The portrayal of college in movies is often a far cry from the reality and pressures of college life. Graphic by Elizabeth Wong.
College movies, for the most part, have it all wrong. These movies frequently show an unrealistic version of college. There are hundreds of movies dealing with the college experience but which ones actually get it right?
To me, “Pitch Perfect” is a really bad representation of college, even though it may be a good movie in other aspects.
Beca, the main character, has established herself as a leader in her a capella group within a week of the beginning of her freshman semester and has bonded with the other members deeply. Finding friends at college is much harder than this; it takes time to bond with people and there are almost always people you won’t like in clubs you join. The whole group is unrealistic to me.
The larger issue is the complete lack of academics in the movie. Besides just attending classes, there is a lot of work to do after classes. It is common to have multiple papers, tests and other assignments due every week. The members of the Barden Bellas devote all their time to practice and competing, but we never see them do any schoolwork. The basis of college is classes and homework. Any movie that completely ignores these aspects is missing the point of college.
“Pitch Perfect” does get some things right though, like that you may not get along with your roommate freshman year. Beca’s roommate is almost completely opposite to how she acts and they just have to deal with that for a while. While the situation is not good it also is not bad enough to require changing rooms and that is a common sentiment in college.
The worst offender in my eyes has to be “Legally Blonde,” a movie that misses the reality of college by a large mark.
The movie is a painfully bad representation of college. First of all, how does someone get into an Ivy League while being that bad at school? The answer is someone paid for her admittance and we all know how that worked out for Aunt Becky.
The whole idea that this girl can somehow connect her regular life to law without actually learning is absurd. Things that you learn as a fashion major are not going to translate to law. Also, learning the material in the way that Elle does will lead to failing, to get that much information from so little work is more magic than smart.
I honestly cannot think of one thing that “Legally Blonde” got right about the college experience.
One of the more accurate representations of college in a movie for me was “Monsters University.” While the story is completely fictitious, the elements of college are quite accurate.
Students will find friends in the oddest people because everyone is honestly lost in their first few weeks of college. That is how Mike and Sulley become friends. While they are completely different, they find similarities because they are both lost in a new world.
The movie also gets fraternities pretty right. There are a plethora of fraternities on every campus and they are all different. Mike and Sulley both join a frat that matches the community that they are looking for. Many college movies focus on the stereotypical jock frat that throws parties, while this movie shows the diversity in Greek Life.
On the other hand, “Monsters University” is unrealistic in the fact that it deals with monsters in college and the dean is going out of her way to kick Mike and Sulley out of school. While professors or faculty may not like people in college, they are professionals and will not stoop to targeting students.
The most accurate representation of college I have ever heard came from John Mulaney. In his comedy special “Kid Gorgeous,” Mulaney talked about his college experience:
“I didn’t drink water the entire time,” Mulaney said. “I lived on cigarettes and alcohol and Adderall. College was like a four-year game show called ‘Do My Friends Hate Me or Do I Just Need to Go to Sleep?’ But instead of winning money, you lose $120,000.”
While college is generally a good time, I feel Mulaney got it right. College involves very little sleep or water and involves much anxiety and bad attempts to cope with it. While I hope people are not living on only alcohol, cigarettes and Adderall, it represents the idea of college.