How Male College Students Are Perceived By The Media




Popular culture is defined as the entirety of perspectives thoughts and attitudes that are within mainstream culture (Bennett, 2000). Popular culture includes any and all phenomena that have become part of mainstream culture such as music, movies, TV and YouTube shows and just about anything you can think of. Because popular culture is mainstream it is, by definition, widely spread though peoples lives, it has become more and more similar to a living breathing organism, a presence who’s ideologies and opinions are analogous to that of a person with higher class and profound wisdom. And thus, popular culture is extremely influential and its opinions have become increasingly persuasive. A great part of pop culture is movie pictures; millions of people of all ages races and beliefs watch movies worldwide as they sit side by side and laugh at Robin Williams dressed as a nanny or cry when Dobby dies to help Harry Potter. Movies are without a doubt an extremely influential aspect of human nature and a fascinating aspect of popular culture for it convinces those watching to feel what is being told and can even sculpt the minds of many people.


Many aspects of popular culture have become intertwined with the higher education system. College students represent a significant percentage of our community, according to the National Center For Education Statistics twenty one million people attended higher education institutes in the year 2014, nine million of which are males, surely college students account for a large enough number to be considered a culture of their very own. These twenty one million college students are a part of most of our lives; they are our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, uncles and aunts, and our cousins and friends and are undoubtedly a great influence on our culture. Being a significant presence, college students have developed certain criteria of behaviors and mannerisms that are associated with the title of College Student, some of which are positive and others that are negative, but, as is the case with any widely spread cultural aspect of our environment college students have been given an identity in the eyes of popular culture.


Popular culture portrays male college students in many different way, some of the ways popular culture represents college students through movie pictures is considerably undesirable, such as in the movie “the neighbors” in which students are shows as dimwitted or feeble minded. Other movies show aspects of college students as stressed and under extreme amounts of pressure such as in the movie “A beautiful mind”. Other aspects of popular culture show male college students as plain sex hungry idiots such as in the music video “Spring break anthem”. Below these three artifacts of popular culture are analyzed separately in order to bring to light many important details of each individually.


Artifact one: “A Beautiful mind” directed by Ron Howard, screenplay written by Akiva Goldsman.



“A beautiful mind” is a movie based on the story of a young prodigy named John Nash who attended Princeton University on a mathematics scholarship in the year 1947. The movie is about Nash’s journey through college life and the struggles he faces while suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, a mental illness that has many effects on the mind such as frequent episode of hallucinations, paranoia and anxiety. The purpose of the movie is to tell the story of this genius man as a college student and to show the amount of a burden stress and academic pressure can have on even the most intellectual individuals, many claim that the strain and difficulties Nash faced were components that contributed to his mental illness. The audience for this movie is broad because the story is well appreciated amongst many ages and cultures, but I believe the intended audience leans toward younger individuals (between the ages of 20-30) who are in the prime of their academic pilgrimage. The film had its premier on the13th of December in the year 2001. The movie was first showed in Beverly Hills, California and went public January 4th of the following year.





In the movie A Beautiful Mind the main charterer John Nash begins his academic journey when he moves from his hometown of Bluefield, West Virginia to New Jersey to attend Princeton for his graduate studies. Upon arrival Nash is immediately out casted by fellow colleagues for being different and socially awkward. Nash finds comfort in his imaginary roommate Charles, a drinking, partying, and wild British man. Further along the journey Nash begins to show symptoms of his illness when he starts to hallucinate and imagine he is now part of a secret government branch who has hired him to break codes found in newspapers. Director Ron Howard along with the writes used these facts from Nash’s life and exaggerated them to present their image. In a beautiful mind Russell’s character shows signs of searching for meaning and self worth, he is faced with a great opportunity of attending Princeton University one of the most profound ivy league school in the world, Nash is faced with a great deal of stress to find what he calls “An original idea” this shows the very real aspect of college life, stress induced by overwhelming responsibilities. Nash, without any knowledge of his mental condition, begins to miss many classes in order to focus of his original idea all with the comforting presence of his friend Charlie, Nash begins to fulfill his self proclaimed prophecy that was induced by the high standards brought forward by his parents and others around him because they saw potential in him.

In this movie popular culture views the college male as stressed, anxious and lost individuals who are seeking meaning and propose in their lives. This aspect of popular culture touches of the reality many college men live in today. The journey though college is a significant part of every young mans life, it is when he being discovering who he is and what he aims to become. In a study by psychologists Ranjita Misra and Michelle McKean, stress can cause many different psychological and physical illnesses and more than ever college students are more prone to these illnesses with greater socioeconomic standards. Further studies show that when stress is perceived negatively or becomes excessive, students experience physical and psychological impairment (Murphy & Archer, 1996).


Other than stress induced illnesses and self-seeking journeys, the movie industry has focused the lens on college students in additional, and perhaps less accurate, means.


Artifact 2

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  “Neighbors “ is a 2014 American comedy film, directed by Nicholas Stoller and written by Andrew Cohen and Brendan O’Brie. The film is about a recently married couple that has moved into a new house with a newborn baby. The movie shows the couples struggles as they are acclimating to their new lifestyle all while a group of college student move in next door. The purpose of the film is to show the similarities and differences between the typical college student and mature adults in a comedic fashion. The movie was originally broadcasted May 9, 2014 in movie theaters all across the United States.


In the movies “neighbors” there is a lot of emphasis of male bonding and relationships between classmates or “brothers” from the same fraternity. In this way popular culture shows that male collage students are attempting to cope with a transition between living at home with family members to being among friends or alone without any rules. In this movie male college students are portrayed as dimwitted and idiotic, for example the students are shown with little to no academic worries and are mainly focused on having sex, partying and disturbing their neighbors. Furthermore, the movie portrays the students as drug user with little to no moral grounds, their main purpose in college is not to archive academic greatness like in a beautiful mind, but to have the biggest parties and to sleep with the greatest numbers of women as possible.

This movie magnifies the phase many young men might go through. Once college men leave the nest they have grown up in they loose their contrite foundations that have stabled them for so long and as a results many seek the companionship and closes of brotherhood. However, this new sense of brotherhood comes with new social rules, peer pressures and in some cases the formations of dangerous habits. In the article written by Michael Kremer more light is shed on the subject. Kremer shows that the influence of ones peers can be significantly strong and may lead to behaviors otherwise foreign to the pressured individual (Kremer, 2008). These behaviors are likely due to the longing for acceptance by others, and in the case of this movie they are done because these individuals seek a bond similar to that of the family they have recently moved away from.


Other aspects of popular culture portray college students as idiotic and immature such as in the next artifact.


Artifact 3


“Spring Break Anthem” is a song preformed by the comedic hip-hop band The Lonely Island. The purpose of the song is to portray the stereotypic imagine of young college students between the ages of 19-28. The intended audience however is a little more diverse; due to the fact that the song is meant to be funny the audience is not restricted to the age range of college students.. The song was released as the second single from the album “The Wack Album” on May 5, 2013.


This music video portrays college males a barbaric manner more so than in the movie the neighbors, this music video emphasizes the idea that not only are male college students idiots and lack goals, they are out of control. The music video is about spring break the time of year in which college students finish stressful times of finals and have a 14-day break. In this video the assumption is made that every collage student relieves stress by drinking having sex and partying non-stop. The video even shows that these men are not only partying non-spot, it shows that they encourage the act of drinking till one falls sick and experience health problem. The phrase “and Mary a man” is repeated many times throughout the video this is done once again to show the lack of responsibility these college students have. Although the video is meant to be comedic the ideas have not sprung up out oaf thin air, the ide is based of true stereotypes that are a part of the everyday college student life.


All of these artifacts are based of stereotypical ideologies that are carried with the title of college male. This is a clear cut case in which the majority suffers for the acts of the minority, most college students are not marrying men because its just the thing to do on spring break or hosting extremely irresponsible and dangerous parties or even doing copious amounts of drugs for the hell of it. However, the amount of stresses that are carried on the backs of male college students has numerous affects on their lives. These three artifacts are evidence of the demanding lifestyle male college students live but like a projected and enlarged image they focus on a small aspect of the lifestyle and the results are an over exaggerated stereotype.


In conclusion as a society we must accept the good and bad from people in order to understand one and other, in the case of male college students it is important to understand that these images of sex-hungry partying and stressed males looking for meaning are factual to some degree but it’s crucial to have a analytical stance in order to differentiate the fact from fiction.



















References and citation:


Bennett, Andy. Popular music and youth culture: music, identity and place. Macmillan Press Ltd., 2000.


Kremer, Michael, and Dan Levy. “Peer effects and alcohol use among college students.” The Journal of Economic Perspectives 22.3 (2008): 189-189.


Misra, Ranjita, and Michelle McKean. “COLLEGE STUDENTS’ACADEMIC STRESS AND ITS RELATION TO THEIR ANXIETY, TIME MANAGEMENT, AND LEISURE SATISFACTION.” American Journal of Health Studies 16.1 (2000): 41-51.


Murphy, M.C., & Archer, J. (1996). Stressors on the college campus: A comparison of 1985-1993. Journal of College Student Development, 37(1), 20-28.



  1. Hey Adam!

    Isn’t it crazy that people can’t just think a male is in college to get an education and just that? The first thing that comes to peoples mind is crazy playboy frat boys who are good at playing beer pong and getting laid. It is a nice change to see pop culture showing the real side of college,I really hope this trend continues.

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