Knowledge is Good!

Sometimes we wonder how counter-culture gets mainstreamed into American society. One of our favorite examples comes from an old favorite movie, National Lampoon’s Animal House.

The movie is famous for many things, but probably not what Gilbert Public Schools thinks. Gross-out comedy? Check. Frat boy partying? Check. Academic inspiration? No way.

The motto of Faber College: “Knowledge is Good.” National Lampoon’s Animal House is set in 1962 on the campus of Faber College in Faber, PA. In the first scene, the camera focuses on a statue of Emil Faber, the fictional founder of fictional Faber College. On the pedestal is the inscription “Knowledge Is Good.” The phrase is so mainstream now, it’s the motto of Greenfield Elementary School! We think that’s a really good, fun thing!

Strange! How many of today’s elementary kids do you think have watched Animal House, especially in a conservative community like Gilbert, Arizona? Even stranger is how kids take up words that find their way into the mainstream. How many elementary kids do you think know the word they toss around so casually, “frickin,” has unsavory history? (We’re not going to link that one – Keyboard is too innocent.) One of our favorites is a kid who tattled that someone “had used the S-word.” The S-word was “shut up.” Naughty!

As commentary on society, National Lampoon’s Animal House rocks! In 2001, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film culturally significant and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. It was low-budget, but it has become one of the most profitable films of all times. Some of the actors became legendary stars, including one of our favorites, Donald Sutherland.

In 2012, Universal Pictures Stage Productions announced it was developing a stage musical version of Animal House with Barenaked Ladies writing the score. We got all excited about that, especially with the great success of the theme song for The Big Bang Theory, also by Barenaked Ladies. Then we discovered the Barenaked Ladies were off the project. Sigh.

Wikipedia shares the genesis of Animal House:

Animal House was the first film produced by National Lampoon, the most popular humor magazine on college campuses in the mid-1970s. The periodical specialized in humor, and satirized politics and popular culture. Many of the magazine’s writers were recent college graduates, hence their appeal to students all over the country. In 1974, Dave Mobley was impressed with the magazine and wrote a short story about Mu Omega Beta (the MOB) of Union College. The MOB was started in 1966 as an anti fraternity. The college was a religious school that didn’t allow drinking or partying. Mu Omega Beta would supply the party house and the booze. Each MOB member would be given a secret name, known only to its members. The purpose was to know who ordered what on the “beer list.” If list got into the wrong hands, no one would be identified to the school. The MOB was known for pranks, wild parties and other crazy behavior. Freshmen women were warned to stay away from the MOB, which made them seek out Mu Omega Beta members. The story was received by National Lampoon; they loved the story of the MOB and set their writers loose on the idea.

Animal House Trivia:

Other fun college comedies:

Sydney White: Amanda Bynes plays Snow White meets Animal House.  Sydney White helps the 99% take back their college from the Greeks, who run everything and take all the money.  Amanda is charming in this movie.  We’re rooting for her in real life, too.  Mental health is good.
The House Bunny: Anna Faris plays a cast-out Playmate who becomes house mother to a sorority of misfits.
Legally Blonde: Reese Witherspoon plays Elle Woods, a blonde with a heart of gold–and a mind like a steel trap. This is Keyboard’s favorite; Legally Blonde 2 is a lesser film.
Pitch Perfect: College comedy with singing.
Community: A funny TV series about misfits at a community college.


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