By Cherri Ellis
ATTENTION: IT IS SAFE TO COME OUT OF YOUR HOUSES NOW. ALPHA PHI’S RECRUITMENT VIDEO CAN NO LONGER HURT YOU.
In the unlikely possibility that you haven’t seen or heard of it, the University of Alabama chapter of Alpha Phi posted a recruitment video that sparked more national media attention than all other PanHellenic activities combined.
I would show it to you, but you would need to send the children from the room. It features young, predominantly blonde girls who are literally frolicking at various locations on campus. In the scenes shot at the lake, most of them are wearing bikinis. One co-ed even goes so far as to blow glitter out of her cupped hands for the camera. Is there no shame?
Let us all take a moment of silence to observe the societal damage caused by this reckless use of marketing.
The video was originally released on YouTube, but it sparked such controversy that the sorority pulled it from their Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr accounts. One AL.com contributor, in what was arguably the zenith of her writing career, said it was “worse for women than Donald Trump.” She called the video unempowering and likened the girls in it to Stepford wives. (Because nothing shows female empowerment more than name-calling.) Clips were shown on the Today show. Matt Lauer jokingly wouldn’t comment. Comedian Dennis Miller addressed it on Fox News. Facebook was rife with self-righteous statements like “I do not judge, BUT—blah blah blah.” For the record, oh pious ones, the moment you start a sentence with, “I do not judge,” you are sort of in the middle of judgment.
And all of this attention came from a video that shows no illegal activity, alcohol, or profanity. Nudity? There’s not even a glimpse of side-boob.
But where, one may ask, are the shots of the girls studying in the library? Where are the philanthropic activities, classroom shots, or the mentoring over a shared cup of coffee?
Folks, this is a recruitment video, and they’re not trying to recruit your grandparents. Girls don’t join a sorority so that they will have a professional network 20 years later. They join because it will make their college years more fun and provide an instant sense of belonging. The video’s production is slick, with high quality footage and a smooth edit cut to great music. The addition of star football player Kenyan Drake brings in another demographic who may not have seen it otherwise. In terms of marketing, it was a near genius effort, as it got more than half a million views right out of the gate. Whoever was behind it should make sure she puts it on her resume.
I feel qualified to address this topic, considering my daughter was in the 2010 pledge class of UA Alpha Phi. I am not talking about the process of rush itself, which I consider nationwide to be a barbaric ritual in desperate need of an overhaul. I am talking about the girls themselves, whom I had the pleasure of getting to know through my own girl. Now alumni, they are somewhat scattered. One is a nurse here in town, making decisions every shift about how to best care for people battling illness or injury. One is in a local classroom teaching elementary school kids how to grow in knowledge and confidence. One is a sassy entertainment writer in Washington D.C. One is working for a religious organization. One is an accountant, several are in grad school, and mine is in law school. I hate to disappoint that writer who claimed that sorority girls sell themselves on looks alone, but perhaps she can do some research before she judges an entire group of people based solely on their enviable BMIs.
And what to make of an adult who puts in writing her disapproval of debauchery such as “girl-on-girl piggy back rides?” Well…Jane Austen called. She wants her sensibilities back.
Sounds to me like someone needs to put on something flattering, get with some good friends, and blow some glitter out of her hands. I’m not one to judge, but someone sounds a little crabby.