The Story of Graffiti

It is not a rare occasion, when going along the street you clash with some puzzled and giant inscription. Vivid colors and intricacy lead you to stare, guessing and having a hunch what is written on the wall or building. That is the first impression people get about graffiti, embellishing their buildings. Indeed, graffiti style has emerged not long ago, but simultaneous simplicity and involute plot leave us nothing but astonishment and excitement. It is an issue of street-art culture, which signifies that modern art is not a prerogative of rich and intelligent people, but talented ones.

Graffiti is recognized as street art style that embraced outdoors of New York in 1920s. However, there are some ideas that it was only an outburst of this art, which has accomplished a long history of its development since ancient times.  As strange as it may seem, petroglyphic drawings in Egypt and Greece are likely to be the first steps towards graffiti, which were executed on statues, temples and even pyramids. They carried either religious or warning meaning. Medieval graffiti is associated with pre-Columbian America and the culture of Maya people and, in addition, Vikings in Northern Europe, who were engaged in runic writings. In Early Modern Period graffiti was left by soldiers in various parts of the world, who were eager to leave some written mark about their conquest or stay in the mission station.

All in all, at the beginning of the 20th century people faced graffiti style, which slightly differs from the modern version. Moreover, the culture of this street art style was enriched with new methods, terms, authors and, of course, ideas. A critic is also included, which features the question: are graffiti images an art or an act of vandalism? There is no doubt that most of the authors (so-called writers) strived for expressing own social and political perception, but it did not obstructed to make images (tags) alerting and well-performed. Mainly, they were observed on the streets of American cities, where young people “imprinted” their dissatisfaction with the President or certain politicians.

Many tags were created in order to point out musical preferences. For example, the most prominent tag of the 20th century is “Clapton is God”, which appeared in Islington station (London subway) in 1967. In this way fans of rock-musician supported the release of his new album “Bluesbreakers” and the rock-n-roll culture.  The decades of 1970s and 1980s are a period of protesting punk rock movement. Especially, it covered streets of Manhattan, where the most visible tag was an upside-down martini glass – a symbol of Missing Foundation (punk group of 1984-1992). By the way, Manhattan is also a native place of the first recognized graffiti writer – TAKI 183; his tags were all over NYC, pointing his name (Taki is simplified from Demetrius) and address (183rd street).

To date, lots of countries have admirable and talented writers, which decorate both their native streets and make great tags in different parts of the world. Some cases might be underlined. Miss Van started with painting incredible dolls on Toulouse streets and nowadays moved to Spain, sharing her art with fashion industry (Fornarina collection, particularly). Banksy is the most well-paid and the most mysterious painter of modernity. He hides real identity behind the pseudonym of Bansky and paintings criticizing politics. He alerts an attention with his nihilism and anti-capitalism views, which only encourage people to attend his gallery exhibitions all over the world.

Documentary Film Distribution

The media landscape has certainly changed in the last few years. A dramatic example of this is the way non-fiction films are distributed. Ten years ago there were only a few places where independent producers might sell their documentaries. Today there are many more outlets. What are these new opportunities? Describe at least three case studies of non-fiction films that have profited from these new avenues of distribution.

Changes in the media landscape in the past decade or so have vastly increased opportunities for independent documentary filmmakers to secure distribution. The ever-growing number of film festivals and markets have widened the playing field for those seeking the traditional distribution model, while the Internet and grass roots marketing have made the potential for successful self-distribution a reality.
For many years film festivals have played an essential role in the distribution of independent films and more specifically documentary films. It is with the help of these festivals that audiences are exposed to more documentary films. Film festivals in the past have been successful in introducing and distributing foreign films but it wasn’t until the past few years that documentaries have become some of the most talked about and successful films.
A film festival is an established venue that organizes screening and prizes. The festivals main objective is to introduce movies of a certain kind to an audience. Attendees include, but our not limited to, distribution executives, critics, journalists and the general public. With distribution of a film being critical to its success, film festivals have proved to be a great resource for up and coming filmmakers. With specific calls for entries, low entry fees, rules, and publicized results, festivals are a hotbed for independent filmmakers seeking distribution and provide an environment ripe with opportunities. A win of any kind at a festival gives filmmakers the stamp of approval and bragging rights that sometimes lead to wide distribution of the film.
While the world’s first major film festival was held in Venice in 1932, the Edinburgh International Film Festival in Scotland was established in 1947 and is the longest continually running film festival in the world. Other notable festivals are Berlin, Cannes, Sundance, Tribeca and Toronto.
Toronto is internationally renowned for the Toronto International Film Festival. After beginning in 1976, it is now the major North American film festival and the most widely attended worldwide, while Toronto’s Hot Docs is the leading North American documentary film festival. The largest festival, in terms of the number of features shown, is the Seattle International Film Festival, screening 270 features, and approximately 150 short films.”
During festivals, territorial deal making occurs which offers the potential for more distribution opportunities. If a film is hot, a bidding war will most likely ensue, increasing the demand for the film and filmmaker. Independent distributors who are looking to acquire certain films for their home territory are anxious to buy.
Distributors use film festivals as an opportunity to acquire films, mostly through negative pickup deals, to announce deals to the press and industry and to enter into partnerships, all of which would benefit a documentary film if picked up. Theatrical distributors range from divisions of large studios like Miramax, Fox Searchlight and Paramount classics to stand-alone companies like Newmarket, Strand and Lions Gate.
One of the most recent success stories resulting from a film festival was Taxi to the Dark Side, directed by Alex Gibney of Enron: the Smartest Guys in the Room. The controversial film tells the story of a taxi driver who dies in custody after being tortured by the American military. The film also examines U.S. torture policy. Although there have been a slew of war docs that have already come out in the past 3 to 4 years, Taxi to the Dark Side has had relative success.
Taxi to the Dark Side won big at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival. According to a New York Times article, 34 films that premiered in 2007 received distribution, which was roughly twice as many as the year before. After the win at Tribeca, the movie received theatrical and video distribution from Think Films. After its theatrical success, the film was nominated and won an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature during the 2007 Academy Awards. The film did run into a road block when, after purchasing the television distribution rights, Discovery Communications’ Investigation Discovery channel decided it was going to postpone airing in it on television. Some have speculated that this was due to the fact that the Presidential election is approaching. However, with the Oscar win and critical acclaim, HBO Network stepped in and purchased the television distribution rights.
In addition, Taxi to the Dark Side is part of the Why Democracy? series. The series consists of ten documentary films from around the world questioning and examining contemporary democracy. The Why Democracy? series, which took almost four years to make, was launched in November 2004 at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam. The series was sold to over 40 broadcasters. As part of the series Taxi to the Dark Side was broadcast in no less than 35 different countries around the world in October of 2007.
As film festivals and distributors continue to provide opportunities for documentary films, and if the audience’s interest and consumption continues to increase, documentary films will maintain a prominent place in the film market and arena. David Straus and Joe Neulight created Withoutabox.com in 2000 to aid filmmakers in applying for film festivals. Instead of filling out multiple applications, all filmmakers need to do is fill out one online form, upload their film’s press kit, and they are then able to submit their work to hundreds of film festivals. Since their company acquired Film Finders and Rightsline, Withoutabox.com now makes it even easier for independent filmmakers to find a distributor or self-distribute. By adding the benefits of Film Finders, the site helps buyers and sellers identify films, where they are playing, and which rights are obtainable. With the features of Rightsline, Straus and Neulight have created an “eBay for films,” by giving independent filmmakers the ability to direct buyers who might want to help promote or distribute their film to their particular sites, as well as helping create a financial transaction between the two parties.
One independent documentary has definitely found success with Withoutabox.com: The Tribe. Independent filmmakers, Chris Mais and Tiffany Shlain created, according to the film’s site “An unorthodox, unauthorized history of the Jewish people and the Barbie doll.” They used Withoutabox to secure placement for the documentary at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006, at which it received the 2006 Indiewire’s Sundance Critic’s Choice award.
They now use the site’s services to promote upcoming screenings of their film, as well as use the new “Audience” feature, which facilitates a relationship between filmmakers and their fan bases. This feature is used on The Tribe’s own Web site, under its “Share Thoughts” page, where users, be they the press, film professors, Jewish educators, or fans, can rate and review the documentary. Also on the page is a link directing users to “The Tribe Curriculum,” the documentary’s own wiki-style page. The page is where educators, community leaders, and the general public can contribute and share thoughts and ideas about The Tribe with people across the world. With all of these features, independent documentary filmmakers, like Mais and Shlain, can have their films widely penetrate the distribution market, as well as have audiences be involved with their films just as much as their big-budget counterparts.
One documentary filmmaker in particular is known for having been among the first producers to harness the power of the Internet as a distribution tool. Robert Greenwald is a pioneer when it comes to do-it-yourself distribution. In 2003 he promoted his film, Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War, through his own Web site and through left-wing political outlets such as AlterNet, The Nation Institute, and Moveon.org. He managed to sell 100,000 copies through streaming video online. The film was then picked up for DVD distribution by the Disinformation Company and sold over 120,000 DVDs. By June of 2004, Greenwald had secured cable TV and theatrical distribution deals through the Sundance Channel and Cinema Libre respectively. The film grossed over $80,000 within the first two weeks of limited release, according to Variety, which is impressive considering that theatrical release was not even part of Greenwald’s initial distribution plan.
His goal for his politically-charged documentaries is to get the word out by any means necessary, which is why he once again employed grass-roots marketing to self-distribute Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism in 2004. The film criticizes the Fox News Channel for biased, right-leaning reporting, and Greenwald started out with regional screenings for members of the media. The film was also shown throughout the country at 3,000 house screening parties facilitated by Moveon.org, which had over 2 million members at the time. According to Variety, the organization also placed a full-page ad in the New York Times to promote the film that declared, “The Communists had Pravda (a newspaper run by the Communist Party of the former Soviet Union). Republicans have Fox.”
The Disinformation Company quickly picked up Outfoxed for DVD release and it became number one on Amazon.com’s bestseller list within one week of its release on July 13th, surpassing pre-orders for the widescreen DVD of The Star Wars Trilogy and The Passion of the Christ. Within three weeks, over 100,000 units had been sold. This success led to a theatrical distribution deal with Cinema Libre, which released Outfoxed on August 13th in five theaters in Los Angeles and New York, resulting in over $78,000 in ticket sales that weekend. The film’s theatrical release generated a total gross of $405,900 and is Cinema Libre’s highest-grossing film to date.
Documentaries, by their very nature, usually appeal to a very specific audience and are therefore particularly suited for non-theatrical distribution strategies. Robert Greenwald set himself apart by finding innovative ways to reach his target audience through partnerships with grass-roots organizations that support the message his films promote. Moveon.org would not even have been a potential partner just over a decade ago, since it was not founded until September of 1998, but now the existence of this organization and others like it, as well as outlets such as Netflix, Withoutabox, film festivals such as Tribeca and markets such as MipDoc, have provided distribution options that were previously unheard of. The sky is the limit for independent documentary filmmakers seeking the exposure they need and deserve.

-Contributed by Nadine, Charla, and Billy-

Screenplay Structure

8.  Screenwriter William Goldman, a two-time Academy Award winner, has long preached that “screenplays are structure.” What is he talking about? 

A) If he’s referring to a particular story-telling model, describe that in detail.

B) If there are multiple models, what are the most influential ones and how do they differ?

C) And how has story structure evolved through the centuries?

Use examples from the 2008 Oscar nominees to illustrate your points.

 

When William Goldman says that “screenplays are structure” he is talking about how a story is actually put together.  A story may have excellent dialogue, and loveable characters, but if the structure is not fully developed then you may as well forget it. The structure of any story focuses on how beat by beat and scene by scene it is ultimately laid out.  A story can use any type of story-telling model, but focusing on the structure or the foundation of the story is vital. Goldman believes that screenwriting is a lot like carpentry.  If you put together some wood, nails, and glue to build a bookcase, you better have established a sound foundation.  If not, you have might have created something really beautiful, but it won’t work as a bookcase.  As a screenwriter you must first decide what the proper structure should be for the particular screenplay you are writing. To do this you have to know the spine.

Goldman believes that it is absolutely crucial to know the spine of your story above anything else.  A spine can be rather simple such as “boy meets girl, loses girl, finds her again,” or something much more complex.  That spine is then developed further, taking a broad idea and digging deeper into the story scene by scene. After finding exactly what the spine of your story is, a writer must protect it at all costs.  It is easy to lose focus of what is really important in a story when you’re 80 pages in.  Goldman insists that strictly sticking to the ultimate spine of a story will drive that script to success. Without a well-developed spine, a screenplay is pretty much doomed.

-Contributed by Mackenzie G.-

 

 

 

 

Part B

The most influential story structure models include Aristotle’s Three Acts, Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, Field’s Paradigm, and Daniels’ Sequence.

 

The basic “Three Act” model of a screenplay starts with establishing the setting and characters (Beginning).  At the end of this first act, the introduction of a problem (or inciting incident) makes the story progress to the rising action (The middle or “Second Act”).  During this part of the story, the protagonist attempts to solve the conflict created by the inciting incident.  The second act ends with a climax in which the tension of the rising action reaches its greatest intensity.  Here, the protagonist either wins or loses against the problems he/she faces.  The third act, or denoumenet, is spent showing what has happened to the characters since the climax and ties up all the story’s remaining loose ends.  Though it is part of a larger trilogy of films, The Bourne Ultimatum follows this basic structure.  The inciting incident in the story is when Jason Bourne finds himself tracked by the CIA again after attempting to gain knowledge of a top-secret operation he was once a part of.  The climax arrives when Bourne confronts the members of the CIA he once served under as part of the operation.  Finally, the denoumenet shows Bourne surviving the encounter and escaping.

 

Joseph Campbell’s concept of the Hero’s Journey involves a more complicated story structure.  Studying many ancient myths, Campbell constructed the idea of a universal “monomyth” with several common structural features.  The monomyth starts with a “Call to Adventure” – an event that entices the hero to leave all that is familiar to them.  In the film “Across the Universe,” this happens when Jude leaves for the United States in search of his biological father.  The hero then encounters a “Road of Trials” – a series of challenges to which the hero either defeats or succumbs.  For example, Jude’s relationship with Lucy weakens throughout the story.  He later attempts to save her from policemen at an anti-war protest gone violent only to get arrested and deported back to England – separated from her.  The hero’s victory or failure of navigating the Road of Trials leaves him/her with a “boon” or vital new knowledge about the world, leaving the hero a stronger and wiser person than he/she was before the “Call to Adventure.”  Finally, the hero returns to the life they left behind with this new boon.  The hero then has the chance to apply this new boon to the original world from the beginning of the story.  This happens when Jude legally moves to the States and reconciles with Lucy.

 

The Paradigm – as developed by Syd Field – took Aristotle’s Three Acts and divided the middle into two sub-acts – Act 2a and Act 2b.  In addition, it introduced the concept of plot points – important moments that occur around the same time in almost all good screenplays.  These include the opening image at the start of the screenplay (an image believed to sum up the film in one shot) and “pinches” (Scenes occurring halfway through Acts 2a and 2b designed to remind the viewer of the story’s main conflicts).  No Country for Old Men has a great opening image of the desert in Texas, setting the grim, desolate, isolated tone that the story takes.  Two “pinches” that occur in Act 2a and Act 2b also remind us that the hero – Llewelyn Moss – is constantly being pursued by the ruthless antagonist – Anton Chigurh.  The first “pinch” occurs when Chigurh nearly catches up to Moss at a motel.  The second “pinch” comes when Chigurh attempts to call Carson Wells only to find Chigurh on the other end of the line, threatening the life of his wife.

 

Frank Daniel’s Sequence Structure is based off of early film reels only having 10 minutes of film on them.  This limiting factor influenced a style of screenplay structure that still holds up to this very day.  Each 10 minute “sequence” of film was effectively a miniature version of a movie with its own three act structure.  Sequences 1-2 can then come together to form the film’s overaching beginning, 3-6 become the middle, and 7-8 are the end.  In the film adaption of Sweeney Todd, one of the two sequences at the start of the film tells its own self-contained story.  A corrupt judge lusts after Todd’s wife, trumps up false charges against him, rapes his wife, then “adopts” the child.  Though a tragic story, it has its own beginning, middle, and end.

-Contributed by Nick R.-

Part C

 Philosopher Aristotle had his own views on story-telling and story structure, which he exercised in his poems.  He believed that stories should explore choices and moral decisions.  “The development of a fable should arise out of the fable itself, and not depend on machinery.”  He believed that characters are not as important as the story.  One thing that he did think about the protagonist is that he should be flawed.  “In a proper tragedy, the protagonist recognizes that his own error has caused his downfall.”  He was big on writing the plot believing that that characters follow the actions.

                Lagos Egri( 1888-1967), author of “The Art of Dramatic Writing”,  had a different perspective.  He preached that characters were the driving force behind a good story.   He believed that stories were based on human psychology.  “You must have a premise- a premise that which will lead you unmistakably to the goal your play hopes to reach…The premise should be a conviction of your own, so that you may prove it wholeheartedly.”  He thought it was important to focus on character transitions.: define goals, values, and a plan.  Egri believed that actions followed character decisions.

                These two had differing views and Hollywood has seen both.  The only similarity was that the story always had a three-act structure: 1st Act , 2nd, and 3rd Act which were previously described.  Early films were were silent.  The audience did not get a chance to learn the characters on a deep level.  As a result the stories were centered on the plot and actions.  The story structure was very basic.  Once the “silents” became the “talkies”,  plots could no longer be simplistic.  Actors had to talk, which meant that the characters needed to appeal to the audience.   Authors such as William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, and John Steinbeck were drafted by the studios to write screenplays.    In most novels, the reader gets connected to the book characters and studio execs knew that these authors could translate that to the screen.  This was the beginning of character driven plots. 

                For the most part, story structure in Hollywood has remained faithful to the 3-Act structure.  However, there are small differences  in the story nowadays.  Loglines for story’s are not even the same.  Most stories have a one-sentence logline, which tells what the story is about.  However, in 1937, screenwriter Francis Marion was quoted, “If you cannot state the gist of a play in three lines, it lacks backbone.”  Nowadays three lines is considered to be too long.

                Plots and characters are no longer simplistic.  The characters and the plots are now much more dynamic and interesting than those in earlier days.  There is still some debate over if plot-driven is better than character driven.  For the most part, current screenwriters use both the plot and the characters to drive the story.

-Contributed by Ashleigh-

Cable TV vs Telephone Companies

The questions

5. In the coming years Cable TV will face very real competition from the telephone companies for customers. Give the competitive advantages of each industry and the efforts both have made in Congress and at the FCC to deal with perceived inequities in the competitive landscape.

Comprehensive Examination Question #5
Andrea P. Fuller

I. Cable Industry

A. Competitive Advantages

1. Due to the competition from satellite companies and more recent the telephone companies (mainly AT&T and Verizon Communications), cable companies (Comcast and Time Warner Cable-the two dominant companies) have to increase their services offered to their customers.
a. According to statistics, 90% of US cable systems currently offer HD video services as of January 2008 (Anonymous, In-Stat: Increased Competition Pushes US Cable Operators to Continue Investing, Business Wire, Jan 2, 2008)

2. Cable companies have limited competitive advantages due to their competing companies offering the same services. As a result, many cable companies are exploring offering improved services to keep customers.
a. Conversion of analog to digital (If customers have cable, on analog television, they don’t have to worry about the conversion from analog to digital on February 2009).
b. Increasing spectrum that increases the capacity of the networks
c. Capacity sharing through switched digital video
d. Node splitting, which improves
e. MPEG-4 provides capacity sharing (Anonymous, US Cable-New Strategies for a Competitive World, Business Wire, April 10, 2008)

3. Cable companies are now offering bundles to customers which includes cable, internet, and land-line phones

4. Cable is targeting small and medium business in offering commercial phone services (voice and data services)
a. Comcast is investing $3 billion over the next five years
b. Time Warner Cable is investing $6-7.5 billion for commercial phone

5. Time Warner plans to cut prices of telephone services 10-15% (Jon Hemingway, New Front in Cable-Teleco War: B2B, Broadcasting and Cable, October 1, 2007)

B. FCC/Congress vs. Cable Companies.

1. 70/70 rule
a. Under the Communications Act of 1984-which gives the FCC power to regulate cable companies when they feel they are too big.
b. FCC must use the 70/70 Test: cable must pass through 70% of households, and 70% of those households must be subscribed to a cable services.
c. State Representatives including Marsh Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Edolphus Towns (D-NY) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) a bill to challenge the 70/70 Test.
a. Bill call for stripping FCC powers to reregulate the cable industry
b. Bill getting support from NCTA, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition ad America for Tax Reform (John Eggerton, Blackburn’s 70/70 Bill a Reality, Broadcasting and Cable, December 6, 2007).

2. November 2007: FCC Chairman Kevin Martin introduced a 30% percent cap on cable companies prevent large companies such as Comcast and Time Warner from growing or making acquisitions after its conclusion that cable
a. States that no company can own no more than 30% in a market
b. FCC goal of rule is to promote “diversity of information sources”
c. Cap opens cable market to independent programmers and telephone companies (Stephen Labaton, FCC Planning Rules to Open Cable Market, New York Times, November 10, 2007)
d. In 2001, the FCC tried to establish a cap for cable companies, but it was struck down by the US Court of Appeal on First Amendment grounds. (John Eggerton, FCC Releases 30% Cable-Subscriber Cap Order, Broadcasting and Cable, February 11, 2008).
e. In March 2008, Comcast sued the FCC over the 30% cap
i. Company is at 27% of 30% cap
ii. Claims that the FCC has no evidence for a horizontal cap especially with numerous competitions among other cable companies, independent programmers, phone and satellite companies.
iii. Comcast also accuses the FCC of playing favorites with telephone companies (John Eggerton, Comcast Sues FCC over 30% Cap, Broadcasting and Cable, March 13, 2008).

3. FCC End Cable Deals for Apartments
a. October 2008: FCC ban cable deals/contracts giving cable companies the right to provide services to apartments
b. AT&T and Verizon benefit the most after lobbying for the new rules.
c. Can lower cable prices
a. Keven Martin, chair of FCC: cable prices risen 93% within the last decade.
b. New competition = lower prices (Stephen Labaton, FCC Set to End Sole Cable Deals for Apartments, The New York Times, October 29, 2007).

4. States creating laws creating franchises for telephone companies
a. Cable companies filing lawsuits claiming that cable will lose revenue, damage of reputation, and unfair competition (John Eggerton, Telecos Celebrate Franchise Wins, Broadcasting and Cable, September 29, 2006).

II. Telephone Companies

A. Competitive Advantages
1. 2006: FCC passed a reform video franchised legislative reform that made it easier for telephone companies to get into video through national franchising (John Eggerton, House Passes Video Franchise Reform, Broadcasting and Cable, June 8, 2006).

2. AT&T and Verizon offer new technology that has advantage over cable
a. Both companies have IPTV services
a. Unlimited number of channels
b. 2-way interactive services (Anonymous, US Cable-New Strategies for a Competitive World, Business Wire, April 10, 2008)
c. AT&T offers U-Verse in limited areas
i. Features includes 300+ channels, high-speed internet, phone services, DVR specialties, streaming live video from cell phone to tv, and games
ii. Criticism: U-Verse only targets affluent and avoid minority, low-income (Rick Barrett, AT&T U-Verse access debated: City’s low-income areas often lack cable alternative, McClatchy-Tribune Business News, December 11, 2007).
d. Verizon offers FiOS TV

3. Incentives
a. Verizon conducts Retention-Marketing
a. Provide incentives for their current customers for not switching to another cable company.
i. FCC refuse to intervene after cable companies pressured them to stop stating Verizon is violating law (John Eggerton, FCC Won’t Stop Verizon Communications’ Retention-Marketing Effort, Broadcasting and Cable, April 1, 2008 )
ii. Also offer incentives for new customers
1. Offered 19-inch HD TVs, camcorders and camcorders in December 2007
a. Cable companies only relied, promotional prices and good services (Toni Whitt, Cable war could be proving ground; Analysts watch Verizon’s use of incentives in effort to entice local consumers, Sarasota Herald Tribune, December 20, 2007)
b. Offering bundles (phone, cable, internet)

4. States are recognizing phone companies as video providers, and granting them licenses to compete with cable companies

B. FCC/Congress vs. Telephone Companies
1. One problem that telephone companies may endure is still being recognized by states as video service providers such as in November 2007 it was reported that AT&T spent $11.2 million lobbying for a franchise bill in TN.
a. Most money spent on public persuasion, and advertising between October 1, 2006 to September 2007.
b. Cable companies are claiming AT&T is trying to get an unfair advantage and cable will continue to fight (Andy Sher, AT&T, cable fight nears $11 million, McClatchy-Tribune Business News, November 20, 2008).

2. FCC bans phone deals for apartments
a. Unfair competitive advantage
b. Hurts consumers
a. Prevents residents from purchasing bundled services

Children, Obesity, and the Media

Questions

#7

I.                   Obesity

a.       What contributes to childhood obesity

                                                              i.      Media influence on eating habits

1.      Product Placement

2.      Commercials (Preoperational Stage- not being able to tell the difference between a commercial and the program; don’t understand the advertiser’s intent)

3.      Endorsements (e.g. Spongebob cereal)

                                                            ii.      Eating between meals, convenience meals

                                                          iii.      Sedentary lifestyle (being lazy)

                                                          iv.      Genetics

                                                            v.      Parenting methods

II.                Findings Based On Existing Legislation

a.       Bumpers- “After these messages…”

b.      Limits on commercial times- 10.5 min/hr (wknd) and 12 min/hr (wkdy)

c.       A character from a program cannot advertise their product (e.g. Spongebob cereal) during their program(i.e. in-program host selling).

d.      Cannot advertise websites if they encourage children to buy products.

III.             Solutions to Parents

a.       After educating yourself, educate children about healthy foods.

b.      Practice healthy eating habits as a family at a dining table, and buy healthy foods

c.       Set time limits on television viewing.

d.      Discourage eating while watching television.

e.       Encourage physical activities.

IV.             Assurances to Policymakers

a.       Keeping advertisers in mind, regulate “junk food” advertising on children’s television; regulations based on time of day- less in the afternoon when pre-school aged children are home.

b.      Balance out good/bad food advertisements. Have more outside activity advertisements.

c.       We can’t actually regulate the amount of television a person watches – that’s up to the parents to do

V.                Violence

a.       Definitions

                                                              i.      Cartoon- unrealistic- no consequences

                                                            ii.      Realistic- real consequences

b. Cartoon violence has less consequences so it’s more effective

VI.             Causes of Aggressive Behavior

a.       Media violence (all inclusive- video games, television, comics, etc.)

b.      Genetics

c.       Parental guidance/upbringing

d.      Education

e.       Socioeconomic status

f.       Religion

VII.          Regulations

a.       There are currently no regulations that focus specifically on violence.

b.      The V-Chip and the ratings systems (e.g. Y7, MA) collectively include violence in something they monitor; however, it is a bi-product of monitoring sex on television.

VIII.       Parental Solutions

a.       Educate children about violence and its effects

b.      Regulate viewing of violence w/o relying solely on the V-Chip and ratings system.

c.       Discourage violence in the home and elsewhere.

IX.             Assuring Policymakers

a.       V-Chip in all televisions (it was not implemented in televisions that were smaller than 13in)

b.      Internet television must be regulated

c.       Air PSA’s for non-violence by cartoon characters to increase effectiveness

d.      Television on other platforms should include ratings

e.       Have the FCC request the production companies of every television show submit a list of what types of violence is typical on their shows.

                                                              i.      The lists will go on a website that is regularly updated.

                                                            ii.      PSA’s and listings on “parental discretion advised” screens will promote the list and its website, informing parents of its existence

X.                Sound Bite for the next news cycle:

“With the joint efforts of our nation’s parents, advertisers, broadcasters, and cable companies, we will increase awareness of obesity and aggression caused by television through education and cooperative regulation.”

 

 

-Contributed by Brian, Kelly, Alex C., and Hakan-

looks like the marshmallow man had kids

looks like the marshmallow man had kids

Tell Me what you think

This is an experiment…

1. Review the theoretical underpinnings of persuasive messages in relation to specific audiences, taking into account at least three of the following constructs: agenda setting, diffusion of innovation, central and peripheral processing, cognitive dissonance, source credibility, reasoned action, two-step flow, selectivity, expectancy-value and fear appeals.  As a writer/producer, which basic model would you use in developing political advertising for your candidate targeted at the general public.  Justify your selection.

 

2. The media landscape has certainly changed in the last few years. A dramatic example of this is the way non-fiction films are distributed.  Ten years ago there were only a few places where independent producers might sell their documentaries. Today there are many more outlets.  What are these new opportunities? Describe at least three case studies of non-fiction films that have profited from these new avenues of distribution.

 

3. Programming is what attracts audiences to television but advertising is the primary means of revenue generation for most networks and stations.  In a situation when 1) specific broadcast programming is attacked for containing too much “skin and sin” by traditional family values groups, 2) advertisers are inundated with thousands of email, letters and telephone calls to stop buying commercial time by concerned family group followers and 3) some advertisers withdraw, is this a triumph for the television audience, a chilling effect on broadcast TV creativity, or a step towards censorship and bland programming?   Assume each of these perspectives and cite evidence from previous program histories to explicate how these electronic media issues evolved, were resolved and continue to coexist.

 

4. In November 2007, the Writers Guild of America went on strike after its members and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers failed to negotiate a deal.  What are (were) the issues at stake in this conflict?  Trace the history of this conflict between these two groups and the consequent effects on television viewing audiences and new programming development.  How will this strike inform the future of new media and old media, and how will it affect you as someone who will be working in the industry as a) a writer, and b) a studio or network executive?

 

5.  In the coming years Cable TV will face very real competition from the telephone companies for customers. Give the competitive advantages of each industry and the efforts both have made in Congress and at the FCC to deal with perceived inequities in the competitive landscape.

 

6. The utilization of new and different media platforms — web streaming, mobiphones and the like — to deliver television programming has given rise to “anytime, anywhere, media measurement.” This system purports to track in-home and out-of-home viewing, Internet and phone TV usage, as well as traditional television viewing.  In addition, commercial ratings or audience viewership levels during the commercial breaks are now available to advertisers.

A)    What improvements does this system of audience measurement represent over the traditional ratings system?  

B)    How would producers, programmers and advertisers benefit from the new audience measurements?

C)    What are some of the concerns critics have raised and how can these be addressed?

 

7.  “American TV is dangerous to our children’s health.”   Scientific studies have shown that children who spend the most time with television are also those who are more likely to be overweight.  Children who watch television violence are more likely to behave in harmful ways towards others and become less empathetic.  You are testifying on behalf of television writers and producers before a congressional subcommittee intent on refining policy to protect the health of our nation’s children.  How would you address these findings in the face of existing legislation and offer solutions to parents, assurances to policy makers as well as a sound bite for the next news cycle?

 


8.  Screenwriter William Goldman, a two-time Academy Award winner, has long preached that “screenplays are structure.” What is he talking about? 

A) If he’s referring to a particular story-telling model, describe that in detail.

B) If there are multiple models, what are the most influential ones and how do they differ?

C) And how has story structure evolved through the centuries?

Use examples from the 2008 Oscar nominees to illustrate your points.

 

9.  Think about this: Today you can watch movies on your video iPod.  You can also watch TV on your cell phone.  Through global marketing you can catch the release of the latest big studio film in Shanghai, China the same day as in Syracuse, New York (probably a few days earlier).  The social media network, Facebook on which you used to post pictures for your friends is now valued at $15 billion. 

 

During your year at Newhouse, the media environment will continue to change dramatically. These changes may come from some new technology or an economic or policy shift. For example, if you’re reading the papers and the trades, you know that ABC News and Facebook have teamed up to develop a new tool to facilitate political debate coverage and interactivity on the social networking site;  the major TV networks continue to offer streaming video of their programs, and advertisers are using “skins,” “overlays” or “bugs” to promote their products and services online.

 

If you’re bright, flexible and entrepreneurial, you’ll find ways to make your career in any number of these future transformations. Even better, you should be smart enough to anticipate and take advantage of such changes before they (or you) are history. This is your chance to begin the birth of a future transformation that will bear your name.

 

Write a proposal for your new concept. What is it? What makes it unique? How does it take advantage of existing or new technologies, economies and/or policies? Specify what research you will do to determine if there is an audience and market. What legal and regulatory issues will you have to be aware of? Who are the people or institutions you need to convince this is the greatest thing since the iPod? Who are the people or institutions you don’t want to know about your idea until it’s a reality and why? Describe how this concept will ripple through the media environment or how it might have an impact on only a specialized niche.

 

An important part of your answer will be a personal inventory assessment: what talents, skills, knowledge, etc. that you possess make it possible for you to actuate this concept? Be realistic; if you’re not Steve Wozniak, recognize that and plan to hire him as a consultant. But if your idea is “television for housebound cats”, be-up front about your special understanding of the feline spirit.

 

10. In the book “The World is Flat” by Thomas Friedman, referring to a program called “Higglytown Heroes” being produced for the Disney Channel by Wild Brain, an animation studio in San Francisco, Wild Brain CEO Scott Hyten remarked about how the all-American show was being produced by an all-world supply chain —  The recording session is located near the artist, usually in New York or L.A., the design and direction is done in San Francisco, the writers network in from their homes (Florida, London, New York, Chicago, L.A., and San Francisco), and the animation of the characters is done in Bangalore 

(India).  These interactive recording/writing/animation sessions allow us to record an artist for an entire show in less than half a day, including unlimited takes and rewrites.

            Given the increasing trend in production toward on-line collaboration using work flow software, discuss the impact of such a trend on established television production methods and financing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The answers will come after a time.

-Alex

Intercultural Communication in Courtship

           Intercultural Communication in Courtship:The Case of Chinese and Americans Alex Churchill and Erik George CO442: Intercultural Communication 2 May 2006                        Two sectors that lead the way in the quantity and quality of intercultural contact are business and education.  Since a large proportion of Americans report meeting their future mate in these same two settings – work and school – it should come as no surprise that along with the increase in intercultural contact there is a concurrent increase in the rate of intercultural and interethnic courtship activity (Choi, 2005). This paper will explore the cultural values that bear on courtship and communication, identify and predict interpersonal communication problems that could arise, and will suggest methods to mitigate their negative effect on a relationship.             The case of Chinese/American intercultural dating is selected as the lens through which this paper will explore its research questions.  This example was selected due to both the increase in contact between these two groups and because the distinct differences between these two cultures makes for a larger variety of inherent difficulties in interpersonal communication between their members.  Because of differences in values, communication styles, and culture-based expectations for dating, Chinese/American cross-cultural couples face distinct communication challenges that can fortunately be overcome through competence in intercultural communication. State of the Field, Terms, and Methodology  The question of communication problems in courtship and mate relationships has been studied across many contexts and variables before, including in research by Nicotera (1997), Blood & Nicholson (1962), Romano (1988) and Hamon & Ingoldsby (2003).  Because the nature of communication difficulties is highly dependent on the specific cultures involved, their research is most often divided into sections or subsections that analyses a particular bi-cultural dyad.  The above-mentioned research does come to use general conclusions about the universal nature and needs of any human couple (Sharlin, 2000 pp. 54-55) which will be utilized in conjunction with more specialized studies of American and Chinese cases.            Because even the cultural labels of “Chinese” and “American” are broad and ambiguous, this study will further sub-divide these terms into the three groups “native Chinese,” “Chinese-American,” and “American.”  For the purposes of both specificity and efficiency, our examples will use native Chinese to refer to the young and middle-aged urban residents in China’s coastal cities.  This is to exclude those Chinese of economic disadvantage because in the past members of these poorer groups have married Americans for political or economic reasons (Xinhua, 2006). We will also exclude marriages of extreme economic and educational inequality because they also pose problems that are outside the range of this study.  American refers to members of the dominant culture of the United States, whose members are more likely than not to be of European descent.  Last, Chinese-American refers to Americans of Chinese ethnic heritage that retain elements of their parent’s or grandparent’s culture.              Chinese-American/American and native Chinese/American are the couple pairs used to compose examples and hypothetical situations.  The research aims to provide the increasing number of American/Chinese couples with information to clarify, predict, and overcome the intercultural hurtles in their romantic relationships and marriages. 

Culture’s Role in Courtship: America

            Culture has a strong effect on courtship patterns and norms.  Americans score low on ratings of power-distance and formality, and this carries over to romantic relationships that are often much more casual, at least at first, than those in other cultures. The American emphasis on individuality and self-reliance as well as progress towards gender equality results in American women that can be more assertive than women in many other cultures.  Ideally, Americans tend to marry for reasons of love and put lesser emphasis on social class and wealth while these factors can play a large role in the mate selection criteria of other cultures.  Last, American communication style is assertive, direct and low-context.  This value is manifested in the level of frankness and directness in dating practices, which can be at odds with the notions of politeness and modesty present in other cultures.              In a study on mono-cultural American relationships, the “mateship attributes” that more than 50% of male and female respondents identified as important to a “mate-type” relationship were trust, friendship, love, and honesty (Nicotera, 1997 p. 22).  Qualities paramount in other cultures such as duty, interdependence and obedience (Kline, Horton & Zhang, 2005, p. 15) ranked much lower or were completely absent.  Foreign men studying in American universities often described the American dating system to be “completely different” from that of their home country – no matter where they were from (Blood & Nicholson, 1962  p. 241).  This can be a result of the qualities that Americans value in a mate, which de-emphasize commitment and duty.  In contrast to their home countries, many respondents noted that in America, dating “is an end in itself rather than oriented toward marriage,” (Blood and Nicholson, 1962 p. 242).  Although men from all areas of the world found this to be different, those from East Asia in particular expressed that Americans’ option to date with casual acquaintances without intent to marry to be the difference that are hardest to accept (Blood and Nicholson, 1962  p. 242.)            American culture values uniqueness and individual expression and so mate selection criteria is generally more varied than that of other cultures.  Among American couples, “shared interests and value system…the ability to give and take, and flexibility,” were mentioned as an important variable contributing to a successful marriage.  However, others mentioned the opposite, “an equalitarian relationship with many complementary features,” as an important factor (Sharlin, 2000 p. 54.)  Americans choose mates based on criteria that other cultures might require in a friend, not a life-partner: equality and shared interests.  In a 2000 study, Woo corroborates this assessment, with her conclusions that “[qualities] making for intimacy [among European Americans] were those closely tied to personal efforts toward realizing one’s individual identity, if not freedom or independence.  Individual autonomy, in fact, seemed to be taken for granted.”  Among the qualities valued by Americans searching for a partner, this preference for autonomy may be the most troublesome for the intercultural couple due to its lack of emphasis in the Chinese culture.            Norms of language use in America are unique when compared with traditional societies like China’s.   Because of America’s comparatively short history, diversity of ethnic backgrounds, and lack of a monolithic traditional culture to prescribe norms for behavior, Americans rely on a low-context communication technique that relies on direct verbal signals.  Factors that lead to effective communication among American couples reflects this cultural background, with most couples identifying “honesty and not expecting the other to engage in ‘mind reading’ to know what is wanted or felt,” as the most important (Sharlin, 2000, p. 66.)  Second only to the differences in role-expectation among Chinese/American couples, the preference of Americans for direct patterns of speech may one of the most difficult obstacles for successful intercultural relationships. Contrasting Culture: The Chinese Example              The Chinese counterparts of the elements of American culture described above show significant contrast.  As a culture Chinese show preferences for harmony, collectivism and hierarchy which presents issues in the context of the individualist-minded dating system common to Americans.  Though it is changing in recent years (Jankowiak, 1989, p. 64; Evans, 1995, pp. 357-359), Chinese relationships still tend to be more formal than casual, and the qualities attributed to a good mate are comparatively rigid.  Chinese communication style is also very indirect and along with the fact that a Chinese/American relationship will have at least one member speaking a second language, the possibilities for technical communication difficulties are significant.            Because of a continued reliance on traditional practices in China, there exists a large gap between the dating procedures among typical native Chinese and Americans.  Americans and native Chinese both engage in activities with spouses such as eating out, “talking activities,” and physical intimacy at similar rates (Kline, Horton & Zhang, 2005 pp. 13-14) but the order and timing of these activities has higher variance.  A 1992 study on sexuality in urban China finds that despite changes due to international cultural influence, “China highly emphasizes female virginity,” and “a girl will be ranked at a much lower status in the marriage market once it is suspected she is not a virgin,” (Zha & Geng, 1992 p. 9).  American attitudes towards sexuality are more liberal, and pre-marital sexual relations are treated with substantially less stigma.  There is also strong resistance in the conservative P.R.C. government to the deterioration of traditional sexual norms.  Jolly & Ram (2001) provide this representative statement by an official: “[sexual] liberation and freedom sound very attractive but on closer scrutiny can be seen to be fundamentally harmful to both the individual and society at large.”  Among a culture that places a high value upon reverence of the past, traditional value systems will persist in playing a large role in shaping the individual decision making process in the context of dating.              Although Chinese society has progressed away from the prescribed mate selection criteria promulgated in 1950 by the first version of the Chinese Marriage Law “appropriate criteria for mate choice: personal compatibility, political attitudes, and character”,  research shows that tradition persists here as well (Jankowiak, 1989 p. 65; Evans, 1995 pp. 387-388).  Kline’s study found that while several general positive emotions were associated with love in marriage were common to both Americans and Chinese, Americans reported “going out together,” or shared entertainment, as important along with honesty, openness, and unrestrained feelings as important qualities, all of which were absent from the Chinese responses (Kline, 2005 pp. 14-15).  This reflects American’s value of directness and equality in a marriage relationship.  The Chinese side, on the other hand, selected respectfulness, reliability, and faithfulness which were absent from the American’s survey (pp. 15-16).  This shows that an American may be expecting his partner to fill a role similar to that of an outspoken and equal friend while the Chinese prefer stable duty-fulfillment rather than unique personal compatibility with their partner.                Criteria other than character traits also enter into the equation of mate-selection among Chinese and Americans, and these too show manifest differences between the cultures.  The Chinese are a proud culture of relatively high ethnic homogeneity and harbor some historically-based prejudices against certain outsiders.  A 1994 study on anti-Black racism in China explains that “historical and contemporary evidence [suggests] that Chinese intellectuals have held notions of black inferiority,” and that “anti-Black bias can in turn be seen in the context of a recrudescence of elitist values that link and denigrate those who are dark and those who are poor,” (Sautman, 1994 p. 427).  This is continued reflection of the traditional idealization of fair skin in Chinese culture which associated it as representative of education and nobility in opposition to the peasantry which became tan from work in the fields.               In a similar phenomenon, the relatively rigid class structure in China does not allow for the free choice of mates more common in the U.S.  Instead, both hypogyny and hypergyny (marrying “up” and marrying “down,” respectively) are regarded as improper.  The case of a man marrying for upward social status is especially egregious, it is assumed that “men who use women’s disadvantages,” i.e. physical unattractiveness or age, “to gain social status are considered unscrupulous social-climbers who do not genuinely care for these women,” (Jankowiak, 1989 p. 68).  In this context, whether the man was interested in the woman to fulfill American style mate criteria (personal compatibility, shared interests) would probably not be considered.  The idea that people from different classes are inherently incompatible for marriage is certainly present in Western European and U.S. culture as well, but not nearly to the extent in China.  For example, in Chinese cities, “when women leave the university campus to go shopping downtown, they prefer to wear their university [ID] badge [because they]… ‘don’t want workers coming up to us and starting a conversation,” (Jankowiak, 1989 p. 68).  This blatant class discrimination, while perhaps unexpected in an ideologically Communist state, is nonetheless considered much more acceptable behavior in China than in the U.S.              Communication behaviors show another significant variation between U.S. and Chinese society.  What is defined as the “good communication skills” necessary for marital satisfaction in an American family includes “openness, honesty, and transparency in self-disclosure… an assertive, clear disclosing of and sensitivity to thoughts and feelings,” (Sharlin, 2000 p. 71).  However, often the opposite is the case in the Chinese situation.  Gao’s study on Chinese language usage finds that “meanings often reside in unspoken messages,” (Gao, 1998 p. 171).  This results in an emphasis on high-context, non-verbal communication.  For example, “a hand movement, a smile, and a shrug…convey embedded meanings,” which can be different from the meanings Americans would associate with these signals: “Chinese may smile to express embarrassment, frustration, or nervousness.”  Even when verbal communication is taking place, “nonverbal communication often provides important cues for interpretation of verbal messages,” resulting in lost or overlooked meanings for the non-Chinese observer (Gao, 1998 p. 171).   

Conclusions: Anticipated Communication Problems, and Their Solutions

            The communication scholar Edward T. Hall wrote, “While personality is undoubtedly a factor in interpersonal synchrony, culture is also a powerful determinant,” (Hall, 1983, p. 163).  So, while the personal characteristics are very relevant in even intercultural relationships, the above comparative culture study results in pinpointing several relevant differences between Chinese/Chinese-American culture and American culture in values, courtship role preferences, and language.  Each of these differences brings with it a host of anticipated communication problems which will need to be addressed for such an intercultural relationship to work.            In the areas of values and role expectations between Chinese and Americans, the primary sources of potential conflict in an interpersonal relationship will likely be the conflict between the American concepts of equality, autonomy, and individuality versus the Chinese expectations for duty and respect in a relationship (mostly the male expecting these qualities in the female).  It can be assumed that if a couple is already dating, these general value conflicts have already been addressed and disregarded.  However, Romano (1988) has found the opposite to be true: that in the earlier “honeymoon” stages of a relationship, conflicts of internal values will be overlooked and it is only after marriage that the couple “[becomes] fully aware of how many differences there are, how deeply embedded some of them are, and how these differences are going to affect their life together,” (Romano, 1988 p. xiii).  The latter stages, after marriage, are described as similar to the effect of culture-shock (Romano, 1988 p. xv).                Hypothetical examples are easy to formulate based on these differences.  A Chinese man married to an American woman may find it difficult to accept a wife who expresses her autonomy and need for personal growth by going out and getting a part time job to the point of neglecting what traditional China would consider a wife’s duties in the home.  In an polar example, an American male married to a Chinese woman may at first enjoy his traditional wife’s dutiful and compliant manner.  However, studies have shown that Americans of European descent reflect their values in “an attraction to individuals who displayed self-sufficiency,” (Woo, 2000 p. 169).  After the honeymoon period, the American husband may become displeased with his wife’s cultural-based inclination to wait for her husband’s approval before making decisions on her own.  These are both generalized examples, but are readily applicable and illustrate the potential for conflict inherent in a clash of values and expectations.                   Language problems can also create misunderstandings that lead to conflict, especially when an English-speaking monolingual American comes into contact with a Chinese who speaks English as a second language.  Although being a native speaker of English, as the lingua franca, might be considered to be an advantage to intercultural communication, it in fact leads more often to misunderstanding and conflict.  This is because without prior experience to the difficulties of operating in a foreign language, the native English speaker more easily and erroneously assumes that everything being said by their partner carries the same meaning as when they says the same words in the same way.  Even if their partner has a strong command of English, absolute clarity and nuance is difficult to achieve (Romano, 1988 p. 92).  If the American does not have the patience and flexibility to accomodate imperfect communication, they may assume that what is being said in English is accurately reflective of what their partner is thinking. This may result in a lack of comprehensive expression and the problems that come with it.                Despite the potential for problems, with sufficient motivation obstacles of intercultural communication can be overcome for Chinese/American couples.  In fact, “most social scientists writing from an assimilationist perspective see the amalgamation of different racial groups as an inevitable final step; and perhaps if the time span is stretched long enough, some type of racial intermingling will no doubt occur,” (Kitano, Yeung, Chai & Hatanaka, 1984, p. 179).  In fact, there is considerable success in this area already.  Weiss has shown in a 1970 study that due to proportionally more success at assimilation to American dating customs, Chinese-American women have had great success marrying Americans, despite some traditional cultural opposition (pp. 277-288).  Though at the time of the study, several factors contributed to a lower rate of success for Chinese-American males. These included a focus on academic studies that precluded sufficient socialization, negative American stereotypes of Chinese men, and a desire to preserve traditional Chinese dating behavior (Weiss, 1970 p. 277).            Studies suggest that a change in role expectations can pose a major difficulty for intercultural couples.  Specifically, “if one of the partners is forced to adhere to a more severe role delineation than was customary at home, there may be severe problems,” (Romano, 1988 p. 47).  Other research shows that one reason that the American male and Chinese female relationships might be more successful is that Chinese have shown to be significantly more persuasible than Americans (Chu, 1966, p. 171).  That is to say that because of a collectivist, authoritarian and hierarchical cultural upbringing, Chinese may be more amenable to changing their behaviors and expectations than their more stubborn American counterparts may be.  Though this would be present in both male and female Chinese, the traditional Confucian relationships deem males as superior to females in marriage, and so although Chinese men might be more persuasible than their American counterparts, they would likely be less pliable when forced to conform to an American wife’s expectations.             With an understanding of the potential pitfalls of intercultural relationships and a motivation to succeed, it is possible to overcome or avoid potential conflicts.  Particular factors contributing to success are (1) a strong motivation to succeed; (2) the presence of common goals between the partners – are you both working towards the same end?; and (3) sensitivity and flexibility towards the inevitable challenges of communication (Romano, 1988 p. 126).              With these factors present, researchers suggest a number of practical steps and ideas that in combination can help intercultural couples.  These include living together before marriage, visiting each other’s family, a commitment to learn the native language of each partner, observing your partner among his/her friends or seeing a professional counselor (Romano, 1988 pp. 141-147).  Based on the success of Chinese-American/American marriage, it can also be concluded that a desire and ability to assimilate into one of the partner’s cultural behaviors can result in a higher success rate (Kitano, Yeung, Chai & Hatanaka, 1984), although this is not always desirable or possible.  Instead, a willingness to understand the cultural reasons for each partner’s behavior (i.e. lack of ethnocentrism) is both more easily practiced and necessary.              Although Chinese and American culture have a large divergence in terms of core values, behaviors, marriage roles and language, romantic interpersonal relationships are nonetheless both possible and oftentimes successful. The large numbers of areas that hold the potential for conflict produce challenges for these couples.  But in an era of increasing contact between these two groups, research such as that contained in this paper will provide the information needed to overcome these challenges.    References Blood, R.O. & Nicholson, S.O. (1962).  The experiences of foreign students in dating   American Women.  Marriage and Family Living, vol. 24, no. 3, 241-248. Choi, C.  (2005, November 2.) Interracial dating rises, but marriage still lags.  Associated         Press State and Local Wire [Albany].  Viewed on April 29, 2006 via Lexis-Nexis       database. Chu, G.C.  (1966).  Culture, personality, and persuasibility.  Sociometry, vol. 29, no. 2,            169-174. Evans, H.  (1995).  Defining difference: the “scientific construction of sexuality and         gender in the People’s Republic of China.  Signs, 20:2, 357-394.   Fong, C. & Yung, J.  (1995).  In search of the right spouse: interracial marriage among Chinese and Japanese Americans. Amerasia Journal v21.n3 (Winter 1995):         pp77-93(21). Gao, G.  (1998).  “Don’t take my word for it.” – understanding Chinese speaking          practices.  International Journal of Intercultural Relations, vol. 22, no. 2, 163-    186. Hamon, R.R. & Ingoldsby B.B. (Eds.). (2003). Mate selection across cultures.            Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, Inc.   Hall, E.T. 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(2000).  Just how do I love thee?  Marital relations in urban China.          Journal of Marriage and Family, 69, 32-47.  Romano, D.  (1988).  Intercultural marriage: promises and pitfalls.  Yarmouth:        Intercultural Press, Inc.   Sautman, B.  (1994).  Anti-black racism in post-Mao China.  The China Quarterly, no.           138, 413-437.   Sharlin, S.A. (2000).  Together through thick and thin: a multinational picture of long        term marriages. Binghampton: The Haworth Press INC.  Sinclair, K. (2006, January 17). Till death do us wed. South China Morning Post.   Weiss, M.S. (1970). Selective acculturation and the dating process: the patterning of     Chinese-Caucasian interracial dating.  Journal of Marriage and the Family, vol.       32, no. 2, 273-278. Woo, D.  Social patterns in intimacy and support: European Americans and Chinese      Americans.  In: Miller, R. & Browning, S.L. (Eds.) (2000). With this ring: divorce, intimacy, and            cohabitation from a multicultural perspective.     Stamford: Jai Press INC. Xinhua news agency, Beijing. (2006, March 8). Chinese advisers urge rights of women marrying foreigners protected.  Xinhua news agency [Beijing].  Accessed via BBC      Monitoring Asia Pacific. Zha, B. & Geng W.  (1992).  Sexuality in urban China.  The Australian Journal of      Chinese Affairs, no. 28, 1-20.