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Is Notre Dame’s cutting edge breaking the bubble?

Editorial Board | Friday, November 13, 2009

 In the last week alone, Notre Dame has had three sneak movie premieres. First, Universal’s “The Fourth Kind,” next, the Bengal Bouts brainchild “Strong Bodies Fight,” and most recently, a screening of the limitedly released “Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day.” This type of media attention on campus is unprecedented until recently.

In a recent interview with The Observer, the executive director of mtvU (the MTV University branch), said that college campuses are on the cutting edge, and are great for predicting the next big thing. Frequently, publicists will try to gauge the success of their product by testing it on university campuses. College students’ tastes tend to set the taste of wider demographics, and that’s exactly what happened Notre Dame over the course of the last week and the many movie screenings. 
So why hasn’t Notre Dame seen attention from publicists earlier? Have we not been on the cutting edge? Or has media simply overlooked Notre Dame instead being distracted by state universities with Greek systems?
The best test may be an examination of what trends owe credit to Notre Dame’s students. What did we know before anyone else did? Clearly things like jigging or odd social rituals like those of Frosh-O are so specific to Notre Dame campus culture that it’s unlikely to spread past Notre Dame Ave. But then again, many acts that come to Legend’s either are at the very upswing of their career trajectories. Sara Bareilles, Plain White T’s, Gavin DeGraw and Matt and Kim all came to Notre Dame’s resident night club recently. 
Months later they all gained national acclaim and in some cases radio play if not huge popularity in indie circles. While Notre Dame may be ahead of the game when it comes to indie pop-rock, it’s unlikely that our student body will have too much of an effect on areas of the music industry. Let’s face it, the average Notre Dame student knows about two rap songs — “I’m on a Boat” and “Get Low.” One of those songs was popular more than five years ago and the other isn’t even a real rap song. 
When it comes to fashion, the Fighting Irish might want to avoid taking credit for starting the Ugg boot, North Face combo trend. Otherwise, not too much can be said of the Notre Dame as a birth place for style stardom. As far as movies go, Notre Dame seems to have a comparable quality of taste as any other campus. Though maybe we specialize in Irish gangster movies — whoever decided to screen “Boondock Saints II” at Notre Dame couldn’t have picked a more receptive audience, considering students have the poster in nearly every dorm room and the theme music plays during pregame tailgates.
It’s likely that publicists for national media outlets will continue to have their eyes on Notre Dame, particularly when it comes to our strengths and assets in film and some musical genres. This no doubt has great perks for Notre Dame’s undergrads. With the carrot of “free” hanging in front of us, few college students can resist sampling new music or movies. And with our campus culture so firmly set in its ways, it’s unlikely that the undergraduate scene will be commercialized any more than it already is. So it seems safe to say there will be more cutting edge cultural trends being ushered into our happy bubble. And while many students strive to reach out of the bubble to stay ahead of the curve in fashion, film, art and music, it’s unlikely that there are enough of them to put the entire campus at the height of hip. While Notre Dame’s has had a little taste of what it’s like to be on the cutting edge, it seem that our efforts are a bit too dull to truly break the bubble or have any marked consequence on campus culture.