I Love (an Idealized, Hypermasculine Version of) College: An Update
A few weeks back, Kelsey blogged about Asher Roth's heteronormative, hypermasculinized, fratboy-centric conception of college. Though Kelsey deemed Roth to be singing in a serious as opposed to satirical tone, I couldn't help but suspect that despite a Wikipedia page corroborating Kelsey's assertion, Roth was cleverly fooling us all and someday he would reveal his true identity as a down-to-earth funny guy who just wanted to make some sort of social commentary on stereotypical white upper middle class college student culture. Had this been the case, I could have continued to enjoy what I thought might be a mockery of said stereotypical white middle class college student culture, but alas, Roth's music is for realz and the popularity of "I Love College" is on the rise.
I went to my undergrad commencement ceremony this past weekend, where I witnessed a couple of references to Roth's song. One student had written 'I Love College' atop her cap in puff paint and while this may have been an attempt to express the fondness she feels toward the higher education system, I suspect she meant to reference a popular song and not her love for academia. Before the ceremony began, I heard a woman a couple rows behind me singing lyrics from Roth's song and I'm pretty sure she didn't intend to be ironic or funny.
In addition to my little anecdote, the song's rise in popularity may be demonstrated by the media attention it--and its creator--have received. USA Today proclaims, "Asher Roth majors in success with hit 'I Love College,'" and in the article Roth is quoted as saying,
It taps into the celebratory aspect of school, not to mention the subculture. Whether you're 8 years old and you want to go to college, or you're 58 years old and went to college, you can relate.
Hey Asher, I hate to break it to you, but your 'subculture' is actually a mainstream, stereotypic script. Also, how many 8-year-olds want to go to college for the 'parties,' 'drinkin'' and 'women?' I'm pretty sure I wasn't in that demographic of 8-year-olds. In fact, as far as I can recall, those elements never really enticed me to seek higher education. As Kelsey wrote,
...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.)
Other media attention has come from ESPN, MTV (complete with a photo of Roth looking extra skeezy with an issue of Playboy in hand) and Rolling Stone among others. Fortunately, some outlets have been calling Roth out on everything from the misconception that wearing two condoms is a beneficial practice ( Roth sings, "when it comes to condoms put two on") to the appropriation of a conventionally non-white music genre by a young and priviliged white man. Latoya Peterson at Racialicious has a fantastic breakdown of Roth-related criticism, including reactions to Roth's tweet from Rutgers saying he was hanging with 'Nappy Headed Hoes.' Jill over at Feministe also has two posts on Roth and the race, class and gender issues he (unintentionally) brings up.
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