Let’s you and me settle some issues right now. I’ve seen “That’s Why I Chose Yale.” You’ve seen “That’s Why I Chose Yale.” Swarms of students and legions of alumni and a multitude of mothers and fathers of prospective students have seen “That’s Why I Chose Yale.” With that in mind, I think all parties involved should at least concede that if the new Yale admissions video is not representative of the Yale experience, the old one surely isn’t, either.
Have you seen the old video? The voiceover is akin to the one featured in the LaserDisk companion to my high school Spanish textbook, “Ven Conmigo.” There are lists. There are diagrams. But there’s no semblance of a soul. It’s a video that seems more appropriate as a call to invest in some zesty new financial enterprise than it does as a presentation designed to convince a 17-year-old nerd to come enjoy this fine learning establishment we have here.
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That said, the naysayers must be given their due. The debate on the Comments page of the January 15 Yale Daily News article, “New admissions video premieres,” started hot on premiere night and only got hotter. User Matt M. described the video as reflective of Yale’s “general trend of trading intellectual vigor for inebriate juvenility.” Current students and alumni expressed embarrassment at being associated with the video; some argued that it would only increase the number of musical theater buffs applying to the school, while decreasing its appeal to athletes. Some of the more extreme posts featured homophobic fears that the video would deter straight, “normal” people from coming to the school and only attract “artsy” (a favorite discussion board euphemism for “gay”) applicants. Posts on the law school admissions board AutoAdmit.com ranged from tame critiques of the video to passionate diatribes. One user even claimed that he/she was planning on sending his/her college degree back wrapped around “the biggest…turd [he/she] can muster.”
And so we find ourselves in an arguably irreconcilable pickle. On the one hand, the old guard, the outraged and the turd-couriers (not mutually exclusive) who find the video to be a sad testament to the state of our fine institution. On the other hand, those students, alumni, parents, and prospective students who see the video as campy, fun and welcoming (the board dedicated to the video on CollegeConfidential.com, the chosen playground for insecure, psychotic prospective students, is buzzing with posts that have nothing but praise for the endeavor).
What do we do here? Do we abandon the Yale of “Bright College Years” and welcome a world in which “Glee” wins the Golden Globe for Best Musical or Comedy? Do we throw tradition out the window and invite lawlessness over for dinner? Do we forget our history, everything that we stand for, and everything we’ve stood for in the past and embrace THIS NEW AND MONSTROUS ZEITGEIST WHICH THREATENS TO DESTROY EVERYTHING WE ONCE BELIEVED IN?
Easy, tiger. Is this video the new public face of Yale? I don’t know, but for those who aren’t familiar with the roiling sea of raging identities that Yale has become, it’s as good an introduction as any. Does it have moments of idealization and bombast? Maybe. I for one know that, if forced to, I could probably do without my college’s common room. Likewise, the notion that you simply “pick your favorites” at the end of shopping period can easily be dispelled by anyone who has checked his/her email maniacally for notice of a list of accepted students and has been met by the cold silence of rejection. Oh, by the way, East Rock is not on Yale’s campus.
But haters, let’s not overstate the case. I know a few people around campus who could use a little more inebriate juvenility and a little less intellectual vigor. For those who see the new video as the something wicked that this way comes, let’s turn it down a few notches on the hyperbole machine, huh?
We need to determine just what’s at stake here. Are we worried that people will mistake this landscape of solemn (coughandfakecough) Gothic architecture for a place where fun happens? Or are we simply worried that people will think Yale students sing? I think it was Archimedes who proved that dignity and singing are mutually exclusive.
Anyway, like it or don’t. I’m not really sure I can articulate why I chose Yale; at the very least, I can say it probably had something to do with the things discussed in the new video and very little to do with the fact that the guy who started FedEx went here (a fun fact from the old video).
Also, if that guy does actually mail us his turd, I suggest we have it signed by YouTube sensation Sam Tsui and send it back to him.