Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Page 47: Do you know who I am?

This exam-related legend—slightly altered for plot purposes in its Billionth Monkey incarnation—is very well-known on college campuses. Details vary from place to place, but the question “Do you know who I am?” before the punchline is always there. In this legend, a student foils their professor (who won’t let them turn in their late exam) by asking the key question, then slipping their exam into middle of the stack. On most campuses, you’ll find someone who insists that it actually happened, right there at their very school.

The urban legend may be a reflection of the anonymity that students feel in large lecture hall classes; a reaction to similarly anonymous mass-produced exam booklets; or simply a fantasy about an underdog student cleverly outwitting the big, bad professor. In either case, it is so popular that I’ve located four different video examples of it:

Lottery Instant Kiwi commercial (1999). Source: YouTube.

From the movie Slackers (2002, dir. Dewey Nicks). Source: YouTube.

From the Veronica Mars TV show episode “Hi, Infidelity”
(Season 3, Episode 6, 2006). Source: YouTube.

From the movie 3 Idiots (2009, dir. Rajkumar Hirani). Source: YouTube.

For Further Reading:

Jan Harold Brunvand. The Mexican Pet. New York: W. W. Norton, 1986, 198–9.

Jan Harold Brunvand. Too Good to Be True: The Colossal Book of Urban Legends. New York: Norton, 1999, 443–4.

Claire Howell Major & Nathaniel Bray. “Exam Scams and Classroom Flimflams: Urban Legends as an Alternative Lens for Viewing the College Classroom Experience.” Innovative Higher Education 2008, 32: 237–50.

Cathy Lynn Preston. “University campus legends: Student tactics and habitable spaces.” Contemporary Legend New Series 2004, 7:137–71.

Lance Strate. “Studying Media as Media: McLuhan and the Media Ecology Approach.” Media Tropes 2008, 1: 127–42.

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