I rolled up to campus last Sunday hauling five suitcases of laundry and a “to do” list longer than my December credit card statement. That night, I did what any reasonable gal with a lot on her plate would do on the eve of a brand new semester: I ran to BAR as fast as my spike heels would carry me. By 10:30 I was already waiting for a drink, smooshed in between two particularly impatient bar bunnies chatting up a sophomore boy. It wasn’t until his first pensive, squinty head-tilt that I recognized him from his picture in Rumpus’ latest “Yale’s 50 Most Beautiful People.” He was blase and smirking coyly; they were eating him up like a tall cup of fro yo on a hot day.
“So how does it feel to be in 50 Most,” said bunny number one after a well-placed hair flick.
“Pff, whatever –“, he replied with an contrived it’s-an-honor-just-to-be-nominated shrug. “I didn’t want to do it but my friends made me. I look so goofy.”
That was their cue to coo in disagreement and mine to gag on a martini olive.
Back at home I had barely wrestled my toes out of their pointy little prisons when the vignette at the bar floated back into my vodka-logged head. Could little old “50 Most” really be a first class ticket to desirability? How does one unlikely tabloid come to change the social fate of 50 Yalies?
I’ve got to admit, seeing Rumpus play Joan Rivers makes me skeptical. The Rump’s day job for the past several years has included needling at the Yale Daily News with its own special brand of nagging humor. (I myself was cleverly alleged in ‘Remedial Media’ to have run around TD naked — WHAT?) Being targeted by Rumpus is about as fun as picking up a parasite in Cancun: you’re just trying to have a good time when all of a sudden it hits you, and your stomach turns. Until now the Yale Daily News has been too dignified, mature and sensible to privilege the Rumpus with a taste of its own medicine. I, however, am none of those things. I’m sitting at my desk being seduced by the come-hither gazes on the cover of Rump’s latest (in)famous “50 Most Beautiful People.” Let’s roll.
I often wonder just how that first industrious young Rumpus editor got the idea to compile a list of Yale’s most beautiful. It seems like the brainchild of some cheesy People-worshipping high school magazine, not an acerbic Ivy League tabloid. I can’t find the sarcasm in 50 Most Beautiful People unless the obsequious “articles” (read: personal ads) accompanying each glamour shot are supposed to be mocking.ÊYes, it’s possible that special issue merely follows in the tabloid’s long tradition of cynical hijinks and the joke is on us, as usual. The campus is so un-glam that Rumpus gets a good giggle out of pretending Yalies are that decent looking, the way that mean cheerleaders harass the debate team in made-for-TV movies.
Tongue in cheek? Maybe. But when I read last year that Ryan Allen had “two last names but only one hot bod,” well-placed satire was not what came to mind. As for this year’s issue, in roughly one-third of the interviews the Rumpus reporter slips in a mention or two about how badly they want to bone their subject. Tasteful — and somehow the first thing I’ve read in Rumpus that I actually believe.
But hey, maybe cynicism isn’t even the point. Maybe for once Rumpus is shedding its thorny exterior for — well — a horny one.ÊMaybe it’s not supposed to be harsh and cutting. But that’s even worse news. That means it’s supposed to be serious.
That means when kids from my high school ask if Yale’s 50 Most Beautiful People is a joke I have to say no.
It also means that a group of 30-some-odd Yale students have just whacked down a few more square feet of rain forest only to tell the rest of us who is on their “to do” lists.
In light of Rumpus’ muddled execution, I think what 50 Most Beautiful People really does is showcase the extent to which Yalies are perpetual resume builders. The reason people overlook Rumpus’ blatant lack of credentials is that we here at Yale love our own credentials. Anything in writing that suggests superiority, regardless of the sponsoring institution. Any kind of exclusive competition, however pointless.
This explains why when the admissions office interviews tour guides there are kids who spend days rehearsing and leading practice tours just so they can be chosen for a selective, albeit generic, student job.ÊIt’s also why, thanks to Yale, there are more soup kitchens in New Haven than homeless people. It was only a matter of time before being beautiful was colonized by this campus as a spectator sport.
So bar bunnies, wise up: being chosen for Yale’s 50 Most Beautiful People by Rumpus is about as prestigious as being chosen R&B artist of the year by the AARP. Period.
Liz Gunnison is not a beautiful person.