sealPurdue Lifestyles, Education Briefs

July 2000

Movie violence: Hollywood may have it wrong

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A Purdue University expert says the film industry may be turning out violent movies on the basis of a mistaken belief that viewers enjoy it, or would not go see films without it.

"The available data just doesn't bear that out," says Glenn Sparks, a Purdue professor of communication who is internationally recognized for his research into the effects of mass media. "There is plenty of evidence that violence is not the highest-rated commodity among movie-goers, but you'd never know that based on what's showing any given week at the local cineplex."

Sparks and his wife Cheri Sparks, who holds a doctorate from Purdue's Department of Psychological Sciences, recently collaborated on an essay titled "Violence, Mayhem, and Horror" for the new book "Media Entertainment: The Psychology of its Appeal."

The couple reviewed existing research on the subject, took a critical look at public consumption data from the motion picture industry and examined the reasons why some people are attracted to violent images.

"We know that in some cases, violent action is attractive to a segment of viewers because of its novelty," Glenn Sparks says. "It's something you just don't see in everyday life. But some violent films are big with audiences for reasons that have very little to do with the blood and gore."

As an example, the couple cites the Oscar-nominated film "Pulp Fiction," which Cheri Sparks enjoyed immensely for its dark humor and clever dialogue. But Glenn Sparks found the violence depicted in the film too brutal to allow him to appreciate other elements of the story.

"The few existing research studies that have attempted to compare similar productions with or without violence tend to show that the violent versions are not necessarily enjoyed more than the non-violent versions," Glenn Sparks explains.

"Our personal experience with 'Pulp Fiction' seems to bear this out," adds Cheri Sparks. "Glenn would have found the film much more appealing with some of the violence edited out, and I would probably have enjoyed it just as much without it."

Both Glenn and Cheri Sparks see a need for additional experimental research into the role violence plays in the appeal of mass media entertainment.

"There's a lot of public discussion right now about how violent entertainment affects attitudes and may be related to aggressive behavior," Cheri Sparks says. "It could be very helpful to establish the precise role that violence plays in the enjoyment of media entertainment when considering these broader societal issues."

The book containing their essay can be ordered from the Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc. Web site.

CONTACTS: Glenn G. Sparks, (765) 494-3316 or (765) 494-3012;; Cheri Sparks, (765) 496-3694;

Career choices abound in hospitality
and tourism management

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – If current trends continue, professionals in the field of hospitality and tourism will find their career choices nearly limitless.

The industry is the fastest growing and changing retail field in the United States, experiencing growth of about 23 percent annually. Airlines, restaurants, schools, health care, catering, theme parks, resorts, country clubs and an array of other businesses have an ongoing demand for managers and service workers in this field.

In keeping with these changes, Purdue University in July changed the name of its Department of Restaurant, Hotel, Institutional and Tourism Management to the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

"We changed the name to better reflect the change and growth in the industry," says Ray Kavanaugh, head of the department. "The old name represents three components, but there is so much more than that in the industry. For example, we're adding a professional golf management program to our department. The new name is more inclusive of all the areas in which our graduates can work."

The program includes about 550 undergraduates and 50 graduate students working toward degrees in the science of hotel and tourism management.

"This field is the third-largest retail industry in the United States, right behind automobiles and food stores, and is one of the top three employers in 29 states," Kavanaugh says. "The strongest growth is in the golf industry, fine dining, and economy and upscale lodging."

According to figures from the National Restaurant Association, Americans spent $519 billion on restaurants and tourism in 1999, up about $90 billion from the previous year.

To fulfill the steadily increasing demand for professionals, Purdue offers associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees in this field, as well a doctoral degree in consumer science and retailing.

"An individual in this program learns something about every business discipline, including marketing, human resources, accounting and purchasing," Kavanaugh says. "We're working right now on getting a doctoral program in hospitality and tourism management."

Purdue hospitality and tourism management graduates have a 90 percent job placement, and can expect to earn between $25,000 and $40,000 their first year.

"There's so much a person can do with a degree in this field," says Beth Wood, career coordinator for hospitality and tourism. "You could open your own business, work for a cruise line, join a large company, or work for an international company."

Kavanaugh agrees, adding that the department will send six interns to China to work from July to November in the Jinling Hotel in Nanjing.

"Like all businesses, if a person is willing to work hard and is customer-oriented, they will go far," he says.

CONTACTS: Kavanaugh, (765) 494-4643,; Wood, (765) 494-4729,

Compiled by Sharon A. Bowker, (765) 494-9723;

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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