In Defense of Satire at A&M: Or a Perspective on Propaganda In Defense of Satire at A&M: Or a Perspective on Propaganda
In Defense of Satire at A&M: Or a Perspective on Propaganda   “The Mugdown exists to challenge the thinking of the Texas A&M community... In Defense of Satire at A&M: Or a Perspective on Propaganda

In Defense of Satire at A&M:
Or a Perspective on Propaganda

 

The Mugdown exists to challenge the thinking of the Texas A&M community by delivering relevant satirical news.” —The Mugdown Mission Statement

We are both immensely proud and humbled by what we have created. We believe we have faithfully carried out our mission statement: exposing a reality at A&M which no one has been brave enough (or perhaps stupid enough) to release into the public sphere of dialogue.

Late Wednesday night, we carried out a project that has been in development for months—a collection of posters portraying propaganda for the Corps of Cadets which were arranged throughout campus. Hours went into crafting the images, deciding which pieces were fit to print and would best advance the intended message, and which order would maximize the message value.

This is not an apology.

We absolutely stand by what we have unleashed, and we fully believe that any subsequent offense has resulted from either a misunderstanding of the heart of the message or a willful ignorance to the unpleasant reality it presents.

Every article we write and every stunt we orchestrate is for the singular purpose of satire, which we have made clear in our mission statement above. The essence of satire is truth, or what we like to call, the heart of the message. This heart reflects reality and is found deeper than the instinctive reaction. There is strong correlation between the truth of the message and the response that the message garners. This idea has been indisputably witnessed with Thursday’s stunt and subsequent reaction.

The heart of this collection is in exposing a tension at the core of Texas A&M culture, namely, the implicit rivalry between the Corps of Cadets and the non-reg student body. We have witnessed firsthand this conflict during our time here at A&M, with such occurrences as the flag event at the Greek Bid Day a few years ago and the recent scandal involving the yell leader elections.

The purpose of this message was to present this reality to the public sphere of discussion. We hoped this would encourage open and free dialogue, and ultimately put this division to rest and bring the Aggie family closer together.

We believe we presented this reality in its most extreme form through the use of propaganda—which by its very nature is extreme. Our hope was that its satirical nature would be immediately obvious by those of the Texas A&M community. Unfortunately, this message has been mostly lost by those who have misinterpreted the intent and attributed malice to The Mugdown staff or others. Some have even gone as far as to say that we are not deserving of membership in the Aggie family.

Are we not Aggies for bringing to light a truth that others are unable or unwilling to admit? Are we not Aggies for promoting discussion on what we believe to be a very real and very troubling aspect of Texas A&M culture? Are we not Aggies because we desire a truly unified campus and not simply its illusion?

The posters were all designed to communicate various aspects of the same message, and were intended to be taken as a whole—which is why we placed them in close proximity to one another. Unfortunately, much of the substance of the message is lost when the pieces are taken individually, and this undoubtedly led to the misconceptions which have arisen in their wake.

Specifically, the poster that received the most backlash is the piece depicting Steven Lanz in opposition with the other yell leaders. This is intentionally the least subtle of the collection and is reasonably unsettling when taken out of context.

This past election was one of the most controversial events to hit our campus in a long time, and it hit a huge nerve in corps and non-reg communities alike. The mentality expressed in the poster, that Lanz is representative of an enemy that has infiltrated the sacred ranks of Yell Leader, is one that we truly believe exists in some circles—and is in direct opposition with the Aggie spirit. We believe that this poster hits so hard because of the truth it exposes, and bringing that truth out of the shadows is paramount to healing and growth in the Aggie community.

Is the reality depicted in the poster “bad bull?” Absolutely. Is the subtle tension between the corps and non-reg students a real and tangible part of the Texas A&M community? Without question. Does that make this piece of satire or its creators responsible for the truth it exposes, as uncomfortable as it may be? Absolutely not. If you were offended, if you were outraged, if you were appalled, upset, called for our expulsion, or went to your keyboards to demand justice, then it was because of the reality that these posters addressed—not the posters themselves.

This week, we held a mirror to the face of Aggieland and reflected a problem that we have shown to exist. The Corps is not the enemy. Greek life is not the enemy. Steven Lanz is not the enemy. And we at The Mugdown are certainly not the enemy. However, the enemy is indeed among us—among us and within us—and as long as we suppress public discourse and allow anti-Aggie sentiments to perpetuate, the enemy will continue to tear our family apart.

Thanks and Gig ‘Em,

The Mugdown

 

The Mugdown Logo copy

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Mugdown Staff

  • Jeff

    April 10, 2015 #1 Author

    Is this supposed to be satire or are you guys actually as narcissistic and self-righteous as it makes you look?

    Reply

    • The Mugdown

      April 10, 2015 #2 Author

      Mostly the narcissism and self-righteous thing.

      Reply

    • Jerry

      April 10, 2015 #3 Author

      omg, mugdown is so offensive! I may actually have to think outside the box for once in my entire conservative life!

      Reply

      • Jeff

        April 10, 2015 #4 Author

        Something went over your head. I’m not offended one bit by the signs one bit.

        Whoever wrote this article is so full of themselves that it borders on satire of the stereotypical self absorbed college student.

        Reply

      • Doesn’t matter

        May 12, 2015 #5 Author

        This whole time I truley believed it was some anonymous member of the core that had created these signs and posted them around campus, and I know I’m not the only one who thought this. What did you hope to gain from these posters? You could not have truley thought there was going to be some major improvement with them. The yard signs were completely unesccsasary and only acted as forms of instigations that increased tensions.

        Reply

  • John

    April 10, 2015 #6 Author

    The problem is that you did this anonymously and included the Corps stack on the images. Legally speaking, this is libel. In order for satire to be satire, the source of the joke cannot be anonymous and, during the joke, the Mugdown was anonymous. Considering the investment that the Corps has made in protecting it’s image, you should probably lawyer up.

    Reply

    • Thomas

      April 10, 2015 #7 Author

      Libel vs. Satire is differentiated by the presumption that satire is so outrageous that no reasonable individual would misconstrue it as fact. This is clearly the case here, and such reactions only bolster the claims this article makes. There are clear campus tensions at work which need to be addressed.

      Reply

    • James

      April 10, 2015 #8 Author

      Glad to see you don’t have a law degree. Anonymity provides a literal nightmare when you start discovery so financially the corps can’t afford the discovery and beyond that you must prove fault of who committed the act specifically and beyond a standard of preponderance which is commonly used in civil cases. There is also the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on prop. 35 in California that gives credence to the argument that requesting the online user information is a violation of free speech under the first amendment.

      I say that to say this, these signs are funny, satire, and not needed to be signed, but if you believe A&M should seek out the offenders and go after than those are some of the legal contentions they will have to face.

      Reply

    • JR

      April 12, 2015 #9 Author

      Actually, in terms of identifying if a libel suit is necessary, the law describes that 4 (four) prerequisites must first be met:
      1. The false statement was communicated to others,
      2. The person is identifiable,
      3. There was actual injury, and
      4. The statement was malicious/negligent.
      All 4 must be met before any intent of suing is sought.

      Reply

  • Kristin

    April 10, 2015 #10 Author

    Imagine the propaganda that could have (and did) existed during the Civil Rights movements. Do you think that such propaganda really added to anything? Maybe you’re shedding light on a problem, but at what cost? Do you think that the person who was explicitly targeted in this propaganda appreciated you “shedding light on the problem” in this way? I’m thinking not. If you’re not in defense of the target, then who exactly are you benefitting? I think that as a staff, you should really contemplate this question. This has nothing to do with thinking outside of the box. This has to do with thinking inside of the box and doing nothing but causing more division. You may have brought awareness, but at what cost? Was it constructive? Please be careful before mindlessly posting things that are offensive.

    Thanks and gig ’em!

    Reply

    • Jenn

      April 11, 2015 #11 Author

      Did you just compare this to the civil rights movement? Do you think this of comparable importance or seriousness? Do you get to decide what is and is not offensive? Should they run everything past you to make sure it doesn’t offend your sensibilities? Do you think everyone should just be happy with the status quo and not rock the boat? Do you think asking a bunch of questions in a single comment is an effective way of communicating? Do you think maybe you should take a class on written communication?

      Reply

  • Anonymous

    April 10, 2015 #12 Author

    Not cool. The commandant will be in your life.

    Reply

  • Will

    April 10, 2015 #13 Author

    The benefits of it “promoting conversation” do not excuse the disrespectful aspect of the sign.

    Reply

  • Danny Pliego

    April 10, 2015 #14 Author

    I thought it was kinda funny, was not the biggest fan because of how close it hit home, but thought it was well played.

    Reply

  • JL

    April 10, 2015 #15 Author

    The joke wasn’t making fun of the corps or greeks or flos or non-regs or any particular group.

    The point is that people take it too seriously, feel like their foothold on campus is threatened, and immediately point fingers at everyone else. Everyone wants to be the victim. Calm down people. you are only falling into the social experiment’s trap

    Reply

  • bcoag2012

    April 10, 2015 #16 Author

    As a former member of the corps of cadets this seemed less like satire and more like slander. I’m all for pushing the boundaries and love my fair share of satire, but with the attention to detail put into making the average person that saw any of these posters (in person or on the Internet) into thinking it was actually from the corps or members of the corps is less “let’s put this subject out in the open and make people uncomfortable” and more “let’s do something that makes the entire corps look like a bunch of douchebags”.

    Reply

    • Steven

      April 11, 2015 #17 Author

      the entire corps is a bunch of douchebags though

      Reply

  • Wes

    April 10, 2015 #18 Author

    Please put these on t shirts, I’ve been away from Aggieland for a while and haven’t laughed this hard in a long time!

    Reply

  • John

    April 10, 2015 #19 Author

    Former Corps member here (and current Army officer). I thought these were hilarious. Keep up the good work and teach people to laugh at themselves every once in a while! Aggies take themselves too seriously sometimes!

    Reply

    • Allan Rich ’99

      April 11, 2015 #20 Author

      I was in the Corps when I went to A&M as well. It is true that there is a divide between the Corps and other students on Campus. That divide seems more ridiculous with every passing year. There are a lot of positive ways this could be addressed and improved. However, I would say that there is almost no one who isn’t aware of the divide. This “capaign” is not bringing additional awareness, nor is it working to close the divide. If it is doing anything, it is making the problem worse. Try to be innovative during your college years. This is not innovation this is hate. Don’t be proud, you should be ashamed.

      Reply

  • Erica

    April 11, 2015 #21 Author

    I don’t have a problem with Greeks but because of The Mugdown I got called a buzzcut freak without a life. I can’t think of any nice or more politically correct way to put this, but fuck you. Every single one of you.

    Reply

  • Chuglette

    April 11, 2015 #22 Author

    This is just more proof that most Aggies are arrogant and offended by every little thing thrown against them even by their own community. Even other Aggies hate Aggies!

    Reply

  • Fishouttawater

    April 13, 2015 #23 Author

    Satire becomes irony when the source becomes this self-congratulatory.,

    Reply

  • Lori

    April 14, 2015 #24 Author

    You’re giving a bad name to the corps, and they don’t even deserve it. This is absolutely not satire because it is almost impossible to identify it as such. I don’t know anyone who even knows the true story behind it, so if this is truly what you were trying to do, you failed. You did everything you could to make it look like this was from the corps, even using their seal without their permission which is as people pointed out, illegal. What were we supposed to think? That someone who didn’t believe this would actually spend money and falsify the core seal just to get attention? That would be an insane assumption just seeing these on campus.

    Reply

  • atruisticrationalist

    April 19, 2015 #25 Author

    The fact that people are even getting this upset about the issue proves there needs to be a discussion about it. Defensiveness is a classic response to deep-seeded insecurities. Of course there are tensions on campus between the corps and non-reg students. We have only been accepting non-reg students for a third of the time the university has been in existence. Are those tensions highlighted each day on every issue? No. But the fact that we had a re-election, albeit a one grounded in sound reasoning due to an incorrect counting process, and the controversy that followed it, is a sign that there are tensions.

    The tensions exist in the stereotype of corps students being less successful academically is just as unfair as the idea that a non-reg can’t be a yell leader. No one side is better than the other. So before you jump to conclusions and start attacking Mugdown writers for choosing the more polarizing issue, think about how you would have responded if they had shown four students holding A+ papers ridiculing an exhausted cadet with an F. Would you have been just as upset? I doubt it. Most would would likely laugh at the joke.

    The point of highlighting an issue is to do so in such a way that the most amount of people understand your message. I regret any negative response both the corps or Mr. Lanz received. Was this the best way to highlight the issue? Perhaps not. But at least it’s being discussed. On that I commend the Mugdown staff, and support their continued efforts to highlight hypocrisy at Texas A&M. Comedy and satire have been an outlet for criticism since the ancient times. That outlet should not be silenced just because it occasionally offends people.

    Reply

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