The Alcoholic Horndog Tenured Professor Stereotype: Tenure
Post Academic recently launched the series “The Alcoholic Horndog Tenured Professor Stereotype,” which reviews movies that have helped contribute to the bad reputation of professors. Each movie is 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. Then the stereotypes are debunked, lest you mistake your professor for an Alcoholic Horndog. And now … a look at the low-key, low-budget Luke Wilson vehicle, “Tenure”:
Meet the Professors: 1. Luke Wilson, Professor Thurber, English, a decent guy just trying to get tenure
2. Gretchen Mol, Professor Grasso, English, a newly hired rival professor from Yale
3. David Koechner, Professor Hadley, aka Professor Bigfoot, anthropolgy, a hard-core Bigfoot enthusiast and peddler of male enhancement pills
Hot Pepper Rating: High. The production crew attempts to make him look as schleppy as possible, but it isn’t easy.
Fashion Sense: Low.
Likeliness of Having an Undergrad Piece on the Side: Low. Satires on academia almost always rely on the horndog stereotype, but Professor Thurber declines when a student offers herself to him.
Boozing and Drugging Quotient: High. Professor Bigfoot tries to take ecstasy, and is disappointed. He also turns to selling “Herb Erect” to make some extra cash.
Mental Condition: Poor. Professor Thurber suffers from Daddy Issues since his father was a more successful English professor, and Daddy tells Professor Thurber, “You should be farther along.”
Financial Fakery: Low. This movie nails the economic condition of academics, from the shabby apartments to the fact that Professor Bigfoot doesn’t have a car. The best touch is when Professor Thurber brings a $6.99 bottle of wine to a faculty dinner and forgets to take the tag off. Naturally, the department chair is appalled.
Teaching Talent: Difficult to rate, but it should sound familiar. Professor Thurber is a great teacher who won’t get tenure because he doesn’t have enough publications. Professor Grasso is a self-admitted bad teacher who will get tenure because she’s from Yale and is published in prestigious journals. Thurber and Grasso’s peers are backbiting technophobes who are more concerned with pissy politics than teaching, and you can take the “pissy” element literally.
Quotations: “Pack your bags for Turdville State!”
Conclusion: “Tenure” often strays into cutsey indie-flick territory, and the ending is an easy way out. That said, it is one of the few movies that finds a little dignity in the academic profession and doesn’t assume that professors are lazy, drunken louts.