The Role of Popular Film in Fraternity Recruitment: Persuasive Narrative Tropes in the “Frat-Film” Genre

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter explores the role that American-collegian fraternity films (“frat films”) have played in selling fraternity life to adolescent college-bound males. This research question is made especially intriguing by the institution’s growth on American campuses, even as fraternities have been under attack from myriad external forces and have faced a growing litany of well-publicized internal mistakes. After coding the top-10 most popular frat films in the genre (as determined by Internet Movie Database [IMDb] voters) for shared character types and repeated narrative themes, six recurring and repeated generic tropes emerged. When viewing these shared six tropes collectively, they construct a social reality for viewers that sells Greek life as an important and needed augmentation to the otherwise harsh, friendless, and bland college experience that awaits them. Even if the commitment of joining a fraternity comes at the price of some short-lived, humorous hazing, the ultimate payoff of friendship and never-ending parties is shown to be well worth it. For as problematic as fraternity life may be in these films, to be an unaffiliated, under-aged freshman is actually shown to be a far less appealing option.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Handbook of Applied Communication Research
Subtitle of host publicationVolume 1: Volume 2
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9781119399926
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 John Wiley and Sons, Inc. Published 2020 by John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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