Making a movie about a group of college kids who go to class, write papers, cram for tests, hang out on couches and generally just avoid doing anything that would jeopardize their chances at succeeding in life would be boring. But because that’s what college pretty much is, Hollywood takes certain liberties in trying to depict it.
And we’re not complaining. College-themed movies are usually pretty awesome. There tends to be drinking, and sex stuff. But being who we are, we also tend to take Hollywood’s word that college is every day a wacky adventure waiting to happen. We go into college with Hollywood-based expectations, and come away mostly disappointed.
Here are the five biggest lies about college life awesome movies tried to teach us.
5. If you’re in a jam grade-wise, just take the easy way out by handing your roommate a straight razor and convincing him he hates life so the school will award you automatic A’s
Brought To You By: Dead Man on Campus
The Premise: Two roommates who find out they’re in danger of flunking out learn about the old rule that if your roommate commits suicide you’re guaranteed straight A’s by the administration. Naturally, they begin seeking out a suicidal additional roommate and hilarity ensues.
We Call Bullshit!
The whole myth that you’re awarded straight A’s from the administration if your roommate commits suicide is exactly that—a myth. It’s just one variation of the “pass by catastrophe” urban legend stating basically that if a student undergoes something extremely traumatic that could reasonably affect their grades, they are awarded passing grades based on the fact that they couldn’t otherwise be tested fairly.
But since most of us already know by now that that’s bullshit, maybe the worst lesson from Dead Man on Campus was making the process of screening for fittingly suicidal people and facilitating their death sound waaaay more fun than we assume it’d be in real life.
4. It’s not at all pathetic deliberately staying in college on your daddy’s dime well into your mid-twenties just so you can fuck around
Brought To You By: Van Wilder
The Premise: Van Wilder is the most popular guy on campus at Coolidge College. A living legend, if you will, who makes no effort to graduate so he can keep on living the dream organizing elaborate parties. That is, until his father shows up and stops paying his tuition, forcing him to hunker down and graduate.
We Call Bullshit!
Would you honestly like to be the guy who’s still an undergrad halfway to his 30’s with no intention of becoming either a doctor or a lawyer? Yeah, didn’t think so. You might think you would because of all the reckless fun Wilder has at the expense of a back-when-she-was-hot Tara Reid and all other manner of freshman poontang.
In real life, however, the occasions to keg-up and obliterate random kick-ass house parties start to evaporate pretty fast the farther you get from 21. Had Van Wilder’s pop not showed up and cut off his tuition, it’s reasonable to assume he would’ve stayed in college indefinitely. This makes him a slightly more sanctified, spoiled version of Wooderson from Dazed & Confused—another beloved character you would never hang out with in real life.
3. Real geniuses can have even better social skills than book skills and can spend 95% of their time partying and still pull off genius-y stunts at colleges that double as cutting-edge military labs
Brought To You By: Real Genius
The Premise: 15-year-old wunderkind Mitch gets recruited to prestigious Pacific Tech to work on the top-secret project of building a space-laser. There, he meets Chris Knight (Val Kilmer), an equally intelligent senior also assigned to the project who shows him that being a genius and being a boozing man-whore aren’t mutually exclusive.
We Call Bullshit!
Hollywood is notorious for exaggerating and doing whatever they want with the whole “genius” archetype, and Real Genius is no different. The entire character of Chris Knight is basically an insult to real geniuses everywhere because he makes it seem that, if you’re lucky enough to be born with other-worldly brain power, things like studying and hard work are totally meaningless. And they go a step further by implying that because said super-geniuses don’t need to actually work at getting smarter, they have tons of time to develop Bond-like pussy-getting skills.
But the real doozy is the advertisement to all genius prodigies out there that projects like building an all-powerful chemical laser that may shape the very balance of global military influence are waiting for you right out of high school as long as you go anywhere with the word Tech in it. You know, because the government would totally trust something like that in the hands of a bunch of twenty-somethings living on a college campus.
2. College is a battleground perpetually dichotomized between two groups—jocks and nerds, who coexist apartheid-style, with nerds on the short end
Brought To You By: Revenge of the Nerds
The Premise: Fed up with being oppressed by their beefcake jock counterparts, a band of nerds and weirdos conspire to fight back by taking control of the campus in a frat competition, and ending nerd persecution once and for all.
We Call Bullshit!
While Revenge of the Nerds pretty much got it right in portraying college football players as guys who mostly just party and do football stuff (there’s a reason why in real life over half of them major in either sociology or communications), the idea that they’re beset by some kind of fraternal duty to seek out and repress anybody who wears glasses? Not so much.
As the Kansas Jayhawk football and basketball teams already taught us, jocks are waaaaaay more likely to target one of their own than anybody wearing a pocket protector, if they even care at all. Most high profile college athletes have better things to do than trash frat houses with higher cumulative GPAs, like boning every hot girl hanging on their arms, working on getting drafted, and getting filthy rich after said draft commences.
1. A frat house is the holy grail of dangerously-epic drinking & partying
Brought To You By: Animal House
The Premise: If you ever want to get a kid excited about college, make him watch Animal House. Simple as that. Animal House did for college debauchery what Jackie Gleason did for implied wife-beating. You know the names. You know the story. Bluto, Otter, Boon and the rest of the misfit Delta Tau Chi’s party like rock stars, and stick it to Dean Wormer, Niedermeyer and the rest of the uptight squares when their charter gets revoked.
We (Regrettably) Call Bullshit!
Now, in the context of the movie itself, perhaps all can be forgiven. After all, the film is supposed to take place in 1962—an era we know for a fact kicked far greater ass than the present time because we watch Mad Men. But the lure of Animal House is too overwhelming to get bogged down in technical chronological details, which is why it will end up letting you down. Why, exactly?
Well, for starters, most college fraternities these days have dry house policies—meaning no alcohol on the premises. No alcohol naturally means no sleaze-tastic toga parties. And what Animal House forgets to mention is that fraternities are required to do a certain amount of philanthropic and charity-based community service. Also required from fraternities are cumulative GPAs that have to stay above a certain line. Oh yeah, you also have to pay membership fees to be a part of all that fun.
So in real life, modern fraternities are a lot more like Niedermeyer’s lame-ass Omega Theta Pi house than the Delta Tau Chi one. And they would be shut down long before John Belushi could accumulate seven years of college down the drain. If you’re intent on actually raising some hell and sticking it to the man when you do get to college, your best bet is to steer clear of fraternities.