News & Politics

Remain Calm, All Is Well (Unless You Want to Watch 'Animal House')

If you banished me to a deserted island and told me I could have a solar-powered Blu-ray player but just one movie to watch for the rest of my life, I would do two things: 1) Thank you profusely for getting me away from these people, they’re driving me nuts; and 2) Flip a coin to decide between Die Hard and Animal House. Heads, it’s Animal House. Tails… to hell with the coin, it’s Animal House.

If Ready Player One was about my life, instead of the aging nerd in the movie, those CGI characters wouldn’t be running around the Overlook Hotel. They’d be running around Faber College.*

Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of Animal House, but to me it hasn’t aged a minute. I can’t seem to go a single day without uttering some reference to the greatest comedy ever made. I’ve seen it dozens of times, I own it in every format known to man, and 30 years from now it’ll be the first movie I allow Emperor Robo-Bezos to implant directly into my brain.

That is, assuming such movies are even legal by then. Now that we’re banning plastic straws, of all things, I foresee a day when Animal House and movies like it will be just another controlled substance. They’ll be kept from us, with severe criminal penalties, for our own good.

All because of people like Dean Wormer Hannah Yasharoff at USA Today:

In the era of #MeToo, is it still OK to laugh at ‘Animal House’?

National Lampoon’s raunchy frat house comedy “Animal House,” which celebrates its 40th anniversary Saturday, is widely regarded as an all-time great movie. But four decades later, it feels less like a comedy classic and more like a toxic showcase of racism, homophobia and jokes about sexual assault.

While parts of the film are still genuinely funny and enjoyable in 2018, the crueler moments beg the question: In the era of #MeToo, is it still OK to enjoy “Animal House”?

My goodness. Whatever you do, don’t show this young lady Porky’s.

Yasharoff admits that the movie is hilarious, but then she wrings her hands over the parts that are “problematic”: Bluto peeping in the windows of the sorority, Pinto sleeping with a girl and finding out she’s only 13, the epilogue revealing that Omega Theta Pi super-jerk Greg Marmalard was raped in prison, etc.

Is it really okay to watch such depictions of sexual deviancy, when rape on college campuses is such a serious issue? This is the era of #MeToo, people. As Yasharoff puts it:

Using sexual assault as throwaway humor perpetuates the idea that the destruction these people leave in their path is meaningless simply because they didn’t intend to destroy it.

And let’s not forget how racist Animal House is. You can be offended by both the racism and the sexism. That’s called intersectionality.

Now, part of this is generational. I don’t think Yasharoff is even old enough to remember 9/11, so a movie like Animal House must be a terrifying glimpse of a benighted past. But this sort of response is nothing new. Feminists and other joyful funsters have been complaining about National Lampoon-style humor from the beginning. The magazine even appropriated such criticism for the title of one of their early comedy albums: That’s Not Funny, That’s Sick!

People like this are really no different than the po-faced conservative Christians they claim to oppose. They’re totalitarians. They want to control what you see and hear. They want to control what you find amusing. They want to control you.

When you see generation after generation of humorless scolds wagging their fingers at you like this, it might make you want to give up. You might say: “What the hell we s’posed to do, ya moron?” But you can fight back. There’s only one thing to do when some busybody like this tries to tell you what to do and how to think:

Point at them and laugh.

I guess that’s two things. Forget it, I’m rolling.

*Not only would this be more fun to watch, but it would’ve made more sense for the CGI characters in RP1 to do their wacky pratfalls within the setting of a comedy instead of a creepy horror film. The tone of that whole sequence set inside The Shining is just bizarre, and it makes me wonder if Spielberg is losing his touch. As a technical achievement, it’s a flawless re-creation of the original film, but it just doesn’t work story-wise. To paraphrase a guy from another Spielberg movie: The filmmakers were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.