passes out and wakes up in an unfamiliar place, the girl that has promiscuous sex, the guy who is stumbling around loudly and annoying everyone else. And of course, there is always some person that performs some abnormal act that makes us aware he or she was not of sound mind.

While I can’t speak for larger state schools, most parties at Villanova are not wildly uncontrollable. A more typical college party scenario features kids standing around drinking and talking, a few beer pong (or Beirut) tables and perhaps a couple of crazy antics.

Hollywood’s portrayal of college life, however, can have an effect on our behavior. We come to love the characters that we see in the movies so much that we want our college experience to be just as fun as theirs. Students end up emulating what they see in the movies, thus making Hollywood’s vision more accurate than it was originally intended.”Old School,” “PCU,” “Animal House” and all of our other favorite screwball college-themed movies should be seen as just that: a screwball. There are things that we can identify with, but they are purposely exaggerated for the sake of humor. Unfortunately, most young people don’t get this. Instead, they imitate what they see.Health and substance abuse professionals have grown increasingly concerned that today’s college students have pushed partying to the point of dangerous alcohol abuse.

The binge drinking we admire so much in college movies commonly brings assaults, health problems, vomiting and rapes, all occurring within or near the dormitories. Even students who don’t drink find that the noises from those who are make it difficult to sleep and study. In movies like “Animal House” and “The Rules of Attraction,” male characters find themselves contemplating whether or not to sexually molest helpless drunken girls. While the movies put a humorous spin on situations like these, the reality of it is that people are seriously in danger. Many of the characters that we see passed out on staircases and in the streets should probably be having their stomachs pumped.

Movies are meant to imitate life, but at times it seems like it is the other way around. Is today’s college party scene simply a serious case of life imitating art? Or has the illusion portrayed by Hollywood become the true college experience? You decide.