Tag Archives: Communications

“Frozen and the Exigence of Identity

Skyler Hunt, Dixie State University

Communications

This critical film piece examines Walt Disney Animation Studio’s Frozen through a lens of identity construction. By examining the film’s context, music, and dialogue, the identity formation of principal characters Elsa and Anna are interpreted as each identifies with different audiences. At the core of Elsa’s identity is a struggle with suppression incited by social expectations, linking her character to marginalized groups, such as the trans* community. Anna’s identity is seen forming in isolation through images displaying gender expectations, resulting in her cisgender status and role as an ally to her disenfranchised sibling. The interplay of these identities is also interpreted as a social appeal to audiences for acceptance of diverse internalizations of identity.

Connecting Alumni Past, Present, and Future

Chet Norman, Dixie State University

Communications

Maintaining alumni relationships can be difficult with a changing institutional culture and identity. For example, the name change from Dixie State College to Dixie State University (DSU) and change of the mascot’s identity, from the Rebels to the Red Storm, has caused alumni to become detached from the institution they once knew. This study, conducted in coordination with DSU’s Alumni Office, investigates strategies to communicate and foster relationships with discouraged alumni. A dynamic outreach strategy, based on academic theory and research from the disciplines of human communication and business marketing was developed to reach this goal. In particular, uncertainty management theory (UMT) and narrative storytelling methods were employed to develop a marketing campaign to further involve disheartened alumni through YouTube videos, monthly e-newsletters, alumni card program, social media interaction, and contests. This presentation will consist of a brief overview of the history of change in DSU’s identity, application of theories used to decrease alumni uncertainty, and lastly an identification of strategies for implementation.

Media Coverage of Court Proceedings Influence Social Stigma

Samantha Tommer, Dixie State University

Communications

This study examines how heavy media coverage of court cases may produce a social stigma towards defendants that are found innocent in the criminal justice system. Trial by media is a central focus in this study on how court cases portrayed to media audiences influence information gathering and analyzing abilities. Since audiences only see certain frames of media, media court coverage may cause audiences to develop a negative stigma towards acquitted individuals by not seeing all aspects of the case, listening to analysts’ opinions, and receiving bias information through various news agencies. The study evaluated the responses of two groups of participants. The control group viewed a neutral video clip while the experimental group viewed a video of media court trial coverage and reporter analysis. Participants then answered a question regarding their level of comfort regarding if an individual accused of murder moves into their neighborhood. The researchers hypothesized that those participants who watched the media clip would rate their level of comfort much lower than those who watched the neutral clip, thus producing a social stigma towards the acquitted individual. After three weeks of watching the clip, all participants were contacted to and asked the same question to measure if the stigma had lessened and if so, how much.

Comedic Constructions of Heroes in the Work of Mike Myers

Michael Nagy, Dixie State University

Communications

The sketch TV show Saturday Night Live has, since its inception, produced actors and actresses that have gone on to create and act in comedic films. Mike Myers wrote and acted in the second SNL sketch to become a film, Wayne’s World (1992). The first was The Blues Brothers (1980). Through writing the central character of Wayne Campbell, Mike Myers explored the idea of the unattractive hero. Most of Myers’ post-SNL characters are in opposition to the stereotypical idea of a hero. This stereotype is a strong, tall, bold, outgoing, courageous, attractive character, the perfect image of a hero. Myers uses quite the opposite of these elements to subvert the stereotype of a hero, yet still make his characters heroic. Through the mixture of quirky attributes and unpleasant characteristics, Myers invents a new kind of character that stretches the definition of antihero. Myers writes his characters as unattractive, goofy, clumsy, shy, oddball, gross, or creepy, yet they are just as successful in their role as the hero. He isn’t afraid to introduce strong female roles into his writing with Cassandra in Wayne’s World and Vanessa Kensington in Austin Powers. Females that display strength, confidence, and power while remaining feminine are key players in Mike Myers comedy writing while his male leads are unattractive heroes. Later comedic films created by former SNL cast members adopt the unattractive hero as a central character, showing the influence Myers had on his peers. Films like The Coneheads and A Night at the Roxbury grew from Myers lead in the genre with other SNL alumni at the helm. This presentation will examine the particular construction of the main characters of Wayne’s World and Austin Powers, in the films with the same titles, as heroes within the framework of comedy. It will also attempt to examine how Myers subverts the conventions of an ideal hero to create a source of comedy for his movies.

A Tale of Two Cities: Spatial Rhetorics, Homeless Exclusion and Salt Lake City’s Housing First Initiativ e

Duncan Stewart, University of Utah

Communications

Space is used as a rhetorical mechanism in Salt Lake City to separate the lives of the wealthy and the precarious bodies that are marginalized as hungry, unemployed, and homeless. This separation sustains a self-reproductive system of exclusion fueled by an unquenchable desire for profit and spatial separation. One way this separation is articulated is around the notion of “home,” insofar as the housed and the homeless represent this separation and are sustained by the political economy of the city. While the state efforts to address homelessness are valuable, the scope of the homeless problem requires that we critically reflect on how anti-homeless programs demand we conceptualize homelessness and the place of people experiencing homelessness in the space of the city. I will argue the space of the city is organized as a sorting mechanism that reinforces class and material divisions. Spatial separation becomes a regulatory operation where those who appear potentially able to participate in the economics of the cityscape are welcome and those who are not become legally excluded. One way this is accomplished is by enacting policies that promise to “solve” the problem of homelessness. Thus I will use Salt Lake City’s housing first initiative as lens to address the material consequences of such rhetorical force. Following this, I will highlight some of the major rhetorical themes that emerged in the analysis of discourses surrounding “Housing First.” Finally, I will consider how these insights help further an understanding of homelessness, expose how contemporary responses reify the marginalization of homeless populations from urban life, and point toward new ways of conceptualizing solutions to the “homeless problem.”

C is for Carrots, Community Gardens, and Co-ops: A Thematic Analysis of the W ays Sesame Street Approaches Nutrition, Sustainability, and Social Justice

Erin Olschewski, University of Utah

Communications

In the realm of entertainment education and media studies, there is a sizable amount of research linking children’s nutrition and early educational television shows; Sesame Street being one of the most commonly studied television programs. However, there is no work that attempts to connect nutrition with sustainability and social justice in the context of children’s educational television, despite the fact that the portrayal of these issues in the media is incredibly significant, especially in regards to children and their understanding of these complex topics. In my research, I am thematically analyzing the ways in which Sesame Street relays important messages about nutrition, sustainability, and social justice to its viewers. After a primary viewing and coding of three seasons and online food-related content, I have concluded that while health is being tackled in many episodes, issues surrounding sustainability and social justice are being neglected. As my research continues I will be analyzing these gaps on a deeper level to examine motivations behind the lack of content in these two crucial issue areas. Furthermore, this study connects the often disjointed fields of food studies, media studies, and environmental and health communication and provides a more holistic perspective on how these important topics are being conveyed, or not, to our children.

An Uncertainty Management Theory and Strategic Planning Perspective on Mitigating Ebola Pandemic Anxiety

Spencer Robb, Dixie State University

Communications

Ebola is making history as one of the most feared viruses in the world. It has demonstrated its power by infecting over 14,000 people and continues to spread. It has caused cities in Africa, filled with thousands of people, to become desolate. As death rates have increased, other countries outside of Africa have been affected as well. This pandemic has driven many people and researchers frantically searching for a cure, a vaccine, or preventative implementation that will decrease this sense of urgency. Perhaps even more dangerous than the physical spread of Ebola within these non-African nations, is the anxiety caused by the uncertainty and fear of a possible pandemic. Indeed, the more any society is exposed through numerous media channels to outbreak concerns, the more fear, for that group, becomes a self-perpetuating force. This presentation, therefore, will utilize the extant academic and journalistic resources to examine two pathways of inquiry: the first is how the Center for Disease Control (CDC) provides service to those who have been infected with Ebola virus as well as the evaluation of steps used to prevent more infections. The second is how Uncertainty Management Theory can provide potential strategies for mitigating fear and anxiety surrounding Ebola by explaining that with more information a situation can go in one of three directions — reduce, maintain, or increase uncertainty. According to this theory, we can better gauge our information and fear prerogatives and formulate better protocols as a result.

Hook-up culture: a qualitative analysis of sexual scripts within gender and religious identidies

Sarah Dursteler, Weber State University

Communications

The culture of sex outside intimate relationships including dating scripts and sexual scripts has shifted to one of more ambiguity. Multiple changes in sexual scripts have occurred in the last 50 years with the diversification of types of relationships in which sex occurs, including, a greater acceptance of sex outside of relationships (Gagnon & Simon, 1987). This study is in response to the call for more research on how social identities influence perceptions of sexual interaction (Backstrom, Armstrong, and Puentes, 2012). The purpose of this study is to examine hook-up culture outside of traditional intimate relationships. This study explores the extent of the shift from traditional dating scripts to a culture of hooking up as perceived by males and females that identify with the predominant Latter-Day Saint (LDS) religious culture. Using the tenants of social exchange and scripting theories this study examined the attitudes of males and females. Transcripts from four same gender and religion focus groups and 100 open-ended survey responses provided data for analysis. The constant comparative method (Glaser and Strauss, 1967) provided the means by which to analyze data within emergent categories. One open-ended response question was reviewed to assess content theme analysis. The constant comparative method indicated distinct contrast of perceptions of sexual intimacy between males and females. Findings suggest that there are distinct differences between male and female and LDS and non-LDS attitudes about and perceptions of hook-up culture. These results are consistent with previous research indicating that hooking-up can be a functional strategy used to shift focus from traditional intimate relationships to more academic and professional goals.

The Effects of Photographic versus Computer Mediated Video Stimuli on Impression Formation

Jessica Read, Brigham Young University

Communications

As the world of online social networking has changed to accommodate public interest, online dating sites have become increasingly popular. With this new trend in social media there has been an increased awareness as to how one might present him or herself in the most favorable way possible through computer mediated stimuli. To find out if nonverbal cues played a significant role in online impression formation, we had males and females randomly assigned to one of two variables, where they viewed stimuli of a member of the opposite gender. The stimuli that was presented was either a photograph accompanied by a written autobiography about a member of the opposite gender, or a video of the person reading their own autobiography, which allowed for the presence of nonverbal cues. Participants rated the subjects in the assigned stimuli on a number of different scales ranging from trustworthiness to sexual attractiveness based on their first impressions. Results showed no significant differences between the presence of nonverbal cues in the video stimuli or the photographic stimuli, reasoning for the indifference participants had towards the nonverbal cues is discussed. However, there were significant gender differences among the first impressions formed, other findings are presented.

Cultivation theory and video games: The effect of video games on perception

Taylor Topham, Dixie State University

Communications

With the new generations comes new forms of entertainment. Rarely is there a home without a television. The Cultivation Theory presented by George Gerbner and his colleagues states that television is so common in our society that it has an affect on our perceptions of the world. The Cultivation Theory specifically looks at violence on television and its effects on the viewer. Those that are heavy viewers of television often have what is known as mean-world syndrome. Because of the violence they watch on television, they are more likely to see the world as a violent place (Littlejohn & Foss, 2011). Along with a television often comes some type of video gaming system. Studies state that over 65% of North American households now have a video gaming system (Chiawen, Aiken & Huang, 2012). The purpose of this research is to determine if video gaming effects the perception of individuals similarly to that of television as described by George Gerbner’s Cultivation Theory.

Some of the aspects under scrutiny are the effects of playing violent video games, the social ramifications of those who are considered high gamers, the effects of gaming on self-concept clarity and flow and the effects of gaming on critical thinking skills. Overall, the goal of this research is to determine if a high amount of time playing video games does in fact alter the perceptions of the world.