Take a trip down memory lane to four years ago, when men were real, the brotherhood was real, and fraternities at Yale were raw:
In October 2010, Delta Kappa Epsilon pledges stood on Old Campus, shouted obscenities about co-eds and took the meaning of consent for a spin. For some unknown reason, the Yale Daily News report on this event has reappeared on the front page of its website–it appeared first under the Most Popular heading yesterday (it’s still there today, trailing after some articles from the Opinion section).
What a day! While our attention was fixed on the criminal justice system in Ithaca, there was frat justice going on just a few hundred miles to the east in New Haven. Yale’s sexiest student, Dean Mary Miller, just laid the smackdown on Delta Kappa Epsilon, booting the fraternity off campus for five years for being monumentally stupid and skeevy. These upstanding gentlemen of Yale became the center of much media attention last fall for statements they made (and chanted, and uploaded to YouTube) on October 13. In case you’ve purged the whole episode from your memory banks, the comments included: “No means yes, yes means anal” and “My name is Jack, I’m a necrophiliac, I fuck dead women.” Which is kind of, you know…gross.
According to the Yale Daily News, the college’s Executive Committee ultimately decided that DKE had “violated undergraduate regulations by threatening and intimidating others that night.” Because the frat was already an unregistered student organization, options for punishment were apparently somewhat limited. But the ExComm did take measures “that prevent it from recruiting new members or holding any events on campus for five years.” Furthermore, they asked that the DKE national organization suspend the Yale chapter for the same period of time.
The incident came only a couple of years after Yale’s Zeta Psi landed in hot water for similar sketchiness — specifically, a photograph in which members lovingly displayed a sign that read, “WE LOVE YALE SLUTS.” And the cumulative effect of all the frat-nastiness, past and present, was manifest in a Title IX lawsuit that currently plagues Yale. So, the university was probably thrilled to dole out a little punishment.
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?)
IvyGate has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, New York Observer, Newsweek, New Yorker, and other publications, as well as NBC, MSNBC, Fox News, Drudge Report, Gawker, The Huffington Post, Wonkette, Jezebel, The Awl, and many more. Most are horrified.