The collegiate Greek system in America has always been a bit of a mystery to us Brits. Frats and sororities are really only things we see in movies like Animal House or Old School; places where the rich, white children of the country's privileged elite go to play beer pong, wear togas, and prepare to become incompetent political heavyweights in the most powerful country in the world. Sure, we have Carnage pub crawls and rugby initiations, but none of our drunken antics ever really reach the established formalities of a frat. It's an alien concept, basically.
But these bizarre brotherhoods can't remain a secret forever. Fairly recently, the more egregious habits of frats have come to light. Since 2010, these things have happened within the confines of prestigious universities: A frat brother at Georgia Tech sent around an email guide titled “Luring your rapebait”. Wesleyan had a frat affectionately nicknamed the “Rape Factory”. And Fraternity brothers at Yale once marched through campus yelling, “No means yes, yes means anal.” This list is not exhaustive, so feel free to stick "Fraternity + rape" into Google to see what else you can learn.
At a glance, it appears that these are sanctioned dens of iniquity, where the privileged few can get away with any crime up to (and probably including) murder. It almost makes our 'lad culture' look pathetically benign. I spent a year studying in America, and thanks to a love of binge-drinking and basketball shorts, I hung out with a few frat bros. With the exception of one or two, almost all of them were nice enough young men who - to a product of English university - possessed an almost bizarre dedication to their studies. In short, I wouldn't pin any of them down as total dicks, and I like to think I'd afford most brothers this level of generosity.
That was until I saw this video, which features members of Florida State Univerity's Pi Kappa Alpha (nicknamed PIKE) frat giving a MTV Cribs-style tour of their chapter house. Which happens to be the largest in the USA (that's 253 bros).
Before we delve into the 'best' parts, let me just say that this represents everything wrong with America: Gross inequality, nepotism, rank consumerism, outmoded patriarchal roles, waxed chests, white privilege, the list goes on. But let's leave that for a minute; can we just focus on the fact that one of the tour guides is called Tripp. Fucking Tripp?!
The first thing you'll notice about the pair is that they're utterly, morbidly humourless. They make Lurch from the Addam's Family resemble a wisecracking bellhop in a Billy Wilder farce. If these guys ever manned the gates of Heaven, I'd take my chances in Hell. The only thing exotic about either of these two is that one's named after a misspelt verb.
Next up: The pair talk shop. "Largest fraternity", "253 active brothers", "seven players in the NFL", a trophy cabinet, spiel about famous brothers - all set to an interchangeable Trap beat. It's boring and unless you like American Football you won't care. What follows is what really matters: The introduction of Zapp (he replaces Tripp), and the explanation of the "PIKE Dream Girl" title. The Pike Dreamgirl is a sorority sister who the brothers bestow the honour upon as she "best represents the spirit of the fraternity." In other words, the biggest babe on campus:
Alex is the current PIKE Dream Girl. Perks of the job include getting the boys food from gay-bashing sandwich chain Chik-Fil-A - which she's accomplished in the above clip - and benefitting from "200 personal bodyguards," who are, according to one study, 300% more likely to rape her than male students unaffiliated with a frat. Super chill!
We're then ushered into the chill room and a basic bedroom. Not that I'd know, but both rooms resemble closing time at a club in Vauxhall.
Those hairless chests are begging for baby oil!
We then move to the parking lot, where they talk us through the expensive cars which their parents bought them. For some reason, they're proud to show them off.
After the roadshow, we meet the Chapter's president, Clark. Clark says it can get "pretty tough controlling 200+ Alpha Males." Of course a real Alpha male would be in control of females and any number of beta and omega males, suggesting Clark is A) in charge of a bunch of betas/omegas who pay for friends and wax their chests or B) is an idiot.
As our tour draws to a close, the video descends into an orgiastic display of homoeroticism. Granted, there are women at this party, but for whatever reason the whole shindig seems utterly sexless. Maybe it's the fact everyone looks like Children of the Corn, or maybe it's the infantile connotations of smooth, pale flesh.
Or it could just be that the boys are more focused on wrestling each other while shirtless.
Whatever it is, the whole event looks fucking sterile. Where's the spontaneous fun? Are people even there because they want to be? I certainly don't go to parties to take my top off and wrestle on inflatables, and I can't see why this lot would either.
Ultimately, these young people might be the least self-aware individuals on the planet, with no concept of their repressed sexuality or, much more importantly, people who aren't exactly like them. The needs, hopes, feelings, and fears of folks who aren't rich, aren't white, and who don't naked wrestle will never enter their radar.
That's pretty scary, especially when most of these brothers will go on to significant positions of power once they graduate. I'll take the rugby initiation any day, mate.
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