Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Tournament of Everything, Elite Eight: 1 Sistine Chapel vs. 2 Animal House

I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part. -- Otter.

If that doesn't sum up the founding ethos of Cole Slaw Blog, I don't know what does.

Both the Sistine Chapel and Animal House serve as inspirational beacons for dedicated followers and casual appreciators alike. Catholics hold the Sistine Chapel in high reverence because it's both figuratively and literally at the heart of the faith. It's pretty much where all the shit goes down, including those rather important Papal conclaves. There's a reason they brought in Michelangelo for this, even though there was a small faction of Cardinals in favor of bidding out the job to local contractors.

Animal House, too, lies at the heart of a belief system of sorts. Anyone who ever loved college so much they didn't want to leave, anyone who has ever taken over a party by doing silly things (pushing people around in a wheelchair, hooting from the roof, eating mustard) was taking their cues, knowingly or not, from Animal House.

The movie's contributions to comedy are legendary, and have been discussed before. As have the Sistine Chapel's contributions to art and architecture. While the chapel is meant to evoke the Temple of Solomon, Animal House serves as a temple to gratuitous antics and socializing without regard to niceties or standing on ceremony. Why not wear a toga and pour grain alcohol all over your head? Why not eat those flowers on the table? Hey, let's buy some Oreos and punt them across the street.

Without Animal House we would have gone through college presenting our calling cards and playing charades instead of drinking box wine and blasting "Safety Dance" out the third floor window so we could hear it in the street.

Of course, the Sistine Chapel has had it's own beneficient effects. The image of God imbuing Adam with the spark of life, while much parodied, still is a powerful one, no matter what your beliefs. It's also where the Cardinals meet to choose a new Pope, sending white smoke chuffing up the chimney in one of the great all-time bits of procedural drama. The chapel itself is also apparently quite an inspriational sight.

I've never been to the Vatican, but I think it's safe to say that both the Sistine Chapel and Animal House also work better as ideals than in reality. Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life. I'm not sure that creating a revenue stream out of a place of worship is all that great, either.

In the end it comes down to this: The Sistine Chapel is a glorious and highly serious place. One is meant to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Animal House is a gloriously and highly silly movie. One is meant to be filled with the desire to be back in college. Both, I suppose, are inspring in their own way. But although I'm Catholic, I know which has been more influential to me.

Bless me father, for I have sinned. Animal House 76, Sistine Chapel 73.

1 comment:

crimenotes said...

Great write-up. I don't know how I could have picked between these two.