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Controversy and comedy in Pelton parody

by Brittany Gervais / Beacon Staff • January 24, 2013

Datpeltonswagweb
Tweets from @DatPeltonSwag
Tweets from @DatPeltonSwag

An Emerson student has gotten creative with Twitter by developing a new parody account called @DatPeltonSwag, where students can find comical posts involving President M. Lee Pelton. 

The Twitter account has garnered over 300 followers since it first appeared in early November of last year. The tweets aim to be hilariously unrealistic, as they portray Pelton to be someone who can do the unimaginable. 

One of the most recent tweets describes a fanticized ‘close’ relationship between Pelton and President Obama right before the inauguration ceremony. “Helpin my man @BarackObama write his speech for tomorrow. And also helping Sasha with her math hw. Trig is boss,” the account tweeted. 

According to the twenty-year-old founder who wished to remain anonymous, the idea for the Twitter account started when he and his friend began making jokes about the life of the college’s President. 

“I remember specifically telling this joke to my friend that Pelton would invite everyone over just to watch Jurassic Park and buy everyone pizza. That was the idea, that he would invite everyone over and do crazy things. Then it got a little more outrageous, like time traveling and helping Santa give out presents.”

The anonymous Tweeter said he knows that some of the posts are overly unrealistic, but he always wants Pelton to be seen as someone who can accomplish anything. 

“I think everyone in the school has general respect for President Pelton. I had the funny idea that he was like elevated beyond just being president. Especially with my friends, he was almost mythical in his coolness.”

The founder said he wanted to keep his name a secret to maintain the illusion that Emerson’s President is behind the @DatPeltonSwag Twitter account.

“My main goal in creating the Twitter account was just to make people laugh, and I think the mystery behind who’s writing these things adds to that.” 

However, the name of the account caught the attention of the Office of Communications and Marketing. Vice President of Public Affairs Andrew Tiedemann said that while he knows the account is meant to be funny, it’s breaking a rule. 

“We realize it’s meant to be a parody, but they were using President Pelton’s name without any authorization,” he said.

Tiedemann said they have not yet heard anything from Twitter concerning a request for removal, sent Wednesday. 

According to the Twitter Help Center, Twitter users are allowed to create parody, commentary, or fan accounts. As long as the username, name, or biography of the account is not misleading in any way, it’s allowed to exist. Another party can ask the owner to take it down if they want, but the ultimate decision lies with the person who created it.  

The founder of @DatPeltonSwag was surprised to hear the Office of Marketing and Communications wanted to take the account down, but he said he would if there was a problem.

“I haven’t heard anything about that, but if someone asked me to take it down, I would immediately.” 

Even though the Office of Marketing and Communications has found a problem with it, students and teachers alike follow the Twitter account and can’t help but laugh at all the original tweets. 

Marketing communication major and freshman Lia Brouillard came across the account and said she thought it was a great example of how creative Emerson students can be. 

“I’m sure the tweets aren’t a parody at all either; these are real life Lee Pelton facts,” Brouillard joked. “We’re just a very sassy and ironic student body.” 

Assistant journalism professor Mark Leccese, who also follows the @DatPeltonSwag Twitter account, says he knows why it’s so funny. 

“Here you have Lee, a man who is as intelligent and as distinguished a college president as you’re ever going to find, and the joke of the account is, ‘Imagine him behaving like a student,’” Leccese said.

Social media groups like the @DatPeltonSwag Twitter account have larger purposes on campus than just providing a quick laugh, according to Leccese. He said it gives other people outside of the campus a chance to see what the Emerson community is really like. 

“These accounts give you a sense of what people in the community are thinking about, what they’re laughing about,” Leccese explains. “They’re really a lot of fun, and they’re very creative.”

Pelton first saw the account when one of his daughters showed it to him in November. When he saw the tweets for himself, he said they were very funny and creative.

“Occasionally, my children send me some tweets that they find funny, and they almost always are.” 

When asked what he thought of the Twitter account giving him an almost superhero persona, Pelton said he didn’t mind it at all. 

“Of course I like that — that’s exactly who I am,” he said. “I have lots of swag, clearly.”