WBEZ | PBS http://www.wbez.org/tags/pbs Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Bears fans react to debate over concussions http://www.wbez.org/news/bears-fans-react-debate-over-concussions-108905 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/flickr_mikemorbeck.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A senior football player at Lane Tech high school <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-10-10/news/chi-injured-lane-tech-players-family-to-attend-game-20131010_1_waiting-game-sister-critical-condition">remains in critical condition today</a> after suffering a severe head injury at last Friday&rsquo;s game.</p><p>It&rsquo;s the latest, and perhaps most local, in a string of news stories about football-related brain injuries.</p><p>On Tuesday, PBS FRONTLINE began airing a much-anticipated documentary, called<em> <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/league-of-denial/">League of Denial</a></em>, based on a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/League-Denial-Concussions-Battle-Truth-ebook/dp/B00DXKJ6IQ">book</a> by the same name, about football&rsquo;s connection to long-term brain damage.</p><p><a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2013/10/league_of_denial_documentary_is_a_cautionary_tale_for_every_parent_and_should_give_pause_to_every_nf.html">Some</a> <a href="http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1803918-league-of-denial-strikes-at-the-heart-of-the-nfl-and-football-as-we-know-it">say</a> the documentary, and the companion book by Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada, could fundamentally change how people view the game of football.</p><p>WBEZ wondered what kind of impact the overall debate has had on local football fans. We headed to Soldier Field two hours before kick-off Thursday night to find out.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s what a few Bears fans had to say:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;(The NFL is) doing a lot to improve the game, but it&rsquo;s a little too late for the guys that have been playing for 20, 30 years.&rdquo; - Paul Loftus</p><p>&ldquo;It changed the perspective a little bit, but we love football. We&rsquo;re a football family.&rdquo; - Chris French</p><p>&ldquo;I think everybody, before they get into high-level football, should be aware of the risks. But I think, everything in life is kind of a risk-reward decision. So (players) should be aware of the risk before they make their decision, because I feel like up to this point, it&rsquo;s been a lot of, we don&rsquo;t really know how bad concussions are, but now they know.&rdquo; - Val Pinskiy</p><p>&ldquo;If I had a son, I would look at the way, they play football. But as far as watching a game, that&rsquo;s what you pay for. They&rsquo;re kind of like gladiators.&rdquo; - Kurt Schlickman</p></blockquote><p>What do you think about the link between football and long-term brain damage? Has it changed how you view professional football? College? High school? Pop Warner?</p><p>Have you seen the PBS FRONTLINE documentary? What did you think? Note: League of Denial: The NFL&rsquo;s Concussion Crisis airs again tonight, Friday, Oct. 11 at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. on WTTW. Find other local times <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/local-schedule/">here</a>.</p><p><em>Share your thoughts in the comment section below or e-mail WBEZ producer Becky Vevea at <a href="mailto:bvevea@wbez.org">bvevea@wbez.org</a>.</em></p><p><em>Monica Eng contributed to reporting. Becky Vevea is a producer for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 11 Oct 2013 15:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/bears-fans-react-debate-over-concussions-108905 The perplexing popularity of Downton Abbey http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-02/perplexing-popularity-downton-abbey-105316 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center; "><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/sybil31lf1.jpeg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px; " title="Downton Abbey (courtesy PBS.org)" /></div><p>First things first. If you haven&#39;t yet watched last Sunday&#39;s episode of the wildly popular &quot;Downton Abbey&quot;,&nbsp;then you need to know that this post is a bit of a spoiler.</p><p>And believe me, I have no interest in spoiling what for many Americans is their favorite television show.</p><p>Okay, that&#39;s a bit of a stretch. The <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/09/arts/television/downton-abbey-audience-swells-for-seasons-first-episode.html?_r=0">7.9 million viewers</a> who watched the January premiere of Season 3 did indeed break records for PBS, which outperformed all the major US networks except CBS. Three months earlier though, 9 million tuned in for the UK premiere - a number that was actually down from the previous year&#39;s debut.&nbsp;</p><p>Compared to the tidal wave of folks (100 million plus) who will watch &quot;Super Bowl XLVII&quot;, the PBS audiences are mere rivelets. Still, &quot;Downton Abbey&quot;&nbsp;has all the hallmarks of what, at least these days, constitutes a mass cultural event.</p><p><a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/01/entertainment-us-amazon-downtonabbey-idUSBRE91014820130201">Amazon </a>just signed a deal to lock in digital distribution of the show. There are already endless &quot;Downton&quot; spoofs out there. Still, you know a show&#39;s really hit the cultural sweet spot when Sesame Street weighs in, with its <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPqL-1aSbn0">&quot;Upside Downton Abbey&quot;</a> parody.&nbsp; Even my local and fiercely independent bookstore has been won over, and devoted an entire shelf to books about the food, fashion and &quot;real&quot; life antecedents of Crawley-world.</p><p>So, what is it about &quot;Downton Abbey&quot; - why is it so damn popular?</p><p>For one thing, it goes down easy: This is a show that&#39;s far more feel-good than good-for-you. Despite its &quot;Masterpiece Theatre&quot; pedigree and period drama pretensions, Downton&#39;s stock characters and wild story developments are the stuff of pure melodrama. Two sisters quarreling over the deathbed of a third? Hello &quot;Downton&quot;, &quot;Dynasty&quot; and &quot;Dallas&quot; are calling and want their plots back!</p><p>Meanwhile the show tackles its history with the same list-making gusto that sites like <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/">BuzzFeed</a> use to parse contemporary culture. &quot;Downton&quot; doesn&#39;t so much dramatize the early twentieth century as present its &quot;10 greatest moments&quot;: Titanic sinks! Women&#39;s suffrage! Socialism! World War One! Influenza!</p><p>And the sniping over social mores around the dinner table/in the drawing room? How is that any different from the dynamics that animate &quot;Keeping up with the Kardashians&quot; or one of &quot;The Real Housewives&quot; or &quot;The Wives of&quot; shows? Turns out whether you live among aristocrats, celebrities or the spouses of plastic surgeons, everyone just wants to know one thing: &quot;Who invited <em>her</em>?!&quot;</p><p>So, &quot;Downton&quot; is a soap opera. Tastefully lit, generally well-done, but still: A soap opera. Doesn&#39;t mean the show is bad, or merely a guilty pleasure. On the contrary: it has great cultural savvy (with its &quot;Downton Abbey collection&quot; and its book clubs and its Twitter &quot;events&quot;). Still, I don&#39;t think the success of &quot;Downton&quot; is due solely to PBS&#39;s efforts to come up with a hit formula or tap into the shifting sensibilities of its audiences. Rather, I think they happened upon a set of subjects that have proven to be deeply appealing because they&#39;re so familiar. Those post-Edwardian aristocrats, with their fussy but beautiful fashions, their strict ideas about proper behavior, their master and servant edicts? Though we&#39;re separated by a good deal of time and tide, we still have plenty in common.</p><p>Take the class preoccupations that permeate the world of &quot;Downton Abbey.&quot; Americans like to think we&#39;ve created a society that&#39;s allowed us to escape the confines of class. And yet if popular culture is any indication, we&#39;re absolutely obsessed with figuring out our respective social standings, how the other half - upper or lower - lives. So we tune into &quot;Wife Swap,&quot; or &quot;Here Comes Honey Boo Boo&quot; or even &quot;The Wire.&quot;</p><p>Like &quot;Downton,&quot; those shows depict class consciousness at its most complicated, by presenting characters who, through a variety of circumstances, elude or reject or remain stifled by their station in life. And, as more Americans find themselves relegated to living &quot;downstairs,&quot; these shows, &quot;Downton&quot; included, offer a compelling way to come to terms with our anxiety - or guilt - over the consequences of our bifurcated economy. No less a cultural expert than Ru Paul said of &quot;Downton:&quot; &quot;Everybody can&#39;t live upstairs, I&#39;m sorry. We&#39;re sold the idea that we&#39;re all created equal, but actually we&#39;re not.&quot;</p><p>That we sort a lot of this stuff out in our popular amusements also inextricably links us to the world and the people of what will likely be forever more the &quot;Downton&quot; era. They too were buffeted and exhilarated by a rapidly shifting world, one transformed by new forms of communication, new powers of mobility, new technologies. And just like us, new cultural forms (sports and cinema for them, reality tv and social media for us) became ways to both express and understand the change going on around them.</p><p>That connection is made thrillingly clear thanks to James Kenyon and Sagar Mitchell, who in 1897, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Electric-Edwardians-Films-Mitchell-Kenyon/dp/B000FSME60">founded a film company.</a></p><p>These two enterprising gents would travel around England, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0QkJNqYpFM">making films of everyday people</a> going about their ordinary business: Leaving the factory after a day&#39;s work, or watching a soccer match, or just hanging out with the family on the weekend. They&#39;d shoot during the day and then exhibit the footage that very same night, in music halls or at fairgrounds. Calling them &quot;local films for local people,&quot; they&#39;d lure in spectators (and drum up business sponsors) by billing the screenings as a chance to &quot;see yourselves as others see you.&quot; And come they did, apparently in droves.</p><p>The films were rediscovered, restored and recirculated over the past 15-odd years. And though they could be considered mere novelties or amusements of their day, watching them over a century after they were made is almost a shocking experience.</p><p>These people don&#39;t look antiquated or stiff or out of time. They look like us. And they look <em>at </em>us: Boldly, directly, flirting with the camera like the best of our reality celebrities. They&#39;re our truest ancestors, the first &quot;modern&quot; people, at least in a cultural sense.</p><p>Kenyon and Mitchell said of their lightening quick turnaround skills &quot;we take them and make them.&quot; But they tapped into something deeper about the pleasures and potential of early modern culture&#39;s capacity for immediacy and interactivity. Here was a way to get to know, or just &quot;get&quot; one another, our daily preoccupations, our reactions to the changing times. That could be a night&#39;s entertainment, or just as equally vital information, in a era when so many ways of life were being tossed aside, or desperately held onto.</p><p>Isn&#39;t that the same impulse that drives our desire to take a picture and then immediately post it to Instagram? Or to share tidbits about our commute or work-a-day world preoccupations on Facebook? Or to post our real-time reactions to &quot;Downton&quot; or the Oscars or the presidential debates on Twitter? I mean, why turn on the TV when you can just as easily &quot;watch&quot; the show by tuning into your stream?</p><p>Maybe, as a friend of mine&#39;s 5 year-old-said when introduced to Facebook, social media is just a place where we show off: Our modern day amusement hall. But maybe in our desire to share things &ndash; from the soap operas we watch to the deaths we experience &ndash; we&#39;re trying to create a meaningful experience. We don&#39;t want to just witness the spectacles around us. We want to be active participants in them.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Sun, 03 Feb 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-02/perplexing-popularity-downton-abbey-105316 New documentary about family of Congolese refugees airs tonight on WTTW http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-29/new-documentary-about-family-congolese-refugees-airs-tonight-wttw-84419 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-March/2011-03-29/pushing_the_elephant_fb_01.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The new documentary <a href="http://www.artsengine.net/pushing_the_elephant/" target="_blank"><em>Pushing the Elephant</em></a> is part of the PBS series “<a href="http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/about/" target="_blank">Independent Lens</a>.” The film tells the story of Congolese refugee Rose Mapendo and her daughter Nangabire. They were separated during the ethnic violence that plagued the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1990s. Rose managed to escape to Phoenix with nine of her ten children, and the film follows her reconciliation with Nangabire, the one left behind. We’ll speak with Rose and co-director <a href="http://www.artsengine.net/about/staff#beth" target="_blank">Beth Davenport</a> about the film, which airs tonight on WTTW.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><embed allowscriptaccess="sameDomain" bgcolor="#ffffff" name="Rose&amp;Nagabire" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer" quality="high" src="http://www.artsengine.net/vid/Rose_and_Nagabire.swf" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" align="left" width="640" height="395"></p> Tue, 29 Mar 2011 15:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-29/new-documentary-about-family-congolese-refugees-airs-tonight-wttw-84419