Blotto with “Bluto’’
Getting a load on in Hollywood
Thursday, November 6, 2008
John Belushi’s “Bluto’’ in National Lampoon’s Animal House is one of the most iconic characters in movie history. His navy blue “College” sweater, a blank look in his eyes and that fifth of Jack Daniels he gulps down in one breath. We all knew a Bluto in college who took drinking to an astronomical level.
For better or worse– despite the concerns of anti-drinking groups, worried administrators and civil libertarians– Hollywood has portrayed college as a drink-fest free-for-all, with no consequences for bad behavior.
Twenty-five years after Animal House, in 2002, National Lampoon’s Van Wilder revolved around a seven-year college student who has partied way too much and is given an ultimatum: graduate or leave. The implicit message: Party on.
Rules of Attraction (2002), a darker depiction of college life based on Bret Easton Ellis’ novel, opens with Lauren, a sophomore, snapping out of her drunken haze for a moment to realize she is on the brink of losing her virginity. The scene concludes with the guy who has been pawing her vomiting instead. Extreme? Definitely. But it captures the debauchery of the college-drinking scene.
In Revenge of the Nerds (1984), high school valedictorians, 4.0 grade averages and innovators of “robster claws” don’t get the blonde cheerleader. The frat-boy, football players who smash Budweiser can on their heads all night do.
And 2003’s box office smash Old School paid homage to the grown-up college partygoers (yes, this means you, Will Ferrell) who want to go back to the land of beer bongs, sex dolls and late-night streaking.
Despite all the media campaigns against the objectification of women, smoking and heavy drinking, anti-drinking groups like MADD have never really made as concerted a campaign against the positive depiction of school drinking in boyz school movies. Bluto’s advice to the freshman in Animal House was “start drinking heavily.” But college kids might consider what ultimately happened to Belushi before they take his advice.