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One ‘Animal House’ Alum Is 100 Percent Wrong About Hit Comedy

Tim Matheson is making the press rounds for a project he completed more than 40 years ago.

“National Lampoon’s Animal House” did more than crush the box office following its release on July 28, 1978. It made John Belushi a star and set the template for future college comedies.

Few, if any, came close to matching it.

Animal House (7/10) Movie CLIP - Deltas on Trial (1978) HD

Matheson, who played Otter, recently shared his thoughts on the film’s legacy. He also dished on why “Animal House” wouldn’t be made as is today. It’s a similar argument Mel Brooks repeatedly makes about “Blazing Saddles.”

They’re both right.

The actor, now 70, described one sequence that would stop screenwriters cold today during a San Francisco screening of “Animal House” last month.

“I think going to visit Otis Day and the Knights at the Dexter Lake Club (is a scene) which is almost blatantly racist, or could be perceived as being blatantly racist, because there are some cuts in there that are in rather poor taste, or could be considered in rather poor taste.

This is the same comedy that considered food fights the ultimate laugh getter.

Matheson says the studio behind the film feared audiences would recoil at the scene in question.

“The studio, after they’d finished and cut the movie and they looked at it, they said, ‘You can’t have this scene in here at this Dexter Lake Club. You can’t do that. It’s racist. You’re making fun of these black people and the way they feel about these privileged white kids.’ “

Enter Richard Pryor. The studio screened an early cut of “Animal House” for Pryor who gave the project his official approval.

“Richard Pryor looked at it and he said, ‘This movie is funny. This movie’s great. It’s not racist. White people are crazy,’ and so they left it in.”

It’s a great anecdote adding texture to a part of film history. For more context, let’s remember the film was set in the 1960s. Young white college students of the era were far less enlightened than they are today.

Matheson is on less solid ground when it comes to the film’s meaning in 2018.

“I think if it was made today, it would probably be watered down a little bit because (of) the political realities of today, and it would probably be picketed by this administration and all the Christian conservatives.”

The comedy world savages President Trump on a daily basis. Late night TV. Comedy Central. “Saturday Night Live.” HBO. Showtime. Stand up stages nationwide. At any given moment a comedian is shredding the President. And, beyond a few early swipes at “Saturday Night Live,” President Trump ignores the lot of it.

There’s zero indication Trump or anyone on his team would “picket” a film like “Animal House.”

RELATED: Mike Birbiglia – Why PC Rules Could Kill Great Art

As for Matheson’s second charge? It’s even sillier.

When was the last time Christians picketed a movie or TV project? The cultural attacks against Christians continue apace but with little if any collective outrage. Remember last year’s indie comedy dud “The Little Hours?”

The Little Hours Trailer #1 (2017) | Movieclips Trailers

Here’s the film’s official description courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes:

Medieval nuns Alessandra (Alison Brie), Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza), and Ginevra (Kate Micucci) lead a simple life in their convent. Their days are spent chafing at monastic routine, spying on one another, and berating the estate’s day laborer. After a particularly vicious insult session drives the peasant away, Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly) brings on new hired hand Massetto (Dave Franco), a virile young servant forced into hiding by his angry lord. Introduced to the sisters as a deaf-mute to discourage temptation, Massetto struggles to maintain his cover as the repressed nunnery erupts in a whirlwind of pansexual horniness, substance abuse, and wicked revelry.

Did any Christian so much as shrug a shoulder during the film’s release? No.

The new Netflix film “A Futile and Stupid Gesture” recalls the rise of National Lampoon as well as “Animal House’s” creation. The film’s anarchic spirit would likely rub liberal scolds the wrong way in 2018, forcing conservatives to rally to the film’s defense on free speech grounds.

Matheson didn’t appear to acknowledge that reality during the screening.

So bravo to Matheson for being part of an iconic comedy, one sure to make future generations laugh like we first did 40 years ago.

His cultural crystal ball needs serious tinkering, though.


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24 Comments

  1. Why is his attitude a surprise. He’s like much of Hollywood. They actually believe their constant attacks on Christianity are having a real effect on the religion. Now its true that the religion is fading, but most Christians aren’t blaming Hollywood for that. They have for the most part tuned out Hollywood and go about their lives quietly.
    I agree with the author of this piece. Matheson is completely wrong about the “pickets”. Trump might tweet about it, but neither he nor his followers are going to bother to picket. They’ll just ignore it. As for Christians, a movie like Animal House might be condemned by some for its portrayal of teenage unmarried sex, but beyond that there is little for them to be offended by. At worst, they’d just avoid seeing it.
    But that would be the issue. So many movies that attack Christianity are major flops at the box office and Hollywood is desperately trying to come up with an excuse that doesn’t say. “Our movies are flopping because they are terrible, bigoted, diatribes that offend half of America.”

    1. The religion ALWAYS fades when it’s suppressed by lying and vice. . . and then, when every single trumpet has announced the end of religion…the tyrants go under and religion comes back, rich and fortifying as ever.

      the youngest are helping along a correction, but don’t expect to read it anywhere with a big microphone. 🙂

  2. I find it remarkable when the Left frets about Conservative censorship.

    The Left becomes hysterical after Trump writes an unflattering tweet. But they ignore ANTIFA destroying a half million dollars worth of property at Berkeley in response to a Right Jewish lecture.

    1. When one is in the throes of doing wrong, the slightest reminder that they are not doing the right thing becomes unbearable to hear. Hence their intolerance. Guilt and lying to themselves. Very few of them were not raised in households that taught them some basics in their formative years.

  3. I find it difficult to believe that Mathieson actually believes himself when he says, “I think if it was made today, …it would probably be picketed by this administration and all the Christian conservatives.”

    He knows perfectly well that the kinds of scenes in Animal House that would absolutely prevent it from being made today would be boycotted, picketed, editorialized, demonized, and excoriated by his own cohorts–and probably by Mathieson himself, as well. As stupidly “woke” as they are, every single one of them fails to see that, as usual, they are projecting their own prejudices and insecurities on those they hate, fear, and deplore.

    1. We know two things about hollywood: 1) they are cowards frightened of losing the lifestyle that they’ve enjoyed, courtesy of many that they bash; 2)some MAY actually be sympathetic to more conservative thinking but..see #1

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    1. OH no, it was great. I was rather prudish and very critical at the time and it was hilarious. Just my opinion, but generally I would say that your opinion is in the minority. . .and yes, it’s all just subjective so no conflict. 🙂

  4. Another deeply out of touch Regressive virtue signaler imagining Christisn boogie men under the bed. See a lot of Christians picketing these days, do you Tim? Shouting down speakers they disagree with? Censoring books in schools and libraries, boycotting sponsors of anything they don’t like, showboating at sports events? Breaking shop windows and torching stores and police cars? Hysterically attacking most anybody at any time fir all manner of perceived transgressions?

    It’s your people who are the censors, the Puritans, the fascist mobs. Wake the f*ck up.

    1. I’m curious what today’s feminists would think of Belushi on the ladder watching a woman undress through her window. Or Matheson’s deception of a woman, using her dead friend to trick her into putting out for him. Who are the real censors, Matheson?

  5. Whenever these people stand in defense of the totalitarians the first thing I think about is what evil thing made them run to the Marxists for protection. I think that the “Democratic” party is a straight up protection racket.

    1. When you make that much money and you know that you’re dumber than any of the people who you either represent or entertain, it tends to cause a nagging conscience. When you’re a narcissist nagging consciences don’t sit well and so the tendency to get defensive results in chronic foot in mouth and hyper hypocrisy syndrome.

      Have all of this happen in a bubble of self-important know nothings and you get…deep state, current Hollywood and pravda media.

  6. Young white college students of the era were far less enlightened than they are today.

    Enlightened. You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

  7. You can’t go through your whole life worrying about your past mistakes, Tim.

    “No more fun of any kind” used to be a joke; these days it is a totalitarian assistant dean’s wet dream.

  8. Tim Matheson? Still alive? Good for him!
    Hope he is doing well.
    And I hope he lives in California where his vote doesn’t matter.

  9. Matheson conveniently forgets to mention that the reason Otter et al went to the Lake Club was because those ‘bigoted’ fraternity brothers knew about Otis Day and the Knights because they had hired them to play one of their parties.

    Well, yeah, the line about the one female student studying primitive cultures may have been a bit over the top — but she was just in one of the prototype African studies programs, so she had that going for her

  10. Leftists always make up characters in a play that makes them feel more virtuous. Sometimes it’s Christian conservatives limiting their free speech. Other times it’s imaginary nazis. More commonly, it’s a corporate oligarch type who doesn’t possess the generous spirit of the leftist. You know, the leftist with the $1000 phone he uses to blog about poverty.

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