It was a karaoke night at Brick Street Bar and Grill on March 23.
Students were singing onstage; the large LED screen was broadcasting sports with infrequent transitions to the news.
One such transition that night showed a broadcast of the victims of the Atlanta spa shootings, creating a scene of students singing karaoke and having fun while images with the exact opposite tone of the shooting victims played behind their unsuspecting backs.
Someone took a video of this, zooming in on the news broadcast at the end of the video. The Barstool Redhawks instagram account posted it with the caption “matching energies at karaoke night.”
Barstool Sports is a company that posts funny and satirical videos related to bars and drunk college students, and the @barstoolredhawks account is a local affiliate of the company. It is not connected to Miami University or local businesses in any way.
The post was quickly taken down after it started receiving comments from people who found it more hurtful than humorous. However, it was screen-recorded by a student and reposted, leading to outrage and disgust from members of the Miami community.
Barstool Redhawks did not respond to requests for a comment.
Sadie Hartzell is a junior psychology major who immediately commented and saved the video after she saw it while scrolling through her Instagram feed. She reposted the video after Barstool Redhawks deleted it to share why she thought it was so problematic.
“It was posted to be funny, but it was literally a newscast of people who had been murdered, who had had their lives taken away in the snap of a finger, while you have people in a bar doing karaoke and having fun,” Hartzell said. “There was a zoom in on the newscast at the end of the video, showing that it wasn’t just someone recording people having fun at karaoke night; a big portion of why that was recorded was because of that newscast.”
Hartzell went on to explain that the problem was with the account administrators, not the students in the video.
“The people in the video had nothing to do with it as far as I’m aware — they even messaged me later and said they didn’t realize that it was playing behind them,” she said. “The problem is that Barstool content is supposed to be funny and entertaining, and the post clearly wasn’t made for advocacy for the [Asian American and Pacific Islander] community.”
Jannie Kamara, student body president and a senior majoring in Black world studies and diversity in leadership, also took issue with the post itself.
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“For me, it’s incredibly insensitive for them to make that post and make that comment,” she said. “Having someone poke fun at the shootings — even though it likely wasn’t intentional or whatever — is disrespectful to the victims and the Asian people in our community.”
Kamara also stressed that noticing and denouncing posts that are in poor taste, as she considered the Barstool Redhawks one to be, was something that was good for the community as a whole.
“I just really want people to take into consideration how dangerous it is for us to propagate this culture of poking jokes at Asian Americans in the country,” she said. “We need to show our solidarity with our people in the community who have been harmed by racism and discrimination, and people really need to show up and call things out when they see them.”