HBO ‘Bama Rush’ Documentary Confuses Viewers After Glorified Trailer

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Bama Rush, University of Alabama, Sorority, Director, Rachel Fleit

HBO’s much anticipated “Bama Rush” documentary from Rachel Fleit is finally here. Since the summer of 2021, the University of Alabama’s rigorous sorority rush process captivated TikTok. From the bejeweled Kendra Scott bling to the extensive hair and wardrobe rules, the cultural phenomenon reintroduced the world to the highly contentious topic of Greek Life in America.

The secretive rush and voting process coupled with the long alleged hazing associated within several Greek Life organizations left Bama Rush Tok viewers with countless lingering questions about the whole process. Many questioned “The Machine”, or Theta Nu Epsilon, which is the organization that allegedly determines sorority admissions. Director Rachel Fleit (of “Introducing Selma Blair) took on Tuscaloosa to film “Bama Rush”, and social media could not be more excited. However, to many viewers, the documentary’s release took a surprising turn.

Social Media Reactions

The format of filming a documentary based on a social media phenomenon is still fairly new in the film industry. Given the young audiences that sparked the public interest in this experience, the documentary did not fulfill its appeal to the target demographic. Fleit surprisingly inserted herself into the documentary, despite having no affiliation to Greek Life or the University of Alabama. Many felt that the film wound up feeling more like a personal healing journey for Fleit than what the trailers depicted.

@womanship

The #bamarushdoc was a real head scratcher ???? #bamarushtok #bamarush #bamarushdocumentary #docuseries

♬ original sound – Claire Manship

@haleyrenaemars

Like what did i even just watch #fyp #bamarushdocumentary #bamarush

♬ original sound – Dr.Umar

While body image and beauty standards have long been alleged to play a role in the sorority rush process, some questioned Fleit’s self insert’s relevance to the story. The format of the documentary is inviting commentary on whether documentary filmmakers should insert themselves into their own films. Some felt it was particularly insensitive due to Alabama’s history of racism against Black women. The University of Alabama did not officially integrate sororities until 2013.

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Several TikTok creators shared humorous memes about the film’s content.

@tigerlover12354

ill never get those two hours of my life back #greenscreen #bamarush #rushweek #alabama #bamarushdoc #sorority #rushtok

♬ original sound – chrispvj

The Sorority Response

Several ex-Alabama sorority women or women who dropped out of rush are coming forward and sharing their experiences on TikTok. Many are captioning their videos with “The Bama Rush documentary you wanted.” Many girls vaguely reference the ominous Machine, which local Birmingham News journalist John Archibald briefly touched upon in the film. The Machine is a secret society on the University of Alabama’s campus, whose motto is “Little is known, and what is known is kept secret.”

@madisonwestbrooke

Bama Pi Phi alum reacts to HBO max documentary trailer…oof. I am very intrigued to see the full thing???? #bamarush #hbodocumentary #bamarushdocumentary

♬ original sound – Madison Westbrooke

The Machine is rumored to hold control over state politics, given the University’s widespread reach.

@sethtaylornelson

#stitch with @samanthab349 Alabama politicians learn to be corrupt at the Univ. of Alabama @#bamarush #bamarushtok #themachine #politics #alabama #alabamapolitics #alpolitics #corruption #fyp #greek #greektiktok #greeklife #college #collegelife #universityofalabama

♬ original sound – Seth Nelson

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Others recognized that the University likely restricted the documentary crew from filming inside the houses, or that the Machine could have threatened them.

@dandeelyin

this isn’t what the trailer promised… #greenscreen #bamarush #bamarushtiktok #sorority #documentary #hbomax

♬ original sound – dan

The University of Alabama has not commented further on the documentary at this time.

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