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I Love (an Idealized, Hypermasculine Version of) College

I know that I posted a get-ready-for-tomorrow's-Douchebag-Decree-by-reading-about-another-douchebag piece last week, but this week finds me with yet another d-bag on the brain (or rather, the YouTube channel). Enter Asher Roth and his music video "I Love College."

Although this video is full of weird college/frat/gender stereotypes and cheesy lyrics about partying, for some reason I can't stop watching it. (It might be the uber-collegiate sample of Weezer's "Say It Ain't So" that plays throughout.) Is this video a postmodern parody of a hypermasculine, idealized version of the college experience? Or is Asher Roth just another creeper who is one beer-pong championship away from sexually assaulting someone? And either way, why is it so weirdly compelling? Watch the video and make the call!

Where do we start with this video? I think the first question to ask is, WTF? Is Asher Roth being serious? It took me a few views to make up my mind, but my final answer is yes. This is real. Although the video walks the very fine line between parody and reality (helped along by Roth's smarmy grin and the furries frolicking on the lawn), I still believe it was produced in absolute sincerity. Part of the reason for that, I think, is that this video and song are an absolute perfect storm in terms of representing the ideal frat-guy college experience. Let's break down some of the elements that are present here:

- A crowded fraternity house where everyone knows and likes each other (including some of the wackier characters like the old lady who spits out a ping-pong ball and some of the older black guys who would most likely not attend this frat party).

- Lots of drinking games wherein only attractive people are participating (beer pong, card games, and the meta-game "Do Something Crazy" are just a few examples that show up here).

- Tons of semi-naked, hot girls who are having fun and are really into the frat guys. (This is how everyone's college experience goes, right?)

- Casual sex wherein no one is being taken advantage of (e.g., the lyric, "Don't have sex if she's too gone") because everyone is so into it, and everyone hooks up with a different hot person every night.

- Parties that are so fun that they never really end, except for when you take a break for a few hours to go to class and eat some pizza before returning to your house (a house wherein people skateboard inside a la the Foot Soldiers' Den in the live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie).

- Insert your own college-party cliche here (I am sure it's present in the video somewhere).

There is a lot more going on here than just an idealized version of the college experience, to be sure. For one, we are talking about a privileged white guy who has the opportunity to drink every night because he can afford to stay in school and not have to worry about other responsibilities. And, not surprisingly, the race, gender, and sexuality stereotypes abound. Also, most of the insidiousness (fighting, sexual assault, alcohol poisoning, unattractive people) that comes with a college party of this magnitude is missing from the video (although the furry humping a keg is pretty off-putting).

Now I realize that this is a music video, and that Roth might want to present an idealized version of something as opposed to the harsh reality of it. That makes sense; he is trying to sell music and get girls(?) to like him. I guess the reason this video stands out to me is that it is targeting such a specific demographic in such a powerful way. I don't know about you, but if I were 15 and watching this video on MTV, I'm sure a part of me would think that this is what I had to look forward to when I got to college. (And this would have terrified the 15-year old me, so that wouldn't have been a good thing in the least.)

To be honest, I am not sure what else to say about this video beyond the fact that I think it is a fascinating representation of constructed college-level masculinity. My hunch is that college dorm rooms all over the U.S. are blasting this jam out of second-story windows and onto the quad, where dudes in backwards hats are playing fribsee. (Could it be that I am struggling with my own constructed reality here?) I would love to hear from a few college students who have seen this video around campus and could weigh on how the kids are responding. Any takers?

Okay, my brain is now officially too hypnotized by Asher Roth and his college utopia to continue. What do you think?

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Comments

22 comments have been made. Post a comment.

Man, Kels, you NAILED IT!

Man, Kels, you NAILED IT! Can I keep you around all the time to explain my thoughts and feelings to me in a way that I can understand? You've got your finger on the pulse of the human experience.

Damnit, Kelsey!

It only took two listens and now I'm hooked!

Yeah, I'm interested to hear what folks who are currently in college have to say. I feel like I can at least be amused by this because I have a comfortable amount of distance between the portrayals in the video and any dude-bro's in reality.

Freshmen, freshmen, freshmen...

Sigh...

Oh, lordy. I'm still a freshman, and I assure you that I kept a healthy distance between myself and this sort of thing during my first semester. Not that I needed to try. Because, er....IT NEVER HAPPENS. I'm not a partier, myself. I'm in college to (shockingly novel as it may seem) get an education. However, among my more rowdy friends, the most that ever happens is running through parks at night screaming and "stealing" free furniture off of people's lawns.

Occasionally I do run into guys who really want to make it seem like this is what they're doing every night. I rarely believe them.

As a College Student

Hi! i'm a junior in college and figured I weigh in on this subject since it's so near and dear to me. I'm not saying that I party all night long and go to class just to continue the party where it left off. However, I do know people (especially guys) exactly like this, and if they're not actually doing these things expressed in the video they're definitely talking about it in class. My point is, that though the video is a little far fetched, partying is a small yet prevalent part of college life. Academics do come first for most, if not all college students I know, BUT we aren't robots, we are humans and like the many others before us who went to college (especially in the 60's and 70's) are embracing our newly found freedom buy "doing something crazy." Most of us don't party EVERY night, but to say that stuff in the video doesn't happen or shouldn't happen is wrong.
Also,considering a 15 year old watching the video and making pre-misconceptions about college is going to be a normal thing. I watched "Animal House" when I was 15, I watch "Accepted" when I was 18, did I think that that was what school was like? To some degree,yes. A 15 year old should be taking this song out of context, I don't think it's meant for them. The song to me is meant for college students to listen to at a party on the weekend, not to be played at a high school dance. Give this Roth guy a little credit, I've heard worse songs than this that are even more demeaning to women.

Wow.

I really think you expressed most of my sentiments about this video. Excellent and concise analysis.
As a college student myself, I've avoided these sort of situations and characters quite purposefully-obviously for the quality of my education, my sanity, and also my health. Even if I were rich enough to blow off my actual education in lieu of endless debauchery, I still could never bear to place myself in the company of men so unaware of reality that they don't realize the disastrous results of wearing two condoms at once. Augh. But if it's any consolation, I hadn't heard the song until visiting this webpage-and I live in a dorm.

*rolls eyes* yet another

*rolls eyes*

yet another stereotypical glance of college.

*goes back to sleep*

I went to Chico State, where it used to be "like, omg, such a party school!" I partied when I was a freshman, I drank, I partied throughout most of college, but I did it responsibly (well, most of the time.) I've found that parties and frats are for freshman and sophomores. Why would I want to hang around a bunch of idiots and drink cheap disgusting beer when I can go to a bar instead? Anyways, that's beside the point.

People LOVE stereotypes of college and high school. They're never going to end. In the late 90s and early 00s, we got a slew of stereotypical high school movies. Now we're getting a slew of stereotypical college movies, like the aptly-named College, The House Bunny, Sydney White, Old School, Sorority Boys, Van Wilder, etc. There are just so many of them and they're all just full of annoying stereotypes. they're all the same with all of the same characters and this video could have been taken right out of any of those movies. People WISH their parties were that crazy. I thought the video was quite boring and not nostalgic at all. The series "Greek" is much more nostalgic to me and I actually enjoy watching it. I was in a sorority for 2 years, and the drama is quite accurate in it's passive-aggressive portrayal.

And then some things are just completely sobering. In Feb 2005, a fraternity pledge died of water poisoning. Just recently, a sorority pledge almost died from alcohol poisoning. One time when I was in a cab going home last year a girl walked by with a big group of guys, and she had no pants or underwear on, and was obviously drunk. That same night I saw a guy, no older than 18, being carried out of a taco shop because he was too drunk to walk and he had peed his pants. I think a lot of people want to pretend that partying like that in the video is innocent, but until someone gets hurt or raped, it's not fun or funny anymore. And the sad thing is is that girl probably didn't remember a damn thing from the night before.

And as a graduate, sure, I miss school, but I'm older now (note: I miss going to school and learning, not partying). I find the closing words in the song pathetic, because people who never want to leave college are weak and immature in my opinion. I feel sorry for people who don't ever want to graduate. College was a great time, but sooner or later, you have to move on. And if you want to continue academically, graduate school is an awesome choice. I'm excited to get a professional job, buy a house, and start a family. And who's to say that I have to stop partying? You should see how much my parents party!

What annoys me...

So here's this priveledged white guy who doesn't have to worry about the consequences of his partying (as you mentioned above). But his music is a clear appropriation of rap/r+b/hip-hop, which has traditionally not been the music of spoiled white dudes. Maybe I'm simplistic to feel this way, but I just can't help but feel annoyed.

Take note: Opinions expressed are those of their respective authors, not necessarily those of Bitch. Dig?

I know!

I mean, at least with the Weezer sample he is sticking to his demographic. But then he tries to make it a sort of R&B/hip hop jam, and I agree with you that it's totally annoying. Check out his myspace page if you want to feel even more annoyed by his reappropriation of black culture. Ugh.

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

Well, there is precedent for

Well, there is precedent for spoiled white dudes in rap. They were called the Beastie Boys. Actually, they still are called the Beastie Boys, but they don't rap about girls, beer and exploiting privileged anymore because to do so is to play into an overly simplistic and commercial version of whiteness and masculinity.

Beastie Boys

difference is the Beastie Boys are:

1. actually awesome
2. responsible for one of the best rap albums ever (Paul's Boutique) and a really good streak of albums between 1986-1998
3. were actually parodying stupid white guys back in the Eighties - they admitted it in interviews and they even stopped playing "Fight for Your Right" 'cos too many dumb fratboys took it seriously.

Before I say anything, I

Before I say anything, I must say that I am an old fart and my college days are gone. (I'm 26.) I went to a small school where we didn't have frat houses on campus. Even if there were frat houses, I wouldn't have gone to these types of parties. Why?

BECAUSE NOBODY PAID MY WAY THROUGH COLLEGE. I HAD TO ACTUALLY WORK TO STAY THERE.

As a freshman I worked as a waitress. In the last three years I worked two other jobs with the University, while taking out Stafford loans to pay for tuition, etc. I don't think the song is bad per se, I just resent this culture of college being a big party, especially when people like myself had to work very hard to pay for it.

I loved college. I had lots of fun, and made wonderful friends. But I was there to work, not to goof off and drink. Roth's chorus is that he loves college, but if he continues on the track he is on he won't be there for very long.

My main problem with this

My main problem with this (aside from promoting drinking culture as the only good thing about university) is that. in the video, women only seem to be present for Roth to kiss (not be kissed BY, mind you), lead around by the hand, touch, hit on... you get the idea. What I get from this is not only that you should spend all your time at school wasted and partying, but that men are the ones doing the partying, and women's role is to be objects AT the party.

Also, the "Don't have sex if she's too gone" line is surprising and refreshing to hear in a popular song, but how it plays out in the video reinforces the subordinate role of the women - only Roth does any rejecting, and only women are rejected. That woman is also, if I remember correctly, the only one who actively makes a move on HIM. HE initiates contact with every other woman in the video.

Finally - the dream of "just stay[ing] here forever", while held by a lot of people (including myself) for different reasons, entails an huge amount of privilege - very few people can afford the regular four years, let alone more just to have fun. That's something that's always really bothered me about people who just party their way through school (and I see that a lot at my university). Taking extra years because you're involved and getting a lot of out the experience is one thing; taking extra years because you're drunk all the time just shows enormous under-appreciation for the expensive education you're receiving.

I don't know...

I actually do have a problem with the "don't have sex if she's too far gone" line. When I first heard the song the inflection of that line seemed kind of sarcastic to me. I immediately had a flashback to my freshman year, when I read a "wanted" sign warning students about a sexual assault that had occurred at a party.
I guess to me the implicit meaning of that line was "don't have sex with her because she's drunk and she could accuse you of rape", not "non-consensual sex is wrong".

Pretty much ditto all the

Pretty much ditto all the way to what Laura said. When I first heard this on the radio, I was quite happy at the 'don't have sex if she's too gone' line - I read it as being something that an upperclassman guy might say to a freshman guy; decency without challenging any of the patriarchy or sexist assumptions that are below the surface. Not a reason to bestow a medal on Roth, but a nice thing to hear nonetheless

The 'had this one girl completely naked' lyric is *way* more off-putting. Listening to the song and muting out that part, it can evoke the (many) parties that we hosted at our house pretty easily. The video doesn't have the same effect - our parties were at least 50%+ queer by attendance, so the frattish/ objectified women/ chest bump culture isn't familiar to me.

I don't think that it's received as a parody by most folks, even if there are some elements of parody in the video (and possibly song). I agree that it's weirdly compelling - I think that the tone, style and lyrics are really effective at evoking a lazy Saturday afternoon between-parties feel. Since partying was a big part of college for me (in between double majoring and working 20+ hours/week), the song an effective nostalgia trigger

egads

Perhaps I am left out of said stereotypical college existence because I go to a small school...we just barely make "university" status and our biggest problems are bad cafeteria food and not having enough dorms for everyone. But I'm a junior and I look at things like this and wonder if I am somehow missing out on this grand stereotype (our drinking goes on subtly and off-campus or in someone's room upstairs, our Greek organisations are drama-full but not to the same extent as the movies portray, and Friday nights everyone just goes home anyway and leaves those of us who live too far away to sit here in our dorms and be bored) or if the stereotype just isn't as widespread as they say. Are there really colleges out there who act like that, with the constant partying, the insane frat parties, the wild sex?

I am a senior at a small

I am a senior at a small college. I am part of Greek life and I like to party. This is my first time seeing this video but in some sense this video is true because most parties are close to this. There are people in other rooms have sex, playing drinking games, puking, passing out with writing on them and just all the other craziness. If people do have a problem with this video they should go and check out parties on college campuses this stuff does happen. Usually it is a weekend thing but there are some students that party all week long.

LISTEN TO HIS OTHER SONGS!!! - They're even worse!!!

"I Love College" is a sexist, chauvinistic song....One of my friends just showed me two of his other songs which are even worse. Those two songs are "Cartoon Chicks" and "Rub on Your T*ts".....both songs completely objectify women and reduce us to merely sexual objects who exist soley for the pleasure of male chauvenist pigs!

~Jacquelyn

Most of the people I know

Most of the people I know who really like this song/video are high-school juniors & seniors who think this is what college is going to be like. Us college kids (I'm a freshman) laugh at this video once but don't pay attention to it because it's so far from what our real college experience is... which requires a lot more studying and homework (and, since I'm at a music school, practicing) than what this video portrays. Sure, we party, but not 24/7, and they usually aren't as happy-go-lucky as the video shows them to be. If they're that big, there's usually something bad that happens, even if all it is is some dumbass puking all over the liquor. Most people I know avoid the frat parties like the plague, because of the reputation the brothers have for "targeting" freshman girls. No thanks.

This parody of the song is a lot closer to what college is actually like (the occasional fun party, but mostly stress and studying): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVC3RLoXlDQ

Now, time to go back to studying for exams and writing final papers, like a real college student!

Er, college was pretty much

Er, college was pretty much like that for me, at least during my freshman year. Not as "glamorous" but it was always a different party at a different frat every weekend. and then later when i turned 21, it was the bars every weekend.

But then reality struck: someone died. So alcohol was banned from frat houses and the parties stopped. The problem with glorified ideas of college like this video is that it's always a fantasy (did anyone see the college scenes in Transformers 2?) and never any reality. And the student who died didn't even die of alcohol poisoning... it was from water intoxication during a hazing ritual.

While it's legitimate to

While it's legitimate to criticize Roth for broadcasting a message that glorifies spoiled white frat boys, I think it's hypocritical to knock him for using a traditionally non-white music genre to do so. The form doesn't make his message any less legitimate (it's not like it needs to), especially since the song does not purposefully address race.

My biggest problem with this song is that it's just so BAD. Roth's not the first person to ever make music about loving college, drinking or women... but you'd think he could do it using lyrics more creative than:
"Man I love college
I love drinkin'
I love women"

And does anyone else find that "do some'n crazy" part weird? It's almost like he's trying to call attention to how contrived it all is.

I don't want it to sound

I don't want it to sound weird when I say I love you!
It's like I'll just be talking to my fiance about something I see on TV, or on the internet, that makes me angry, or annoyed for all womankind, and then I'm magically led to a blog by a "Bitch" writer, and it's like you've read my mind.
It makes me so angry to think that kids, especially teenage boys are watching this, and thinking that women are sluts when they get to college.
False!
A lot of people come of age, but do not magically become whores after the first day of freshmen year!
I do not like the stereotypes, and I am made even more annoyed by the fact that Asher Roth has probably never even stepped on a "real" college campus. It's infuriating to think that this guy is making all this money, because he threw a big bundle of college stereotypes together, and people listen to this dribble.
Like this is good music, and don't even get me started on the frat boy/white boy rap thing. I don't understand it, and it is terrible.
The lyrics are meaningless, the video is something I can't even sit through, it's just crap!
Someone please explain it to me! How stupid we're all becoming to just sit there, and listen to this crap!

I know this was posted a long time ago, but....

I've been wanting to say this for so long.

I was a freshman when this came out. My freshman year was similar to this--BUT--there's this new level of "we-know-this-is-extremely-awful-but-we'll-play-it-for-lols-at-a-party" but then that party becomes the party they are making fun of...They will have a "joke" party about how this is such a stereotypical college party and they would play this song but the guys throwing these parties, who play it in a way to separate themselves from it, are actually perpetuating the same thought. They would play it, it would make me uncomfortable, they would show youtube videos or clips of some cartoon girl character getting her face jizzed on while they were all drinking and I was the only girl--the play it because they apparently "know" it's ridiculous, which is why they are able to laugh at it because they know it's wrong...but because it's ironic, it's okay, and it was so not okay with me and it really fucked me up. I thought that this is really what I had to buy into, whether it was serious or ironic this was my only option.

I don't like to admit it, but this song really did affect me and how I thought about myself.