Jell-O event leaves bad taste in many mouths

Tongues hanging, students screaming, Jell-O splattering and high school girls taking each other’s shirts off. That was the scene at Birdsall Park on the night before the homecoming game in Cedar Falls.  For years, students believed this event was all in good fun. This unofficial tradition shattered after a YouTube video exposed the event to the public.

A local news station, KWWL, quickly found out about the event. Many Cedar Falls High School students grew furious after watching the story on KWWL. According to them, the news report didn’t have the facts straight. They made phone calls, tweeted and facebooked KWWL and demanded that the “true story” be reported.  After KWWL added to the story, students were still angry and would not stop. They thought it was completely unnecessary for the news to even report the story. KWWL responded to the student frustrations on a facebook wall post. “We reported it because some parents who think it’s inappropriate brought it to our attention. We asked police and school officials for comment, and accurately reported what they told us. As we received more information last night (like the picture of the police), we added that to our reporting. The fact that it’s generated the discussion above shows there is public interest, which is why we thought it was newsworthy,” KWWL said on facebook.

Despite KWWL doing everything it could to make its reporting as factual as possible, students were proud of how they handled the situation, #cfpride, #classof2k13,#jellowrestling, #wearecf dominated Twitter for the days to come. Not only do students see no wrong in Jell-O wrestling, they are proud of their behavior. Proud of letting 60 seconds of fame on KWWL explode into days worth of controversy because they couldn’t let it go. Proud of taking on KWWL for “making our school look trashy.”

Wrong, Jell-O wrestlers, you made yourselves look trashy. There is nothing classy about Jell-O wrestling. The controversy was bound to happen someday, especially after an explicit video was posted online.

The central issue of this controversy lies with misuse of social media. If the YouTube video never would’ve been created, posted and shared, life probably would’ve gone on as normal. Girls would happily continue to take off each others’ shirts in pools of Jell-o for years to come, and few critics would really know or care. KWWL just did what they are paid to do: report what people care about. Clearly, people care. So, why aren’t students angry about a video being posted on the Internet that made them look bad and exposed an unfavorable side of CF students?

Students shouldn’t be proud of “taking on KWWL” or a bad video. Throughout this whole mess, Jell-o enthusiasts cheered KWWL’s story on with all the attention they gave KWWL on just about every public forum imaginable while simultaneously sharing the video and making it go viral. They essentially gave KWWL a pat on the back for a newsworthy local story.

The worst part of all of this is, students names and faces are out there forever and perhaps someday they won’t want to be attached with this silliness when it comes back to them as college boards or employers come across their old, passionate posts about Jell-o pride and find nothing else of real importance.

Rather than searching for someone else to blame or fishing for excuses, class of 2013, maybe it’s time to find something that truly matters to be proud of.

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