Mizzou Basement, a satirical website focused on MU, went live last week, posting stories that skewer the daily goings-on around campus.
The website is a part of the larger Campus Basement network, which has affiliate sites at Boston University, Syracuse University, Penn State University and Cornell University, among others.
“The content on the Mizzou Basement is mainly satirical news,” Mizzou Basement head staff writer Ellen Sherman said. “It's meant to be funny, eye-opening, intriguing and a good break from the hard-hitting side of things. It's pretty much our goal to call out the weird, stupid and behind-the-scenes screw-ups at Mizzou.”
In its first week of operation, Mizzou Basement posted stories ranging from the grotesque (girls squeezing into too-tight Halloween costumes) to sardonic (a how-to guide on giving speeches in Speakers Circle). One video, featuring a Mizzou Basement staff writer preaching Harry Potter in the style of incendiary speakers like Brother Jed, became a Facebook hit.
“I go to Speakers Circle a lot and I had this idea before Campus Basement, but the website gave me a legitimate reason to do it and film it,” said Chris Varney, the writer behind the video.
The video and the site in general are a way for the writers to satirize what goes on around campus in a creative way.
“Basically, I was very upset at what was being said by specifically Brother Jed and Sister Cindy but I don't think it's right to harass them,” Varney said. “This gave me a way to voice my displeasure without having to be rude to people like they are.”
The posts have proven to be popular with students — the Speakers Circle story alone garnered nearly 100 shares on Facebook - but the nature of the website has caused some friction and unpleasant reactions.
“We cover the stories that most publications can't touch due to obscenity and/or negative backlash,” Sherman said. “If you've read the comments on a couple of our stories, you'd see that we've already been hit with some negativity, but it's our job to keep pushing.”
Mizzou Basement staff writer Brad Babendir said the goal of the site is to satirize while remaining humorous and creative. Babendir and Varney are also staff members at The Maneater.
“I like going through and testing out what I can do as a writer, different ways I can be funny and stuff like that,” Babendir said. “I hope that I'm able to effectively stretch my limits.”
Ultimately, this attitude is at the core of Mizzou Basement.
“We're going to push limits, edge comfort zones and I hope people enjoy it,” Babendir said. “Personally, I'm not worried about offending people because I think the tone of our articles is pretty clear. They're jokes, but they're not entirely fabrications. They're based off of real things.”