Friday, August 21, 2015

Too Much Ado in Alabama About Nothing

The time in mid-summer when sororities recruit new pledges is a big thing in some places, including the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.  Now that's one of the places I pass through, and I've strayed from the interstate unto the campus there and University Boulevard, the main drag through it.  It's a nice-looking place.  Many sororities have developed recruitment videos, and the sisters of Alpha Phi have as well.  Here are some scenes from the one in question:

You may want to do a Google Search for the one in its entirety.  It lasts about five minutes.  It even has an elephant twerking in it.  

Beginning with an article appearing on, the you-know-what hit the fan!  Specifically, the article castigated the sorority members for being too blonde, too girly, not racially diverse enough, bikinied, and emphasizing girls' fun too much and book learning too little!  

Because of this media criticism, the University of Alabama made them take it down; however, you can see this video at Jezebel; somehow appropriately named.

My guess is that the typical freshman students gets serious academia, future goals, lofty ideals, and topics favorable to older adults up their collective wazoos during orientation!  And, after all, joining a sorority is one path to finding congenial friends, relaxation, and plain old fashioned fun!

Apparently the writer, one A. L. Bailey, got exercised by the frivolity of it all.  Was the author's ideal a tremendously diverse, terminally serious, grumpy, unfashionable group that spontaneously rises to support worthy causes; at least causes that the Eastern establishment press seems to champion!  Hey dude or dudette!  This is Alabama; and those are 18-22 year olds.  These are not a collective organization of women deans!

Anyway, that thought piece evoked a tremendous response in, almost as great as I assume Alabama and Auburn football would draw.  The original columnist gave the opinion that the video was worse than Donald Trump's put-downs of women!  Another one complained that she got a lot of negative responses and cyberbullying, but that she was not the same A. L. Bailey who was culprit.  She was, reasonably enough, a fashion writer.

Now, although I'm involved in academe, I would have to call this making a mountain out of a molehill.*  Is there such a dearth of news down there that a five-minute video would make such a response?  It's not like some legislators or football coaches making a sex tape, you know!  Are we so locked into puritanism and hyperregulating other peoples' actions?  And, dang it: Shouldn't diversity ideal also include being bubbly, blonde, and having a zest for life?  And, by criticizing those possibilities, aren't they likewise abridging the choices or opportunities of young women and confining them to an approved stereotype of liberal academicians or the media?

Anyway, it continued to rage for a week.  The story was covered on the Today show and in USA Today.  The Houston Chronicle put it as "reinforces every negative stereotype of sororities."  The YouTube video got over a million hits.  And it even made editorial cartoons.

Or was this simply a golden opportunity for good old-fashioned Alabama bashing?  I noticed that some took schaudenfreude when Alabama lost to Ohio State; and putting down Dixie is as American as apple pie.

Anyway, August used to be known as the silly season for news.  Apparently, is continuing that tradition.  Maybe the esteemed writer should be reminded of Cyndy Lauper's old song, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun":

*This is an American academic trait just like parsnips and Brussels sprouts pie.


bakku-shan said...

Political correctness gone wild?

Duckbutt said...

That video would have been okay there 40 years ago, and no self-righteous criticism.

John Hill said...

Too much ado, indeed!

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

On sorority bid day is newsworthy. And the sororities have been under a lot of criticism. I agree; this is something that was manufactured into a big deal.

Mike said...

I'd heard about the video but never watched it so I did. Watch it that is. WTF is all the hoopla about?!

Big Sky Heidi said...

This even made the news in Montana. Too much stupid ado by people who have nothing better to do.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

Mike, it must have been a slow news week.

allenwoodhaven said...

Love "*This is an American academic trait just like parsnips and Brussels sprouts pie."

Grand Crapaud said...

Descendants of puritans no doubt.

Leroy said...

No nudity, no drugs, no alcohol, no one taking bribes. They worry too easy there.