“Shmacked?” “Gone?” PC’s Social Brand: Not For Sale.

mhagandefaultMichael Hagan ’15

On September 12, students from colleges and universities across Rhode Island descended upon Roxy nightclub on Washington Street in downtown Providence to participate in the event that provided the lion’s share of footage for this video. The event and video, produced by social media upstart I’m Shmacked, featured primarily URI students. These Rhody Rams so generously volunteered their likenesses, livers, and such inspired quotations as “I’m fucked up as shit right now” and “Welcome to the Ocean State, bitch” in order that the good folks at I’m Shmacked could advance their brand and grow their profits.

The strange phenomenon that is I’m Shmacked leads one to wonder what is the greater suppressor of inhibition: alcohol or the camera? Something changes when the camera rolls. Parties become performances. Drinks more often end up poured over another’s head or chest than into the pourer’s mouth. People get louder; they address the camera instead of their peers. These parties don’t intensify organically; they are productions. Participants are putting on their best renditions of what has been first sold to them as the ideal form of a college party.

We Providence College students know a thing or two about partying. And yes, this has always been a revenue source for local package stores and bars. Students buy drinks, pay cover, and order buffalo chicken pizzas. There is a simple exchange of money for goods and services here. But what about business models like I’m Shmacked that capitalize on campus culture to build a profitable brand around exaggerated portrayals of college parties? How do students benefit from this exchange? How did the girl who passed out on Washington Street on September 12 benefit or stand to benefit? The same question applies to the University of Delaware Rugby Team, whose conduct during the Newark, Delaware stop in the I’m Shmacked tour led to the team’s five-year suspension four days earlier. These students made mistakes and suffered; I’m Shmacked indifferently reaped footage and profit. Friars know better than to allow themselves to be exploited like this, right?

In the past couple of days, a music video featuring recognizable and underage Providence College students filmed at a house on Pinehurst Avenue has been circulating via web link around the PC community. The video was picked up by popular website barstoolsports.com before being prudently locked from public view on YouTube. All aesthetic assessments of the song “Gone” aside, the video was made up of footage similar to material I’m Shmacked collects in order to advance its brand: students putting on a performance for a camera. The video was anything but original, participants acted against their better judgment, and I’m pleased for the sake of the students portrayed that it is, at least for the time being, “Gone” from the public eye.

I do not criticize the lyrical or performance ability of the song’s artist, but the fact of the matter is that the material of the video was tasteless. The video’s subjects were trying to conform to an abstraction. In the rush to live-up to this image of what pop-culture thinks our parties ought to be like, boundaries were crossed, inhibitions were lost, and clothes came off. But does this image really match PC? How does this video speak to the sense of camaraderie shared between partygoers at our small college with big school energy? It fails even to attempt to represent the sense of comfort and security amidst madness shared by revelers at what really are the best of PC parties. And what about the less glamorous though perhaps more enriching side of party culture? Sunday morning struggle-brunch in Ray, laughing about and learning from weekend antics, and helping out a friend who might not be having the best of nights are all parts of the PC social experience. But this video simply relies on the all too common glorification of male libido and objectifying portrayal of women in order to conform to somebody else’s brand. It captures none of the best parts of party culture at Providence College. It tests the degree of easiness with which sex and fear of missing out sell. PC students participating in the video misrepresent themselves and their school. The true PC social brand far exceeds what this video seeks to conform it to in order to break into a lucrative market. Let’s not sell out on that brand. If they were aware they were being filmed, the subjects of this video were far too eager to allow our campus culture to be misrepresented and exploited.

I’m glad the video is “Gone,” but it’s memory should remain as a lesson. Our social scene and campus culture is something that has been built up through decades. The fun-loving reputation of Providence College, try as some administrators may to suppress it, is rooted in friendship and campus camaraderie. Most other colleges and universities cannot make such a claim. This is a tradition we should be both proud and defensive of. We should not allow anything, be it I’m Shmacked or any other pop-culture influence, to undermine us.

Be safe, be yourself, and party on.

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10 thoughts on ““Shmacked?” “Gone?” PC’s Social Brand: Not For Sale.

  1. This article is very insightful, but the debate remains as to whether or not a student of Providence College can/should have more than one identity. As an enrolled student, each of us is a representative of Providence College. We are expected to reflect the mission of the school in our words and actions; surely, working toward a common end can be said to make students more alike than different, and I think we see that in the “friendship and campus camaraderie” pointed out by Michael Hagan. So, in a way that might be hard to digest, each student is a walking, talking advertisement for Providence College. We are mad because one of these advertisements didn’t do its job. We aren’t mad when Mac Miller films and releases a similar music video. I can only fault Mylestone for his failure to put his role as a Friar ahead of his role as an aspiring rapper. I won’t pass moral judgment on the content of the video, but it is clearly incompatible with a pre-existing and legally-binding commitment. As for the other students who appear in this video, they have made the same mistake, and they have made it themselves.

  2. This is a well written article that is not entirely naive of the predominant party scene that we all are well aware of at this school. The song, titled “Gone” was something that this rapper, Mylestone, clearly put in a lot of time and worked extremely hard to create a beat and lyrics that would be catchy and fun for anyone to listen too. Not too mention the fact he was able to get a former, Platinum Record artist, Mims, to link up with him for the song. If our school values “friendship and camaraderie” so much, shouldn’t we be supporting Mylestone’s efforts to try to be an aspiring rapper. He clearly has talent and never meant to make anyone feel uncomfortable or have this song/music video be affiliated in anyway with Providence College. It is sad that the PC community has blown this out of proportion and that Mylestone has to edit/remove the video. I think we all need to take a second to reflect on how many people are overreacting over this video. Instead of trying to make it seem that Mylestone was trying make PC’s brand look bad, you should really think of how yours and everyone else comments make him feel and how it hurts his career, as well. By making unfair assumptions about him and the video is much worse than the actual content of the video that was intended to just compliment the context of the song.

    • If the content of this video is what Mylestone wants to continue to present, he must realize that it is incompatible with the Christian values touted by Providence College. Until this kid graduates, he is a representative of the school, regardless of the other identities (rapper being one of them) that he might have. I’m not saying I agree with its policies, but, through our signatures, we consented to them when we accepted our offers of admission. Had there been no connections made between Providence College and those in the video, he probably wouldn’t have encountered any resistance – well, except from the haters, but every rapper has those. Simply put, this is a LEGAL issue. Arguing over the morality of it will provide some of us with peace of mind and little else.

  3. Tim, the artist made absolutely 0 connections between Providence College and the song. I understand the whole representing this school argument, but to essentially say someone can’t have a different identity outside of PC is ludicrous.

    • Well clearly there was SOME connection made between the artist, those featured in the video, and Providence College – if not in the video, then made known to the administration. Or else we wouldn’t be having this conversation. And of course you can have a different identity outside of Providence College. You’re missing my point, which is that Mylestone’s identity (1) as a rapper (2) putting out this kind of material (3) should take a backseat to his identity as a student. He can have as much creative freedom as he likes after he graduates. Until then, he’s limited as to what he can put out. Maybe a career in Christian rock is more in line with the mission of the school?

    • Essentially, if you think it’s “ludicrous,” go to a state school where you can have as much creative freedom as you’d like (in relation to Providence College, at least). You might be surprised to hear that I agree with you. It’s frustrating, but Mylestone can’t explore this kind of artistic style – the kind depicted in “Gone” – while he is a student here. No underage drinking, no profanity, no nudity, and no explicit sexual content. If Mylestone can put out material that meets those standards, he’ll be fine.

  4. [This comment has been edited in accordance with Friarside Chat’s stated policy regarding comments.]

    This is awful. Tim if i showed you this video you would ave ZERO clue that anyof this happened at PC. [omit] Number two please prove proof of the ages of these guys and girls in this video before you wrongly accuse people of underage drinking. Because your assumption means nothing. Nudity? (The state or fact of being naked) i dont knw if there wasany of that..there was alot of blurs under though, i dont know if those were just there for effects. Pease know and note your opinion is absurd that he cannot do as he pleases…[omit] its 2014 time to start conforming.

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