When "Animal House" was released on July 28, 1978, 40 years ago, the guerrilla-style history of campus anarchy hit a cheap audience and became the most successful comedy in Hollywood's history of cultural influence. While "Animal House" is remembered for its comedy, it is also a political satire in the tradition of Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, and "The Simpsons," and its rough, episodic narrative puts a finger in the eye of American self-image
Animal House's most obvious and immediate impact was the development of a whole subgenre of slippery coming-of-age movies, first-generation imitators like "Porky's," "Police Academy," and "Revenge of the Nerds "" to the second-generation reps like "American Pie," "Old School," and "Van Wilder." All of these films faithfully reflect situations and characters from "Animal House," but basically, they tend to To emulate ethos in the heart of "Animal House."
Off-screen, the iconic images of the movie from a hilarious party ̵
The ongoing meta-gag in the heart of "Animal House" is that even though the members of Delta House are all so different – the womanizer Otter, the failed romantic Boone, the politician Hoover, the human black hole Bluto-Blutarsky – they are all united by a single philosophy, which is the basic idea of human life, to indulge as often and as determinedly as possible the most instantaneous satisfaction that is presently available. The characters who share this consensus are the in-crowd of the film, those who "understand" it, and the villains of the film are the characters who sublimate their biological impulses into sadomasochistic regimes of order, such as the brotherhood of the elite. Omega or in the care of their own power, like Dean Wormer, or in the militaristic discipline of Niedermeyer's ROTC Squadron. Throughout the film, the deltas are conducting an ongoing terrorist campaign against these regimental forces ("the trees are full of toilet paper every spring, the toilets explode every fall"), a campaign that culminates with the attack on the homecoming parade of Faber College culminating in the film. In this context, the parties to the delta itself are a political expression of resistance to the inhumane expectations of American adulthood.
At the same time, the Deltas' resistance campaign is decidedly unpolitical. They indulge in anarchism with the same hedonistic devotion they use to throw togasm parties – for the sheer thrill of annoyance as an end in itself. Otter gathers his brother brothers to thwart their break from the homecoming parade, and appeals to their sense of transcendent futility: "I really think that this situation requires a really stupid and pointless gesture to be made by someone!"
The Animal House, published in 1978, bypasses the campus activism of the late 1960s and early 1970s, drawing on the turbulent energies that have been ransacking the campus in recent years, as well as disintegrating their political idealism deprived of their ideological content. The rejection of the 60s is symbolized during the toga party, when Bluto, annoyed by the seriousness of a folk singer, abruptly smashes the man's acoustic guitar and smashes it into splinters against a wall. Blood's violent reaction to the folk singer expresses an inner contempt for the idealism of a utopian counterculture, while Bluto himself, an inarticulate nexus of the blind appetite, stands for a fundamental rejection of social values.
An explicit rejection of liberal utopianism is featured at the highpoint of the film, which is a re-staging of the Kennedy assassination with the deltas in the role of Lee Harvey Oswald, who camelot's motorcade with the nihilistic energies of her tailor-made deathmobile. The sequence ends with Kennedy's head in tatters, the hands of interracial harmony, the authority figures puffed out and robbed of any foundation and Chaos Ascendant: a perfect representation of the post-modern, post-utopian state of the late 1970s.
In the absence of a deeper political ideology, the members of the Delta brothers draw on the tribal values contained in the idea of fraternal organization as a source of social cohesion. The deltas are more democratically portrayed than the elite omegas, inviting the losers pinto and flounder, but their brotherhood excludes the same "affected" individuals – the brown-skinned and disabled outcasts – who fell behind in the omegas promise party. Although the deltas are enthusiastic fans of black music – Otis Day and the Knights bring the house down when they play the Deltas toga party – the film reveals an unbridgeable gap between the Frat brothers and the actual blacks as Otter, Boone, Pinto and flounder land in a roadhouse where racial stereotypes about African American men are laughed at.
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The Roadhouse scene emphasizes the fact that the creators of "Animal House" are themselves aware of the whiteness of the Delta brothers, and the scene fluctuates between the satire of racist stereotypes on display and the advocacy of them. The scales tend to promote racist stereotypes in one of the film's most blatant gags. When one of the women who has accompanied the deltas to the Roadhouse says she is studying "primitive cultures," the scene cuts to a setting of Otis Day flamboyant singing nonsense syllables in a way that suggests the racist insinuation that Afro Americans are representatives of a primitive culture. In another scene, we see that in the bedroom of Hoover, president of Delta House, a Confederate flag is hanging. The separation of the hands of intercultural harmony at the end of the film is merely the firmly rooted segregationism at the center of the film's ethos.
Sexism and homophobia also play a central role as components of the social glue that holds the delta together fraternal brothers brothers. With the exception of Boone's girlfriend, who herself is a cliché of the long-suffering girlfriend, the female characters of "Animal House" are into the dull students of Airshell's Babs and Mandy on one side of the spectrum and the cartoon-like proto-feminists of Dickinson College on the other Page. Like the portrayal of African-Americans in the film, the female images of the film spread the line between winking satire and cynical exploitation. When Bluto steps up a ladder to look in at the Sisterhood before going to bed, the half-naked pillow fight he experiences is funny because he makes male fantasies satirical about what women do when they are alone, but also the male onlooker Attracts part of the voyeuristic fantasy, as Bluto explicitly does, by breaking the fourth wall and throwing a lascivious eyebrow at the audience. The frequent use of the word "homo" as an insult also serves to monitor the sexual identity of the brothers. For the post-utopian nihilists of Animal House, the objectification of women and the denigration of homosexuals have a social function similar to that of promoting racial discrimination by providing a common language for uniting a white-white community.
Although "Animal House" is mainly remembered as a comedy about college, the movie's satire penetrates beyond the cultivated environment of the campus and targets American culture in general. The authors of National Lampoon, who contributed to the script, show this when Otter protests to Dean Wormer: "If the whole brotherhood system is guilty, is not it an indictment of our educational system in general?" I'll tell you, Greg – is not this an indictment of our entire American society? "Otter's merger of Delta House with America inspired his brothers to spontaneously buzz the star-spangled banner, pointing to racism, sexism and homophobia of the deltas, as well as their self-serving hedonism and anarchism Nihilism deeply rooted in American character. The continued popularity of "Animal House" reflects the extent to which the audience responds to its funhouse-mirror depiction of postmodern American masculinity.
From our perspective 40 years later, it is easy to see that the film "national mockery" of The white male tribalism, which indiscriminately emblazoned on the pillars of social order, remains relevant. In the 1980s, the smooth amoral that Otter represented became a characteristic stance among yuppie-style avatars such as Alex P. Keaton, Patrick Bateman and Donald Trump, figures for whom the ethos of naked self-interest would occupy the vacuum left by him Collapse of all other common cultural values. Supporters of Donald Trump would probably be pleased to envision the 45th President as the driver of the Deathmobile slipping into the parade of liberal progress embodied by President Kennedy, derailing the course of intercultural reconciliation and basking in the ensuing chaos.
The movie Last Laughter, however, is on us, the audience inherits the world left in the aftermath of the Deltas attack on the motorcade of post-war progress. "Animal House" ends with a series of captions showing what happened to the movie characters from 1962 to 1978, and the fates of the characters are intertwined with the social upheavals of the time: Niedermeyer is killed in Vietnam, Marmalard is arrested In his commitment to the Nixon White House, Katie and Boone are divorced and as the culmination of the satire is Bluto Senator Blutarsky. The Deltas' terrorist campaign against progress, authority and reason itself has succeeded and we are in ruins. Despite its many imitators, "Animal House" remains unparalleled in the infinite cynicism that expresses the failure of the post-war American project. What else to do, except to laugh?