The new faces of Chapman student entertainment have arrived: a fake fishing club, Communists, and a monkey?
With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing Chapman into a digital university, students have found new ways to get a laugh from the community through social media. Though a few Republicans might not find it all so funny.
If you’re a Chapman student on Instagram — which would be just about everybody — you may have noticed an influx of notifications that Chapman-related accounts have begun following you. Accounts such as Chapman Film Bros, Chapman Comrades, or even the Chapman Celibacy Committee have seemingly sprouted out of thin air in the past two months to parody the culture and politics surrounding the university.
One of these Chapman parody accounts was the Chapman Fishing Team. While not an official school team or club, the Chapman Fishing Team emulates the typical social media presence of real Chapman clubs by sharing fish-related memes and creating fake narratives around fictional activities that the club holds.
The account was created by a senior film production major that, at the request of their anonymity, goes by the initials of J.J.. J.J. explained that the inspiration behind their account came from parody accounts outside the Chapman community.
“The first parody college account was Brigham Young Virginity Club, which was funny because it referenced the school’s Mormon reputation,” said J.J. “Upon seeing that, I was like ‘huh you can kinda just invent a school organization I guess,’ so I created Chapman Fishing, then shortly after that, there were Chapman virginity clubs and then all the rest followed.”
From spotlighting students’ pictures of fish they’ve actually caught in the past, to posting announcements that say the club’s days may be numbered thanks to an “eldritch sea god,” the Chapman Fishing Team walks a fine line between actual student engagement and absurdist comedy.
Other accounts, like the Chapman Anarcho-Primitivists, created by a sophomore dance major going by the initials of T.B., shared that the inspiration behind their account was sparked by the various controversies in the Chapman community surrounding John Eastman and other right-leaning students.
“I wanted to piss off Chapman Republicans, but nobody really interacts with this account,” said T.B.
The account shares various memes and images centered around apes and monkeys that target Chapman’s political clubs by advocating a return to primitive societal structures.
J.J. also shared that their account’s popularity allowed them to spread awareness about issues surrounding Eastman and his actions. Law professor Eastman, who recently left Chapman, was on stage with Donald Trump the day of the Jan. 6 right-wing attack on the Capitol.
“I was involved politically in the John Eastman outrage for a bit, which was great because Chapman Fishing reaches more people than I ever could and helped spark change in some small way,” said J.J.
While these accounts have gained quite a following amongst the Chapman community, each account tries to remain as anonymous as they can.
The mysterious television production major behind behind the Chapman Neo-Liberals, a leftist account that satirizes modern liberal humor as well as pokes fun at republican Chapman students, explained that anonymity helps protect both their privacy and safety in case their posts that make fun of clubs such as the Chapman Republicans attract any negative attention.
“I think me and Chapman Comrades are a little less afraid to go after [the Chapman Republicans] when we’re anonymous,” said the Chapman Neo-Liberals user. “It’s always fun to see people in my classes like the memes I post and having no idea it’s me, but it can be a little frustrating when you want credit.”
While the Chapman Republicans have yet to release any statements or comments in regards to these accounts, the user behind Chapman Neo-Liberals welcomes it.
“We were hoping that [the Chapman Republicans] would have to reach out to us if we were claiming that they were doxxing us or making jokes that they were hunting us down, but they haven’t taken the bait,” said the Chapman Neo-Liberals creator.
Taylor Nicole, a Chapman alumni and last year’s president of the Chapman Republicans, shared that while she doesn’t know the club’s current stance towards these accounts, she doesn’t believe the club needs to pay these accounts any mind.
“I feel like they’d be more open to talking about cancel culture in general but meme pages seems a bit trivial,” said Nicole. “I don’t think they should be given any attention at all considering all they’re trying to do is tear other people down.”
Though not every Chapman parody account focuses on the university’s politics. Chapman Monkey, an account that takes the visage of the popular internet meme “le monke,” simulates the experiences of a first-year Chapman student on Instagram through the eyes of an orangutan. The account posts edited photos of the orangutan exploring Chapman’s campus, joining student clubs, and even rushing fraternities.
N.C., the senior business major behind Chapman Monkey, shared that the appeal behind their account comes from having simple conversations with Chapman students, but under the guise that an ape is talking.
“It’s been a lot of fun, just talking to people,” said N.C. “You can say the most mundane things, but when it’s coming from a monkey, it gets the best reactions.”
When asked what the Chapman Monkey’s take is on Chapman Republicans, since the club is mentioned by nearly every parody account, N.C. expressed their view quite on brand.
“They’re bananas,” said N.C..
Ethan Williams is a senior film studies major and visual storytelling minor at Chapman, as well as the art manager and writer for ChapBook Magazine.