It’s no secret that many frat parties are privy to bullish meatheads, jostling and yelling at one other in a desperate attempt to earn masculinity points; it just never occurred to me that you could make artwork out of it. (After all, Yale and art have a rather tenuous relationship.) I guess that’s why I’m not a creative genius, like artist and filmmaker Richard Mosse, who has given us the ingeniously simple “Fraternity.” In the short film, he challenges a group of brothers at Yale’s oldest and meatiest jock fraternity, DKE, to scream at the camera, as loudly and for as long as possible; winner gets bragging rights. The big boys heartily oblige. And why not? As Mosse explains:
The men were happy to participate in the project in exchange for a keg of beer.
They compete against each other to shout or scream the loudest and for the longest time. When they cannot scream any longer they must stop, and cannot begin again.
The piece, beautifully shot, starts off hilarious, then enters the sublime, and finally, vaguely disturbs. This shit is primal. The triumphant, longest lasting bro screams as if giving birth, his face turning beet-red, and sweat (tears?) beading down his cheeks. Snuff-film associations abound, as well as a discomfiting sense of visual assault. Most worrying of all? Mosse hits the nail on the head:
DKE (pronounced Deke) stands for Delta Kappa Epsilon, and counts five US presidents in its alumni, including George Bush Jr, George Bush Sr, Gerald Ford and Theodore Roosevelt. Other famous Dekes include three Justices of the US Supreme Court, one Vice President, and countless State Governors, Senators and Speakers.
In short, this is something that every Ivy Leaguer should see, not just for its visceral minimalism and artistic oomph, but also to spur an intense appreciation for every single one of your IQ points.
(N.B.: I definitely called the winner from the get-go. Can you?)