Jul 102007
Authors: Ryan Nowell

If you’re like me, you were pretty disgusted when you first heard about College Royalty. Its MySpace-meets-HotOrNot shtick seemed the most elaborate way to stroke your own ego since the advent of prom queen, coming off like a thinly veiled case of frat boys taking the bold step into the twenty-first century.

And if you’re like me, you also felt a smidge of schadenfreude when the hammer of ironic comeuppance came down and their popularity contest proved to be incredibly unpopular: a record number of posts went up on the Collegian.com after the original article was run, few of which had anything nice to say, and at the launch party, expected to have seven-hundred attendees, two-hundred and fifty showed up.

With that, the website was delayed until fall to accommodate fine-tuning and the purging of technical bugs. Cough. Yeah. In addition, a second article was run in the Collegian attempting some damage control. We were told, basically, that we’ve been given the wrong idea.

And that’s what I’ve been pondering: have we? Is this a case of terrible, terrible PR, or perhaps of entrepreneurial backtracking? Everyone seems to have their minds made up already as to whether they really deserve reevaluation, but do theya have a solid claim to it?

When I read the original May 7 article carefully, I noticed that the key feature touted on the website, the ranking of your fellow users and their “hotness”, didn’t seem to be the creators’ main interest. The article was very interested in it, but the two founders, Rob Thomas and Ryan Pinjuv, seemed more enamored with the non-corporate upstart aspect of the venture. They’re on some grassroots Che Guevara kick for most article, though they do break from that just long enough for a little playful, off-the-cuff misogyny; “They’re Royalty girls, and they’re going to rock our Royalty World.” ..Was.was that an Aqua reference? Regardless, when actually looking at the article, it’s tricky determining how culpable they really are.

Fast-forward to the last article from June 13. “So many people had the wrong idea of what the website is about.” Thomas said.

Assuming they’re right for a minute, that they’ve been unfairly cast as superficial.I guess “d-bags” is the print friendly version of the term I’m looking for, and their future business prospects have been threatened by a slanted, sensationalistic article, they did very little to a contrary image. How did so many people get “the wrong idea of what the website is about?”

Well for one, wearing a plastic crown and draping yourself in scantily-clad women probably led quite a few of us astray. Somewhere amidst all the smarmy grins and plunging necklines, I guess we readers just failed to appreciate the subtle irony packed in there.

The waiving of the launch party cover charge based on aforementioned hotness probably also contributed to what we’ll call “the campus-wide total misunderstanding,” considering that the cover charge was supposed to be donated to a charity. Prioritizing “hot chicks” over “cancer” apparently rubs some people the wrong way.

Also, that this Web site is coming from the same guy behind last year’s “Streak-a-palooza” leaves one with the distinct impression that Mr. Thomas is some sort of Wile E. Coyote-like figure, concocting increasingly elaborate schemes to surround himself with women in various stages of undress.

That’s a start. It seems a tough call to make, whether we have the wrong idea about these two or the right idea that’s wrong for their business. We’ll see if they get the benefit of the doubt this fall.

Ryan Nowell is a junior English major. His column appears weekly in the summer Collegian edition. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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