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ISSUE 121 VOL 7 PUBLISHED 11/9/2007

Ole Villains satirize

By Paul Christiansen
Contributing Writer

Friday, November 9, 2007

The St. Olaf campus suffers from a swarm of cake-eating Scandinavian Lutherans wrapped up in Minnesota nice - the quaint Hill could benefit from some balance between good and evil. At the beginning of this semester, several current and former students donned pseudonyms and emerged from their online lair as Olevillains - antagonists and disrupters of the status quo.

They hope to bring some humor to a community that they believe takes itself too seriously, or at least pick up the campus-cultivated entertainment slack that the Oleville site drops amongst its numerous broken links. They spread their "The Onion"-style sarcasm and approach to humor via their website

The site's front page offers short satirical musings, fictitious news stories and links to the numerous other sections. One of the most enjoyable of those is the "Postsecret" blog, which is a direct replication of the popular website of the same name, but restricted to Olaf contributors. Here students anonymously post embarrassing secrets such as, "The first time my roommate leaves for the night, I'm going to try on all of his clothes." The site creators say all admissions are authentic, except for the fabricated confession of a Caf-worker putting boogers into the spinach, which was posted simply to get the site started.

The quotes that come with creative images are entertaining if for no other reason than allowing the reader to think, "Well, at least I'm not that kid." This same guilty pleasure effect makes the roommate ranting featured in the "Sh-tty Roommate" section amusing. Here students secretly post horror stories about the person they share a room with. The site's ability to embrace vulgarity becomes obvious with a story that involves vaginal fluids in a shared sink.

Continuing the trend of approaching topics that would turn the pale cheeks of most Olaf students red, the sex blog isn't afraid to post a story on a failed dildo creation experiment, complete with pictures. Other regular features include updated blogs about life after graduation and the dangers of drinking on a dry campus, as well as a graphic novel created by a former Olaf student and the continuing tales of a man willing to sample various disgusting foods. Much like a typical issue of "The Onion," the material is interesting for at least a couple paragraphs before the reader's eye wanders to the next headline.

The Olevillains know that a lot of good comedy relies on controversial material and are unwilling to censor themselves just to avoid offending over-sensitive readers. The site has faced some criticism from administrators and students for being unnecessarily cruel, cowardly or lacking in integrity. The creators have responded by reviewing and removing some of the pieces that may have been in bad taste, while holding firm to a free-speech, "don't take things so seriously" stance. The contributors also believe that their involved backgrounds allow them some leniency in their writings.

The website's 15 to 20 contributors say that their active roles in the various organizations they joke about, such as Student Government Association, residence life and the Olaf party scene, allow them both perspective and a response to theories that their humor is just the product of being bitter outcasts. Their desire to provide their vision unedited means that the Olevillains will not appear in print anytime soon, because reaching into the deep Student Organizations Committee pockets would leave them viable to administrative authority.

The Midwest has seen a few real-life villains from Jesse James to Jeffrey Dahmer. Granted, the Olevillains aim to inflict their damage through the sharpness of their wit, but they still have a lot of carnage to live up to. Within their first two months they have attracted nearly 9,000 visits, and are accurately swinging a satirical sickle at some straight-laced Oles, hopefully leaving them in stitches. Still, they aren't fully satisfied and Olevillains is searching for contributors interested in flexing their comedic claws and taking a few swipes at any subject that has grown overly safe on this wholesome campus. Interested humorists can learn more by visiting the website.

Even if the quality of the material doesn't quite reach that of "The Onion," and some sections can't seem to avoid the Olaf lameness they're attempting to provide relief from, it's still well worth a visit. Besides, any time spent lurking around the site's professional-looking and aesthetically pleasing pages is probably just stealing procrastination minutes from facebook, or whatever bits of glib entertainment St. Olaf students spend their bandwidth on.

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