Life, America, Randomness

Old School and Social Commentary

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It had occurred to me that the classic motion picture ‘Old School’ has a lot more into it. To the untrained eye, this picture is simply (yet another) college movie about three 30+ old friends who start a fraternity and revamp their lethargic community.

But I can’t stop wondering about the subliminal messages and nuances within this fine Hollywood magnum opus. Here’s a brief intro for those of you who sinfully didn’t watch the movie:
Mitch is a 30+ male working the mundane 9-5. One day he returns home early from a doll conference and learns that his GF Heidy enjoys being gang-banged on a weekly basis. This obviously devastates Mitch, who leaves her behind and rents a house on its own, hoping for a fresh clean start.

We soon realize that Mitch has two very close friends that I’d like to outline today. Frank ’The Tank’ and Bernard ‘Binny’.

Frank The Tank, on the surface, is a man-child with a slight problem of alcoholism. However, deeming his character and its meaning as such will be an error of judgment. Frank The Tank is the embodiment of the American male and his inability to grow up post his college years. Frank’s starting point in the movie is his own wedding, and although claiming he’s ‘ready for the next step‘ Frank obviously struggles with the meanings of stepping into wedlock. Beyond just having to sexually commit to one woman for the rest of his life, Frank is terrified of growing up. He doesn’t want to see himself as an adult, and the famous “I promise my wife I won’t drink tonight cause we have a big day tomorrow…. pretty nice little Saturday; we’re going to Home Depot…Maybe Bed Bath and Beyond – I don’t know, I don’t know if we’ll have enough time” scene illustrates Frank’s fear perfectly. This apparently is every guy’s worst nightmare: imagining that picking flooring for your bathtub is your week’s highlight. Following the reaction of the college dudes he’s talking to, Frank steps forward and jugs down a beer bong. Which got me thinking that there’s no denying it – being a college party animal is the American Male’s happy place. His safe zone. A place where it’s okay for him to be all those things that are taboos in America’s adult society: drunk, violent, rude, harassing, carefree, childlike, and most importantly, someone who’s allowed to make mistakes.

Mitch’s second friend, Bernard, is a whole new story. Although also terrified of growing up, Binny represents what happens to the American male as he achieves The American Dream. Binny has a hot wife (that chick from King of Queens – not that I ever watched that show), two (maybe three) children and an uber thriving and lucrative business. He had achieved, on the surface, the kind of materialistic and emotional success most of us only dream of. Bernard is nevertheless not happy because something is missing in his life, and he blames adulthood (via his wife) for the anger he has towards the world. Having reached the point in life he was told will make him content, not experiencing such feelings finds Bernard completely lost. However Binny knows and accepts he’s an adult, and usually behaves appropriately. He uncompromisingly prevents people from cursing in front of his son and chooses not to cheat on his wife when an opportunity presents itself. He also, in classic adult behavior, uses Mitch’s situation (living alone and supposedly having no worries or commitments) to live the way he wants to live – but is presumably too much of an adult to do so. And whereas this might not be something to be proud of, in my eyes, there’s no difference between Binny’s handling of Mitch to every other father who forces his son into Baseball practice, or every other mother who shoves her daughter into a beauty pageant uniform. They’re all just using others in an attempt to fulfill the same dreams they were too afraid / incapable of achieving on their own. See when we’re in our late teens-early twenties, we chase our dreams ourselves. But when we’re adults, we use and rely on others to live our dreams.

Watching Old School begs the question: Does being an adult sucks that bad? Is our life really over once we pass the age of 22? And if this is a cult movie, is anyone surprised there are so many adult males who have issues with commitments?


Written by Frankelstache

March 17, 2009 at 1:10 pm

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