The Roadrunner exposed?

Butte College’s newspaper causes controversy on campus and becomes topic of discussion
Flyer up outside a building at the Main Campus
Flyer up outside a building at the Main Campus
Nathan Azevedo Espindula

On Tuesday, December 5, writers for Butte College’s student publication TheRoadRunner put up flyers all over the main campus. The unusual flyers caused confusion to many and indignation to some. The reaction to the pamphlets was so significant that one instructor created an assignment asking students to try and “find the meaning” behind the flyers.

Three versions were distributed, all with the same layout. They all said “This could be you” on top and “If you read the Roadrunner ” on the bottom. What set the posters apart and caused controversy was the perceived message between the sentences.

Each of the three variations had a different stock picture in the middle; one displayed a car, another a generic white family, and the last one featured a pack of lions.

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  • A flyer was put up around the main campus depicting a pack of lions, saying this could be you if you read the Roadrunner.

  • Flyer put up around the main campus depicting a generic white family saying this could be you if you read the Roadrunner.

  • Flyer put up around the main campus depicting a generic white car saying this could be you if you read the Roadrunner.

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The controversy around the pamphlets arose because of the picture of a white family. Some read the message as promoting a bigoted glorification of the nuclear white cis family instead of capturing the humor of the ridiculous image combined with the nonsensical message.

Many emails were received and a few flyers were taken down and vandalized.

People took it too seriously, you just gotta have fun with it

— Hector Sanchez- 1st year- Art & Psychology Major

Teacher prompts classroom discussion trying to find the meaning behind TheRoadRunner flyer (Curtis Bell)

At least one instructor facilitated a discussion about the flyer’s supposed “deeper meaning,” prompting classroom conversations regarding the controversial bulletins put up by everybody’s favorite student newspaper.

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This instructor opened conversation with their students by asking two questions: “How do you interpret the poster’s message?” and “What do you think they are trying to say?” The discussion prompt asked students to interpret a photo of the family flyer which  showcased a handwritten word in the corner– “White???.”

Unfortunately, the instructor failed to provide context crucial to the interpretation: the two other variations of the poster. All three of these flyers are nearly impossible to interpret, because they don’t make sense, and they’re not meant to. The comedic value in the advertisements are that they create confusion. This utter confusion is what induces laughs.

Flyer inside a building at the main campus (Nathan Azevedo Espindula)

The comedic style is a play on current meme culture, societal standards, and absurd stereotypes. If one were to interpret the flyer at face value, it would have to read as “Read the Roadrunner and you yourself will become an entire stock image family.” To highlight the absurdity, the white family version has an equally nonsensical statement: “a newspaper for students for students.” The viewer was supposed to scratch their head at the nonsense and then follow the QR code to a serious student-produced paper.

Anything beyond this interpretation is searching for an issue and deeper meaning when there is not one to be found. The pamphlet was simply meant to be a light take on advertising, released in hopes of causing a laugh. It is very obviously not an endorsement of a white family being the only acceptable dynamic.

“ I think it’s up for interpretation, I think it fun meant for fun and people should take it that way. if you take that too seriously you take your life too seriously, it’s not that literal you trying too hard”

— Isai Aispuro - 1st year - Chemistry major

This controversy is a clear example of the out-of-touch misinterpretation that exists within generational gaps. The backlash received by the flyer showcases the search for something to rally against.

Not everything is that deep. This witch hunt over the poster requires us to analyze what is being implied. A poster, image, or any other product glorifying the “white cis family” as superior is ignorant, racist and worthy of contempt. To interpret our poster as promoting the superiority of any type of representation ignores the context that each flyer was part of a series of ridiculous posters designed to cause the viewer to pause at the nonsensical meaning of the flyer, an act that was intentionally resisting the banal info-laden flyers normally plastered all over campus.

As much as our tribalistic society prompts us to look for evil and “woke” culture pushes us to jump to conclusions about things we do not understand, the truth is that the flyer was not promoting commentary on our culture or trying to suggest that reading the paper will make readers into anything beyond readers of a paper.

There isn’t any breaking news here. The only story to be told is that of how a flyer promising something absurdly ridiculous and entirely impossible became the topic of discussion in college classrooms.

No hard feelings though.  Thank you for the free advertisement and stay tuned because we are just getting started.

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  • J

    JustinDec 12, 2023 at 2:15 pm

    Why is the Roadrunner always getting in hot water got the dumbest reasons?

    Reply
    • N

      Nathan EspindulaDec 12, 2023 at 3:46 pm

      It’s the collateral effect of a growing group, it’s bound to happen.

      Reply
  • L

    Laura HanesDec 12, 2023 at 9:12 am

    Much ado about nothing

    Reply
    • N

      Nathan EspindulaDec 12, 2023 at 3:45 pm

      much ado about nothing, it’s okay though we keep going!

      Reply