l Capital University Journal
When in rome...
It sounds like a great gig - listening to the radio and hanging out in sports bars in the name of academia–and David Nylund admits it was. But the social work professor says what he learned from the likes of sports talk radio personality Jim Rome and his listeners reveals volumes about American men, turning some of his preconceptions upsidedown.
Rather than being an anonymous outlet where homophobic or racist remarks are tolerated, Nylund found talk radio was more of a society. “It’s a community where men can discuss issues that relate to gender and sexuality in meaningful ways,” he says.
Nylund’s findings first appeared in the Journal of Sport and Social Issues and will be submitted as a book proposal. His project was funded by GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
For the bulk of his study, Nylund examined “The Jim Rome Show” because it’s the most popular sports radio talk show in the country. “Rome is known for his strong approach, opinions and speech. He became widely known for an incident where he ‘feminized’ NFL quarterback Jim Everett by calling him ‘Chrissie,” Nylund says, a reference to female tennis player Chris Evert. It was Rome’s way of criticizing Everett for not “being a man” and staying in the pocket.
But in studying transcripts of several months of Rome’s show, Nylund says, “I found him to be rather progressive on some issues. He won’t tolerate racism. He supports gay male athletes and had them as guests on the show.”
Nylund says Rome’s seemingly contradictory traits are a metaphor for a contemporary man in his 30s—metrosexual, post-civil rights male intersecting with the hedonistic, “Coors Light ad” male.
Nyland notes that in many ways issues with sports ties—the Kobe Bryant case, women at Augusta National Country Club—bring up greater societal issues. There are even parallels to the global economy. Highpriced players and greedy owners are viewed like CEOs, Nylund says. Teams uprooting and moving to other cities are like outsourcing. “It’s the only area in mainstream media where you see criticism of current economic trends.“
Men historically have had spaces where they can bond and connect, particularly when they are feeling upset. That space is dissipating in current culture, as men move to the suburbs,” he says. “Their solace is in sports talk radio. It’s a mediated version of the old spaces.”
In addition to listening to the Rome program, Nylund met with other listeners in sports bars throughout the Sacramento area and all over the country.
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When Sac State’s communication studies program began creating a full digital media concentration, it had to bring in new faculty talent. So over the last few years, professors Diego Bonilla and Jenny Stark were hired to teach classes in Web and multimedia design, digital videography, media aesthetics and the like.
But nobody could have guessed that Sac State would also end up with two award-winning experimental filmmakers.
Bonilla’s first film and doctoral project, A Space of Time, has been shown at media festivals around the world. It won awards at the Moscow International Film Festival and the Philadelphia Documentary and Fiction Festival.
It’s a nonlinear movie that must run on a computer. Users experience a completely randomized movie based on a series of mathematical equations. Through animation and more than 700 film clips, it tells the story of a hallucinating homeless man who watches as a group of young people explore the abandoned building he lives in. Bonilla says the possible variations total more than 1 nonillion (that’s 30 zeros), and the average running time is about two hours.
Bonilla says his goal was to use the “hyperlinking” technology of the Internet to tell a visual story.
“I wanted to use that approach to tell a story in a way that people haven’t seen before,” Bonilla says. “Writing the dialogue was really the most challenging part. You can’t make references to other scenes because you don’t know if the user will have seen it.”
Born and raised in Mexico City, Bonilla came to the United States to complete a doctorate in mass communications. His dissertation project included creating A Space of Time and then studying the behavior of 435 users. It was his first work with film.
Stark’s childhood, meanwhile, seems like it was designed to lead to the spooky experimental films and photographs she’s known for. Her parents were film buffs. Her childhood home in Texas was “haunted.” And she says the Houston Goth culture helped her get through high school.
Stark has made numerous films and videos that have been shown at avantgarde festivals all over the world, including South by Southwest, The New York Underground Film Festival and The Viennale. She’s also had work shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Mexico City and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. Many of them, as well as some photos, are available from the Shy Girl Productions website (see below).“I like films with interesting ideas,” she says.
“I like my movies, even when they’re spookylooking, to be about something current, to address some issue and make people think.”
Perhaps her most widely known and praised film is Negative 10, which she made while trapped in her apartment during a strong storm. It’s the first in a series of films she made with old VHS recordings that had deteriorated but could still be watched.
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State hosted the second International Conference on Genocide last fall,
bringing together many of the world’s most respected authorities
to explore some of the modern world’s most horrific events. Conference
organizers Alexandre Kimenyi, Boatamo Mosupyoe and Annette Reed were among
the numerous Sac State professors who made presentations.
McDollars in your neighborhood
The home of the Happy Meal isn’t always considered a welcome addition to the neighborhood. So when the McDonald’s Corp. wanted to show potentially touchy townspeople the value of having a Golden Arches next door, it called on Sac State marketing professor Dennis Tootelian, who uncovered some eyepopping figures.
“People like McDonald’s but they don’t know if they want them in their neighborhood because of issues like traffic,” Tootelian says. “But when you see the dollars they generate, it’s amazing both in terms of what they buy locally and the services they use.”
He found that annually, every California resident—man, woman and child—spends an average $67.34 at McDonald’s. Of that spending, restaurants put 45 cents of every dollar into the local economy, the biggest portion in wages. And that doesn’t even include charity.
Tootelian was also impressed with the relative stability of the chain’s employees. The average McDonald’s restaurant employs 40 people. “When you look at fast food employment, you tend to think of kids who last two or three months,” he says. “But at McDonald’s, the average worker is in a crew position for about a year versus seven months elsewhere.”
He compares it to big box stores, which get accused of bringing in a lot of low-income workers to highcost markets. “With McDonald’s that’s not the way it is.”
Since completing the Northern California study, Tootelian has conducted reports on 10 more states, including a special report for the mayor of Chicago to show the value of the company in its 50th year in Chicago, its market headquarters. Tootelian was also featured in the company’s 2004 worldwide corporate report.
Tootelian says McDonald’s is ahead of the game in seeking hard data on its impact on communities. “I don’t understand why others don’t do this. There are lots of companies that face public scrutiny and criticism for their perceived negative impact on communities. But they offer no details of what they provide.”
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Mysteries of memory
It’s a controversial but crucial question: How accurate are memories of childhood sexual abuse and other potentially stressful experiences? And though the verdict is far from in, child development professor Kristen Alexander is beginning to zero in on some of the factors that may play a role in the accuracy of such memory reports.
In a series of studies Alexander and colleagues confirmed that individual differences affect children’s ability to remember. “Events are not experienced or appraised by all individuals in the same way,” Alexander says.
While age plays a role, with older children having more accurate memories, how a child remembers an event is greatly influenced by their level of attachment to the parent, particularly when relationship issues are central to the event. Where age plays a larger role is in suggestibility, or false memory. Memory improves with age and false memory decreases as children get older, Alexander says. By the time children are seven years old or older, their memory levels are generally equal to adults.
“It is thought that people remember negative events more but events are usually entirely different in other ways. Memories are influenced by people’s appraisals of events,” Alexander says.
“With child sexual abuse victims, though you’d think the severity of abuse should be the determining factor of what they remember, it is also how they appraised it that is important. What came after may affect memory of the event. The incident itself may not necessarily be the central thing they remember.”
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