Oh, the joys of being young and in college: the lifelong friends we meet, the endless opportunities at our feet, the valuable access to knowledge and the places to go for advanced higher learning.
With nothing to remind you but a couple of empty bottles and a missing laptop you wish you had locked up, it’s no secret: College kids are more likely to partake in hard partying festivities at a more rigorous and aggressive pace. At the whim of a keg stand and a pretty girl, even a looming English paper or 8 a.m. class cannot slow down what will become of this random Tuesday night.
The idea of living large is not a new concept. We work hard and therefore are rightfully entitled to at least a few hours — or subsequent weeknights — to blow off steam and de-stress. Right? What’s more, drinking and wild behavior are especially desirable for well-bodied, energetic young adults, of age or not.
Though these are not any alarming developments, what is noteworthy is pop culture’s increasingly influential role. The entertainment world’s invested interest in a life surrounded by booze, late nights and techno music has recently become more direct and furious, leading to a slew of consequences.
Take MTV’s newest hit reality show, Jersey Shore. In just a few weeks, the controversial program has been drenched with scandal after scandal. Following the lives of eight cast mates living in a Jersey Shore home, MTV has been reprimanded for the show’s stereotypical portrayal of Italian-Americans, multiple accounts of bar violence — including a highly circulated scene involving a woman being full-on punched in the face by a fellow bar patron — and, of course, irresponsible amounts of exposure to ultraviolet light and tanning beds.
Besides the fact that pulling us away from our televisions may require a crowbar, what is most disastrous is that MTV’s “realistic” depiction of wild party antics suggest no consequences, but instead offer a gateway to fame and fortune. Instead of being slapped with a pair of handcuffs for bar fighting or gross public intoxication, the reality stars have quickly risen among the ranks of tabloid front-page royalty.
Recently, singer Mariah Carey gave the Jersey Shore gang a run for its money, spilling over the side of the stage at two award shows as she drunkenly slurred through her acceptance speeches. Talk show host Chelsea Handler pointed out that Carey helped her finally realize what it took to win a People’s Choice Award, saying she deserved one too because “I’m drunk all the time.”
Surely, showcasing this lifestyle without any recourse must glamorize alcoholism. The heightened attention in Hollywood provides the masses, namely unassuming young people, with an incongruous image of this potentially dangerous and out-of-control lifestyle. Though personal choice is still the ultimate factor for members of the public, shows like Jersey Shore as well as bashed celebrity behavior on television make these activities look more alluring and desirable.
Only in tragedy are we given a wake-up call. Last week Hollywood socialite and the heiress of the Johnson & Johnson fortune, 30-year-old Casey Johnson, passed away under suspicious circumstances, the most recent in a pattern of young celebrities facing trouble after living life in the fast lane.
Tired of losing friends to something so senseless, actress Lindsay Lohan and celebrity DJ Samantha Ronson took to their Twitter pages to say “Wake Up People.”
Still, since the birth of Hollywood, stars have created the illusion of a loose, unattainable lifestyle — the schmoozing, cocktails and parties — and only in drunken abandonment are we that much closer to living the fantasy. Entertainment’s frivolous outlook on the party culture encourages participation from thrill-seeking young people, many of who live out this myth within their respective college scenes. Instead, we should look past the glamour and think rationally, and act responsibly in our own personal choice.
We work hard, play hard. So as long as nobody’s hurt and tanning beds aren’t involved, the party doesn’t need to stop.
Christopher Agutos is a junior majoring in public relations. His column, “Pop Life,” runs Tuesdays.