#ChangeIt? Not feeling it

Caption: Monash University’s new ad campaign that’s been stirring up controversy. Source: Facebook

By HIMMAT SHALIGRAM

A controversial new video by Monash University titled #ChangeIt has provoked a backlash for allegedly promoting political violence.

The video has had more than combined 75,000 views on the university’s Facebook and Youtube pages and has received more than 500 comments. On YouTube five times as many viewers have given it a thumbs down than a thumbs up. 

The 60-second video shows various protests from around the world and includes a man punching white supremacist Richard Spencer, and a young boy pointing a toy gun at the camera.

The last 20 seconds of the video shows people working in laboratories and students walking towards a campus building before it ended with the hashtag #ChangeIt.

Monash University’s chief marketing officer Fabian Marrone said the video did not have a political agenda or promote violence.

“The clear message is that we believe change can, and should, be made through education and research, and Monash is the place to do so … we are inviting people to come here and be part of the change we create as an institution of higher learning.”

Facebook and YouTube users  spoke out against the “aggression” depicted in the ad.

Comments included people saying they were “horrified by this advert”, that it “blatantly endorses extremism”,  that it seemed “‘anarchy’ is part of [the university’s] ideological foundation” and it showed the university was “not educating, but indoctrinating students with a far left agenda”. 

One person asked: “Punching someone in the face who has an opinion you don’t like is the best way to #CHANGEIT?”

On Monash’s website, users can click through and see an accompanying explanation for how Monash is involved in the issue depicted in each clip of the video. Source: Monash Website

Conservative commentator Andrew Bolt, in his Herald Sun blog, characterised the ad as “bizarre”,  and said it advertises Monash “as a university for Left-wing radicals”.

Quadrant publication writer Tony Thomas, in an extensive analysis of the video and the lyrics of the song, gave way he described as a warning to all Monash graduates.

“Urgent! Urgent! If you’ve got a degree from Monash University, don’t let anyone know. Your alma mater has completely lost its mind.”

Caption: The opening clip of the video shows white supremacist Richard Spencer being punched by a protester. Source: Youtube

The video is set to the song Blaccout by Australian rapper A.B. Original, which features lyrics such as:

What you doin’ with your life, boy?
Stand up and then fight, boy
You wanna change their minds, boy?
You wanna start them fires, boy?

Mr Marrone said the overall message was that if people really wanted change, “then don’t just tweet from your couch; get up and come make a difference”.

“Make a difference in a way that is proven to have long-lasting impact  – through research and education,” he said.  

Mr Marrone said the campaign reflected Monash’s heritage of curiosity and challenged students to answer the “questions of our time.”