Real or nah? ‘Pitch Perfect’ versus real-life universities

By Waldy Diez and Collin Brennan (USA Today College) – You may never hear someone say “aca-scuse me” or meet a person named “Fat Amy,” but chances are your school has at least one a capella group, if not an entire subculture of aca-crazed students.

No other movie has captured this phenomenon quite like Pitch Perfect, which has solidified a capella in the public eye as an important part of the college experience.

But how real is Pitch Perfect to the college experience?

Here at USA TODAY College, we’re continuing to break down the hits and misses when it comes to Hollywood portrayals of college life.

MOVE-IN DAY AND THE PERKY SCHOOL AMBASSADOR

 Ambassador

The movie begins with Anna Kendrick’s character on freshman move in day, where a peppy, over-bearing, student ambassador greets her. At least once during your college years, you will meet someone like this.

Many universities go out of their way to make freshmen feel comfortable on move-in day. And more often than not, they do so by having perky, over-caffeinated, upperclassman greet you at the front door.

These ambassadors are most likely obsessed with the university and will do everything to convince you that it’s the greatest place in the world. And, as a freshman, you will eat every word up.

ACTIVITIES FAIR

ClubFair

Anna’s club fair experience is her first opportunity to see the different type of clubs and organizations on campus. Subsequently, she stumbles upon the Barden Bellas and joins the school’s a capella community.

The activities fair is a rite of passage for most freshmen, as it is the first chance to see what your school has to offer in activities, clubs, and interests. Although club fairs are crucial in getting involved, many encounters can be substantially awkward.

While Pitch Perfect primarily focuses on a capella, it does a good job capturing the importance and awkwardness of activities fair.

THE RIFF OFF

RiffOff

The riff off is probably the coolest scene in the entire movie.

The scene takes place in an empty pool (because you know, every college has one) and all of the university’s a capella groups compete in a singing competition. Song categories are picked at random, and the groups must improvise a song to sing that fits in the category.

It is also (unfortunately) the scene that’s least likely to happen in real life.

There are some incredible a capella groups out there, of course. But the idea that a group could pick any song out of a hat and start singing perfectly in unison — with harmonies, to boot! —  is far fetched.

It takes hours upon on hours of practice for an entire a capella group to sing in sync. Each member’s vocals must match up. Any member of the group would tell you, as cool as Pitch Perfect‘s riff off scene is, it would be nearly impossible to pull off in real life.

A CAPELLA CONCERTS

ICCAsComp

If you have a capella groups at your school, chances are they will have concerts and competitions.

In Pitch Perfect the name of the game is to land a spot at the “International Championship of Collegiate a capella” — or ICCA, for short. The ICCA is, in fact, a real competition that college a capella groups can compete in.

Getting involved with your school’s a capella community could give you the chance to live out your Pitch Perfect dreams. But, if you are tone death like me, you can still watch from afar.

Waldy Diez and Collin Brennan are summer 2015 USA TODAY interns.
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