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Raunchy comedy stirs controversy at Western

Student filmmaker questioned by police for online teaser


 

Screen shot from 3 Audrey

A University of Western Ontario student and his filmmaker friend have created a raunchy comedy series—and university officials aren’t amused.

It’s easy to see why. The trailer for 3 Audrey features multiple references to Western interspersed with jokes about a mother’s vagina, breast implants and excessive amounts of liquor.

3 Audrey is a six-part scripted series named for the house where a group of fictional Western students welcome a Carleton transfer student, Tommy Noble, into their oft-partying family.

It was co-written by Western media student Dave Provost and his 21-year-old director friend Miguel Barbosa, who is not a student at the school. Barbosa is part of YEAH! Films, a collective that plans to sell product placements in YouTube based viral videos. Provost took part in order to launch his acting and writing career, he says.

The teaser, which showed fictional Western students doing provocative things, instantly got 7,400 hits when it was posted online earlier this month. Western officials were among those to notice.

Provost, who plays Tommy Noble’s mentor Danny Rambis in the series, was jolted awake at 8 a.m. one morning earlier this month by a campus constable who wouldn’t tell him why he needed to get down to the police station, although he had a pretty good idea why she was calling, he says.

The constable interrogated him about the production, said that school officials and students’ parents found it offensive, and told him that he had a week to take it offline—or face academic consequences. He agreed that the teaser was in bad taste. He and Barbosa took it offline.

Then, on Boxing Day, they released the full-length trailer for the six-part series with a disclaimer that makes it more clear than the original teaser that 3 Audrey isn’t an official Western production.

Still, the conflict isn’t over yet. The series was shot partly on Western’s campus during a rowdy homecoming weekend and is so filled with shots of campus buildings, Western’s purple branded clothing and its sports teams that it would be impossible to cut out them all out, says Barbosa.

Considering the number references to Western in the trailer, the school has reasons for concern.

At second 16 of the trailer, Danny mentors Tommy in front of Western’s famous limestone University College tower. The tower is so recognizable as UWO that the school proudly uses as its logo.

“Party hard, but do your work or you won’t last,” Danny tells his understudy in front of UC tower.

At second 22, young women in yoga pants (Western purple, of course) are bent over provocatively while Danny advises a nodding Noble that “people are going to meet their wives at this school.”

At second 25, the rowdy party scene references Western again. Liquor spills across red cups. A campus cruiser shows up. A yelling jock in a Western shirt rallies his fellow “proud Mustangs.”

Barbosa defends the excessive parties and the provocative women, by suggesting that those stereotypes of Western are commonly held. He points to viral videos like the “Saugeen Stripper.” Saugeen is the name of a first-year residence known colloquially as “The Zoo.” That particularly video helped UWO land the title of the only Canadian school in Playboy’s Top 10 Party Schools of 2011.

Besides, say the filmmakers, it’s okay to offend people when making art. “We’re just trying to show realism,” says Provost. “People should understand that it’s a fictitious series. We’re not showing anything that hasn’t been shown in American Pie or [TV-series] Blue Mountain State.

Barbosa agrees. He says fewer people will be offended if they see the show in its entirety. There are negative stereotypes, true. But there are also positive ones. “People look at Western and think everybody there is a douchebag, cocky and stuff,” he says, “I want to show it in a different light.”

Barbosa says the close community at Western is what made it the right setting for the show. He’s even willing to give away the ending (spoiler alert) to prove that point. When Noble, the import from Carleton, finds out that his girlfriend at Queen’s has cheated on him, he realizes that his friends from Western will be there to support him. They’ve always had his back. They always will.

“We show it’s not the school you think it is,” says Barbosa. “There are really good people there.”

Still, the school is distancing itself from the series ahead of its New Year’s Day online launch. “At this point, it is too soon to understand the full scope of this show,” wrote Keith Marnoch, Director of Media & Community Relations in an e-mail. “If the show was produced to deliberately denigrate Western, that would certainly be disappointing,” he says, adding: “Obviously, anyone can shoot a video on campus, but commercially-produced programs require pre-arranged agreements…”

Although Barbosa didn’t seek an agreement for the production,YEAH! Films hasn’t made any money. They’re presenting the show in association with an Ottawa business for free. Barbosa plans to use it as a portfolio piece to sell product placements in future online series he will direct.

But as much as he feels the show shouldn’t be censored, Barbosa says that if his friend is at risk serious academic trouble, he’d be will consider removing the video. Friendship comes first, after all.


 

Raunchy comedy stirs controversy at Western

  1. It is unfortunate for whatever media outlet (including this one), to lend credibility to the suggestion by UWO media and police officials, that the production is 1-Commercial and 2-Intended to place the university in a negative light.
    Numerous videos have been published by both UWO-sanctioned outlets (do your homework), and external individuals. That alone cancels any claim that UWO may have, to single out Yeah Films and Miguel Barbosa now.
    A stronger point is that, any media outlet can talk about any issue or institution. (althought the production is not specifically about UWO) If they are not allowed, it is censorship, and it will be interesting to see the response from anti-censorship organizations. If any level of censorship is applied here, it can be applied anywhere, are we going to allow that? in Canada?.

  2. I find this article very interesting for the fact that the author so obviously fails in supporting his point that this show is NEGATIVE. He can’t seem to end his article off well in a negative light after hearing Miguel’s reasonable explanations of an artistic creation.

    Guess what. University & college IS NOT what the older generation expects or thinks it is- parents are offended by this show? What the reality is is that parents are offended by their own CHILDREN. This show is a true look at University life & how REAL LIFE integrates into such a weird and messed up sub society that North America fosters in the 2-4 year span of a student.

    • Why did you think his point was to say this was negative? It’s under the category ‘Campus News’, which ideally should be objective if it is, in fact, a news item. In other words, it’s not a column. I think the writer did a decent job bringing in both parties and giving them their say. There’s no thesis or conclusion here is what I’m saying. Anyways, cheers!

  3. I don’t understand that the people involve in this production can’t understand the fact that future employers can see this film and already make assumptions. It’s very easy to find out a lot about a potential employee just by typing their name into google. Bam…facebook, twitter and youtube results are open for the public to see. Don’t live your life on the internet for everyone to see.

    • It’s not a reality show. Unless you think Edward Norton is actually a skinhead. Please. They are acting. Shouldn’t affect anything. Sorry.

    • @Bridget,

      Please do some research before you pull out the use of ” future employers ” . If the people involved were concerned then I don’ think they would involve them selves in a reality show. Further more if you had actually done some research you would know this isn’t a reality show. Its a television show that Yeah films and BH has created.

      If you want to see some grim reality go on youtube or your google search bar ( since you talk so highly about it) and google UWO so you can get a real look at what students do.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OanvkDaYRPU

      As a university student myself watching this series brings some humor to what Im CONSTANTLY surrounded by. Next time before you try and be the voice of reason BAM, do some research!

  4. HI bridget,

    Thanks for your concern, I am sure the people involved know the potential consequences!

    Boss Boss

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