A few people mentioned the movie PCU (1994), but it didn't immediately ring a bell. Then, when I looked it up, I realized I had probably seen this movie 3-4 different times on Comedy Central when I was around 9 years old, a couple of years after it came out. I liked it at the time, but was curious how I would view at as an adult. Ostensibly, it's about a crazy house (not a frat, but a house) on campus led by Jeremy Piven that registers a lot of complaints from the PC (politically correct) groups on campus and has a dean that wants to shut them down. There are some laughs here and there, but the only amusing, original gag is throwing raw meat at the vegan protestors. Other than that, it's canned and recycled humor from dozens of earlier movies, and not even done particularly well. 9 year-old me didn't care or notice, but it's very jarring now. Piven as the lead is disorienting, as he dresses, talks, and looks like a lame-ass, balding 30-something. On the bright side, as an adult the movie is an amusing time capsule of the 90's as well as a nostalgia trip. PCU reminds me a lot of the undergrad I went to, with its murals and large common rooms. As a pre-frosh, I stayed with a House (not frat, but "house", just like in the film) president where the marijuana fumes were ten times thicker than And yeah, the absurd politically correct aspects of a college in 1994 are now mainstream aspects of life in 2021. Women purposely making themselves ugly who think all men are evil rapists? Yep. Blacks who think every Caucasian is a "white devil"? Quite familiar. Getting rid of Indian mascots? Long since achieved. Even a sign language translator is now a hallmark of most political speeches, not just a silly element of a 1994 movie. But here is where we get to the movie's biggest problem, as well as its most interesting aspect, and why the fuck I'm wasting keystrokes on a dumbass little college film from almost 30 years ago. The movie's themes are warped and schizophrenic, often to the point of being Bizarro versions of reality. There are three layers to this. The first one is that the movie is supposed to be anti-PC, it's even in the goddamn title and tagline, and yet, who is the main villain? Why...it's a stuffy Republican played by David Spade! The very opposite political group to the ones instituting political correctness, and the group that tried to fight PC themselves, if completely ineffectually. So what's the message, then? That PC is good after all? That PC might suck, but conservatives suck even harder? That PC is a necessary evil to destroy conservatives? In that case, Piven and his crew are necessarily antagonists too, since they fight against a the most effective tool against the ultimate evil, Republicans. Which means the crazed feminists and black supremacist crew, portrayed as jokes, are the real heroes of the story. Which makes the entire movie nonsensical and contradictory. But that's just the first layer. The second layer is that the movie portrays Piven's crew as the free-thinking, anti-PC rebels. They're SUPPOSED to be the guys and girls you root for. They're not hypocrites, and are honest about who they are. So after an entire movie building this up, who is that delivers the most courageous, badass, "fuck you" speech to the establishment at the very end of the picture? Why...the stuffy Republican villain! After all, Piven and his crew only stood up to the dean, an old white woman no one likes or supports. Spade, meanwhile, had the fucking balls to call out the powerful identy groups that form(ed) the progressive coalition; LGBTQ, feminists, and minorities. It was a brave speech in 1994, but it's a ludicrously badass, courageous speech nowadays, when it would get you cancelled 10 times over. It doesn't help matters that it's also the funniest piece of dialogue in the entire picture, easily out-shining anything Piven ever says. So we have a villain who embodies the positive qualities of our protagonists, the reasons we're supposed to like and root for the protagonists, far, far better than they do. And feeds into the final, third layer of the movie. Namely, that it's easy, incredibly easy to see Spade as the tragic hero of the movie and Piven as the scumbag villain. The flashback to Piven and Spade as roommates during their freshman year, while funny, only makes this more stark. What do we see? A poor, nerdy Spade being utterly terrorized by a sadistic asshole in Piven. Revenge of the Nerds didn't present the jocks as being nearly this awful, nor did it give its titular protagonists such a strong motive for revenge. But there is more than revenge going on here. Remember that early scene in the movie, where the prefrosh is glancing through photos of past years? And how it went from a bunch of decent-looking, serious young men wearing suits and ties to a bunch of stoner hippies not even bothering to look at the camera? The 90's, when this was made, were a time of unbridled optimism. We thought we had it all figured out, and that our awesome liberal democracies were the "end of the history", having achieved utopia or close to it...that was even the title of a bestselling book by Francis Fukuyama released two years before this movie. But now in 2021, we can't fucking fool ourselves. We know exactly what we're watching in that scene. We're seeing degradation. Decline. Rot. Civilizational decay. And it's not so fucking amusing when you realize how much shittier society and daily life have become since the 90's, how I have to watch everything I say the way my parents did back in the Soviet Union, or how current American society resembles that communist hellhole so closely, and in some ways is much worse, to the point where many modern dissidents would gladly trade the current US for the USSR of the 70's, and I can't even blame them. And what is Spade's answer to this? Does he meekly accept or ignore it, like the vast majority of humanity accepts the decline and death of the West, or the madness and horror of modernity, believing there is nothing he/she can do? No! Against impossible odds, Spade finds a few people around campus with similar beliefs and desperately tries to turn back the tide of rot. It's a project that he devotes years to, plans for extensively, and comes close to fulfilling. Alas, it's all futile, and in the end, he is no match for the forces that people back then didn't understand or even have a proper name for. But his failure only makes him more of a tragic hero. And who deals the ultimate blow to him, while supporting groups that he equally doesn't like? All so that, for another decade or so, he can continue being a self-indulgent asshole despite it being obvious that there is little place for a straight white male in this coalition? The man who is little more than a pathetic sell-out weasel? Why, Jeremy Piven's character! So that's what I find really interesting about this picture. That this silly little 90's college comedy, utterly in spite of itself, offers us such conflicting, hypocritical messages, culminating in the realization that the hero is really the villain, and vice versa.