Bret Easton Ellis sold college to me. Not university; I already knew about that. We have that in Australia. I came to the US to go to college. Cah-lege.
When I think of Rules of Attraction. I’m mostly thinking of the Roger Avary film, which I’ve seen many times, as opposed to the Bret Easton Ellis book, which I’ve read once. I still hold Ellis accountable, however, for conjuring up a vision of sordid, glamorous college life. Avary brought Shannyn Sossamon into the vision, which certainly helps, but it’s the cynical glitter of Ellis’s world that fascinated me.
College has, however, not measured up to Ellis’ standard. There is disappointingly little sleaze. Spring break was spent writing a conference paper. There was very little nudity involved.
Ellis led me to believe that in college, parties had themes like ‘Dress to get screwed’, or ‘End of the World’. I go to parties with themes like ‘I’m turning 30′, and ‘I don’t want to spend too much tonight’.
Ellis led me to believe that I could make a crust by selling drugs and never handing over a cut to my dealer. When I actually did find on-campus employment, it was sitting at a desk wedged next to a copier, and mass-messaging people through my boss’ facebook account (aka spamming).
In Rules of Attraction the characters read books like Hundred Years of Solitude. On my shelf are books like Craft of Research.
The only professor I remember seeing in Ellis’ world gets high, hooks up with students, quotes Nietzsche and misses class. My professors are a sedate bunch, committed to correct methodological procedures and passionate about political correctness. Even the professor I get along with best is avowedly un-Nietzschean.
Ellis’ characters take classes in ‘The Postmodern Condition’. I take ‘Comparative Education II: Quantitative Analysis’.
The students in Rules of Attraction live in dorms on an elegant campus where everyone knows everyone. They live in segregation from and antagonism toward the local townies. Sometimes the townies sneak into parties and run amok amongst the coeds. Sometimes students – if I remember Ellis’ book correctly – might kill the odd townie. NYU has no campus. There are townies everywhere; they’re easy to spot because they’re better dressed, read and behaved than the students.
There’s nowhere to eat on campus at Ellis’ Camden College except the shitty cafeteria. NYU has food trucks. I’m OK with this one. I’m OK with Kimchi Taco.
Sean Bateman slugs whiskey straight from the bottle. I get hungover just smelling Budweiser. This might not be Ellis’ fault.
The Camden kids take off on vacations; the world is their playground (come to think of it, Bret Easton Ellis may have sold Europe to me too). This is true of NYU students as well, except the world is their classroom. They travel to NYU campuses all over the world (funny how NYU has so many campuses, but doesn’t have one in New York) to hear NYU professors speak to NYU students. It’s a farcical way to experience the world; study abroad with the abroad removed. I’ll have no part of it. I want to go to Iceland.
At Camden College students light raging bonfires, have massive parties on the lawns, stagger around drunk, and generally enjoy themselves. We have NYPD.