As someone who went to a school most often characterized as being a campus full of Paris Hilton types in JUICY sweatpants and guys with puffy vests and frosted tips, I'm well aware of the fallacies of college stereotypes. I'm sure all of the farmers who went to Guelph and the functional retards who went to Brock would agree with me. Maybe this is why a recent casting call looking for actors to portray college students for an ESPN college basketball commercial. The casting call was, in a word, hilarious. Full credit to Awful Announcing for picking up on the original item.
Let's just take a look at some of these character types that ESPN is looking for....
[ DUKE UNIVERSITY ]
MALE. Our guy for Duke UNIVERSITY is a smart, with it, young WHITE male. He's handsome. He's from money. He is, in short, the kind of guy, everyone can't stand. He is the kind of guy everyone wants to be.
[ NORTH CAROLINA ]
FEMALE. She's a Southern bell. She is the counterpoint to Duke. Being young and pretty everyone wants to be around her. She's charming. Not a dingbat, she's sharp.
I'm suddenly wondering if my buddy Larkin got a job at a casting agency, since he's the only person I know of outside of Archie Comics that actually uses the word 'dingbat.' Anyway, I guess to counter-act Dick Vitale's Duke bias, ESPN needed to cast a pro-UNC image between the two schools here --- 'everyone wants to be around' the Tar Heel, whereas 'everyone can't stand' the Duke guy.' On the plus side, the Duke guy is at least an animate object. The North Carolina girl is a 'Southern bell,' which I'm presuming is a typo for 'southern belle,' but hey, you don't often see giant anthromorphic bells outside of tourism ads for Philadelphia. The Duke casting call comes just short of including the Sarah Silverman-coined term "date-rapey."
[ TEXAS ]
MALE. Straight out of an Abercrombie & Fitch catalog, Texas is a young man's man. He is the kind of guy that could field dress a deer and then take you to the debutante ball in 20. Polite, farm boy. He's good at everything. Except call centering.
I'll never forget that time I was supposed to take Suzie O'Malley to the debutante ball, but I showed up at her door still covered in deer blood from my afternoon of hunting. I knew I should've taken 25 minutes, instead of 20. Gee whiz! If only I had grown up in Texas! Suzie and I would've been necking at Makeout Point for sure! And then we would've gone to Necking Point to make out!
[ KANSAS ]
MALE. Kansas is straight off the farm. However, he takes great pains to point out that Kansas is very cosmopolitan, as witnessed by their record, their burgeoning tech industry, and their hybrid corns (bonus: modified by fish genes!)
What the hell? Chances that the casting director had an irritating run-in at a cocktail party with someone from Topeka who was a little sensitive about his state's reputation: 95 percent.
[ CONNECTICUT ]
MALE. Connecticut is all things Connecticut. He's a little bit older. He's a little bit thicker around the waist. He's WHITE. He's also competitive. Very. Waspy, blue blood.
He's not white, he's WHITE. Also, I know a lot of these schools are in the same states, but they could've just saved a lot of time by writing '[School character] is all things [State school is in]."
[ OKLAHOMA ]
MALE. Oklahoma is awesome and he thinks everything is awesome. He's very enthusiastic about all things call center and all things life and he wants to share this contagious enthusiasm with everyone he meets. Wide-eyed, as naive as they come.
My cousin once worked in a call centre and was ready to go on a five-province killing spree after about half a day. There is nobody in the world "enthusiastic about all things call center."
[ LOUISVILLE ]
MALE. Louisville is very true to place. He's short. He's HISPANIC. And one day he hopes to carry on in proud Louisville tradition and race thoroughbreds.
He's not Hispanic, he's HISPANIC. In a related story, Jefferson County, Kentucky's most recent demographics study revealed that Latinos make up 1.78% of the population. So this ad is clearly right on the money. Also, if you go to Louisville, you apparently are destined to become a jockey. Boy, that Rick Pitino clearly is a genius if he can create a winning basketball team from a student body that apparently has an average height of 4'10.
[ TENNESSEE ]
FEMALE. Tennessee is orange crazy. The ice tray in her orange fridge, that freezes the water she dyes orange, is that orange. The party girl cowboy hat she wears is a white and orange zebra print. The tattoo on her lower back is Pantone 3 for that Tennessee orange. The only thing that's not orange is her dog, which is the mascot Smokey. Did we mention she's crazy? A slutty girl who would hang out at the cowgirl hall of fame.
Congrats, Tennessee women. Your national image is that you'll spread for anyone wearing Vols orange.* First of all, I think the writer had a stroke halfway through that second sentence. Secondly, of all things they could've used to emphasize how Volunteer-crazy this chick is, they decided to focus on her ice tray? What the hell? I think the idea was taken from what fans of the old Indianapolis Ice minor league hockey team used to do to show their support. Those fans used to put water in the ice trays of their white-coloured fridges, freeze it....and that was basically it. There's not much you can do with the nickname.
* = my original joke here was a very laboured pun that tried to rhyme 'Rocky Top' with something like 'cock throb.' It just didn't work. I feel like I've failed poets everywhere.
[ PURDUE ]
MALE. Child prodigy. 14-year-old. Or open to an 18-year-old who looks 14. Aeronautical engineering. Wiz kid. Think McLovin from Superbad.
Just so you know, a 'wiz kid' is someone who is either a big Diana Ross fan, or is into golden showers. Or both! Poor McLovin --- I just saw the actor (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) in Role Models, and he is going to be stuck being 'McLovin' for the rest of his natural life. Here's hoping the kid pulls off a Neil Patrick Harris-esque career rehab. Anyway, is Purdue really known as a techie school? I guess it makes sense --- if they were known as Boilermakers a century ago, it stands to reason that they've evolved to Rocketmakers.
[ VILLANOVA ]
MALE. Villanova is the poor man's Duke — he's not quite as handsome, he's not quite as rich, he's not quite as dapper. After 2 or 3 beers though, who cares? As he's friendly enough.
So, not date-rapey, but just date-unwanted gropey. Sort of like Artie Ziff and Marge Simpson. Man, Artie's whole spiel about Marge not telling everyone about his "busy hands" was just pure gold. I think I've used the 'good NIGHT' inflection roughly a million times over the last 15 years.
[ NOTRE DAME ]
MALE He's an ASIAN kid who is in to all things Notre Dame, ridiculously so. Oh, and he's always fighting. Every time we encounter him he always has some words or another, be it the faint traces of a black eye, or a scab or whatever. He epitomizes the fightin' Irish.
He's not Asian, he's ASIAN. This is truly a sign of the multiculturalism of our times. Usually the stereotype would be an Irish-Catholic kid (a mixture of Rudy and the "you wanna fight about it" guy from Family Guy) to represent the Fightin' Irish, but instead, this casting company decided to focus on the "fightin' " part. That's the kind of thinking that wins Clios. Or, just derision on blogs. I can't wait until we get to the Cal State-Bakersfield Roadrunners and it's just some guy dressed as asphalt with a yellow line down the center of his face.
[ PITTSBURGH ]
FEMALE. Pittsburgh is a tomboy. She obviously grew up in the neighborhood and isn't going to take any guff from anyone and she'll wallop you in the eye with a crowbar if you suggest different. So don't. Think Tina Fey type.
A 'Tina Fey type' equates to 'a tomboy who will beat the shit out of you with a crowbar'? I don't think this person is a very good casting director. Either that or else they were just big Sarah Palin boosters. That being said, I think I would pay $100 to see Tina Fey star in the Charles Bronson role in a remake of Death Wish.
[ SYRACUSE ]
MALE. Jewish kid from Long Island that is loving the college experience. It has opened up a world he never knew existed. All you can eat buffets in the cafeteria — who knew? To Syracuse, everything is a party.
Wait, he's just Jewish? Why isn't he JEWISH? Anti-semitism! Also, I love that this character apparently grows up in NYC, but to really experience the high life, he has to go to the wild, crazy, big city of Syracuse.
[ GEORGETOWN ]
FEMALE. Georgetown, a 4.36 GPA who's lived in 9 world-class cities, but all the time in her sister's shadow (her GPA is 4.37). She's sort of the female Duke, except most people like her. Think Reese Witherspoon.
And, with a few more movies like Rendition and Four Christmases, ESPN might actually be able to get Reese Witherspoon! C'mon Reese, I know there's such thing as a post-Oscar hangover, but come on now. You're already up to a 0.2 on the F. Murray Abraham Scale.
[ GONZAGA ]
MALE. No one knows what Gonzaga looks like because no one knows where to find him. He is still stuck in the grunge look, reckless, in from the wild. Flannel look. Chews tobacco. Guy that would go to school in the Pacific Northwest.
Who can forget all of those times that Nirvana interrupted their concerts so Cobain could have a chaw onstage. Speaking of grunge and Seattle, I guess this is as good a place as any to bitch about Rolling Stone leaving Eddie Vedder off of their 'Best 100 Singers Of The Rock Era' list. That is an unfathomable omission. That's like doing a list of 'Best 100 Cities In North Dakota' list about leaving out Fargo.
[ MARQUETTE ]
FEMALE. Marquette, on a scale of 1-10, she's a six. A B-, C in every category you can define a person by. Her defining characteristic is you don't really remember her. You're not breaking your arm to get to her, but you're not chewing it off to get away. She does have a winning personality though. Midwest, sweet girl.
Jesus, what a slap in the face to the fine women of Marquette. Unless the school is actually a feeder for the CIA, "not memorable" should never be the highest compliment you can give to a student body. I plan to send my future daughter (whose name will be Marquette, future wife's approval pending) to this university, so I'm personally offended by ESPN's blatant mischaracterization of Midwestern women. For any Marquette ladies out there who need a shoulder to cry on, feel free to drop me an e-mail and we can discuss the subject. And on a totally unrelated note, how do you feel about naming a child after your alma mater? If we have a boy, I'll have to call my own veto and name him UWOwen.
[ MICHIGAN STATE ]
MALE. Blue collar to the core. Michigan State is one tough kid that grew up by putting a few down. That's just Michigan State's way. Big beefy kid.
Hmm, the only Spartan I know lost a bunch of weight and now he's running marathons. How accurate is this, Jordan? Did you guys just walk around campus getting into sporadic brawls?
[ MEMPHIS ]
MALE. What can we say about Memphis? He's a southern BLACK kid, really culinary and polite. He's artistic, and draws comic books really well.
He's not black, he's BLACK. Can you use "culinary" as a verb? It sounds odd, as if the casting agent was actually a cannibal with a taste for southern comic book artists. If this commercial was ever made (which, odds are, it won't), there is a 150 percent chance that Memphis' artistic side would be represented by nothing else than a Batman t-shirt. Maybe, if the director was clever, a Venom shirt.
[ MARYLAND ]
MALE. He plays lacrosse. A dude. Low key. Mid Atlantic, wears baseball hats and chinos.
You might think that "baseball hats" is just some idiot's idea of what baseball caps are called, but you'd be wrong. 'Baseball hats' were actually the most common type of headwear worn by players in the 19th century. They were Abe Lincoln-style stovepipe hats that rose a minimum of three feet on a batter's head. The idea was that the bigger the hat, the more intimidated the opposing team would be. Sadly, baseball hats became a thing of the past when Billy Hamilton of the old Boston Beaneaters wore a hat so tall that it tipped over and killed four fans in the bleachers on a warm July day in 1898. The other 26 patrons at that afternoon's baseball match were refunded their nickel, thus causing a financial crisis that forced the Beaneaters franchise to collapse and ultimately become a traveling circus carnival. Poor old Hamilton always regretted wearing such a jaunty baseball hat every time he had to sweep the dung out of the elephant's cage.
[ OHIO STATE ]
MALE. He looks like Jim Tressle (head coach of Ohio State football) in the dress code. Red sweater vest. Always. Doesn't care for swearing either — of course we never really test this out as they are commercial advertisements and no one swears in them, but it's true nevertheless. A Republican.
Hey, Ohio is a blue state now! Misspelling the OSU coach's name is one thing, but this casting call gets into some pretty fourth-level method acting. "Your character is the type who doesn't like swearing, as evidence by the fact that he never swears. Try to bring this out in your 20 seconds of air-time. Plus, your character was also beaten as a child."
[ ILLINOIS ]
MALE. African-American. Young Obama. Think Toofer-the straight-laced, Harvard grad writer from 30 Rock (Keith Powell)
Great 30 Rock reference here. It's awesome that Keith Powell's name is included, as if there's someone in the world who actually thought, "Toofer, Toofer...which character is that? Oh, the one that Keith Powell plays! Now I get it!" It's also awesome that we get a 'young Obama' reference. Forget about David Palmer --- Toofer was clearly the TV character that paved the way for America to elect a black president. Wait, sorry, not America, Super Obama World.
[ OKLAHOMA STATE ]
FEMALE. She's a fun loving girl, Oklahoma born and bred. Decided not to travel out of State so she should be closer to home. She's a flirt. She's a hot chick.
If you take the last letter of each word in the second sentence, it spells out C-L-E-A-V-A-G-E. Well, not really, but it's implied.
[ TEXAS A&M ]
MALE. True to the region, Texas A&M is one tough dude. He's not big physically, but he is imposing. He's an ROTC kid and his 100-yard stare lets you know it.
Sounds pretty bad-ass for a school whose football team is 4-6.
[ BAYLOR ]
MALE & FEMALE. Baylor is not one people but two. It's a couple. In fact, we're not even sure which one goes to Baylor. We only know they are madly in love. Their world is each other, which is really sweet or really sickening, depending. Think Sheri Oteri and Will Farrell as the cheerleaders.
And we end with perhaps the most bizarre one yet. So apparently the stereotype of Baylor students is that they all love commitment? Is the Baylor campus a focal point of love and schmoopiness that is always five seconds away from turning into the orgy scene in Perfume? What the hell? Also, as any true SNL fan would note, Will Ferrell's character had an unrequited love for "Sheri" Oteri's character, but she wasn't into him at all.