Go to the website for I’m Shmacked and you’re met with a barrage of clips pieced together from television news stories.
Over a remix of “Wild Out,” the reporters' voices sound concerned and their words are pieced together -- “wild times,” “national phenomenon,” "strangely influential.”
Founder Arya Toufanian said the creators of I’m Shmacked LLC, which throws parties and films trips to college towns, then posts them on their highly trafficked YouTube account, are well aware of the controversial reputation, one he feels is overblown by the media.
“Every single thing about the event is exactly the same as any other night (out),” Toufanian said. “But the event’s called ‘I'm Shmacked’ so everybody makes a fuss.”
In Lincoln, I’m Shmacked is set to host a dance party for people 18 and older on Friday at the Bourbon Theatre featuring electronic act Heroes and Villains. They won't be greeted with a welcome mat from University of Nebraska-Lincoln officials.
“We are aware that an outside group will be hosting a promoted event at a location near our campus this weekend,” UNL spokesman Steve Smith said in a statement. “It appears that this group promotes irresponsible levels of alcohol consumption. It also appears the group has a financial incentive to use college students to create an atmosphere that leads to poor judgment and bad decision-making. The result is the capturing of images of heavily intoxicated young people.
“Projecting this image as 'student life' is a gross disservice to the overwhelming majority of UNL students, visitors and fans.”
The sentiment was shared by the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska, which passed a resolution denouncing the event on Wednesday that says, in part, that the I’m Shmacked brand “promotes unsafe and unseemly behaviors such as excessive drinking and objectification of women.”
After ASUN passed the resolution, Smith said, student groups including the Greek community’s Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association gave it their support.
It’s the first time a university student government body has condemned I’m Shmacked with a resolution, Toufanian said in a phone call from Los Angeles.
“We’re not there to step on any toes. We’re just here to let the kids blow off some steam and have a good time and get back to the work week.”
That's not what Luke Castner saw when he watched I'm Shmacked videos shot at other campuses.
“If you watch the videos, it’s a lot of things going on where they have students drinking out of handles of liquor,” said ASUN's student alcohol safety chairman. “You’ll flash from a scene from columns on campus to someone taking a pull out of a liquor bottle.”
Castner said the clips he watched prior to the vote were from I'm Shmacked trips to clubs near the Universities of Michigan and Arizona.
Toufanian pointed to a recent video shot at West Virginia University that he said got positive social media response and could serve as a recruiting tool for potential students.
As for the show at the Bourbon Theatre, Toufanian said a dance party in a private club with security is a safer environment than a house party.
Lincoln Police Department spokeswoman Katie Flood said the Center Team, which patrols downtown, is aware of the event. Since it falls on a home game weekend, officers already are planning an increased presence downtown, she said.
Bourbon publicist Dustin Hunke said the club will have a full security force on hand.
“We are very adamant that any Bourbon Theatre customer will be provided a safe environment to have fun and enjoy live music,” he said. “We also have additional safety precautions in place for this specific show due to the nature of the event.”
The most recent I'm Shmacked show was last weekend near the campus of the University of Missouri. The Columbia Missourian reported that the sold-out show took place without significant incident. (Six people out of the 700-person crowd were ticketed, according to the paper.)
A video from the Missouri stop features a series of people wearing Mizzou gear answering questions from an I’m Shmacked TV host on "players vs. sluts." Toufanian said video shot in Lincoln will be different.
“Because it’s our first time in Nebraska, we’re gonna start with a different type of video that we think will reflect positively on the school, that will reflect school pride,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’re only here to promote the University of Nebraska so that more people can get to know it and apply and enroll and attend.”
Castner, 22, is a member of Delta Upsilon. The senior elementary education major said he and his fraternity brothers have discussed I’m Shmacked’s presence in Lincoln and came up with the following plan: Stay away from the cameras.
“We’re looking for jobs,” he said.
Smith encouraged other students to follow suit.
“In addition, we would ask young people to seriously consider the long-term ramifications that appearing in such videos may have on their future opportunities.”
He said an email echoing the message will go out to all UNL students Friday.