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News of the Week: Superbowl, Security Training, and Kings and the Culture of Celebrity


Crimcast is a virtual resource devoted to critical conversations about criminology and criminal justice issues. Our blogposts, twitter feeds, podcasts and other content provide an overview of trends, research, commentary and events of interest to criminal justice practitioners, academics and the general public. CrimCast is sponsored by The Center for Crime and Popular Culture, St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY.

News of the Week: Superbowl, Security Training, and Kings and the Culture of Celebrity

Nickie Phillips

This is our latest installment of Dr. Demetra M. Pappas' "News of the Week" in which she uses short topics as a teaching tool to stimulate conversation in her sociology, anthropology, criminology and legal studies course. News of the Week - February 6, 2013 -

Choose 1 of the following topics to discuss.  You do not have to agree as to what you think about the topic (but do have to agree which topic to discuss). Assume that you have 10 minutes to talk to each other (at the front of the room).  I will moderate (in academese, this is called “chairing”).  The student body members will treat you with absolute courtesy and respect (or else get respect penalties, if they “diss” you).

  1. FOOTBALL AS SOCIALIZATION/MEDIA:   Usually, I have a discussion of teams, or, as with last year, MIA’s “flipping off” the audience during Madonna’s half-time presentation.  Here, everyone agrees Beyonce/Jennifer Hudson and the Sandy Hook school kids rocked the house.  What people don’t agree about is what the social impact (on the players, on the audience, etc.) of the “34 minute blackout” is. Check out the National Geographic piece online, Brad Scriber, for National Geographic News, published February 4, 2013. Why is this blackout (of one-half or one-side of the Superdome) so newsworthy?  PS There is a Hurricane Sandy tie-in.
  2. HOMELAND SECURITY TRAINING/SOCIOLOGICAL IMAGINATION/EDUCATION/GUNS:  This morning, on the 7AM half-hour of NBC’s Today show, was a presentation of a training exercise/video for “what to do in a school shooting” conducted in Modesto, California (I tried to google it, but it is not yet online). The exercise used teeanage actors as students.  NOTE:  The exercise was altered as a result of the Sandy Hook/Newtown massacre in December. (let us find out how…. perhaps to further the discussion when the unit comes up later in the semester).  Following the presentation, there was also discussion of a Homeland Security “active violence/workplace shooter” protocol (downloadable) pertaining to workplace shootings.  Matt Lauer (the moderator/anchor) noted that there have been over 180 gun massacres since the 1999 Columbine school shooting.  Why are gun crimes of such magnitude a “new normal”? What social factors may have come into play?
  3. SOCIOLOGY OF DEATH/KINGS AND THE CULTURE OF CELEBRITY:  ED KOCH AND KING RICHARDABILITY AND DISABILITY .  Former 3-term New York Mayor Ed Koch died this past week, and his funeral was broadcast Monday (pre-empting all other television, which would have pleased him almost as much as – according to one of the eulogies – his death took place around the same time as the release of a documentary about him).  In other news, this past week, the remains of Richard III, who died in 1485 (and about whom Shakespeare wrote a play) were allegedly discovered to be authentic after they were unearthed from under a parking lot in Leicester, England (ruined friary) .  Which is more newsworthy?

For more information on Dr. Pappas' pedagogical approach, see her article, "Creating an Antidote to Student Apathy: The News of the Week," in Teacher Scholar:  The Journal of the State Comprehensive University, Volume 3, Number 1 pp. 45-51.