The internet is currently going crazy for that rarest of things: a student union election video that is both entertaining and well put together.
Jason Michalski is running for co-president of Sports and Development at Royal Holloway University, and his remake of Macklemore’s "Thrift Shop" music video is funny, intelligent and puts out some interesting policies that you’re somehow compelled to pay attention to. If nothing else, it makes you wonder why someone so clearly talented is settling for a job in student politics.
However, this video is remarkable because student unions have a well documented history of making idiots out of themselves for a viewing audience. Student unions are populated by probably some of the smartest and hardworking students out there, and yet, the been a recent spate of videos out there suggests a simultaneous and collective absolute failure to maintain any sense of decorum whatsoever.
For example, cast your mind back to 2011: high schools across America were participating in a trend called Lip Dubbing. With casts of up to thousands, and a set that usually spanned across the campus captured in a single shot, they were virtuoso examples of tight choreography and timing that also managed to put the school in the kind of kooky creative light that boards of governors go crazy for.
Skip forward three years and cross the Atlantic to... the Midlands. Uploaded to YouTube with the name "Extremely Horrible University Music Video", Loughborough University’s Student Union music video has garnered almost 200,000 views, presumably all through splayed fingers.
There is so much that is questionable here, from the awkward scansion of almost every line, through the inability of almost every person in the video to sing the awkward tune ( La La La by Naughty Boy, in case that whet your appetite for more of the same), to the indecipherable chorus, and so much more. More incredible is that a cast of at least 50 people all looked at the finished product and thought to themselves that it was something they wanted associated with them forever.
But at least in large groups the humiliation is spread out amongst enough people to form some kind of support network if the trauma is too overwhelming. Far riskier is the decision to go solo and push forward a video with your name emblazoned across the top – and yet that’s exactly what “Irish Brian” from Lincoln decided to do.
<<br/>Tackling a song which is renowned for its ability to make even good singers sound flat, Irish Brian hasn’t made life easy for himself. Having said that, how many songs can you find where you can more-or-less fit the line "I’ve made governance policies to better represent you if you’re involved with student liberation" into the lyrics? However, it's possible that riffing on his promise to "do all the things you ask me to" will come back to haunt him upon election.
Finally, although one or two of these videos could arguably be tongue in cheek, there’s nothing better than a SU promotional video that takes itself that bit too seriously. The University of York’s trailer for their annual sports competition against Lancaster treads a thin line between genuinely epic and laughable self-parody.
With hockey sticks forged in glowing embers and rugby players striding through the daffodils, the SU implores the students of York to defend their city from the Lancastrian invaders. Look out for the two brilliant moments at 1.50 and 2.40 – it’s hard to believe it’s just a weekend sports tournament and not a battle for Middle Earth.