Will Ferrell: ‘a real argument’ exists for getting rid of fraternities

Will Ferrell

Will Ferrell is promoting his new comedy, Get Hard. The movie’s trailer reveals this to be yet another “raunchy” Ferrell comedy. He plays a hedge fund manager who gets framed for fraud. Facing a 10-year prison sentence, Ferrell’s desperate character randomly hires Kevin Hart’s character to train him for prison survival. The film’s humor is supposed to be in the pretext — that any guy played by Kevin Hart would be an ex-con (even though he’s not). Ferrell says that this assumption acts as a timely commentary upon society.

Ferrell has some new interviews, including a reader Q&A with the New York Times. One reader asked Will what he thought of the “frat hate” after OU’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon racist fraternity video scandal (and its fallout). It’s an interesting question for this actor. When I close my eyes and think of the words “fraternity brother,” the first person to pop into my mind is Will Ferrell (closely followed by Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller). Ferrell’s the informal leader of the the Frat Pack; he’s played the same fratty persona in several movies. Will was/is a real-life Delta Tau Delta frat boy. He attended the University of Southern California and participated in Greek life. Will says things are different now:

Are fraternities still worth it? “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-mache 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.”

On Get Hard: “Adam McKay had this idea of, what would it be like if you got the news you were going to prison. What would you possibly try to do? And it was Kevin’s name that came up as the perfect guy to put me through my paces. I felt so sensitive to Kevin’s feelings as an African American. ‘Is this line good here?’ And Kevin would be like, ‘Oh, this is fantastic.’ That’s what we’re excited about in this movie, that it’s a vulgar comedy and really goes for it. But at the same time, we’re getting to comment on what’s going on and it could not be more timely for this movie to come out.”

[From New York Times & New York Daily News]

In the NYT interview, Will confirms that Ron Burgundy will always be his favorite character to play. What he says about fraternities makes sense, although boorish, racist behavior isn’t new to Greek life at all. Not every fraternity or sorority acts that way. I don’t think universities are willing to say goodbye to all that alumni money either.

Will Ferrell

Will Ferrell

Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet, DreamWorks Pictures & WENN

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34 Responses to “Will Ferrell: ‘a real argument’ exists for getting rid of fraternities”

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  1. QQ says:

    I just so love this man… he better not ever become one of those blind items of asholery and wife cheatingness.. he just brings me such Instant happiness

    • Shambles says:

      + 1000000. All I have to do is watch his “best of” SNL dvd and my life is instantly full of joy and side-splitting laughter. He’s a treasure. Scrumptrelescent, even.

      • Cindy says:

        I love that dvd too! Hard to pick a favorite skit but maybe the one where the college art class has a homeless guy (Ferrell) for their nude model.

        Frats scare the crap out of me, and I don’t scare easy. That Vanderbilt case is like a horror movie. Jesus. It might be best if they (frats) go.

      • smcollins says:

        Yes! Him doing Harry Caray and interviewing Jeff Goldblum on the science show is beyond hilarious, and one off my all-time skits. If you haven’t seen “You’re Welcome America”, his one-man Broadway show as George Bush (it’s available on DVD) you need to get on that STAT! The man is a comical genius. Love him!

    • Bridget says:

      As I read this article I actually thought to myself “I love Will Ferrell. I hope that the comments section isn’t filled with awful stuff about him”

    • littlemissnaughty says:

      I don’t love most of his movies (some are comedy gold though) but that interview is delightful.

      • lucy2 says:

        “That interview is delightful.” I totally read that in Will Ferrell as James Lipton’s voice.
        I don’t know if I could pick a favorite WF SNL moment – cowbell? The patriotic Speedo? When he was George W Bush playing with antlers?

      • lirko says:

        Ugh…cowbell. Just the word has comedic powers thanks to that man (and Christopher Walken). Interestingly enough, the two times I have caught him on Fresh Air, he was a rather serious, definitely intelligent and engaging, but pretty unfunny. His father was a jazz musician in NYC, and he said he rebelled by becoming a jock. Yea, just love that man!

    • Heather says:

      I have a couple of friends who work behind the scenes on films, and they have consistently mentioned him as one of the only non-asshole celebrities they’ve worked with.

    • Winterberry says:

      I need a 20-foot model of the Matterhorn…

    • Diva says:

      Love him too! One of my favorites!

  2. dr mantis toboggan says:

    Sounds like that Rob Schneider movie. The stapler or something

  3. Taterho says:

    Ok I love Will Ferrel movies. (Step Brothers makes me cry laughing. I can’t help it.)
    My husband hates them.
    My husband loves Adam Sandler movies and I despise them.
    Sometimes I don’t know who this man in my house is.

    • QQ says:

      Adam Sandler?? Id Tell you to divorce him and run away Enough- styles but then I remembered my boyfriend has awful Movie taste like that too *sigh*

  4. Char says:

    Frank the Tank will always be my favorite Will Ferrell character. I hated Anchor Man, but I know so many people love it. I personally like him best when he has someone that is sarcastic & snarky (like Vince Vaughn) as his costar. I think it balances him out.

  5. Michelle says:

    Will is right on the mark with his comments on frats. There was a time that frats meant something, looked good on resumes, and actually did some good, but I think those days are over. I dated a guy who graduated from college at 27 and joined a fraternity during his senior year; they did zero philanthropic work and it was just a bunch of slackers that got together and got shit faced. For the majority of these guys, it really is all about partying and having that “clique” mentality. Frats today are full of racist, elitist kids; rapists; and kids who can’t handle all the partying they do and end up dead or sick. They do more harm than good at this point and it is well past time for them to go.

  6. TX says:

    The school I went to in California had a very similar outlook on frats. I think that because the Greek system in CA isn’t as serious as it is in the South, that elitist, exclusionary attitude just isnt as pervasive. Of course, frats/sororities are by definition exclusive clubs no matter where you are, but the attitude about them is so much less intense in CA.

  7. Rachel says:

    My SO told me the other day, one of his interns was talking about how much money his frat saved up to buy liquor for their St. Patrick’s Day party… $200,000.00. That is not a typo. $200,000.00 to rent a uhaul and fill it with liquor so they can all get alcohol poisoning. $200,000.00 of lying to their parents about needing money for books or food or whatever. $200,000.00 they could have used for a genuinely charitable purpose, which I’m sure is what’s listed in the fraternity’s charter as their purpose.

    I’m sure there are fraternities and sororities out there who still fulfill their original goals, but I think the idea has become twisted.

    • dholmas says:

      I am a firm believer in school uniforms. Levels the playing field. The “haves and have nots”

      • Gretchen says:

        I think that aspect of uniforms is overrated, I had to wear a uniform throughout primary and secondary school and wealth disparities were still glaringly obvious according to footwear, coats/jackets, PE kit, school bags, haircuts and the state of the uniform itself. My final year we couldn’t afford another uniform jumper and it was fraying around the sleeves…not such a great equaliser!

        In contrast the A-level college I went to didn’t have uniforms and it was much harder to tell the wealth of students because it was all about sub-culture styles rather than wealth display.

      • ISO says:

        I lived smashed between two fraternities in a tear down apt building and one house played “touch of grey” on repeat for hours every day. I was convinced the booze helped their delusional basicness. Sad. Fraternities should be bannned, amen.

  8. Lucky Charm says:

    I’m not a big fan of his movies, but I like him. He is correct about fraternities (and sororities), they have reached their “use by date” and should be done away with now.

  9. RhiRhi says:

    i for one am a big fan of frats/sororities. it tells me which people not to spent my time with. please keep them.

    • FLORC says:

      That type of mentality is on par with the worst of that stereotypical worst greek society attitude.
      To exclude based on preexisting opinions.

    • NerdMomma says:

      Right on, RhiRhi. It’s very informative.

  10. erinn says:

    Old School is my favourite comedy of all time. I attended a Canadian university that banned fraternities and sororities in 1933, so I have never understood them–but I’d totally joint an adult frat like Old School 😉

  11. rtms says:

    The frats will just move underground or be unofficial. There will always be a group who wants to hang out and supposedly be better etc.At least this way public frats can and should be monitored and disciplined more closely. They should be audited independently so the funds they are raising are going to legit charities and not to just buy booze and get drunk. Entrance should be run by the schools, not the frats and hence have a uniform way of entry, not arbitrary.

  12. Amy says:

    OMGosh that first picture is just everything! God I love this man so much. Funny, humble, intelligent and self-deprecating.

    I agree with him, fraternities just seem…like most of them should be revoked and torn down if they’re not really doing anything useful. Traditions aren’t sacred, they’re patterns.

  13. lucy2 says:

    I don’t think it’s anything new, I think some frats and sororities have always been that way.
    I went to a really big university with a lot of them, though I opted out of any of that after seeing some of it first hand. There were some that were based on academics or field of interest, but the social ones, ugh.

  14. FLORC says:

    This is a simple case of a few rotten eggs spoiling the bunch.

    All that partying and using poor judgement at college isn’t exclusive to frats. Infact, when schools ban greek society the amount of alcohol poisoning and assaults don’t go reduce enough to claim they were the cause of these things.

    People need to take a step back and understand Greek society was meant as a good thing and still is. Where it goes bad is the people in charge of these frats and soros. That this behavior is allowed until it’s reflecting poorly on the school. That is the issue.

    Too many comments here are missing the point entirely because they knew of a frat that did something (that happens all the time outside of frats)

    • Bridget says:

      While I don’t at all think every fraternity is bad, we’ve reached a point where it’s beyond “a few bad eggs”. And that is the responsibility of both the Universities and the governing bodies of the Greek chapters themselves.

  15. OTHER RENEE says:

    I remember Delta Tau at my university. He’s right about it being the anti fraternity. It was all artistic needy geeks. The rest can go to hell.

  16. holly hobby says:

    I love Will Ferrell! I’m not ashamed to admit it. I like Anchorman and Mugatu in Zoolander. Now that was funny!