As you’ve probably heard, the movie does mock fraternities and sororities. Even before the movie was released, there was chatter on social media about how Hollywood – yet again – is feeding into negative stereotypes about our movement.
And so, upon watching this movie with some hesitation and concern, when the Greek scenes emerged I expected myself to shake my head in frustration.
But instead, I laughed.
It felt so good to laugh. My kids were laughing and the rest of the audience was laughing. There was the jock fraternity, and the “cool-kids” fraternity, and the nerdy fraternity. Their portrayals were over-the-top and…really funny.
Later, I thought about Animal House, and Revenge of the Nerds, and other college movies that have been a thorn in our behinds. And, my thoughts turned to how funny these movies really are. The student court scene in Animal House is absolutely classic. “We’re not going to sit here and let you badmouth the United States of America!” Animal House is a funny movie when seen as a lampoon and not as a documentary.
We've spent so much time allowing ourselves to be debilitated by these movies, that we've forgotten how to laugh at them.
Oh man, I just want to laugh at these things. I want them to just be satire. I want fraternity and sorority members to have built organizations that are so authentic and values-based, that Hollywood portrayals can only be seen as spoofs. I so want to be like most Mormons I know who have seen the musical “The Book of Mormon,” and be able to laugh with knowing confidence in what’s real and what’s not.
I want these negative portrayals to seem so outrageously funny instead of seeming so truthful. I want us to be able to carry a sense of humor about ourselves - the kind that comes when you also have an abundance of respect and credibility.
By the way, in Monsters University, the fraternity that is the most real and authentic is the one that succeeds. It’s the one my sons were loudly cheering for at the end. Yet, our focus will probably stay with how the movie depicted our worst aspects (albeit in amusing ways).
Well, for a moment, it felt good to just smile along with my boys. When it comes to real-life fraternities and sororities, let’s keep building organizations we can be proud of.
When it comes to a day at the movies, I just want to laugh.