AMY Knows Everyone
By Amy Davis, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, February 27, 2009
Each week, Amy examines a small group of students in order to understand the individual Dartmouth experience as part of a whole. This week, Amy sits down with Alex Cook '09 to talk about campus celebrities.
There are the people who have impacted my Dartmouth career through direct contact: friends, roommates, professors, that girl who lived next to me freshman year who had really loud off-hours sex. And then there are the ones who I knew only vaguely -- or worse, not at all -- but without whom I'd feel like I could barely call these last four years "college."
So I confess, I'm a bit of a stalker, but it's okay, since everyone else is too. I have proof that I'm not alone: The Mirror ran an entire issue on the campus celebrity last January ("Is the Campus Icon Dead? Or Just in Rehab?" Jan. 18, 2008). But I want to dig deeper and get more personal.
Where does stalking end and the constant icon monitoring Ã la "Gossip Girl" begin?
Let's start with the targets. You may have never talked to them in your life, but that doesn't mean you don't know their names, years, Greek affiliations and their Collis omelette orders. Too far? Never.
Name-dropping would probably be appropriate now, and oh Lord, I can't decide if I'm praying that they're reading this or not, but here it goes. The girls I followed are pretty obvious choices. I don't think there's an '09 girl in these hallowed halls who didn't keep close tabs on Asia Baker '07 and Ursula Grisham '08 -- and if they weren't tracking their lives, they were at least tracking their wardrobes.
Only slightly less iconic, but no less close to my heart, was following the day-to-day life of Alice Mathias '07, a feat made easier by the fact that "Alice Unchained" was at my disposal every Friday. I will unabashedly say that the eldest Mathias child was the first reason I wanted to write for The Mirror. And while I don't have her legions of fans, I am at least lucky enough to have her former column inches.
Since the day I saw him browsing TAG Heuer watches in Comp Lit 10, (and I admit they might have been Movado -- I wasn't snooping that carefully) I've enjoyed following the epic life of Michael Martin '06. He makes it easier these days by posting articles he appears in on his Facebook status.
I'm also a casual onlooker of the life of Emerson Curry '08 -- or I could just be saying so because I'm pretty sure he's reading this right now; I guess we'll never know.
And I'm going to give Alex Howe '08 a shout out, too, because honestly, if he didn't make getting Parkhursted cool, he at least made it more socially acceptable.
So what makes these legends so legendary? They're all fine specimens of the Dartmouth race, sure, but a pretty face isn't enough to give you a cult following.
Honestly, it's quite a head-scratcher to me how campus celebrities gain their, well, celebrity status. So I decided to talk to someone who has been described as a current Dartmouth icon about his take on the matter. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Alex Cook '09.
Surprisingly enough, this Dartmouth man about town doesn't consider himself to be a campus icon.
"I actually don't," Alex said. "I've heard that before but I'm not quite sure what it means. Especially as a senior I feel like I know a lot less people now."
But just because Alex is hesitant to call himself a campus celebrity doesn't mean he's shy about talking about the concept in general -- and he definitely thinks Dartmouth is a campus with some well-known faces.
"I think there are famous celebrities and infamous celebrities, and our little campus sure likes to raise some people up and tear some people down," Alex said, with a glint in his eye.
After gossiping for a few moments about our favorite Dartmouth movers and shakers of years past, I asked Alex about underclassmen celebrities. Promptly, the conversation came to a halt. Which brings us to the old, but never tired, question: is the campus icon dead, or do we '09s just not pay any attention to those younger than us?
"The quote 'celebrities' in our class, we've been well-known for a long time, from freshman year or rush ... the '09s are a class of personalities," Alex explained. "I also think the people we looked up to -- the '06s and the '07s -- they were such big personalities [too]."
So, in Alex's mind, it is not that the celebrity is dead, it is just hibernating. And it's apparently due for a wake-up call with a new incoming class. Alex also explained, however, that there is a bit of lag time.
"I feel like the height of celebrity happens sophomore year. The two classes above you know you, your year knows you, and the year behind you knows you," Alex said.
Of course, sophomore summer makes being a celebrity even easier when the campus population is suddenly cut by 75 percent.
But does being a campus celebrity really help you once you've reached the real world? Alex thinks not.
"I don't think that there's a trend [in success] either way," Alex said. "But the tools that make you a campus celebrity at Dartmouth can help outside that."
I asked him if he had any final thoughts.
"For me, being referred to as a campus celebrity, I take it as a joke and never see myself as that," he said. "But getting older, I look at shitshow freshmen and sophomores and I realize how ridiculous [I] must have looked."
Uh oh, watch out little ones. Looks like those drunken escapades could make you the next Defenestrator.