I hate to be a naysayer or harbinger of bad news, as this usually goes against my generally good nature, but in the case of the “I told you so” clause, I’ll gladly let the negativity flow in the necessary direction. And such is the case for the local media outlets and their expectations of the annual ritual known as Halloween in Isla Vista. Yeah, I know, you’ve heard enough about it, so let’s move on.
Let’s face it: The media has expectations about our behavior. They expect us to be a bunch of marauding idiots that will riot at the drop of a hat and fill the jail overnight.
Sorry, guys, it didn’t happen the way you wanted. Your sensationalistic coverage of Halloween in I.V. fell short of the mark, in terms of you not getting what you wished for.
In other words, the UCSB/SBCC community in I.V. didn’t give you reason to complain about the chaos, while chuckling about what a bunch of idiots we are for acting in a way that can only be described as a riotous mob. Face it – you lost. Minor number of arrests, no burning couches, no riots on the streets.
The only reason Halloween in I.V. is such a big deal is because of the attention it gets from the news agencies covering the event. The funny thing is that other college towns have similar events and shit does happen. The big difference is that they’re no Isla Vista, the last bastion of free expression.
As one example, I can remember the Cal Poly Royal festival and the few riots during that event. I never saw local news agencies sending live coverage teams to film the festivities and the chaos that would ensue. But then again, San Luis Obispo isn’t I.V. and news portrayals of this place are what feed the myth.
For years, the Santa Barbara News-Press has painted a negative picture of I.V. with numerous articles and editorials labeling the place as a cesspool of errant behavior. Recently, the Santa Barbara Independent has jumped on the I.V.-hater category with a recent article about a few Irish visitors trashing the apartment where they were staying. And don’t forget KEYT News’ coverage of Halloween in I.V. focusing solely on the statistics of what they expected from the holiday celebration instead of the fun that people could have.
If the question is, “Why all the attention?”, then the answer should be simple. If you create an image, throngs from other areas will want to be a part of it. Halloween in I.V. wasn’t a big deal until Playboy Magazine listed it in its “Top 10 places to be on Halloween night” list. After that, every drunken, undersexed hopeful from as far as east of the Mississippi crashed the party. The rest is history.
The funny thing is that all of the problems news sources claim to be the pitfalls of I.V. exist in Anytown, USA, and this would include the city of Santa Barbara.
Parking issues? There are plenty of them downtown during the Summer Solstice Parade or the week of Fiesta, both of which are big events in that city. Date rape? Does the name Andrew Luster ring a bell? His favorite stalking grounds were the bars in Santa Barbara. Drunken brawls? There are plenty of them along State Street on any Friday or Saturday night. Too much alcohol available? Let’s see, I.V. only has one real bar – the rest are beer joints – while Santa Barbara has a shitload of places to get hard liquor. Deaths due to drunken violence? Sure, we have David Attias and Slava Olsen, but downtown Santa Barbara has had its share of party-attitude induced murders as well, and most of these involved gunplay and were gang-related.
But the local media always sugarcoats the big events in Santa Barbara as a nice thing – something they don’t quite do for Halloween in I.V.
And so now for the media organizations, it’s all over, save the speculation as to what didn’t go wrong. Yeah, it was kind of hectic here this weekend, but what town isn’t during a big event? The police were a bit stressed, but they performed their duties superbly and professionally and, in many cases, had lots of laughs in the process.
Sure, there were a few idiots that managed to get into trouble, but when you have a high concentration of people, you can expect fringe elements to be a part of the crowd. It’s just a simple fact of mathematical reality.
All we saw this weekend were creative parking solutions, cool costumes, people having fun and effective patrolling by law enforcement.
So, to the news and media, I extend a big apology on behalf of all I.V. residents. We didn’t live up to your wishes and all your sensationalistic endeavors went out the window. Maybe next year you’ll find real news to report on.
Henry Sarria is an Isla Vista resident.