Watching the news of a sit-in at NYU last week got me thinking about how lame today’s college students are and, of course, what fictional character can be blamed. Sure, it would be easy to point to the men of Delta house as the example to which some collegians aspire, and fail, to emulate by wearing t-shirts that read “College.” But, that’s not quite accurate. The culprit behind the decline of modern education is actually even less subtle.
Our man is Thornton Mellon, from the film Back To School, one of the most underrated films of the 1980s. I say he is less subtle because he has the unique distinction of being the only fictional character that I can think of that is actually accused of in the film what I am actually accusing him of. In an early part of the film, Mellon’s economics professor and romantic rival, Dr. Phillip Barbay — a stuffy middle aged man with some sort of British accent, whose fetishes includes having women dress up as Wonder Woman and tie him up with the golden lariat and force him to tell the truth — sums it up: “That… is Mr. Thornton Mellon. The world’s oldest living freshman… and the walking epitome of the decline in modern education. The stupid clod thinks he can buy his way out of the gutter,” he quips to Sally Kellerman’s character, who is the love interest of both men. (I mean, Sally Kellerman? As Rodney Dangerfield said in another movie — “She must have been something before electricity.”)
People of a certain age always complain that the kids today aren’t as smart as they were or don’t take school as seriously as they should. [Read more →]