Animal House





Animal House


College life is usually depicted from a negative perspective in the film industry. “Animal house” is an exemplary illustration of such films that have played a major role in developing this perception. This is primarily because it demonstrates the occurrences that happen within the college setting. This is especially after the upheaval that occurred in 1960’s in America (Reslan, Saules, and Serras 855). During this specific period, there was student unrest that was characterized by uncontrollable fraternities rebelling against patriarchal control directed towards them by the school administrator (Hevel 373). Through analyzing this book, the reader is able to relate the real life issues that plague students in college as well as the popularized stereotypes that have been developed over the years as will be demonstrated by this study. The main thematic setting in the book is the Greek college system. According to some of the reviews received following the release of the film, critics opine that the film criticizes the Greek systems in American college. However, Ramis not only uses the film to depict the socialistic aspect of college life but also links it to the political and social setting in which the movie is filmed as will be illustrated in the study.

Background Information

The plot of the book illustrates the manner in which students within the fraternities are rebellious against administration rules and regulations. The two competing fraternities that are portrayed within the book are the Deltas and Omegas (Hevel 374). According to author, the omegas are more inclined towards respecting the administration as they collaborate with the dean. They are illustrated as being disciplined as they conform to the rigid system and suppressing fun activities (Reslan, Saules and Serras 876). Thus, they become an integral aspect in the administration and institutions because they uphold the dignity and integrity. On the other hand, the Deltas are portrayed as outsiders. Other media films such as Fraternity Row support this portrayal of Deltas, where they are illustrated as totally subverting their main purpose of learning in a higher educational institution. In the movie, the deltas are considered as misfits who collaborate the founding of the Delta house. Their main purpose as indicated in the film is partying and rebellion. This is exemplified with the “Toga Party” which is a term used in the recent day to mean college house parties. The dramatic aspect of this movie is the characterization of the parties. Based on what is demonstrated in the movie, the parties are held in the basement of the Delta’s house (Hevel 375). Solo cups, beer pong tables, music blasts, and sweaty dances typify the college fart parties.

Dramatic Element 1: College Wild Life

Destroying Moral Values

The Animal House portrays college as a harmful place, which corrodes morals and integrity of young people. According to the illustration in the film, the student body is seen to be compromised of slackers, dug addicts, and party-addicted persons. This is justified with the mannerisms portrayed within the movie. Firstly, The Deltas are a troublesome lot that is always in disagreements with the administration. Their focus is misplaced in that they direct their attention to women, outlandish ideologies, beer, trouble making, and rude noises. One of the main characters that reinforce this mentality is John Blutarsky who is nicknamed as Bluto (Hevel 376). The film portrays him as a total drunkard with a snobbish personality. He has wasted his years at the college having been there for an estimated seven years. With extreme behaviors as illustrated by Bluto who in one instance crashes a beer can on his head, college life is portrayed as a crazy lifestyle. Ramis uses this as symbolism to indicate the extent of craziness that exists within the Delta house.

The negative image portrayed by this behavior is contrary to that which is expected in the 21st century as well as the period the movie is set. In the 21st century, college students are demonstrated as being serious and focusing on their education in order to become great people in the society. Similarly, students in the 1970’s were also serious individuals that were determined to reach the highest ranks of education (Hevel 376). It is a known fact that college students partake in alcohol. However, unlike what is portrayed in the movies, there is more restraint and control of the levels of intoxication in real life settings. Conclusively, one might conclude that in Animal House, there is borderline exaggeration, which has created a negative image of college life.


The wild lifestyle portrayed in the film also expresses the aspect of sexism (Osberg et al. 929). Women are portrayed as being of loose character without any prudence. In this regard, Ramis uses symbolism to portray the image of a typical college girl. Some of the physical traits that are highlighted include large breast, curvaceous bodies, and pompous buttocks. The manner of clothing includes revealing low cuts dresses and tops in order to reveal the large breasts. This portrayal is contradicting to the modern day setting (Hevel 377). Typically, a 21st century female student is likely to be dressed in moderate attires such as sweat pants or sweat shirts with tied up hair for class. This translates to the fact that in the modern day setting, female students are more concerned about comfortability as opposed to being skimpy for attention as illustrated in the film. Therefore, from this perspective, the typical female student does not dress to attract a multitude of sexually crazed males but rather for comfortability that enables her to perform at her level best in any activity

The wild lifestyles lived by the Deltas explores the socialistic revolution they chose to express which is in line with the political standing illustrated by the United States during the period the film was set. In this light, the character Otter indicates the transformation that occurs when a typical male student enrolls to college. According to the symbolist expression of the wild life, college is depicted as a world by itself where standards and morals are transformed to meet with expectations and situational elements. Otter express the revolutionary trait. His name is chosen as a symbol, which means that he is an industrious individual driven with the need to revolt against oppressors, which in this case are the Deana and the Omegas (Hevel 378). The revolutionary association of the real world events at the time is brought out the wild and crazy activities that are partaken by the members of Delta house after having sworn in their pledges to Otter. Firstly, a horse is killed in the Dean’s office. This animal symbolizes the event of the Cuban Missile’s crisis. This period was characterized by political tension between USA and USSR following the shortage and disruption in missile supply, which was viewed to have been initiated by the Americans. The main reason for this shortage was the support of Cuba by the Soviet Union in its communistic endeavors (Pujals 230). To this effect, the USSR positioned missiles within a range that would reach major cities in the US, which was in Cuba. Seemingly, the horse in this particular occurrence is symbolic of the sabotage by US in deterring Cubans from aiding Soviet Union from accessing warheads.

Rebellious and Non-Conforming Attitudes

The character that is used by Ramis to bring out the wild lifestyle aspect into play is Bluto. As previously mentioned he is portrayed as a drunkard as well as lacking ambition (Park et al. 566). This is supported with the fact that he has been in Fabert University for seven years, which implies an additional three years to his four-year college degree program (Hevel 379). However, he is portrayed as a revolutionary. This is primarily because in the film, he takes the role of an important and influential character. He is likened to the controversial cartoon character known as Popeye who in this case represented the United States. The Bluto character in Popeye contends with the main character for the hand of lady Olive Oyl and is considered as a representation of USSR. Through the process of foreshadowing within the cartoon, Popeye defeats Bluto (Osberg et al. 925). The revolutionary aspect depicted by Bluto is seen when he initiates food fights in the cafeteria. In the introductory part of the film, Larry and his colleague, after having been refused to join the Omega fraternity head to the Theta House. They find Bluto pissing at the outside the fraternity house. This indicates that he does not believe in confirmation to the societal standards hence revolting against the rules and regulations of the University and the community as well.

Dramatic Element 2: Corrupting Student Personalities

Cheating in Examinations

The second event that symbolically represents political occurrences in this era is when the Omegas decide to provide the wrong test blueprint to the Deltas. As part of the wild lifestyles, the Deltas rebelled against any educative progression meaning they had very low academic standing. Their situation was facilitative to Dean Wormer’s objective, which was to revoke their charter and expel them from the institution. To this end, action taken by Omegas is likened to the manner in which China’s farm production and output was ruined by the Americans during their revolutionary period that was termed as “The Great Leap Forward.” This period was marked with great economic progression in China under the leadership of the revolutionary leader Mao Zedong. He led the Communist Party of China, which aimed at revolutionizing China into a socialist society through inculcating collectivization and rapid industrialization (Sun 179). In this essence, the Omegas just like United States sabotaged the academic progression of the Deltas by switching the authentic answer sheet with a fake generated one in order to deter them from passing their exams, which would guarantee their stay at the university.

Dramatic Element 3: Partying and Associations

The third scene, which has symbolic political connotation, is the Toga party, which the Deltas arrange to memorialize their stay at the college. With their academic performance being below average, the deltas organize the party as a way of cheering themselves up. It is during this party that the Dean’s wife engages sexually with Otter and Pinto associates with the Mayor’s daughter, which land both men in serious trouble with the Dean and the Mayor respectively (Hevel 398). The party symbolizes the conception of the proletariat despite determent by the authoritarians and capitalists in the United States. The capitalists and authoritarians in this regards are the Dean and the Omegas who seem to be against the manner in which the Deltas, who are considered rebellious live their lives and conduct themselves. From a Marxist view, proletariats are considered as persons within a social class that lacks ownership hence the only method of subsistence is exchange of labor power (Osberg et al. 922). In this case, they are termed as wageworkers. In the context, the deltas failed to meet the academic standards set in Faber University, the Dean who plays the role of the capitalist as well as the Omega who represent the authoritarians deemed their stay at the university as counterproductive as they cannot meet expectations or demand to be treated as other fraternities.


It is evident that Animal House events within the Faber University resonate with the real world events that occurred during the time it was set (Osberg et al. 930). Some of these events include the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the sabotage of China’s farm production and output during the Great Leap Forward as well the missile crisis in Cuba (Hevel 3700). The correlation of these events enables the reader to point the manner in which Ramis employs symbolism to represent these events while also pinpointing on the stereotypes that have been developed concerning college life. It is valid to mention that themes such as sexism, partying, cheating as well as gross misconduct are the major stereotypes associated with college life as portrayed in the social media as well as in the entertainment industry. However, it is imperative to consider this negative perception from a more grounded and realistic point of view because of the contradictory element that elaborates the existence of exaggeration in the manner in which college is illustrated in films.


Works Cited

Hevel, Michael S. “Setting The Stage For Animal House: Student Drinking In College Novels, 1865–1933”. The Journal of Higher Education 85.3 (2014): 370-401. Web.

Osberg, Timothy M. et al. “From Animal House To Old School: A Multiple Mediation Analysis Of The Association Between College Drinking Movie Exposure And Freshman Drinking And Its Consequences”. Addictive Behaviors 37.8 (2012): 922-930. Web.

Park, Aesoon et al. “Short-Term Prospective Effects Of Impulsivity On Binge Drinking: Mediation By Positive And Negative Drinking Consequences”. Journal of American College Health 62.8 (2014): 517-525. Web.

Pujals, Sandra. “October 1962: The Missile Crisis As Seen From Cuba By Tomás Diez Acosta”. Caribbean Studies 41.1 (2013): 229-233. Web.

Reslan, Summar, Karen K. Saules, and Alisha Serras. ““Partier” Self-Concept Mediates The Relationship Between College Student Binge Drinking And Related Adverse Consequences”. Addictive Behaviors 36.8 (2011): 855-860. Web.

Stahlbrandt, H. et al. “Cross-Cultural Patterns In College Student Drinking And Its Consequences–A Comparison Between The USA And Sweden”. Alcohol and Alcoholism 43.6 (2008): 698-705. Web.

Sun, Jing. “China As Funhouse Mirror: Yomiuri Shimbun ‘S China Coverage During The Cultural Revolution”. Japanese Studies 28.2 (2008): 179-196. Web.

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