Context: Informant is a USC student, but not part of a USC fraternity, and has not tried to pledge to one in the past. Their information on the subject is entirely based on what they have heard from their USC peers, who are not part of fraternities either. Oscar the Grouch is a prominent Sesame Street character, known for his irritable personality and the fact that he enjoys living in his trashcan home.
Informant: “I heard from my friend that in USC fraternities, for hazing, they choose the ugliest guy trying to pledge, and they call him ‘Oscar the Grouch’. They put him in a trashcan and then they have the other pledges get really drunk and then throw up on him.”
Background Info: Although the hazing rituals are a well known aspect of joining fraternities/sororities here at USC, the exact details are supposed to be kept secret. Therefore, in this scenario, the folklore is not necessarily the hazing ritual, but the conjecture and rumors which the community makes surrounding the hazing ritual. Whether or not ‘Oscar the Grouch’ is a real hazing ritual or not, the students of USC have enjoyed telling these outlandish stories to one another. When informant was describing the hazing, surrounding people stated they had heard of the ritual as well. Although no one could confirm, it was obvious it was a well-known story among the USC students.
Thoughts: It is definitely interesting to see how folklore can be mysterious, and therefore conjecture on the subject will produce more folklore. The hazing ritual is meant to define who is in the fraternity, and who is not. It’s interesting that the people not in the frat will lack that folklore, and will make their own trying to fill the void. This, i think, leads to a lot of over-exaggerations in the story, and therefore the stories become pretty outrageous. Still very entertaining though.