Medium parody should be taken lightly
University students have embraced The Medium since the 1980s for its satirical and comedic content. Since its transition from the newspaper of Livingston College into a weekly entertainment publication, students have consistently been offered the opportunity to read, contribute and admire satirical accounts of University events and its public figures. Readers of The Medium have seen in the past few years a Rutgers University Mounted Patrol horse promoted to detective, former head football coach Greg Schiano replace the football team’s uniforms with ones made of $100 bills, and images of University President Richard L. McCormick blowing up Murray Hall. Throughout the history of The Medium’s journeys into the bizarre and satirical, we have never expected any student to interpret the paper as serious.
This brings us to a special issue of The Medium published around April Fool’s Day, which was designed to look like The Daily Targum. Students saw the same satirical content they were familiar with in regular Medium issues, delivered alongside a parody of the widely recognized University daily newspaper.
We published a satirical opinion piece in this year’s issue under the name of Aaron Marcus, a School of Arts and Sciences junior and biweekly Targum columnist. The opinion piece, titled “What About All the Good Things Hitler Did?” was completely satirical in nature. It was intended to reflect Marcus’ writing, which The Medium had intended to parody.
Through research of Aaron’s work, a Medium writer was able to accurately mimic Aaron’s writing style, from his tendency to have straightforward, provoking titles in his column to the casual, approachable style of writing he prefers to use. The writer also intended the use of provoking subject matter to parody Marcus’ continued use of subjects many University students do not find popular.
Marcus, because of his position as a columnist with his face published in the Targum every other week, is subject to a different set of rules than what a private person would have. For all intents and purposes, Marcus is considered a public figure, leaving him open for parody in the same way that McCormick and Schiano are. This means we can use his likeness without his permission. Had this article been written to parody a private citizen, such as an average student who does not have a weekly column in a widely published newspaper, then the abilities of The Medium to parody would be much different, and we as editors and writers recognize this. We believe we are able to parody Marcus in the same way a publication such as The Onion can parody major political figures.
This brings us to the accusation that the publication of this article was meant to be anti-Semitic. I want to state publicly, in the strongest possible terms, that the only subject we meant to parody was Marcus, whose work The Medium staff has found as something more than suitable for parody. This piece was not an attack on any religious or ethnic group. It was not an attack on defenseless private citizens. The article we wrote was about Marcus, a sometimes controversial public persona. Marcus’ use of his column as a pedestal to promote his views is completely within his rights. But because he is a public figure, his column is subject to parody just as any public figure’s work is, and it is well within the rights of The Medium to promote this. The satire that was published was just that — and as with all issues of The Medium, we place a disclaimer in every published issue noting that no part of our paper, unless otherwise specified, should be taken seriously. We believe that anyone taking this to be a work of fact that Marcus actually wrote illuminates to us how provoking and concerning he can be.
Amy DiMaria is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in English with a minor in history. She is the editor-in-chief of The Medium.