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Music video draws mixed reactions

Madeline Buckley | Friday, May 14, 2010

A video project for the Athletics Department featuring the Notre Dame pom squad, footage from football and basketball games and Ohio-based funk band Freekbass has created a stir among students — resulting in a Facebook group protesting the video with almost 4,000 members.

The “We are ND” video features Freekbass singing the chorus “We are ND. We are Notre Dame” throughout campus, in the Notre Dame Stadium, the Joyce Athletic Center and under the “Play Like a Champion Today” sign.

But Film, Television and Theatre (FTT) Professor Ted Mandell, producer of the video and writer of the “We are ND” song, said the video is not meant to be an official promotional video for the University.

Mandell said he produced the video for Athletics Department’s end of the year awards show, the O.S.C.A.R.S, which highlights the achievement of student athletes.

“The idea was to make a fun, laugh at yourself, cheer for the Irish, dance in the parking lots, celebration song that would fit well with the tone of the O.S.C.A.R.S show,” he said. “It’s intended to be a goofy, carefree dance song you sing when you’re partying in the parking lot after beating Michigan. Something that fans can chant, and jump up and down to.”

Yet some students say the video, which features Freekbass in large sunglasses and funky outfits, does not fit Notre Dame.

“We want to tell the Boston College and USC fans that will make fun of us that we didn’t give the okay,” sophomore Kyle Blanco said. “It’s only a small portion of the Notre Dame population behind it.”

Freshman Christopher Grunewald, one of the students who started the Facebook group “Protest ‘We are ND’ Video,” said the creators of the group felt Freekbass was not representative of Notre Dame.

“My first impression was, ‘why is a guy wearing freak attire singing 70s funk on our basketball court and under our Play Like a Champion Today sign, singing, We are ND?'” Grunewald said.

Junior Michael Burke, a production assistant for the video and FTT student, said he thinks the students criticizing the video are taking it out of context.

“The video really had no purpose. [Mandell] wasn’t trying to reinvent school spirit,” Burke said. “I could have guessed some people wouldn’t like it, but I didn’t think people would be so outspoken. I think it’s ridiculous that people are taking it so seriously.”

Burke said the video cost nothing and was not sanctioned in an official capacity by the University.

“I think it was apparent to everyone song was corny, Burke said. “It just wasn’t meant to be as serious as people are taking it. It’s supposed to be light-hearted and just funny.”

Despite the reaction from students, Burke said producing the video was a fun experience.

It was really awesome working with equipment and helping professors do something on more professional level rather than as a student,” he said.

Senior Stephanie Jensen, a member of the Notre Dame Marching Band, plays the falto during a scene filmed at Legends in the video.

“I think the video was really well put together, but I’m not  a really big fan of the song itself,” she said.

Jensen said her scene was filmed in about five or six takes, which took about half an hour. Burke said the whole video was filmed in one day.

“It’s always fun being with band kids,” Jensen said of the experience filming the video. “It was kind of weird. I can’t really verbalize it. It wouldn’t be something Notre Dame would usually do. I guess it was just atypical.”

Grunewald said he was surprised at how fast the Facebook group protesting the video grew.

“It was actually funny. I started it and within about 20 minutes, there were already over 100 people, and it grew exponentially from there,” Grunewald said.

But Mandell said he has heard positive feedback on the video as well.

“I think being posted on the University YouTube Channel set up certain expectations for the viewer. No one expected to see a video from the O.S.C.A.R.S. No one expected to see a guy like Freekbass. No one expected to hear a funky little fan song,” he said “I think some viewers applied their expectations of what they thought it would be, to what it really was, and that produces negative opinion.

“I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback from fellow faculty and administrators who see it for what it is — fun and goofy. Freekbass certainly doesn’t take himself seriously. He makes fun of himself.”