Post Academic

The Alcoholic Horndog Tenured Professor Stereotype: Back to School

Welcome to the new series that looks back on the origins of the professor stereotype. Professors aren’t really incompetent alcoholic horndogs or snotty creeps, but professors come in handy if a screenplay needs an alcoholic horndog or a snotty creep. Post Academic will be highlighting a few movies and debunking their professor stereotypes. We’re starting with one of the classics in professorial film … the Rodney Dangerfield vehicle “Back to School,” which features not one, not two, but three professor stereotypes, which will be analyzed in terms of Hot Pepper Rating, Fashion Sense, Likeliness of Having an Undergrad Piece on the Side, Boozing and Drugging Quotient, Financial Fakery, Teaching Talent (or Lack Thereof), and Quotations. Let us know of any professorial movies we should cover!

Meet the Professors: 1. Sam Kinison, Professor Turgeson, History
2. Sally Kellerman, Professor Turner, English
3. Paxton Whitehead, Professor Barbay, Economics

Hot Pepper Rating: Low for Kinison, high for Kellerman.

Fashion Sense: Kinison and Kellerman look about right, especially Kinison’s atrocious haircut. Barbay wears a bowtie and a tweed cap.

Likeliness of Having an Undergrad Piece on the Side: High, at least for Kellerman. Frankly, it would have been more accurate if Kellerman’s character went for the guy who played Rodney Dangerfield’s son.

Mental Condition: Kinison’s character is a Vietnam Vet with a racist streak who likes to scream at his students. Whoever wrote this movie must have had the world’s worst History 101 course.

Boozing and Drugging Quotient: Barbay hates fun. Kellerman looks like a lover of a nice Chardonnay. The meds that Kinison’s character would require are not recreational.

Financial Fakery: Barbay’s character a vintage car. Most professors I’ve seen drive deathtraps. Then again, Barbay’s character teaches economics.

Teaching Talent: Teaching skill is not evident, but the professors appear in the classroom on a regular basis, which is more than can be said for other movies that feature professors.

Quotations: Rodney Dangerfield’s character on dating teachers: “I think I’m attracted to teachers. Yeah, I took out an English teacher. That didn’t work out at all. I sent her a love letter… She corrected it!”

Conclusion: This movie takes advantage of multiple professor stereotypes, especially regarding Kinison, who seems more interested in pushing his personal issues on his students than on teaching. At the very least it features a female college professor as a sexual predator rather than a male one, even if the object of her lust is Rodney Dangerfield.

One Response to 'The Alcoholic Horndog Tenured Professor Stereotype: Back to School'

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  1. gradland said,

    Great post, looking forward to more of these–I always wondered where movie stereotypes of professors came from. Makes sense that any screenwriter / director would have suffered through a few Sam Kinison-style lectures.

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