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Fraternity/Sorority Continuity: What Mistakes In Movies Can Teach Us

by Tyler Blaker (Phired Up’s Video & Media Expert)

I can drive people batty sometimes with my love and obsession with movies. Often I will ask people questions so I can share cool tidbits about films and television shows. Things like “Do you know why windows break the way they do in movies?” or “Do you know why Daleks look they way they do in Doctor Who?” So it was no surprise when I graduated college that, as a gift to myself, I bought the 12 disc special extended edition of The Lord of the Rings films. I couldn’t wait to dive into all of the hours of special feature tidbits.

It usually is a surprise, however, when I tell people I don’t really care about film continuity. When you watch a movie and in one shot the actor is wearing a scarf and then in another shot the scarf is gone, that’s film continuity. Or rather that is a film continuity error.

You would think the continuity error would tear at my soul but it doesn’t. Some of my favorite movies are rife with these errors. This doesn’t make them any less of a great film. Why? Because that’s not the point. A movie should transform you through the power of story and make you leave emotionally changed. And guess what, a few lamps out of place in the background or a slightly darker colored jacket on an extra isn’t going to ruin that. If I were only to focus on these things, I would always leave unsatisfied and miss the opportunity to connect with the art. And if the filmmakers were to spend all of their energy on this, the film would never get done. (Disclaimer: For my film continuity professionals, I do understand that when done correctly good continuity increases immersion of a film and overall effectiveness of the story.)

Oddly enough the fraternity/sorority experience is kind of the same way. We want everything to be perfect in our chapters, with our recruitment, and with our events. We can focus so much on our own “film continuity errors” that the film that is fraternity/sorority barely gets made, and definitely isn’t the great story it could be. Often we miss the point of our fraternity/sorority experience.

Like a great movie the fraternity/sorority experience has the potential to transform you and leave you emotionally changed. Our membership should impact us in such a way that we are changed forever for the better. I know most of us know this but we get lost along the way. During the filming that is our organizational experience our focus is off center and the important bits are blurry and lost.

We need to focus on what is the story we are trying to tell about our fraternity/sorority experience. What are the things that will transform and change you and your brothers or sisters for the better?

Here’s what I mean from a fellow fraternity man’s perspective… It’s not that we throw the coolest and biggest parties every year. And that we believe it should be a main focus of our chapter, to maintain that misguided sense of pride. Nor is it the fact that we pride ourselves on the continuation of following by-law rule 17 subsection L paragraph 3 that states “all formal apparel ties shall be worn 11 inches in length to further represent the 11 founders of our chapter and all those disregarding shall be fined and met with swift judicial board judgement.” That’s focusing too much on the film continuity and sacrificing the story of your fraternity. (Disclaimer: For my fraternity/sorority continuity professionals, I do understand and agree that the right continuity focus in the right areas does increase immersion and overall effectiveness of the fraternal journey. Let’s just not miss the point)

Instead the focus should be on the values of your fraternity/sorority. Living those values out in such a way that your community and the world is improved and brightened by your exemplification. Focus on the relationships with your brothers or sisters and giving that love to each and every member that follows after. Focus on making a difference in the lives of those you touch.

Focus on what matters. Focusing on things like this with your actions and choices will always help clear the blurry and find the lost path. Reflect on the things you do as a chapter and have done in the past. Ask yourself if they really matter and if things should change.

Don’t give your time and energy over to making perfect that which doesn’t matter. Nothing in this world is perfect and we are all full of “film continuity errors” in various forms. Those errors are not the point. The story of your fraternity/sorority experience is what matters.

When you focus on the story of your experience that’s when people connect to you. That is the moment people leave transformed and emotionally changed because of your organization. That makes fraternity/sorority a film well worth making and sharing. I’d buy that 12 disc special extended edition for sure.