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Firing a college student for his satirical tourism video is backfiring badly on Robbinsdale

Tony Langfellow's hilarious video didn't go down well with city officials.
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You know when someone in a position of power tries to ban a book and it results in more people seeing it than would have if they'd said nothing?

Well that's happening in Robbinsdale.

St. Cloud State University sophomore Tony Langfellow lost his seasonal job with Robbinsdale City Council after posting a satirical video about his hometown on YouTube.

Called "Tour of Fabulous Robbinsdale Pt. 2," Langfellow's mock old-fashioned commercial takes a humorous look at some of Robbinsdale's less desirable attractions.

A friend steps in to mimic Robbinsdale Mayor Regan Murphy, who takes credit for bringing Hy-Vee to the city (at the expense of Robbinsdale's historic Terrace Theatre.)

Take a look at the video below.

Theater demolition inspired the video

It was the demolition of the Terrace coupled with some other recent development projects that prompted Langfellow – who's studying broadcast communications at SCSU – to make the video.

"In the 20 years that I've been around it seems like the city has been getting rid of more and more historic structures and the Terrace Theatre was a big one," he told GoMN.

"I was just disappointed they got rid of something of such structural importance."

After the video came to the attention of the city council, Langfellow was informed that he would not be allowed to resume his job as a warming house attendant with the city's Parks and Recreation department.

Inevitably, this has started to rebound badly for Robbinsdale.

A week ago the video had only been viewed in the low thousands. But after it came to the attention of some larger media outlets, it's now been seen almost 15,000 times.

Far from being brushed under the carpet, it's now putting Robbinsdale on the map.

Langfellow's older brother made a similar video 5-6 years ago ("Part 1") that he took down at the request of the city, for whom he also worked.

And the 20-year-old told us that he would have taken it down if the city had just asked him, rather than just ending his employment.

"If they'd done that then it would not have got 15,000 views."

His heart was in the right place

While the ad may reflect poorly on his home town, Langfellow says it's because he wants to improve it that he made it in the first place.

"We [him and his brother] because we care about the city but are disappointed to see the direction it has gone with certain things.

"Some say it's progress but some say it's not and that's where we stand on things."

He says the reaction from those he knows in Robbinsdale has been overwhelmingly positive, with most of the negative reaction coming from the city council.

Speaking with the Sun Post earlier this month, Robbinsdale Parks and Rec director Tom Marshall said the video contravened policies set out for employees.

"Can I defend to the public having a person on staff who bashes the city on one hand, including its businesses, and then collects a paycheck from it on the other?" he said.

"I’m not saying anything about his freedom of speech. Go ahead and do it, that’s what makes our country unique. (But) I can’t defend that type of hiring. They (employees) play such a key role for the city," he added.

The Star Tribune notes the city changed its social media policy on Jan. 2, saying it requires employees "to act in a prudent manner with regard to website and internet postings that reference the city of Robbinsdale."

While Langfellow may not have a job with the city anymore, a career in satire surely beckons.

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