Thursday, November 11, 2004

Tom Wolfe, Frat House Film Interpreter

Tom Wolfe, Frat House Film Interpreter

About a third of the way into I Am Charlotte Simmons, the new novel by the always-readable Tom Wolfe, I’m getting that deja vu feeling. Not only because “Dupont College” is a thinly veiled Swarthmore College (“in Chester, PA, 40 miles southwest of Philadelphia” is how he locates it, although Dupont has the Big East sports teams aspect that Swarthmore never had), but also because Wolfe is pulling a bit of the old Walker Percy in this one in tone and judgment, and especially in getting metacultural in his Moviegoer-ish film interpretation. Here, for example, is Wolfe’s take on the real meaning of Frat House movies:

“His strong suit was humor, irony, insouciance, and being coolly-gross, Animal House-style. In the American lit classes, they were always talking about The Catcher In The Rye, but Holden Caulfield was a whining, neurotic wuss. For his, Hoyt’s generation it was Animal House. He must have watched it ten times himself . . . The part where Belushi smacks his cheeks and says, ‘I’m a zit’ . . . awesome . . . and Dumb and Dumber and Swingers and Tommy Boy and The Usual Suspects, Old School . . . He’d loved those movies. He’d laughed his head off . . . gross, coolly gross . . . but did anybody else in this [frat] house get the serious point that made all that so awesome? Probably not. It was actually all about being a man in the age of the wuss.”

quotes ::: from publisher ::: (0) Comments

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