The Scarlet & Black

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TitHead Review: 2018 in a nutshell

“Call Me by Your Crane” parodied the infamous peach scene in 2017’s coming-of-age film “Call Me by Your Name.” Contributed.

What, in essence, was the 2017-2018 school year? Was it a rapid transition of dominant memes, from cracking open a cold one with the boys to the Walmart yodeling boy?  Was it the disintegration of the world around us, with another year of a Trump presidency and injustices across the globe? Or should the 2017-2018 school year be defined by events in Grinnell itself, from the rise and fall of the infamous crane to the controversial closure of the Black Cultural Center? 

The Titular Head film festival of Spring 2018 gave credence to all these definitions. Colloquially known as TitHead, the film festival was organized by “Titty Boys” Nick Roberson, Erhaan Ahmad and Artis Curiskis, all ’18. According to Roberson, the organizers made a deliberate effort to “push towards more wholesome content with meaning, rather than exclusively raunch [sic] nudity and plotless shock value films.” 

TitHead has been defined by shock value in the past. Students who have attended past TitHeads can attest that the event is less of a film festival and more of a spectacle of various genitalia and bodily fluids captured in moving picture. While the 2018 TitHead still featured its fair share of the “taboo,” mostly female nudity along with a Keystone Light enema, the shift towards a great emphasis on plot was also palpable. Altogether, the variety of films screened at last Saturday’s TitHead should be considered representative of the 2017-2018 school year as a whole. 

Let’s say that a group of Grinnell students decide to go through the Titular Head archives a decade from now. They come across 2018’s batch of videos, but alas! The collection is missing a dated label. Upon perusing the films, though, the students would have no doubt that this particular TitHead must have been produced in the spring of 2018. The film festival featured not one but two parodies of “Call Me By Your Name,” the gay coming-of-age drama released late last year. More specifically, the two student films (produced entirely independently from one another!) both parody the movie’s iconic masturbating-in-a-peach scene. 

“Call Me By Your Crane” tells the story of a budding romance between a young man and woman, complicated when the man gets off ysubg a peach on the second floor of the Joe Rosenfield Center (JRC) and then rests it on a nearby table, only to be found by the woman, who flirtatiously and unknowingly takes a bite of the peach. 

The other parody, “DHall Me By Your Name” is more of a vignette. A student secretly (yet enthusiastically) masturbates with a peach at a table in the corner of the dining hall, only to leave the peach behind for another student to come across and eagerly munch. 

Despite the blue nature of both films’ punch lines, they are carefully produced, with clever camera angles and facial acting. The insertion of a phallus into the juicy fruit is never explicitly shown, but heavily alluded to. “Call Me By Your Crane” even won Best Drama, testifying to its effective celebration of an important gay film. 

Other films at TitHead evoked current pop culture moments. “That One Friend” parodied obsession with the Enneagram, while “Starter House” used Minecraft to show off a perfect replica of the JRC. By embracing the gimmicky online fads of the current moment, these films become emblematic of the millennial generation. 

Some TitHead movies addressed current events on campus. The most poignant example is the untitled video directed by Joy Mitchell 21 and produced by Concerned Black Students (CBS). The CBS film featured footage of Black students hanging out on campus, followed by text that addresses the grievances of Black students at Grinnell and demands action, especially in light of the recent closure of the Black Cultural Center (BCC). The CBS accordingly won the award for Best Experimental Film.

Some comedic films also addressed current events at Grinnell. One example, “Scooper Hero,” featured a super hero named — get this — “Scooper Hero,” who eradicates the villainous Scooper Hero ice cream. “A Comment on Nalgene Culture” parodies the recent trend of Nalgene water bottles being stolen. The infamous crane was heavily featured throughout the night, a tribute to the monumental structure that hovered over our campus for the last year. 

The greatest shock value of the night came from “The Fight.” The film features a slow, somewhat confusing build-up that culminates with a very up-close shot of a student delivering a Keystone Light enema into his own butt. This moment was met by the collective sound of the entire audience’s jaws clattering to the ground (the film won the award for Best Lewd Picture). Other films cheekily featured nudity without excessively overt sexualization, such as in “Turnips” and “Shower Time.” 

While events specific to the 2017-2018 school year were especially prevalent at this year’s festival, that is not to say that perennial themes were not  also on display. Considering the class of 2018’s dedication to maintaining Grinnell traditions, this should come as no surprise. This was the class that fought for the longevity of parties like 1010 and 100 Days when they no longer received administrative support – Grinnell tradition is clearly a big deal to the current cohort of students. 

For example, there was a “Doppelgangers” video, a theme from past years that compares similar-looking Grinnellians’ DB pictures side-by-side. Another favorite, “Grinnell Blend,” featured a number of Grinnellians’ faces being smothered with a mysterious whitish cream, revealed at the end to be a large pump bottle of creamer. The final film of the evening repeated a trope from past TitHeads wherein a GoPro camera is attached to a handle of Hawkeye vodka and myriad students swig from the bottle.

This combined emphasis on the current moment and on tradition speaks to the current tension between the future and past at Grinnell College. As new buildings replace outdated ones and important institutions on campus are changed or eradicated, Grinnellians must come to terms with how to maintain tradition while acknowledging and embracing the present moment. 

As the credits rolled and the hosts leapt back on stage at the end of the night, they blared “Slovo patsana,” by Maks Korzh, a Russian banger that has swept through Grinnell over the year. The Titty Boys enthusiastically raged to the song, inviting everyone to join them on stage as they celebrated the end of the show, the end of the school year and the end of a cultural moment. 

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