Posted in Lessons by The Books Production Team on September 10, 2008


typewriter4         If American civilization is ever snuffed out by some sort of worldwide pandemic, asteroid crash, or global-warming induced Ice Age, my hope is that the universe’s future archaeologists will find a carefully preserved DVD player, an untouched 52-inch plasma TV, and a hermetically sealed Net-Flix vault.  Nothing will be better able to tell these future great thinkers about The United States’ culture than a year spent watching our movies.  They will see our conceptions of beauty, and they will come to know us through the very medium that we as a society hold to be most valuable.

        Undoubtedly, these future citizens of the universe will draw some interesting conclusions.  They will, for example, come to understand that the four years (or seven – in the case of Van Wilder) that America’s youth spent in the Twenty-first century as university undergraduates were part of a hallowed and cherished coming-of-age ritual celebrated in a disproportionate number of films.  They will also, quite probably, assume that this “Samuel L. Jackson” fellow who appeared in so many of our stories was in fact a family of identical quintuplets – only this could possibly explain “his” ubiquity to the future historian.  (My prediction: “Enough is enough!  I’ve had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!” will be the most quoted phrase of the Thirty-Fourth century.)  But I digress.  So, back to our Hollywood glorification of Ivy-covered walls, and on to Lesson #9.

       In the last 30 years, there have been, as I’ve noted, a plethora of movies made about college life, and as an avid philosopher of the college experience, you can bet that I’ve seen them all.  Now let me be clear, The Paper Chase, Higher Learning, With Honors, PCU, and maybe even How High (starring Reginald Noble and Clifford Smith) are better movies than the one I’m going to recommend that you watch, but it is my belief that no film better captures the multiple directions in which college freshmen find themselves pulled than Dead Man on Campus.

        Really?, you must certainly find yourself asking at this point if you’ve seen the movie.  “Wasn’t that an MTV Films project meant to revive the career of Zach Morris, built upon the premise that if your roommate commits suicide, the university is forced to give you straight A’s?”  Yes, that’s all true.  But if you forget about the last half of the movie, where Josh and Cooper hysterically run through a series of roommates looking for Mr. Z (Daleman’s most depressed student), and you re-watch the first 40 minutes carefully, you’ll find that Dead Man on Campus is a surprisingly accurate portrayal of college life.  There are mixed-gender dormitories, there are fake IDs, there are students taking Adderall, there are consequences for not studying, and there are a group of professors who take themselves way too seriously.  There is the availability of alcohol, there are students getting it on while their roommate is present, there is the availability of weed, there are the expectations placed on students by their parents, and there is the need to maintain a certain GPA to hold onto a scholarship.

        There is also, as Josh quickly finds out, no one to tell him to study or to force him to go to class.  In fact, more often than not, Cooper ends up offering Josh tempting reasons to skip these responsibilities altogether.  What Dead Man on Campus portrays is the very real possibility that you’ll have at least one friend who doesn’t take the academic challenges of college as seriously as they should, and they will want you to join them.  (Secretly, they are hoping that your choice to do so will validate their own decision, and assuage the guilt they have for wasting their parents’ money.)  But that’s the reason that I’m taking my time to type out these pieces of advice for you, the college students of America.  I’m here to tell you that getting stoned all day and playing Guitar Hero can only take you so far in life.  It’s like King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes, or The Byrds sang in 1965 – “To everything (Turn, Turn, Turn), there is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn), and a time for every purpose, under Heaven.”  Bottom line: you must find a way to balance your time (see the forthcoming lesson: TIME MANAGEMENT AND YOU), or you’ll end up like Cooper, working for Flushels, the Toilet Cleaning Clown.

        NOTE: As difficult as I find this to believe, according to, Snakes on a Plane is a better movie than Dead Man on Campus.  Crazy.


3 Responses

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  1. screechpowers said, on September 10, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    This is bogus! I was totally already cast for the part of Connor in this movie, but then Mr. Belding told me I had to take a job as Bayside’s Asst. Principal so we could have Saved by the Bell, The New Class. I hate you Zack Morris. I hate your guts.

  2. intergalactic planetary said, on September 10, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    My name is Cliff,
    Brother of Joe,
    I got me some crack,
    I want me some hoes!!!

    Everybody say YEAH.

  3. Jason said, on November 21, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Sage advice. Love Dead Man on Campus.

    BTW- it’s Cooper, not Connor.

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