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Monday, Mar 4, 2024

How many colleges can say they have their own music video — better yet, two?

Middlebury’s first student- created anthem came in 2010, when Charlie Taft ’11, of The Allen Jokers — a Middlebury-founded music group — released the Midd Kid music video, which received a whopping 1.7 million views on YouTube. The Windward Entertainment team created original music, wrote original lyrics and filmed a video featuring Middlebury parties, college boys in sunglasses and the Davis Family Library. This past fall, wishing to recreate the 2010 video “to reflect the Middlebury [they’d] come to know and love,” directors and editors Jordan Saint-Louis ’24.5 and Malick Thiam ’24 spent their fall semester behind a video camera, filming a video for a new Middlebury-themed song, which was produced by Professor of the Practice McLean Macionis and written by a collection of friends and lyricists.

Separated by 13 years, the two videos have some major cinematographic and lyric differences resulting largely from the different times in which they were created. Despite this, both videos show the undying passion and school spirit of Middlebury students. The production levels of the two videos are evidence of the times in which they were created. Midd Kid features blurry clips, a dark color scheme and a photographic vignette characteristic of its time period. Such a project was perhaps seen as more revolutionary and impressive than it might be in the current age of TikTok and Instagram Reels. Midd Kid 2.0 features more sophisticated videography, brighter colors, shorter clips and overall more visual content than the original video.

While the original video was more of a satirical take, poking fun at many negative stereotypes of Middlebury, the second was far more celebratory in nature. Midd Kid 2.0 begins with a prospective student opening his admission decision after receiving a text from The Allen Jokers — a reference to the 2010 video — saying, “Check your email Middlebury decisions just came out!” The music stops halfway through the video for the quip, “I think Middlebury applications are gonna skyrocket after this.” Later in the video comes a scene of Thiam and Saint-Louis at President Laurie Patton’s house, where Patton asks the two, “How is the new Midd Kid video going?”

A key aim of the second Midd Kid rendition was to create a video with more diversity. The first video faced backlash for a very white cast that focused on the stereotypically white experiences of lax bro party culture at Middlebury. The second video centers BIPOC students as lead singers and a diverse group background cast, and includes a scene at a Pan-African, Latinx, Asian, and Native-American + (PALANA) basement party. One focus of the video, however, is still on scenes of skiing and outdoors culture at Middlebury, which are known for being predominantly white experiences.

There were many opportunities for students to participate in Midd Kid 2.0. The MiddKid 2.0 team advertised the events on social media, and turnout was high — even for a Friday morning sunrise Snow Bowl hike and film-shoot. The video credits about 100 “100 % certified Midd Kids” who participated in the filming process, and there were over 300 people at the debut film screening in McCullough.

Middlebury’s flavor of school spirit is unique. We don’t always have the highest turnout at sporting events; the attendants are comprised mostly of athletes or friends of athletes. However, the fact that a significant portion of the student body was involved in the newest video in one way or another speaks to the fact that students are proud to go to Middlebury and eager to show off its unique nature.

Of course, the video portrays the life of the extroverted, outdoors-oriented, party student. Another significant portion of the student body does not ski and spends their weekend nights doing schoolwork. Even if you don’t see yourself in the video, literally or metaphorically, Midd Kid 2.0 features places and references that we all know. If someone were to ask you what Middlebury is like, showing them this video would do a pretty good job of answering that question.

With three student deaths this year and the beginning of the Israel-Gaza war — fall 2023 was in many ways a sad and divisive term. While there often aren’t events on campus that manifest Middlebury students’ school spirit, the outpouring of enthusiasm for the Midd Kid 2.0 video shows the pride Midd Kids feel for their school.

What is more, as members of the class of 2024, Saint-Louis and Thiam entered Middlebury during the pandemic at a time when Middlebury life was boring and bleak. We are glad that the class of 2024 came to experience the bright and active Middlebury that was represented in this video and was inspired enough to create a video showcasing it. Perhaps in another 14 years, the class of 2038 will show us their take on the Middlebury experience.