Mitchell, Elvis. “Critic’s Notebook; Revisiting Faber College (Toga, Toga, Toga!)” The New York Times. 2003. April 2008 .
As opposed to the more commonly accepted notion of Animal House’s shameless vulgarity, Mitchell reveals the romanticized perspective though some of director John Landis’ thoughts. Perspective changes the entire feel of a film. Though Delta house is supposed to be the worst fraternity on Faber College’s campus, it possesses the best qualities of one. Landis gave the family aspect to Delta, and gave “all of the negatives, basically Nazis” to Omega. The trouble with Animal House is that the protagonists are revolting, but with the separation and highlight of qualities, the film depicts them as portraying the positive image.
Landis says that he visited fraternities to study them when making the film. He comments that “the fraternity wasn’t dead, but it was dying.” Many people took Animal House as a bad influence to fraternities. Since movies like this emerged, college life became more dangerous and more associated with alcohol. However, before this, Landis was unimpressed, as he calls it, with fraternities. Perhaps Animal House improved college life in the sense that it reinforced the sense of camaraderie and personal expression and exploration between students. Landis “set out to make a fairly classic college comedy.” In the simplest form, this is depicted in the famous picture of John Belushi holding a bottle of Jack Daniels sporting a sweater that says “College.” In a deeper way, Landis may have done so by simply inspiring students to have a good time while they can.
Robey, Tim. “THE MYSTERY OF THE FRAT-BOY MOVIE Critics hate them - but gross-out comedies top the charts. Like, why is that, dude, asks
Tim Robey.” The Daily Telegraph. 2006. April 2008
Robey gives the London perspective on movies as “frat-boy bacchanals,” which is apparently unfamiliar with the concept of a fraternity. His definition of a frat boy is as follows: “Frat boys slip bodily fluids into each other's pints. They view the opposite sex as a first-come, first-served ambulant buffet of hair and breasts.” With this disturbing image, it is easy to see why so many frat films receive awful reviews, being dramatically described as “a plunge into depravity.” What Robey does not understand is why all types of frat films, Jackass Number Two along with American Pie, do well. He describes Jackass as “real frat boys doing real, very painful things to each other, live on camera.” The truth is that frat boys actually do similarly horrible things. The more favorable truth is that they exploit these conquests only to those within the fraternity, not to the entire world. Robey thinks the point of some of these films (or the point of actually seeing them) could be to desensitize audiences and act as an “excruciating endurance test.”
The film that falls into the opposite of this category, that of great frat flicks, is Animal House. One reason could be that it actually has a plot, but Harold and Kumar also makes it on the list. Robey’s point is that these films should not automatically match the need to entertain with the need to repulse. It seems that these films get more angry response for vulgarity than for racism or misogyny. Tim Matheson’s character puts on an act to sexually take advantage of the friend of his date, who recently died in a kiln explosion. So what? However, when Stevie from Jackass puts a hook through his mouth, audiences react. This is not necessarily wrong, and doesn’t give insight into a culture’s morals. It just points out what an audience isn’t used to in society. Though Animal House is a classic, Jackass is daring: no plot, no shirt, no shoes, and especially no dignity.
Gumbel, Andrew. “Police raid the US student society that inspired Animal House.” The Independent. 2006. April 2008
There exists a fraternity called Alpha Delta Phi and there also exists the infamous Delta house. The latter is based on Alpha Delta Phi, but the real Dartmouth frat in turn takes on its fictional traditions, pride and notoriety. However, they disguise it as “leadership, scholarship, service and philanthropy, diversity, accountability and brotherhood.” Finally the frat brothers were caught after an investigation lasting almost two years. Their pranks are angrily blamed on Animal House.
The ironic thing about Animal House is the source of Delta’s craziness. While Alpha Delta Phi’s mayhem supposedly comes from the made up Delta house, Delta house’s ideas come from Chris Miller’s (one of the writers’) college days at Dartmouth. So what exactly was Animal House’s role, other than simply putting a depiction on the big screen? Movies do give people expectations, sometimes false, or unrealistic standards. Animal House was an average college story to everyone who was already familiar with such college life. However, the film created a legend out of Delta Phi, and consequently impressions and reputations to live up to. These responsibilities already existed in the fraternity, just not publicly; these matters usually remain within the frat’s walls. The film was a catalyst, a cause, or an excuse. The only reason why it is viewed as such a problem is because Delta Phi became personally involved and invested. Films take on a new meaning when based on fact. Suddenly everything in it becomes possible. Perhaps there would have been a less extreme response if Delta Phi had not known about its relevance.
Taylor, Bill. “Party’s over at U of T residence.” TheStar.com. 2007. Toronto Star. April 2008
Gate House is a residence hall at the University of Toronto known for its juvenile pranks and behavior. Scenes of Delta’s toga party in Animal House represents this reputation, inspired by Donald Sutherland’s recounts of Gate House parties when he attended the university. After recent pranks, such as the construction of a 2.5-metre snow penis and the placement of a cooked pig’s head in a ladies bathroom, Gate House residents were kicked out and the building will undergo a major transformation. This is viewed as the death of Gate House, and of Animal House. The president is not only shutting down a residence, but a camaraderie that one member describes as unique. This will occur on the basis that acts carried out by residents were “disparaging and demeaning of women,” judged by the school’s president. The constructor of the snow penis denies this as their intention. “Ask my sister,” he says, “She’s at UofT and she’s the one who told me, ‘You’ve got to get into Gate House.’”
This is how authority works on a campus these days. Though Animal House gives an image of this camaraderie, it ends with an unrealistic triumph that many students probably wish for Gate House. (It is not too late to happen.) It is possible that as they inspired Animal House, the film will motivate them to go out with a bang. It is hard to tell what a student’s limit is, because it is unknown whether the origin of such disturbing behavior was actuality or fiction. Furthermore, it is easy to laugh at a detestable character such as Dean Wormer who not only despises typical college life but also fails in suppressing it. However, no one wants to laugh at the president of the University of Toronto. He is actually getting away with ruining a college experience.
Foster, Harold M. “Film in the Classroom: Coping with ‘Teenpics.’” The English Journal, Vol. 76, No. 3. 1987, National Council of Teachers of
English. Pages 86-88. April 2008
The author thinks “teenpics” have ultimate control over a teenager’s mind. Many of them simplify teen stereotypes, such as in The Breakfast Club. The most important lesson Animal House left behind for the 1980s was “the grosser the better” (86). Foster has four goals for teachers to appropriately educate students about “teenpics.” He wants students to become “discriminating viewers,” to understand how films “influence and manipulate them,” to critique these films on an aesthetic level, and to altogether avoid the worst ones (86). However, even if films like Risky Business encourage immoral behavior, they have values and can stimulate the audience.
Foster seems to dislike teenpics with the most likely situations. He claims that The Breakfast Club oversimplifies real characters, when in fact it reflects a realistic situation. He despises the thought of teen audiences identifying with the characters in this film. However, he could be going in the wrong direction because teen audiences probably identify with more than one, sometimes with all of the characters. This is rather a good value. Animal House similarly oversimplifies its characters: the horny misogynist, sidekick, prudish nerd, mature girlfriend, hippie professor, preppy egotist, and the disgusting freak. However, college does not divide so easily. Stereotypes create amusing caricatures, but are spawned from eclectic personalities. Foster seems to feel superior to the young generations and negligent of the narrative art form. These stories do come from reality, (Animal House specifically from one of the writer’s experiences at Dartmouth, which would be even more shocking if accurately depicted). Foster oversimplifies the purpose of films. Animal House happens to have a great valuable lesson: do as much as you can in college; Foster is only critical of films that offer no lesson of the sort or an incredibly negative one. Yet, even pursuing his four goals, some of these films, including Animal House, are still good all around.