Bubble Bitching : Elon’s satirical underground newspaper

Shannon Tennant
November 29, 2013

The Pendulum is Elon’s official student newspaper, but there have been several unofficial, “underground” publications offering different viewpoints of campus events.  One of the most amusing was the satirical paper Bubble Bitching.  In the style of the Onion, Bubble Bitching was created by a senior Business major and a senior Communications major in the spring of 2003.  “We’ve been making these jokes to each other for three years,” said one editor in a Pendulum interview. “Now we’re putting them down on paper.”

Bubble Bitching was produced biweekly for a year, printed double-sided on a piece of regular paper (this was in the days of unlBubbleBitchingPic2imited campus printing, before print dollars!) and slipped into the Pendulum’s newspaper racks.  The front page of Bubble Bitching contained two stories and a sidebar of funny headlines.  There was a joke under the masthead, and the reported price of each issue varied.  There were several digitally manipulated pictures with irreverent captions.  On the back, the editors provided a list of real music concerts coming to the area.  Their slogan was, “Quit your damn bitching. That’s our job.”  The editors remained officially anonymous during their tenure.

Bubble Bitching was very popular on campus.  Students, faculty, and even administrators eagerly awaited each issue.  In fact, the editors confirmed to the Pendulum that several administrators had expressed their appreciation.  (These administrators were left anonymous, no doubt to protect their reputations.)  The magazine was not without controversy, however.  A Pendulum editorial in April 2003 made slighting references to Bubble Bitching and a website called “You go to Elon if.”  The Bubble Bitching staff replied with an editorial of their own, defending the place of underground publications.

Bubble Bitching was celebrated in a 2011 exhibit by the Sorry, an arts curatorial club.  “(Almost) 10 Years after Bubble Bitching” was held in the Arts & Letters learning community in Trollinger House for one night only.  It featured enlargements of the issues hung on the walls.  Because no contemporary students remembered the paper, it was a chance to educate people about a creative part of Elon’s media history.

The original Bubble Bitching was followed by several imitators.  The longest lived revival appeared briefly in the spring of 2012, perhaps inspired by the Sorry’s exhibit the previous semester.  This new Bubble Bitching was close in format to the original: one double-sided page, two or three short satirical stories, and a sidebar of humorous headlines.  The masthead read, “BB is the stuff of legends…Anyway, BB was billed as the official unofficial paper of Elon when it launched in 2003.  Now it’s taking back the title.”  The 2012 Bubble Bitching staff used a blog to organize the issues, which can be found at the site http://bubblebitching.blogspot.com/. Unfortunately, publication seems to have ceased after only five issues.

In the words of the original editor, “We’re proud of Elon. We pay to go to a private school just like everyone else. But it’s amusing where some of the values are placed here. It’s important to laugh at ourselves.”

Who will take up the challenge next?

Some highlights from the original Bubble Bitching, which can be found in its entirety in the Belk Library Archives:

  • “Fabulously Wealthy Alumni Engage in Bidding War for Naming Rights to New Crosswalk Median”
  • “Elon Establishes Followership Fellows Program”
  • “Elon Study Abroad Programs Target Disney World”
  • “Elon Ratio makes Bad Pickup Lines More Effective”
  • “Elon Starts Club Beer Pong Team”
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