Super Sundays, Mark Bell’s Teaching Honor, Russell’s Movie Collection, Brown Bag

 A Sunday to Remember, by Mike Lang

On Super Bowl Sunday MA student Sean Connolly received a text message. In town for the baptism of his friend’s firstborn son, he jokingly thought he would be the only person in Indianapolis not at the Super Bowl. When the message sunk in, he didn’t know how to respond. Someone was offering him a Super Bowl ticket. A friend of his in advertising had purchased a block of tickets and overbought in case someone important might want to come along at the last minute. As kickoff inched closer and she realized nobody that fit the bill was coming she sent out an email to her friends back in L.A. “Do you know anybody in Indiana who might want to go the Super Bowl.,” to which she received the response, “Isn’t Sean in Indiana?”

Always looking out for others, Sean inquired about scoring a ticket for his friend. He was celebrating the baptism of his first born son after all and what better way to celebrate than with Super Bowl tickets. At 4 o’clock the call came in. They were both Super Bowl bound.

Inside the stadium MS student Sophie Parkison was hard at work. An opportunist at heart, Sophie had stumbled across an opportunity too good to pass up. In early October IU careers posted an announcement about a merchandising job at the Super Bowl. The details were vague. But the chance at getting to a hometown Super Bowl without the astronomical price tag was too good to pass up.

In January the company held an informational meeting. The team would man the merchandise booths inside the stadium during, before, and after the game. The day would start at 6 am and end 20 hours later, well after the teams had loaded into their buses and departed. Instead of an hourly wage, the workers would split 1% of the total profit. The math would work out well below minimum wage, but it’s the Super Bowl.

Sophie crashed at her sister’s place in Speedway Saturday night and braced for an early rise and the long day ahead. The alarm sounded at 4:30, and they left with enough time to catch the 6 o’clock shuttle from the airport which would bus them into Super Bowl Village. The morning was slow and allowed plenty of time for exploring the scene. She never had she seen so many different jerseys in one place. She even managed to talk her way onto the NBC set.

As the game inched closer Sophie made her way to her assigned merchandise booth where the line grew longer and longer. Expecting a bunch of well-off East Coasters willing to spend some money, she happily directed their attention to various products which they snapped up with fervor. One guy spent over a $1,000 on merchandise between two trips.

By the time Sean made it into the stadium, Kelly Clarkson was belting out the national anthem. Seated in Section 404, five rows back from the banister, Sean had a premiere view of the North Endzone. As one of America’s premiere cultural events, many of the attendees could care less about football. It’s a place to see people and be seen. The crowd indeed seemed a bit more placid than a typical regular season game.

For those disinterested in the game, the Super Bowl offered plenty in terms of multimedia entertainment. The Super Bowl commercials were pumped in over the jumbotron for those worried about missing them. Likewise, the scoreboard broadcast Twitter pics taken by fans at the game as well as brief shots of celebrities.

However, no Super Bowl event creates a stir like the halftime show.  Fans, as usual, took their halftime bathroom/food/drink break a few minutes early so they wouldn’t miss the show featuring Madonna and a slew of guests including Cee-Loo Green, LMFAO, MIA, and Nicky Minaj. They missed seeing Patriots drive down the field in the final four minutes of the half.  But the halftime show was worth it. “It blew anything live out of the water that I’ve ever seen. It was so well done.”

During the game the lines died down and Sophie had brief moments of downtime and she discovered the camaraderie among Super Bowl workers.  At the beginning of the game, the concession stand workers approached her and her team to let them know that workers get a free drink, and if they wanted one, they just needed to come and ask. A security guard told them they they could pop over to his section and watch the game. While she wasn’t able to watch much of the game, she did get to watch kickoff and halftime.

The final seconds ticked off the clock in the 3rd quarter and the place transformed. Sean, pulling for the Giants, joined the crowd as the dignity and the reservation disappeared and the crowd turned into a bunch of hardcore football fans. With every big play the crowd roared louder and louder.  Those not quite sure who to root for or why started feeling the tension and began pulling for a team. Down 21-17 with 9 seconds left Tom Brady chucked up a desperate 55-yard Hail Mary pass into the end zone. Sitting on the opposite side Sean heard the crowd erupt but couldn’t tell what happened. He was too far away. Had the Patriots pulled the upset? Had the Giants taken down the Patriots again? As the jumbotron played the replay, the crowd roared its approval. This was a Giants crowd.

Everyone stuck around for the Lombardi trophy presentation and the confetti dropped from the ceiling. Shouts of “Go Giants” echoed through the stadium as happy football fans filed out of the stadium. Even though broken hearted Patriots left with their heads hanging, they weren’t harassed by the Giants faithful. The crowd was overwhelmingly positive, a stark departure from most football games where visiting fans have to keep their head down win or lose.  “I was surprised. I was expecting Brady hate. I know Boston. I know New York. I was expecting a rumble” Sean said.

Sophie watched the confetti fall as she tallied up her credit card receipts and cash from her booth. It was 1:30 in the morning and the game had been over for hours. She descended the stadium steps to find a number of people in suits down on the field kicking field goals, drinking, and making snow angels in the confetti. It was an adult playground.  Following suit shedropped to the Lucas Oil field turf and made snow angels in the confetti commerating the Giants for winning Super Bowl XLVI.

With a Little Help From My Friends, by Mike Lang

Last Semester Ph.D candidate Mark Bell had the honor of serving as the instructor of record for T205: Introduction to Media and Society and his exceptional work in the classroom did not go unnoticed. In December Tamera sent out an email alerting Telecom grad students to the Midwest Association of Graduate Schools Excellence in Teaching Award. Teaching has always been a source of pride for Mark, and figuring he had done a fairly good job in T205, he decided to apply. Maybe he could be the department’s nominee. That would be a nice line for the CV.

Because the application process required immediate attention, Mark went to work assembling his package as quickly as possible. He worked with Tamera to get his student evaluations back before the application deadline. He also leaned on friends and family. Working with his business professor wife and a slew of friends who have won teaching awards, he composed a teaching statement, something he had never done before.

He submitted the application and promptly forgot about it until Rob Potter, member of the Graduate Committee’s Awards and Fellowships Subcommittee,  sent him an email informing him that he had been selected as the department’s nominee. Mission accomplished.

Mark then got another email from Harmeet Sawhney, grad director. Don’t forget to have your video ready.  Currently an AI for T101: Media Life, he conspired with co-AI Ratan Suri and “borrowed” his class to record a short 10-minute video. He set up the video recording gear and proceeded to give his mini-lecture. By Mark’s admission it was just ok, he could have done better but at least he had his video. Sitting down outside of Ratan’s classroom he set his video camera to playback to see how had done. Nothing. He had forgotten to hit record. Sheepishly he approached Ratan after class and told him he needed to do it again. Much happier with his second take than his first, he rushed home to upload the video in accordance with the application’s strict instructions. He then moved on to other things thinking no way would he be a contender at the University level.

Awhile later, Mark had to attend a funeral in Columbus for a distant relative. He got home to an email from Tamera at around 2 o’clock in the afternoon.  The University Graduate School needed department chair Walt Gantz’s signature on his application form – an important detail he had overlooked.  No problem, he would be on campus all day Tuesday and could do it then. He sent out the reply, changed into workout clothes, and went for a run. He returned sweaty and out of breath to another email. Tuesday was too late, the form needed to be turned in today. The clock was ticking. Still in his workout clothes he jumped in his car and raced to campus. Tamera worked her magic and got the form signed, and told Mark the form had to be turned in to the graduate school, which was located behind the Union. Mark hopped back in his car and parked in front of the HPER. He cut through the Union and thought he would sneak through the back of the bookstore. No luck, that exit doesn’t exist anymore.  He ran back out of the bookstore and into the Union again. Time was ticking. The office closed at 5. He ran through the Union to the Starbucks exit. Relief, the graduate school was in front of him and he had 5 minutes.

As he exited the Union, the form flew out of his hand and flew down the street on the gusts of wind blowing that way like a scene out of a movie. Fortunate for Mark, IU is full of considerate undergrads who helped chase down that important piece of paper. He asked one of the undergrads for directions to the office and ran over.

As the clock ticked 5 o’clock he submitted the form to Yvonne Dwigans, fellowships coordinator in the graduate office. Completely oblivious to the entire procedure, he asked what the next step was. Surely the candidates needed to be evaluated and he could forget about this until then. He was told that the candidates had already been evaluated. He was confused. If the candidates had been evaluated why had he just raced around campus trying to turn in this form?  Much to Mark’s surprise, Yvonne informed him that he was the nominee, not just for the department but for IU. Out of all the talented grad students on campus he had been selected as IU’s nominee!

Soon Mark will get an email from somebody telling him he needs to go to somewhere to do something for the next stage of the competition where he has to compete with students teachers from 60 schools. Here is to hoping the process goes a bit smoother.

Russell’s massive movie collection, by Ken Rosenberg

If you want to talk about film history in a serious sense, or just rattle off your list of favorite productions, there is someone you should stop in the halls for some good discussion. Master’s student Russell McGee collects comic books and plays video games, but his biggest passion is cinema. As evidence, consider his movie collection, which he estimates contains somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 films and television series. Media scholars are guaranteed, almost by definition, to have more than a passing interest in audiovisual entertainment, but Russell takes this axiom to its furthest extent. “I easily spend over a thousand dollars a year on DVDs,” he said. Think of a classic movie, fun cartoon, or cheesy B-movie. Without knowing your choice, I can practically guarantee that Russell has a copy of it. He has almost everything with Dracula star Bela Lugosi, including the obscure 1923 film The Silent Command. Every available Hitchcock film is in this aficionado’s massive stock of movies, including various alternate versions from France and Germany.

Russell really likes Godzilla…

Russell’s first love, though, was with older horror and science fiction films; his favorite movie is the 1960 version of The Time Machine. With his grandmother, he would watch movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers on a tiny television at her home in New Jersey. Russell also remembers watching horror movies on Indiana’s Channel 4, during the “Nightmare Theater” block hosted by personality Sammy Terry, who would dress up as a ghoulish figure to introduce such classics as Godzilla and King Kong. “As a kid, they weren’t really that cheesy,” Russell explained. Of course, as he got older, the ‘quality’ of some of these movies became readily apparent. However, that does not diminish his love for these low-budget gems. In fact, it just gives Russell another way to enjoy them, by having weekly screenings with friends to enjoy the company, a drink or two, and the resultant roasting of campy flicks. For the past seven years, Russell has started off his Monday evenings by pulling out a stack of selections from his collection, to be whittled down to the night’s viewing list by his cohorts. Ironically, as a filmmaker, Russell is not interested in making anything related to horror or science fiction. As the artistic director of Starrynight Productions, he focuses on drama and other more serious fare.

Russell has engaged with films in a variety of roles. He started collecting movies in high school and cringed when he had to make the transition from VHS to DVD.  But now he has embraced the battle to keep his collection on the sharpest possible format – while still judiciously deciding which titles deserve the Blu-Ray double-dip. In his youth he worked for Suncoast Video, whose employee discount only provided further encouragement for his hobby. While at Suncoast, Russell vehemently explained that the widescreen format, while appearing to crop the image, actually shows more of the picture. “I did my part in the conversion,” Russell affirmed like a proud civil servant. As part of the projection and management teams at Spencer’s Cinema 67 drive-in theater, he got to know the owners, who allowed him to perform live tributes to Charlie Chaplin before screenings.

Russell (far right) and Emily (far left) on the set of “Popping the Question and Tying the Knot.”

Reprising his role as a lovable tramp earlier this year, Russell wrote and co-starred in a short film for a Hugo-related film contest. With the help of fellow graduate student Shannon Schenck, he edited a second of the film which he will use in lieu of the traditional “save the date” cards, entitled Popping the Question and Tying the Knot. This summer Russell will be getting married to opera singer and Ph.D. student in the music school Emily Solt. Their engagement photos will look like old lobby cards. She is definitely onboard with his stylistic choice. “I hit the motherload,” Emily thought to herself when first setting eyes upon Russell’s ridiculously large amassment of movies. She estimates that her collection of DVDs –impressive, but meager in comparison – has contributed a little less than 10% to their now-shared stock.

Those shelves are layered–there are twice as many movies than are visible in this shot. (Plus, there’s an entire third one off-camera!)

Upon merging both their movies and their lives, Russell set out to build the massive shelving system that houses their media. To make sure it was a lasting edifice, he eschewed nails and screws in favor of drilling holes and using wood pegs to lock everything into place—a laborious and time-consuming process that cost him almost six months. As helpful as those units have been, Russell might have to build more soon; they already have a surplus that has trickled into other rooms in the house. Off to the side of the home theater setup, Russell has resurrected a bit of his past: a “theater corner” of sorts where he keeps memorabilia, like his old hand-crank film projector from the 1920s and an old-fashioned popcorn machine. After making popcorn the “right” way at the drive-in for so long, Russell wanted something more authentic and better-tasting than the microwaveable stuff.

Movie buffs, beware – if you sit down with Russell, prepare to meet your match. After all, do you have the Laserdisc copy of the 1985 version of Godzilla? Didn’t think so.

Brown bag 

Where social and technological forces collide: New protest tools reveal authoritarian regimes fumbling to maintain political power

Lindsay Ems (Presenter), Hans Ibold and Joe DiGrazi (Discussants)

Due to the recent proliferation and impact of protest events in the Middle East, northern Africa, and the recent development of a worldwide Occupy Wall Street movement, scholars in a number of disciplines are beginning to examine the people, social structures and technologies that help give these social movements form.  Some theorists have focused on communication technologies, some on social forces and others argue that both of these two perspectives are essential to understanding recent phenomena. Interestingly, all authors (even those who call for a more holistic approach) view these two entities as separate. In this paper, it is suggested, that by side-stepping this distinction, a different kind of inquiry can occur – one which sees the use of a technology as a local artifact which reveals individual and institutional motivations. Aiding this analysis is the presentation of three 2009 cases in which Twitter was used as a tool for expressing political dissent by protesters around the world.

Bios:

Lindsay Ems is a doctoral student at Indiana University in the Department of Telecommunications. Her research topics deal generally with exploring how social and cultural values are expressed in the use of technologies in small groups of people. She examines media technologies and their adoption and impact on and in subcultures. Her recent work explores manifestations of political dissent, anarchy and systemic breakdown in the use of technologies in power struggles between protesters and governments. Her studies also aim to uncover cultural forces at work in shaping the use of technologies in groups of users like the Amish.

Hans Ibold is an assistant professor at the Indiana University School of Journalism in Bloomington. His research and teaching explore the ways in which the Internet is transforming journalism and social life. Previously, Hans was technology reporter for the Los Angeles Business Journal, arts editor for the Idaho Mountain Express in Sun Valley, Idaho, and online editor for the J. Paul Getty Trust¹s Getty.edu in Los Angeles. He earned a bachelor¹s degree from The Evergreen State College, a master¹s degree in communication studies from Shippensburg University, and a doctorate in journalism from the University of
Missouri.

Joe DiGrazia is a PhD candidate in the department of sociology at Indiana University and is engaged in research at the intersections of social movements, political participation, public discourse and the media.  His current research focuses on the Tea Party movement and the role of social media in organizing Tea Party activities and mobilizing participants.

The audio to last Friday’s seminar can be found here: Brown bag 4 (Feb 10, 2012 – Lindsay, Hans, and Joe)


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