A week after the release of a Mexican private high school's polemic music video that has been excoriated by media and society as misogynistic, classist, and generally obnoxious, some students and alumni remain largely unapologetic.
The professionally produced video, which was tucked behind a password protect following last week's uproar, was commissioned by a group of students from this year's graduating class from Instituto Cumbres. The seniors who star in the video boast a lavish lifestyle by posing with a pet jaguar, sipping champagne, and getting chased around Mexico City by adoring women.
While many Mexicans reacted to the video with outrage, former Cumbres students interviewed by Fusion insist the video might have crossed the line, but was intended in good fun. Those who aren't laughing don't get the joke, alumni claim.
“I see it as self-satire. These kids are exploiting the labels that have been placed on the school; that we are rich, that we are preppy, that we don’t care,” Cumbres alumni Rodolfo Gaxiola told Fusion. “Cumbres is like the Club America soccer team— it’s controversial no matter what, because the students there make themselves noticeable and are perceived as arrogant.”
Not everyone thinks the graduates' attempt at "satire" was clever. Many Mexicans view the video as rich kids shamelessly flaunting their wealth and privilege in a country of haves and have-nots. The negative perception of the video was not good PR for Instituto Cumbres, which issued a formal apology last week. But no similar remorse has been shown by the students who participated in the video, or their parents.
Fusion reached out to several of the students who starred in the video, but didn't receive a response by the time of publication.
Meanwhile, a Change.org petition calling for the graduates to take classes in human rights, discrimination-prevention and gender studies has garnered more than 15,000 online signatures. The petition states the high school has “formed a class that choses to celebrate its graduation with a video that degrades women and reveals a profound insensibility regarding the country’s social and economic situation.”
Gaxiola, the Cumbres alum who graduated in 2010, told Fusion he thinks the backlash to the video has been unduly harsh.
“These students wanted to provoke people; they knew the reaction it would trigger and they crossed the line, but the media overreacted. They tried to portray these kids as if they were the origin of everything that’s wrong with Mexican society,” he said.
Gaxiola acknowledged the timing of the video couldn’t be worse, coinciding with the six-month anniversary of the the disappearance of the 43 Ayotzinapa students and a series of corruption scandals involving Mexico's ruling class. But he says the students where just having fun, and didn't intend to denigrate women.
“In the video they are trying to show that Cumbres students have plenty of girls, and that’s what makes them different from the guys at other private schools. We are the guys who get the most girls, the so-called pimps; the most handsome guys, you know. That’s what the video is trying to say; it’s like that Blurred Lines music video by Robin Thicke. But in the end we all have sisters, female cousins, etcetera.”
Rodrigo Ampudia, another Cumbres alum who graduated in 2007, agrees that reaction to the video was overblown. “There have been worst videos in the past. This time people are fed-up with impunity, and this video reaffirms that impunity so I think Cumbres students and Mexico’s upper-class are becoming the scapegoat right now.”
Watch last year’s graduation party video:
While the graduates responsible for the video have not expressed any public remorse, they are apparently uncomfortable with the scandal it's caused. Several of the participating students have erased some of their most offensive sexist and classist tweets and closed their social media accounts.