Frat boy movies are a plague upon our good and gentle society. Granted, maybe not as much of a plague as that Bubonic one I heard about, but probably just about as annoying for all involved. Frat boy movies – in all their slow-mo dubstep, bikini babe ogling, douchebaggery glory – represent one of the lamest extremes of testosterone overload on the planet. (That and professional wrestling.) It's the incendiary fuel to one of the worst words in the English language: "banter". Do you remember when that word was only reserved for awkwardly dull hosts in Come Dine with Me episodes? No more, sweet, gentle, innocent soul. The frat boy cliché has birthed a hydra-headed monster and there's no chance of defeating him anytime soon; in the meantime, it's basically ruining college for absolutely everyone. Not convinced? Let me break it down.
'HAZING' HASN'T JUST CROSSED THE LINE, FRAT MOVIES BLINDFOLDED THE LINE AND LEFT IT NAKED IN A DEN OF BEARS.
The history of college initiation ceremonies – otherwise known as hazing – actually dates as far back as at least 1684. That's when the first student was ever expelled for the practice, getting the boot from Harvard University of all places. But just like burning witches and using inflated pig bladders as toys, not all traditions are worth keeping for reverence. Not that I'm assuming historical recreation is at the forefront of every college bro's mind, but it's surely more than a little shocking to see literal centuries' worth of guys believing that the only obvious action to being totally humiliated and placed in both discomfort and pain is to repeat that exact same thing one year later with strangers you're hoping will one day be your friend or at least pleasant acquaintance. No, totally logical.
While its history obviously means frat boy movies aren't exactly responsible for the continual existence of hazing, they've pretty much solidified the idea that paddling someone in the ass à la National Lampoon's Animal House, or tying concrete blocks to their dicks à la Old School will only ever result in guaranteed lulz and no emotional or physical scarring, ever. BTW, I have never understood the apparently bro-bonding significance of paddling. I mean, is this hazing or an unpublished chapter of 50 Shades of Grey?
THEY INVENTED THAT MYTHICAL COLLEGE COURSE NERDS CALLED: "HOW TO GET HOT BABES".
Before the frat movie taught me better, I was unaware that one of the essential college credits a man must complete before graduating is having sex with a lady. Gosh, because if you get up to that podium on graduation day without having turned your V-card in, that diploma will be snatched out of your little virgin hands as the Dean denounces your unabashed loserness in front of your parents and Grandma Lou. And Grandma Lou doesn't bake cookies for losers. And yet, poor soul, bagging a lady in Hollywood's alternate college reality is just so darn difficult, isn't it? It's a shame you must live in a world inhabited only by impossibly hot cheerleader babes who share absolutely zero in common with you. And how dare they be into the equally hot jocks who they actually share some assimilation of a world view with? How very dare they?
On top of that, isn't it just a shame that there literally has never existed a woman on this planet who is both into comics and videogames and who doesn't have the appearance of what seems to be an attractive, normal actress wearing left over Uruk-hai prosthetics from The Two Towers. I mean, obviously there's literally no point in just continuing to be your nerd self until you happen across a lady who is as equally into Star Wars as you are and will gladly dress up as slave Leia any time, any day. Nope, not logically possible in any sense of the word because no woman on the planet is into things outside of shopping and the Kardashians, and no woman has ever put her hands on an Xbox controller or ever cosplayed as Wonder Woman at a comics convention ever. EVER.
Well thank God for the saving grace of frat boys like those of National Lampoon's Van Wilder. Watch in astonishment and wonderous awe as he takes a nerdy Asian kid who absolutely isn't a derogatory stereotype in any way and teaches him how to trick women with no discernible personalities beyond their push-up bras that he's somehow the second-coming of Cassanova. Because it's a well-established fact that literally all a woman needs from a man is knowledge in the art of massage and suddenly any lack of attraction she may have previously held is replaced with the rapacious hunger of some kind of sexual leopard. If there's anything frat boys have given us, it's the belief that you can play women like a boss battle in a particularly difficult level of Mario. Outsmart them and they explode into a shower of gold coins. Right?
THEY ENCOURAGE *GASP* FINANCIAL IRRESPONSIBILITY.
At the risk of sounding like a card-carrying member of the Squaresville Club (we meet every Friday evening to sit in opposing corners of the room playing Solitaire in silence), I'm sort of concerned by the amount of money being splashed on these bro blow-outs. Do these fraternities have accountants? I'm serious. Who in Bad Neighbours budgeted the fireworks, two-story neon light shapes, copious black lights, and B-list party circuit DJ? Was it you, Zac Efron? And for real, did they even factor in any health and safety checks? What if the guy who chucked into the swimming pool from a second-floor balcony sues for emotional distress? And how exactly are they going to afford the entire exterior and interior remodel of their precious fraternity they're going to need after completely trashing the place after their hilarious "prank" goes so horribly wrong (or gloriously right)? Is your shirts-off car wash really going to raise $10,000? Do you have that much faith in your own pectorals?
The near-parodic extravagance of the cinematic frat party is pretty much Jay Gatsby in a desparate fumble to prove the worthiness of his own nouveau riches. A bunch of aging screenwriters reassuring themselves that their own college experiences were nothing short of bacchic. What, so you're saying this wasn't your college experience? A four-year-long Tiësto music video? Man, I feel so sorry for you because that's definitely exactly what my college experience was like. Definitely. I was the Crowned Prince of YOLO and I never, ever locked myself in my room on a Friday night to cry and play Halo. Ever.
HOW DID ANY OF THESE GUYS ACTUALLY GRADUATE?
While we all knew that one magical student who managed to pass every barrier of education without a day's worth of study, simply soaking up facts and figures from their surroundings like an academic Spongebob Squarepants, but that wasn't exactly the case for the rest of us. The fact is, even the author of the raunchiest, crudest American college flick still took the time and effort to hone their craft enough to actually churn out a 100-page screenplay without giving up on page 5 and going to lie face-down on a pool float for ten straight hours.
The image of the frat boy unleashed is one which never extends beyond bros throwing their caps in the air and passing only by a last second scramble of underhand tactics and out-and-out cheating. We're always robbed of that schadenfreude pleasure we crave to see these self-pronounced assholes fresh out of college and smacked in the face with the realisation that their barely acceptable degree and multiple misdemeanors have left them with zero employability and a lifetime of the memories of midnight pool parties slowly being buried underneath a thousand empty packets of ramen.
I'm not trying to sound like Hollywood's mother, preaching about responsibility on the drive to campus, but we at least have to come to some kind of agreement that the cinematic frat boy is a smug fantasy that dares to sneer in the face of anyone who ever bothered to try in life. I mean, come on, it's no coincidence that one of the most seminal frat boy movies, Old School, is entirely built around the tagline, "All the fun of college, none of the education". Because that's the dream, isn't it?
BASICALLY, THEY'RE A LICENCE TO BE A TOTAL DOUCHEBAG.