SMU students "destroyed" the Internet on Thursday. After hearing a speech from a Donald Trump impersonator, they drove a Fiat right over smartphones and through desktop computers, laptops, monitors and keyboards.
"The internet and the media in general influenced the election in unexpected and interesting ways," student Zach Biehl said. And the SMU students wanted to do something about it.
The event wasn't exactly a publicity stunt; it was a group project final for an SMU class called Introduction to Digital Hybrid Media.
The event was also a way to alleviate frustration with the internet's influence on the presidential election.
Media Burn 2016, as it was called, was not a public event. Anyone who wanted to watch could do so via a live stream on YouTube.
It was inspired by a video from 1975, when a group called Ant Farm drove a Cadillac through a burning pyramid of television sets after a speech from a John F. Kennedy impersonator. That performance was a critique of the influence of television in American culture, a symbolic way of destroying the media.
"We thought the video reflected our past election," said Madison Boniface, one of 10 students involved with the event.
Actor Dalton Fowler, a theater major, was the Trump impersonator. Standing on an outdoor stage, he ranted about "the communist agenda of the liberal media," "cowardly whistleblowers," and a "dangerous" internet that "spreads lies," "destroys nationalism," and even "steals jobs."
It was Sadie Donnelly who drove her Fiat through the physical representation of the Internet. She was one of the biggest advocates for the project. "The media portrayed this image that Hillary was definitely going to win," she said, "and kind of lulled people into a false sense of security."
"People can pass around information so easily now without it even being fact-checked," said Amanda Esposito, who rode in the front passenger seat.
Instructor Michael Morris said his students felt "helpless" in class the morning after the election. "We decided to read some media theory to try to figure out the influence of technology," he said. "As we were reading about it, the students got really inspired and decided they needed to redo the  Media Burn to somehow address the Internet."
The group of 10 students put together the performance piece to show "how there is no neutral media. Everything we hear has to have some sort of bias," said student Jake Moon, who wrote the speech.
Ultimately driver Donnelly called the experience "cathartic."
"It got the point across," Esposito said. "But I would've driven faster."
By JEREMY HALLOCK/Special Contributor