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Davis, California

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Students satirize Thriller to protest Yudof

Yesterday, UC Davis students staged their own version of Michael Jackson’s iconic song-and-dance number “Thriller;” only this time, it wasn’t Michael Jackson in the red leather jacket.

Around 10 students performed a satirical version of “Thriller” on the Memorial Union patio to protest Mark Yudof’s leadership of the University of California. One student played Yudof as Jackson’s character in the dance, with leather jacket and all. The rest were “zombies,” complete with the appropriate, white-faced makeup.

“Mark Yudof’s Thriller is an ode to Mark Yudof, who is motivating us all to find out just what we’re capable of by forcing many of us to work multiple jobs in order to pay off our education,” said Christina Noble, a senior dance and visual communications double major and creator of the performance. “Pretty soon, only students born into wealth will be able to attend schools in the UC system. Public education isn’t for everyone, silly!”

The performance began with Yudof sitting on the ground eating a picnic lunch. After being “interviewed,” he and the zombies broke out into the “Thriller” dance, with lyrics changed to emphasize the fee increases. A few extra moves were thrown in to the mix, including Yudof gyrating with dollar bills and stepping on three zombies’ backs.

Noble was inspired to create the protest after reading a New York Times interview with Yudof. In the interview, Yudof said, “Being president of the University of California is like being manager of a cemetery: there are many people under you, but no one is listening.”

Noble said the UC President’s quotation made her think of “Thriller” as a way to show students’ frustrations.

“The great president of the University of California system deserves better. I think it’s time we started listening!” Noble said in an e-mail interview. “I want to show Mark Yudof that we’re underneath him 100 percent. I thought he’d be an excellent candidate to take over Michael Jackson’s reign as the King of Pop.”

Dozens of students gathered to watch and cheer for the performers. Daniella Leal, a junior dance and Chicana/o studies double major, enjoyed the new take on “Thriller.”

“I really liked it, but I wish more people would join in because it is for a good cause,” Leal said.

The protest’s unique form piqued the interest of students eager to show their distress with the university. Anreeka Patel, a senior international relations and comparative literature double major, said she decided to participate in the performance because it was a new, creative way to express her frustrations with Yudof and the Regents.

“I hope that people watching the performance [gained] a deeper understanding of the situation that the UC system is in. The UC system is becoming more and more privatized and Yudof is running it like a corporation,” Patel said in an e-mail interview. “It’s frightening and we’re being run like zombies.”

ERIN MIGDOL can be reached at features@theaggie.org.


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