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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