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September 26, 2018

"YOUNG BRETT KAVANAUGH: THE YALE YEARS"

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Normally, what is said to the INNER HIVE stays in the INNER HIVE.

But I thought I'd share some of the commentary about this week's comic, "Young Brett Kavanaugh: The Yale Years," that was included in yesterday's email to the group.

I'd always revered the movie Animal House, but it is now my theory that the movie played a tremendous role in creating the massive wave of toxic masculinity that started just after the movie came out.

 

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I think the idea of using Trump as the Devil and the Angel, both urging Kavanaugh to go ahead with his assault, really spoke to me.  This aspect didn't make it explicitly into the comic, and it will have to remain in the subtext, but it specifically came from this scene in National Lampoon's Animal House, in which Pinto's date has passed out from over-intoxication, and he's deciding whether to "go ahead." He later learns she's 13 years old.



I'm just a couple of years older than Kavanaugh, and I can't even begin to tell you the impact that Animal House had on our generation of boys.  It was so wildly successful, it invented an entire genre of movies: "teen comedies."  

But it was deeply misogynistic (and pretty racist too).  It created the role model archetype for young men across the country: the roguish, wisecracking, devil-may-care (literally), girl-chasing sociopath.

It reflected, and maybe even helped create, exactly the Ivy League sense of entitlement that boys like Kavanaugh and his buddies aspired to. (The movie is based on the experiences of one of the three screenwriters, who went to Dartmouth, and another screenwriter was a Harvard Lampoon writer who went on to co-found National Lampoon.)

The 1978 movie was set in 1962, and I think it was one of the first bellweathers for a national yearning to go back to the muscular, conservative era before the tumultuous, revolutionary late-sixties, early-seventies.  A yearning that would culminate with election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.

Boys and young men seemed to suddenly reject the sixties/seventies concern about war and the ecology and equal rights and racial justice, and wanted to just pursue their own individual, hedonistic impulses.  Frat culture boomed: Fraternities were on the death's door in the seventies, and there was an explosion in membership in the eighties.  

By the way, can you imagine a teen movie today set sixteen years ago, in 2002?  What would be the point?  When Animal House came out, "sixteen years ago" was another historical era, an entirely different culture, hair styles, clothes, attitudes.  Is there any discernible difference between today and 2002?

Anyway, I loved the movie.  LOVED IT.  The fact that it was "mean" made it all the more transgressively funny to me.  Despite the fact that I now know it is morally abhorrent, and was a disastrous influence on a generation of young men, I still stand by much of its comedy genius.

But it did much to contribute to the culture of "toxic masculinity" that Kavanaugh and his buddies were clearly not only wallowing in, they happily bragged about it in their very public yearbooks.

 

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