Will Ferrell, whose movies are as essential to the fraternity way of life as Natural Light and not talking to reporters, has stained 1,000 “You’re My Boy Blue!” T-shirts with 1,000 tears today, after he suggested abolishing the Greek system entirely. The Old School star—and a former fraternity brother himself—made the comments in a recent Q&A with the New York Times while at SXSW, in which he was asked a reader-submitted question from a guy seeking his support against other “frat haters.” Ferrell, as his elder fraternity brother, surely would have some words of assurance to offer them in this, their time of being unfairly targeted by groups of hate-filled strangers, just because a video had surfaced of Sigma Alpha Epsilon members singing a racist song.
But Ferrell didn’t wax reverent of the many opportunities frats provide for establishing lifelong friendships based on remaining emotionally stunted and eschewing others who don’t fit into your world, plus that one sick foam party. In fact, he said maybe it was time to shut the whole thing down:
Q: Will, we are fraternity brothers of Delta Tau Delta, albeit different chapters and years. The recent awful situation with SAE has brought out the “frat haters” in droves. Could you comment on your own fraternity experience and why (or why not) fraternity membership is still a worthy consideration for a college student? — Stephen Browning, Seattle
A: The incident in Oklahoma, that is a real argument for getting rid of the system altogether, in my opinion, even having been through a fraternity. Because when you break it down, it really is about creating cliques and clubs and being exclusionary. Fraternities were started as academic societies that were supposed to have a philanthropic arm to them. And when it’s governed by those kind of rules, then they’re still beneficial. But you gotta be careful. I was lucky in that the one I was in, we were really kind of the anti-fraternity fraternity. We were considered good enough to get the exchanges with the good sororities. We couldn’t get anyone to vote on anything, but if you needed 40 guys to show up and build a 20-foot-tall papier-mâché version of the Matterhorn, we were there and ready. But we didn’t take it too seriously. It was just about having fun. But I think it’s an interesting dilemma for universities these days.
Of course, after decades of criticism lobbed at fraternities for promoting a toxic environment of racism and misogyny, fostering men who are 300-percent more likely to commit rape, and generally contributing to a culture of dehumanization and entitlement, those harsh words never really seem to reach most frat brothers. But now that Will Ferrell’s said them, they should be quoting them within the week.