Listed in the annals of 20th Century Fox films is the best-known unknown movie in America with a Nostradamian capability of predicting what would happen to higher education — and the country as a whole — 20 years after its release.
“PCU,” the cult classic college film starring Jeremy Piven, Jon Favreau and David Spade is the movie everyone’s seen but no one talks about. That one friend who probably smoked too much dope in college has definitely quoted the movie to you, or you’ve probably watched it on a Sunday afternoon while nursing a hangover.
But the film is much more than a simple college flick full of immature, yet poignant humor. It is still relevant on almost every level.
Unfortunately, it has been largely forgotten.
No one, including The Daily Caller, celebrated its 20-year anniversary on April 29. A copy only costs about $7 on Amazon, $1.50 less than “Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds” and I wanted to claw my eyes out watching that (it was on a date, she wanted to see it, don’t judge). In that way, it’s an enigma, similar to that guy who goes to all the parties in high school, but no one really knows who he is.
So here is a belated celebration of what should be more than a cult classic with five predictions from the film.
1. The Causeheads
Droz: These, Tom, are the Causeheads. They find a world-threatening issue and stick with it for about a week.
The Causeheads are just what they sound like, a group of activists who simply switch what they’re campaigning for or against based on fads. This rings all too true on today’s campuses, whether conservative or liberal in nature.
But it’s become much more than deciding not to eat meat or saving the rain forest or outlawing abortion or allowing guns on campus. People still frequently jump from cause to cause (the “South Park” episode “A Scause for Applause” is a great take on this), but college activists have become increasingly specialized in their nature. This has extended into the broader public as a whole as well.
There is literally a cause for everything. Troubled by how fat people are treated? Join the National Association for the Advancement of Fat Acceptance. Don’t like how lobsters are treated? Support the Lobster Empathy Center. Think biology classes should teach creationism? Yeah, we’ve got that too.
2. The Divide
Droz: Ok, now it’s true, the majority of students today are so cravenly PC, they wouldn’t know a good time if it was sitting on their face, but there’s one thing that will always unite us and them. They’re young. They may not realize it yet. They’ve got the same raging hormones, the same self-destructive desire to get boldly trashed and wildly out of control. Look out that window! That’s not a protest! That is cry for help!
With the growing number of causes on college campuses, it’s no surprise the public is more divided now than ever. People are quick to blame this on the other side, often saying they’re unwavering while simply deciding to not associate with anyone outside of their political beliefs.
Just look at Congress, which recently passed a budget for the first time since 2009. They were praised for doing the very thing Congress is supposed to do.
This is indicative of the divisive times we live in and was eerily foretold in the film. “PCU” takes the “clique” phenomenon to a new level. The Causeheads hang out with each other, the Balls and Shaft hang out with each other, the womynists hang out with each other and the stoners hang out with each other.
This shouldn’t be surprising since it’s gone on for millennia, but we’re supposed to be a country of inclusion — more so on our college campuses where a free exchange of ideas is encouraged.
Well, at least free speech USED to be encouraged.
3. The President
President Garcia-Thompson: You passed out cigarettes for a smoke-a-thon on Earth Day. You installed speed bumps on the handicapped ramps and, most recently, you dumped 100 pounds of … MEAT on a peaceful vegan protest!
Droz: Oh, come on! That was way more than 100 pounds.
President Garcia-Thompson, aptly played by the brilliant Jessica Walter, is the prototype for college presidents today. She’s completely engulfed by public relations concerns and not very focused on the academics of the university.
The First Amendment is only readily welcome on campus when it fits the ideals of Garcia-Thompson. She is obsessed with political correctness (hence the title “PCU”) and will go to all sorts of odds to make sure it is maintained. The main characters in The Pit receive complaint after complaint, some legitimate, such as the meat tossing, and some outlandish, such as having a band called Everyone Gets Laid.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) releases a First Amendment rankings list yearly on speech codes for more than 400 of the biggest and most prestigious universities in the nation.
In 2014, 60 percent of the universities were found to have speech codes that seriously infringed on students’ rights. This includes liberal states — such as Illinois, Massachusetts and New York — and conservative states — such as Alabama, Louisiana and Texas — with more than 50 percent failing.
So regardless of what political affiliation your state or university carries, stifling the First Amendment is becoming endemic as a means to maintain political correctness and avoid a lawsuit. Political correctness IS taking over.
4. The Studies
Tom: What’s he doin?
Droz: He’s finishing his senior thesis. Pigman is trying to prove the Caine-Hackman theory. No matter what time it is, 24 hours a day, you can find a Michael Caine or Gene Hackman movie playing on TV.
Tom: That’s his thesis?
Droz: Yes! That’s the beauty of college these days, Tommy! You can major in Game Boy if you know how to bullshit.
At one point in the film, President Garcia-Thompson thinks Bisexual Asian Studies should have its own building and debates whether to rid the university of math or hockey.
This is a growing problem for the U.S. Students are opting out of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degrees for majors with high unemployment rates like psychology, fine arts, philosophy and the humanities.
America is facing a serious issue with the decline in STEM majors. The U.S. used to house 40 percent of the world’s scientists. Today, that number is just 15 percent.
With these majors come innovation that has made America the development hub for new technology. Without these forward thinkers, we may soon lose out on the next wave of tech that keeps us more advanced than any other nation in the world. We could miss out on the next Google or smartphone or disease cure.
Luckily, some in the tech industry are taking steps to remedy the problem by offering free classes to women and minorities, groups largely marginalized in the tech industry, in an attempt to extend the pipeline of STEM majors.
5. The Remedy
Droz: Please have a party! Feed us drinks!
So what’s the remedy to these problems that seem so ingrained in our society now? It’s quite simple and is the whole plot of the movie: chill.
The Pit decides it is going to throw a campus-wide party to raise enough money to keep the house it is losing. But the task seems nigh impossible since the groups on campus refuse to work with each other.
But then the brilliance kicks in: get every group to protest the party, then convince them to have a good time. That’s it.
We need to be able to leave our politics at the door and just relax. We need to be able to say whatever stupid thoughts we have in our mind and get along with the opposition no matter how dumb we think they might be. Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan got along socially, and they fought tooth and nail.
And that’s it. It turns out for as much of a degenerate and idiot Rodney King was, he was right. We all need to get along and start worrying about real important issues rather than lingering over benign arguments. Instead of letting our causes or political correctness or heritage get in the way, we need to relax and realize how to play the game.
After all it ends pretty much the same for everyone, so why waste time on trivial matters like if we’re eating meat or if we cavort with people whose ancestors didn’t come over on the Mayflower?