Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Is it really kind of a big deal?

At issue: “Respected journalist Ron Burgundy” coming to campus

Our take: Don’t become the hype.

On Dec. 4, Emerson College will become a billboard for a day.

Will Ferrell will don his ’70s mustache and visit the school in the guise of Ron Burgundy, the protagonist of the 2004 film Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, and its forthcoming sequel Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. In honor of his appearance, Emerson plans to hold a ceremony to “rename” its communication school after the fictional newsman for the day. That evening, Ferrell will introduce advance screenings of Anchorman 2 at the AMC Loews Boston Common, open to Emerson students who manage to grab a ticket and get there early enough.

The stunt came about after Ferrell’s publicist, Emerson alumnus Matt Labov, reached out to the school, according to Andrew Tiedemann, vice president for communication and marketing.

If you doubted that the Emerson Mafia exists, this should about prove it to you. But remember, mobsters don’t tend to give anything out of benevolence.

In the last few months, “Ron Burgundy” has ridden a tandem bicycle with French electronic music duo Daft Punk, had a new Ben & Jerry’s flavor named after him (“Scotchy Scotch Scotch”), and hammed for a series of Dodge Durango ads. The Emerson visit is just another stop on Ron Burgundy’s promotional crusade for the new picture.

We don’t suggest that you deny yourself a chance to enjoy a free advance movie screening. But step outside the glass case of emotion to recognize what we really get out of the clamor. Forget the tongue-in-cheek press release, with its amusing pretense that Ron Burgundy is a “legendary anchorman.” Remind yourself that most students can’t even attempt to attend the “re-naming ceremony,” and instead must catch it over an online live stream.

You’re left with a glorified movie screening. The rest is a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing for the average Emerson student: The school serves as little more than a venue for the sort of media junkets that regularly take place at nearby hotels.

But with the much bally-hooed announcement, Emerson poses the “day-long visit” as something more. In a statement, president M. Lee Pelton called the visit “a chance to engage with someone who understands the power of media, as well as hairspray, first-hand.” In reality, such chances are few—Emerson has not scheduled time for students to meet the fictional journalist. Instead, Ferrell, out of character, will introduce the movie in “select houses” of AMC Loews. Otherwise, well, maybe you’ll run into him on street.

The “renaming-for-a-day” leaves perhaps the worst impression. No, the gesture isn’t an affront to Emerson’s esteem as an institution of higher learning. The stunt just has no bite. It’s a brazen attempt to generate headlines without actually doing something of consequence: Emerson renames its communication school… but not really! The school’s statement tries to preempt such cynicism with an ironic tone that points to the ceremony’s silliness. But acknowledging vapidity doesn’t get rid of it.

So don’t let yourself become too intoxicated by this marketing stunt’s aphrodisiac; leave Sex Panther by Odeon to Ron Burgundy. Just enjoy the screening.

Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article misstated Matt Labov’s affiliation to Will Ferrell. Labov is Ferrell’s publicist, not his agent.

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