A controversial University of Alabama sorority recruitment video -- a series of airbrushed images of young women strutting in bikinis and short and shorter skirts -- has become such a flashpoint that it was removed from YouTube by the Alpha Phi chapter.
And the University of Alabama felt compelled today to issue a statement about it: "This video is not reflective of UA's expectations for student organizations to be responsible digital citizens. It is important for student organizations to remember what is posted on social media makes a difference, today and tomorrow."
Before the video was yanked, it drew half a million viewers, many drawn there by a scalding online column by writer and editor A.L. Bailey, who deemed the images sexist and trite and said they reduced the young women to commodities.
In part, Bailey wrote:
Remember all those bikini-clad, sashaying, glitter-blowing, and spontaneous piggyback-riding days of college? Me either. But according to a new video, it's a whirlwind of glitter and girl-on-girl piggyback rides at the University of Alabama's Alpha Phi house.
No, it's not a slick Playboy Playmate or Girls Gone Wild video. It's a sorority recruiting tool gaining on 500,000 views in its first week on YouTube. It's a parade of white girls and blonde hair dye, coordinated clothing, bikinis and daisy dukes, glitter and kisses, bouncing bodies, euphoric hand-holding and hugging, gratuitous booty shots, and matching aviator sunglasses. It's all so racially and aesthetically homogeneous and forced, so hyper-feminine, so reductive and objectifying, so Stepford Wives: College Edition. It's all so ... unempowering.
Bailey has won both praise and condemnation for the column.
Among the comments praising the video: "I watched the video and thought it was great! There's nothing wrong with women being young, beautiful, and having fun!"
And here is one from the other side: "What? No pillow fights? That's a little disappointing. Reminded me of the scene in 'Animal House' where Belushi was peeping in the window at the sorority house. I wonder if they get a group discount on blonde hair color? "
For the time being, here is another link to the video from YouTube. It, too, may vanish shortly. Watch and judge for yourself.