D.C. Diary: Arlington Road Rules

September 23, 1999
Cineplex Odeon Foundry
9:45 p.m.

Job Interviewer at MacMillan Toys: Where did you go to school?

Tom Hanks as Josh: Uh, it was – it was called George Washington.

Interviewer: Oh, GW! My brother-in-law got his doctorate there. Did you pledge?

Josh: Yes, every morning.

Until this summer, that exchange from Big was the most significant appearance GW had ever made in a movie. And then there was Arlington Road – GW’s very own Exorcist. (Take that Hoyas!)

Strangely enough, this motion picture that was set completely at or around GW has gone unnoticed by many of the so-called hipsters here at Foggy Bottom.

So, let’s talk about Arlington Road. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a movie that tries to make statements about domestic terrorism and D.C. United. In the movie, a GW professor who teaches a class on domestic terrorism has been widowed after his FBI-agent wife is killed in a shoot-out. He has a son and a graduate student girlfriend. The movie’s plot starts when he begins to believe that his neighbors (Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack and their Stepford children) are a bit fishy (i.e. mad bombers).

As far as reviews go, it’s a fine movie – exciting, loud, a solid thriller with a provocative (or silly) ending. But this isn’t a review. It’s a D.C. Diary. But unlike any other D.C. Diary, there is no time or place. We are going to a world that exists at all times just beyond our grasp. It is the make-believe Foggy Bottom as seen through a camera’s lens. It is the GW world according to Arlington Road rules. Some characteristics:

Like All the President’s Men turned Washington Post reporters into Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford, the GW professor of Arlington Road is a handsome, casually dressed guy who talks funny.

Jeff Bridges, as Professor Michael Faraday, is buff. I mean we’re talking about Patrick Ngongba-ripped. He must spend a lot of time at the Smith Center. He also speaks strangely. I can’t quite explain it, but he just does.

That hot teaching assistant? Forget about it. She’s boinking the professor.

I don’t know if there’s such a thing as a hot T.A., but if your professor is Jeff Bridges, he gets dibs.

Professors live in giant houses in Reston, Va.

Perhaps Arlington Road is what set off the GTAAA. Our favorite professor lives on Arlington Road in a two-story, 20-room house in the suburbs. Evidently, the only way a lowly part-time prof or T.A. can see a place like this is to become friendly with a full-timer (see “boinking,” last paragraph).

When a professor isn’t in the “GW Research Center” or on the imaginary Quad, he might stroll to the Capitol.

The fictional Research Center looks like a fun place. So does that large open green space that must have been built last night while I wasn’t looking. What’s the matter, the Quad was too ugly? I also love that the athletic Professor Faraday walks to the Capitol in his free time, (which seems to be all the time).

GW professors will cancel office hours to save the world.

Although I appreciate that Professor Faraday put a note on his office door (which looks to be in the School Without Walls), I am very upset that a professor could cancel his office hours at the last minute like that. I intend to make it a plank in my imaginary SA campaign. (Speaking of, where’s the SA? My God, didn’t the makers of Arlington Road realize how important they are to us? And where’s The Hatchet? Shameful.)

Feel free to decorate your college classroom like it’s an elementary school.

I’ll tell you this, the classrooms in Arlington Road look a lot like Funger. Except that the walls are covered with Faraday’s wacky propaganda and that the room is filled with kids that look like they go to Florida State. Where are the sunglasses, the black pants, the hooded shirts, the Capri pants?

Classes in Arlington Road take field trips to West Virginia.

The Mountaineer State is far away. I wish my classes would just meet outside for once.

Now unfortunately for you, this sucker isn’t playing anywhere now. It was at the Foundry last week for 10 minutes, and now the Foggy Bottom community must wait for the video release. Of course, if the Program Board had a brain in its collective head, they’d show it on the Quad every night.

But outside of telling you to visit the FBI building as soon as possible, all I can really tell you about the GW of Arlington Road is that for a couple hours, it’s a wonderful place to visit.

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