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Gendered Behavior in a Male Preserve: Role Playing at ESPN Zone Chicago Author(s): John F. Sherry, Jr., Robert V. Kozinets, Adam Duhachek, Benet DeBerry-Spence, Krittinee Nuttavuthisit, Diana Storm Source: Journal of Consumer Psychology, Vol. 14, No. 1/2 (2004), pp. 151-158 Published by: Society for Consumer Psychology Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1480382 Accessed: 03/02/2010 04:20
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151-158 OF JOURNAL CONSUMER 14(1&2), PSYCHOLOGY, 0 Inc. Erlbaum Associates, Copyright 2004,Lawrence
GenderedBehaviorin a Male Preserve:Role Playing at ESPN Zone Chicago
Departmentof Marketing,Kellogg School of Management NorthwesternUniversity
Departmentof Marketing,Kellogg School of Management NorthwesternUniversity
Adam Duhachek,Benet DeBerry-Spence,and KrittineeNuttavuthisit
Kellogg School of Management NorthwesternUniversity
The consumptionof spectacularexperienceis of increasinginterestto consumerresearchers. Muchof this consumptionoccursin themedenvironments. These environments arouseandmotivateconsumersin multifacetedways. In this article,we explore the ways in which gendered behavioris elicited and enactedin a sportsbar venue. Using ethnographic methods,we examine male role behavioras it is exhibitedat ESPNZone Chicago.We enfold ourinterpretation of this behaviorin theorizingaboutsport,spectacle, and mass mediation. So I'm in a footballpool andeveryso oftenwe all get together at ESPN Zone, with that competitivespiritto sit and watch the gamesandtalkabouteachothers' picks,(youknow)thatfellowof thing.Youget togetherwithguys you growupwith shiptype male thing.The andguys you meet overtime, as a just natural malethingatESPNZoneis a placewhereyou canjust watchall the gamesandthat'sone thingthatreally(ah)drivesthe testosterone.... Unlessyou bringa youngladywho truly, trulyenjoys testostersports,it's definitelya male dominatedatmosphere, one flying in the air.Womentheredon'tchangethe dynamics. Wedon'tchangetheway we react,anywhere fromadultcontent You're relanguagegoingontojust(youknow)lotsof drinking. not cognizantof thatfemalepresence.If anything, fethat ally malepresencehas to reallykindof adaptto ourenvironment or else, it's kind of like a "toughluck"situation. They've [ESPNZone] set it up in such a way where ... it's kind of like one of those ChuckE. Cheeses for grown-upsto enjoy games, or watchinga bunchof differentsports.It lends itself (ah)tojust kindof lettingyou unwind.It'skindof like an ultimate sports luxury,being away from home ... just be a couchbum.Guys sometimesuse it as theirescape (you know). Guys need an escape. Mark,AfricanAmericanmale, early 30s
The words of our informant as revealed in this interview illustrates the nature of gender roles within this complex, sports-themed environment. Similar accounts of the public performance of cultural models of gendered behavior, enacted on the stage of retail theater, replete with themes of agency and ritualized display, are explored in the balance of this essay. We demonstrate, in our ethnographic account of gender in the Zone, the ways retail environment and gender roles interact to inflect gendered behavior. We investigate the structuring of staged experience in F for be should sentto John Sherry, Department of Jr., Requests reprints which gender plays an important and almost autonomic role. Schoolof Management, Northwestern 2001 Marketing, Kellogg University, IL Sheridan Road,Evanston, 60208.E-mail: email@example.com- This staging of retail experience has been recognized by marern.edu keting pundits such as Joseph Pine (Pine & Gilmore, 1999)
andMichaelWolf (1999). Thatall the retailworld'sa stage is a metaphorripe with implicationsthatconsumerresearchers arefruitfullycontinuingto explore.Pioneerssuch as Michael Solomon (1983) and John Deighton (1992) have urgedconsumer researchersto consider the ramificationof role and performancesin consumerresearch.Our researchsuggests thatESPN Zone Chicagoprovidesthe male consumerwith a culturallens to enactthe role of athleteor tele-athlete.Forthe moment,ESPNZone Chicagois able to sell him his own personal stage, where otherscan easily see him as he sees himself, the centerof a universewherehis athleticexploits can be recognized.One informantcomments I get theimpression (youknow)they're to that trying create theimpression thisis a realrah, manthing. know rah You that I what mean? know, (the)allthesports all.Girls You with and heremustfeel, (hmm)like (uh) the rah,rah cheerleader. no I that's whatthisplaceis like.It'slikethere's Yeah, think stuff,it'sa game,therealgame... withthemenhere pretend toplayandthewomen tocheer[smiles andlaughs]. here big Whitemale,mid-20s Freddie,1 Performancessuch as that describedby Freddie, find male as whereasfemales arecast guests starring the lead character, in supportingroles. Still, if ESPN Zone Chicago provides a stage, who is the audience?Often it could be seen thatmale, starsperformfor their feself-made, and Zone-aggrandized male companions.This genderdynamicis drawnout further field notebook: in a revelatoryexcerptfrom a researcher's is his I watchas a youngmaleathlete hitting stride, falling of footballs the intoan easyrhythm slinging through many Field. Football of scaled-down movingtargets the Arena's at blondegirlfriend His pretty gazesadmiringly his perforAs down. thepasser as mance, thegameclockwinds stepsup the his the tempo,firingrapidly through targets, girlfriend fromthe return trough, feedingthe beginsto dig footballs fromrummaging in him seconds and passer saving precious thewellhimself. around enclothe A crowdof youngmaleshasgathered The mothe sure,watching performance intently. passer's havedrawn to mentum prowess and spectators thecageand betweenaththe alternate energized crowd.The onlookers out This and leticspeculation scoping thegirlfriend. gatherasit feedsviof boysis simultaneously and proud jealous ing off performance. cariously thepasser's her the As timeexpires, girlembraces boyfriend, fawning his as overhisachievement he accepts duewithquiet reserve, as and both scanning thescoreboard theeyesof thecrowd the afterthedeparting coucouplestepsfromthecage.Gazing admiration thepasser's for skill somereluctant ple, offering for and andsomeenthusiastic admiration thegirl'scharm, laof the unfairness/abiding menting paradoxical rightness the ethos some to-the-victor-belongs-the-spoils of sportsworld, of theboys takeup positions insidethe cage,hopingto re1All informantsare given pseudonymsin this account.
the peat,if notbetter, performance have witnessed. they just (Researcher Fieldnotes) In a rite straightfrom the Stone Age, his provingof gridiron prowess is ritualistic;both courtshipbehaviorand alpha display. From anotherperspective,it is for the anonymous others, the crowd of young males, that our star-for-the-moment performs.For them, his props include not merely the football field, and his talents, which he possesses temporarily,but also his female companion,whom he is exhibiting in some sense every bit as much as he is his athletic skill. There are performanceswithin performancesin the Zone. actualperExpectedperformances, promisedperformances, formances, rememberedperformances,and fantasizedperformances,and these multipleperformancestake place on a stage that, like the fields and courts of professional sports the themselves, structures rules of genderwithin highly conventionaland tightly defined boundaries. In this article,we investigatethe ways one retailenvironment influences these gender boundariesand, in turn, the way consumers themselves stage gendered role performances,conforminganddirectingbehaviorsas they navigate this mediatized social space. Our researcherexperience at ESPN Zone suggests these environments can be both genderedand gendering.They are genderedin theirabilities to fit genderperceptionsandgenderingin theirabilityto supportexistingnetworksof genderroles andrelations.We present ethnographicfindings that demonstratethe ways retail environments such as ESPNZone arouseparticular gendered consumerinteractionsand discuss the implicationsof these interactionsfor genderand themedenvironment theories.
THEORY OF THEMED RETAIL SPECTACLE Thatwe live in a cultureof spectaclewhereourexperienceis transmuted by marketers who thematize entertainment (Rugoff, 1995) is the startingpoint of our inquiry.Marketers theirwares,entrancing have alwaysfounda way to dramatize the potentialbuyerwith the allureof products. Fromthe rise of the department store (Domosh & Seager, the flowering of the flagship 2001; Sorkin, 1992) through brandstore, marketershave designed retail spaces that are fundamentally dramaturgical. Every aspect of the built envitrafficroutes, sight lines, lighting ronment-merchandising, decor,soundscape,and so forth-contributes to the blocking of consumers,who are transformed (both wittingly and unfrom audienceto cast members,and who become wittingly) for not merelybuyers,but also sourcesof amusement one another.As this complex retail staging unfolds, consumersare of often bothpropandactor.This appropriation consumersis a critical componentof the staging of retail theaterbecause the performance consumption,which is both a public enof actmentof retailtherapyandan inversionof guerrillatheater, is itself a principallurefor shoppers(Sherry,1998). This em-
ROLEPLAYINGAT ESPN ZONE CHICAGO
bedding of performanceart in commerce transformsconsumers into props as well as actors, highlighting the passive-active dialectic that fuels spectacle. Consumersenact as genderroles on a stage providedby the marketer, evident in the revelatoryincidentwe describe. Consumer researchershave explored retail theatrics in such venues as malls, departmentstores (Creighton, 1998), open air markets(Sherry, 1990), and flagship brand stores (Pefialoza, 1999; Sherry, 1998). Our investigation extends this explorationinto the realm of what sociologist George Ritzertermsthe new means of consumption(NMC). According to Ritzer (1999, p. 2), the retail settings that have come into existence since the end of WorldWarII have "dramatithe cally transformed natureof consumption." ESPN Zone Chicago, our field site, is distinctivefor more than its complexity compared to the sites of many earlier studies, such as many on the long list of sites mentionedby Ritzer (1999), comprisingsuch venues as themed malls and restaurants,casinos and cruise ships, sports stadiums and museums, and, increasingly,culturallyreconfiguredpublic and private institutions, such as planned communities and smarthomes. Otherpreviousinvestigationshave focused on whatmight arguablybe describedas sites of the feminization of public space. Retail theaterhas its originsin thejoint colonizationof public spaceby women, andthe transformation of women from domestic producersto prototypicallymodem consumers(Domosh & Seager, 2001). The "feminizedrituals of shopping"(Bowlby, 2001; Domosh & Seager,2001, p. 91; Miller, 2001) that are the locus of contest, cooperation, and cooptationbetween marketers consumers-the sites and of resistance and appropriation that the cocreation of confocus of consumerresumptionrequires-are the traditional search.ESPNZone Chicagois also a genderedspace, but our informantsrecognize it as essentiallymasculinein character. Arising as it does from its roots in neighborhoodsportsbars, athletic fields, and couch potato patches, ESPN Zone Chia of cago approximates male preserveanda playground men.
ticipatoryArena, with its banks of games, and the primarily spectatorial Screening Room, with its banks of monitors-ensure both the active and passive engagement of consumerswith sport.Gottdiener(2000) asserted,in a manner consistent with Belk (1995), that the pervasive commoditizationof life (e.g., themed malls, theme parks) has resultedin new forms of consumption(NFCs). NFCs are new to classic theories of consumption,and to modernlife, andareremarkable chiefly for the place-basednatureof their impact. These consumptionspaces are pleasure zones that serve both as medium and object of consumer behavior. Place is coproduced by marketers and consumers, and shapes, if not entirely determines,the consumptionexperience. Following Fischer and Gainer (1994), we use sport as a windowonto male genderrole behavior,but,unlikethem,we do not focus to any greatdegree on analyticdistinctionsbetween participation, and spectatorship, fandom.In our work at ESPNZone Chicago, we have heeded Real's (1998, p. 15) call to "problematize" what he calls "MediaSport" way a the "remoteanthropologist" behavior. might approach"strange" Because most analysesof this phenomenondeal with gender the image-in particular, focus is on female marginalization, and sexualization-and because there is stereotypification, an emerging interestin masculinity,we opted to pursuethe more neglectedrouteof male audienceresearch(Kinkema& Harris,1998). We are not concernedin this study with masand culinityso muchas the performance displayof masculinity in public spaces designed to elicit patternedbehaviors. The site evokes both the communalritualof the stadiumand personalfantasyof home televiewing.
METHODOLOGY We embarkedon a researchteam approachto a multifaceted ethnographicinquiry. For a period of 2 years, an ethnographicteamcomposedof 3 men and3 women froma variety of generations,cultures,and attitudestowardsportinhabited the venue across all hours and seasons of its operation.The use of such a diversified team is a critical departurefrom standard in This practicereported the literature. ethnographic a more nuancedexplorationof the phediversitypermitted nomenon than conventionalpracticeallows by enabling triangulationof individualobservationsin the formulationof a cogent, multiperspectival interpretation. Workingsingly, in obserdyads, andin triads,the field workersused participant to vation,interview,andphotography collect data.Interviews were transcribedverbatim, and logs of e-mail correspondence with participants were kept.Field-siteartifacts,such as Zone menus, Zone brochures,and other promotionalliteraturefoundon-site were preservedfor interviewinguse in protasks with informants. jective and autodriving In regular strategy sessions, researchersmet to analyze dataand shapethe emergentdesign of the study.Individually
RESEARCH SITE ESPN Zone Chicago comprises 35,000 squarefeet of spectacularconsumptionpotentialin thatcity's upscale shopping district.The site is ajoint venturebetweenthe Disney Corporationandthe sportsnetworkESPN. It is a complex hybridof restaurant,sports bar, and theme park that encourages patrons,througha host of simulations,arcadeandvirtualreality games, andubiquitoustelevision monitors,to immersethemselves as participantsand spectatorsin a phenomenological universe we describe as sportsworld.Patronsare invited to "Eat, Drink, Watch, Play" with the first clause of the servicescape's advertising slogan, and discouraged from imagining any other conceivable alternativestate of being with the slogan's conclusion:"WhatElse Could You Want?" The principalvenues of the servicescape-the primarilypar-
andas a group,qualitative analyticalcoding techniques,such as marginnoting, memoing,thematicnotation,and categorization (Belk, Wallendorf, Sherry,1989) were employedto & inform our analytical interpretations. These interpretations of consumer behavior were furtherfacilitated throughdiscussion and negotiationduringthe strategysessions. These sessions also guided the process of purposive sampling, as the diversity of our research team resulted in rich, multibased on interviews with inforperspectivalinterpretations mants differing in gender, age, ethnicity, and nationality. These interviews were conducted with Zone management and front-lineemployees, in additionto consumers. As a means of validatingour interpretations, informants were enlisted in the process of memberchecking as the project unfolded.This process temperedour analyticalabstractions with individualconsumers'lived experience.These interactionswith consumersfurtherinformedour analysis and increasedthe resonanceof our ethnographic findings.
the consumerbase. This was apparent ourmulticultural to research team, as well as tourists, such as Linda, a consumer visiting Chicago from China.She notes that is in with Uh,I think sport important American culture, the food andthe drink, all entertainment. it's I thinkthat's whatAmerican culture Spending is. money, playing games,
drinking,partying,eating ... all Americanculture.
Chinese mid-30s Linda, female, In this setting, we see that customersboth consume and These ideas are capturedby some inproducethe "culture." formantswho noted,"Everybody hereis American,andthere are American sports on TV."Another informantremarked, "Mostof the sportsaroundhere,in here,areof Americanculture." Moreover,for consumersthis familiarculturalelement appearsto take on significantroles. the Oh,if you look around bar,you see a guy witha Dale Earnhart t-shirt,and somebodywalkingaroundwith a Raider's t-shirt there. America over And lovessports, mean I or for you know,sports better for worse,we deifyathletes. moreimportant presidential than There candidates. They're are somepeoplethathavetheirown life with sports.You know, theyhavetheir andtheyhavetheirteam.Andthe job teamis a bigger thantheir deal job. Whitemale,mid-40s Dick,American Unlike othererstwhileNMC venues such as PlanetHollywood andthe Jekyll andHyde Club,ESPNZone has thrived, expanding to eight stores nationwide since the first Zone openedin Baltimorein 1998. PerhapsESPNZone Chicagois buckingthis trendbecause of the universalappealthatlies at the confluenceof NMC andthe social institutionof sport.At ESPN Zone Chicago, it is sportthatprovidesa multifaceted characterto such performances.Palan (2001) advised consumer researchersto study the situations and contexts in which gender roles are performed, as the setting may heighten gender identificationand salience for consumers. Ourfield site lends itself to just such an exploration, because it cathectsgenderso strongly.
EMBODIEDCULTUREAT ESPN Zone Researchers have focused broadlyon the motivationfor tourism and the regulationof tourist behavior,producingarguments on either side of the themes of touristsas free agents questing for authentic experience, tourists as exploited pawns consuming artificialexperience,and touristsas fragmentedsubjectswith no unifyingbelief in the absolutevalue of experience.Ourfield site typifies such refraction apparof issues. As a genderedspace borderingon a ently paradoxical male preserve,ESPN Zone Chicago drawstouristsin search of verisimilitudeand fantasy,of proliferationand reduction of choice, of retail and streettheater,of distracteddiversion andcriticalrealism.Often,consumersmock the gamingeven as they embrace it, providing metasocial commentary on their participation.Suspended in an androgenic marinade that is universallydescribedas "overwhelming" as pro(or of ducing "sensoryoverload"),touristsare hyperaware their bodies as they negotiatethe site, as evinced in the words of one of our touristinformants: What isn'tgoingon orcontained thisplace? in camLights, wouldsay, era,action!It's muchlike whatyou Americans So "very Hollywood." muchto hearandsee at onetime.It's of. lose hard keeptrack Onecouldperhaps sightof oneself to if (hmm) careful. not WhiteFrench Michael, male,mid-30s The manic sensationof operatingin overdrive,seen by many international visitors to be a particularly Americancondition with devotionto monumentalism, kitsch, and heroes) (along whose excessiveness is momentarily attractive long as it s (as not exported),appearsto be profoundlyengaging to the locals. ESPN Zone Chicago primarilyfacilitatesconsumption of American cultureby Americans, who representmost of
SPORTSWORLD AT A GLANCE It'sjustlikea realgameatthestadium. the When scores pop canhearthe otherpeopleshouting or up you "yeah" "boo" andit'sjustlikebeingata NotreDamegamewheneveryone around is shouting. don'tknow)I juststarted (I you waving in my hands my seatwiththefolkson theTV. American Dave,African male,late30s Sport has become spectacularizedand as this informant enumerates,thereis a connected spiritbetween the real and the virtual sports fan. Contests themselves become embedded in, if not peripheralto, the events ostensibly facilitating
AT ROLE PLAYING ESPNZONE CHICAGO 155
their delivery. In fact, televised sports contests are situated within a context of culturalpageantry(Guttman,1992; Holt, 1995; MacAloon, 1984; Martin& Miller, 1999) thatincludes frontieradveractivities,commentators, pre-/mid-/postgame in festive comportment the stands,and a tising interventions, host of other diversions.This pageantryis clearly visible in the spectatorialovertones suffusing ESPN Zone. That these spectacles often unfold as melodrama,especially as broadwith whom the fan cast by wise and knowing commentators invites spectatorsto employ sport is encouragedto identify, as a vehicle of fantasy and projection (Rose & Friedman, 1997), immersingthemselves in a simulatedsportsworld. ESPN Zone Chicago immerses its patrons in the sportsworld.Real, virtual, and broadcastengagementinterpenetrateone another.Consumers shuttle rapidly between the roles of participant and spectator,as noted by this informant:"I enjoy watching otherpeople who are interestingor good at the games they play as muchas I enjoyplayinggames myself."Consumersareremindedconstantlythatthey are at the epicenterof sportsworldas they merge with its continuofficersregardthe ESPN brandas ous production.Corporate a "grouphug of sports fans," and identify both comprising the brand'smanagersand its consumerfranchise as "fans." This ethos of inclusivenessand communitasalso encourages an appreciationfor the irreverentoutspokennessembodied by the network's celebrity broadcastersand commentators (Larson,2001, p. 23). One informantnoted where is everyone Sport a verymaledominated of thing, type At has somekindof commentary. ESPNZoneyoucanlook and faceto facewithyourcomrades say "Itoldyou,Randy Mossis garbage DrewBledsoeis reallya greatquarter and
back." ... You can feel like an expert, because it's a forum where you can raise your opinions back and forth freely.
here it's not too muchof uh a stretchfrom whatyou would be (like) doing on a Monday night. Jonathan,AfricanAmericanmale, early 20s
Sportis a site of the negotiationof genderedidentity.Despite the long, discontinuous,andrapidlyacceleratingparticipationof women (Guttmann,1992), sportis still frequently understoodas an exaltationof masculinity.For example, in surrender the communitasof the fraternal to bondingof fans, the ceremonial enactmentand celebrationof male identity of are powerfulmotivationsfor the performance sport.Jonathan's opening remarksillustratethere is also an underlying affiliationbetween man and sportand an attemptto combine these two relations(i.e., sportandwomen) in one place. Consider some otherobservations: I thinkit's anidealenvironment takea group buddies, to of malefriends. When think about teamsports usuit's your you It's camaraderie. allya maleorfemalesport. whenyoubuild If youlookaround mostlymenhere. it's
Dave, AfricanAmericanmale, late 30s
You're person feels liketheexpert. the that
Mark,AfricanAmericanmale, early 30s
In a social milieu in which male-to-malecompanionship is highly valued, but must be carefully defined, sports provide a perfect outlet for this closeness, and ESPN Zone Chicago and other sports bars like it provide the perfect locations. Anotherinformantsimilarlyremarks,"There'sa level of camaraderie that'spresenthere that'sdifferent(you know) than any otheratmosphere..." These are spaces in which socially acceptablegood clean fun can be pursuedby men. It is a place where "buddies" can be together,in which men can watch men's sports,in which camaraderies be establishedand maintained. can in Seating arrangements the Screening Room are also a source of gender-typing. "Mike," a White male in his mid-20s statedthat
I'm a man, so I like recliners.Veryinterestingandvery comfortable.Obviously in these chairs ... it's awesome!
Moving beyond the virtuallyembodiedexperienceof athleticism itself, we discuss the consumer'sexperience of the metasocialsignificanceof sport.In termsof Stratton's (2001) theory of culturalfetishism, sport, and the athlete who emas bodies it, can be interpreted a "fantasticrepresentation of phallic power,and its image is one with which men "identify narcissistically."
CONFLUENCE OF SPORT AND GENDER
It's different [ESPN Zone]. Most of the time when I come when I'm with the guys, I'm just watchingthe game. Wejust watchthe game. I would bringa dateto ESPN cause it's inexpensive and you can do the same thing as at home. It's focused aroundguys, the game, and the big screen. So even when you have a dateit's the same thing,you can do the same thing ... you don't have to not watch the TV. When you're
His comments point to the invisibility of his own gender awareness.Mike's commentsuggests thatmen fit into recliners like handsinto gloves. The fittingnessof this form of furnitureseems to derivefromits symbolicproximityto notions of throneness,relaxation,and television, the master of the house reclined aftera long day's hardwork. Foodselectionandpreparation drawsrelatedcommentary:
It was good ... loved the food, great beverages. I mean I
that thought (uhyouknow)thattheymakegoodbarfood ... that theappetizers great,knew already are I that that's (uh) why
I camehere.Infactwe didn'tevenhavea meal,wejust hadseveraldifferentappetizers all grazedon andthat'sbecausewe we knew the kind of stuff they have ... I mean Lordknows it's a coronaryarteryplatter,but that's what we're here for!
Tim's culinarycomments,we find some highly Interpreting genderedreadingsaboutwhichmenuitems constitute"man's food."Men's food tendsto be "bar food,"the type of food that can be eatenquickly,with one hand,gulpeddown while talking, drinking,or watchingtelevision. Ourmale informantsat ESPNZone Chicago arenot actuallyinterestedin fine dining experiences. These more civilized experiences are absent from Tim's commentsperhapsbecause they are not the domainof men. He takesthis lack of diningto anextremeby eleat vatinghis own lack of a meal. A truehunter-gatherer heart, Timsimply"grazed." food, consistingof ingestionof mulBar meantfor the grazingof those tiple appetizers,is apparently and who musthunttheirpreyandgathercamaraderie calories in bars.Finally,themachismoof the dietinspiresanactof bravado. Wisely invokingthe deity, Tim notes with aplombthat a the food he eats in these places is "acoronaryarteryplatter" heartattackwaitingto happen.He suggeststhatthegreaseand fatof whattastesthisgood mustbe badforyou,butthatthedardoes not hesitateand, indeed, even welcomes ing adventurer this vital andpotentman food. This cardio-meat-sportmotif in of manlinessis a Chicago archetype,immortalized the resketch on SNL and embodied in "Da curring "Superfans" Coach,"Mike Ditka. Cynthia,a Black female in her mid-30s suggests of ESPN Zone Chicago that It's (ah)verymalefocused.I meanthe menuis verymuch It's towards men.Well,it's [themenu]verylimited. geared on sliders' withgrilled onions] it,that's [mini hamburgers got of anexample whatI wouldcall very,verymucha manfothat cusedmeal... whichis a hamburger hasjust a pieceof it's a bread, between pieceof bread. Like Tim, Cynthiareadsbarfood as man food. Not only the sports space itself, but the food in this space is gendered. Sliders are "a man focused meal,"likely because they are high calorie, high fat, contain red meat, contain bread, and and are appetizer-like quickto eat. Cynthia,a woman,apparreadsESPNZone Chicago's food offeringsas gendered ently them.Thus, almale, similarlyto the way thatTim interprets thoughmen andwomen routinelypartakeof the ESPN experience, xur informantsinterpretthat experience as having a masculine cast, as the following capstone commentaryon ESPN Zone Chicago as a "guy's heaven" suggests. a "Archibald," White male in his 20s notes that "Yeah,definitely with the La-Z-boys [recliners], that was great. The guys arechompingdown on theirbig cigarsandtheirplateof wings and theirbeer and they've got theirfeet up and in the leatherrecliningchairs." Archibald,ESPN Zone Chicago To is both heavenly and heavily masculinizedbased on the rich fantasies that pervade the staged social spaces within its walls. The food-fat-filled plates of chicken wings-and masculine. The beverages-beer, glorious beer-is recliners (with even their name being gendered) La-Z-Boy
enforces a pose thathas come to be associatedwith leisurely in masculinity,the benefitsof being male, of being enthroned one's home palace, of being king. The "chomping down"of "big cigars" seems to connote imagery from '50s mobster flicks, Wall Street players, and Hollywood media tycoons-men of power, places of success, manly players in the games of men. Informantsalso reveal their hypnotic enchantmentwith the vast constellation of screens, sounds, and information displays of the broadcaststimuli. One informantexpresses his brainstimulationin these words: I enjoythestatistics, upto theminute stats. canwatch I right thegameand(uh)lookupand(uh)really who'shaving tell a The strong andwho'shaving subpar day performance. scoreboard further for enthusiasm your prompts to continue you teamin knowing other how teams theleaguearedoing... in in a senseit further energizes you. African American Robert, male,late30s The Zone's grandiose television montage holds many male consumerstransfixed.For our male informants,the big screen's enormityinvited their affinity,an attachment the to big screen stemming as much from its sheer grandiosityas from its visual and auditory clarity. One male informant, "Dyson"advancesthis interpretation: a Haveyoueverseena guynotget excitedabout big screen TV?If youcomeintomyhouse,I don'tcarewhatexpensive I I artworkhavehanging, amgoingto say"Dude, comelook at thisTV! Yaknow? Lookat thepicture!" I thinkthere So beena thing mymind. likewatching in hasalways I on sports big TVs. As Dyson expresses,a componentof the Zone experience arises from the scale at which it is produced. Penetrating deeper into the culturalimplicationsof his utterances,they provide wonderfulexamples of the genderednatureof conmedia audiencing.Television watchingseems, in temporary account(as it is in La-Z-BoypositioningandbrandDyson's masculinebehavior.As Tim ining), to be a quintessentially ferentiallyjuxtaposed "grazing"with "dining," finding the formermale andthe latterfemale, Dyson is herejuxtaposing the high cultureof artappreciation ("expensiveartwork... ") with the seemingly lowbrow appreciationof a large-screen television. There is more to this apparentlyworking-class valorization than meets the eye, however. Dyson's technofetishization points not only to a valorization of audiencingandrelaxation,but also to the same sortsof capitalist technological utopian imperativesthat drive Western, American,and much of global society. Dyson's fetishization of the largenessof the television screenis a projectedfantasy aboutthe expansionof self thatoccurs throughbeing able to select from a vast numberof channels.It is aboutthe control
ROLEPLAYINGAT ESPN ZONE CHICAGO
of other'sinternalspaces, throughthe (remote)controlof exteriorized inner states that are projected on screen. The masculinistexpansionof self thatis inferredby the largetelevision screen is a type of omnipotence,an association with power and size that exalts males in the Zone. Seen throughthe lens of our informants,the effects of the high tech gadgets on display (e.g., television touch screens that informantsmanipulateat will, informationboards updated to the minute, "monstrous"big screen), resonantly spectacularin both form and function,conspireto producea complex of emotions. We again see these sentimentswere echoed in an interview conducted with Brian and Michael, two White males in theirlate 30s: Brian:"Wewantedto be able to watchthe game on the big screen." "Andthe big screen ..." Interviewer: Michael: "Makesit bigger" [said with a crescendo and big smile] Brian:"Whynot?Bigger is better.We aremen after all ... I mean, because I can watch a regularsize TV at my home. I want somethingout of the ordinarywhen I go out and a TV this large is that."
choosing from limited menus of unhealthy food, and leisurely reclination recreation, and force-fit into particular perspectivesof male-female relationships,male behaviorin ESPN Zone Chicagois in manyways as themedas the architectureitself.
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CONCLUSION This article provides an overview of the gendered and gendering effects of a complex themed environment.Our of multipersonethnography ESPNZone Chicagorevealsthat themed environmentscan tap into and reproduceparticular genderroles andrelations,providingmultiplecues for appropriategenderedbehavior.In ESPN Zone Chicago,these cues derivedfrommale-centeredsports,wherecamaraderie, comstardom,exhibition before adoring audiences and petition, women as trophiesandformsof entertainment. would exWe to see widely divergent gender performancesin radipect cally differentthemed spaces. Our argumentis that themed spaces areboth genderedand gendering.By being gendered, we mean to indicate that they are positioned in the marketviews place as attractiveto those alreadyholding particular of genderroles and relations.By being gendering,we mean to indicate that they also reinforcea system of existing gender roles and relations. Entering into the themed space of ESPN Zone Chicago's sportsbar thereforeimplies entering into particular patternsof social and genderrelations. Finally,on a more socially criticalnote, ESPN Zone Chicago functions as space that, in its unreflectivereliance on consumers'usually unreflectivereliance on situationalcues, that providesa set of social structures can be as oppressively constrainingto male as to female gender roles. Forced into roles where they must athleticallyperformto particular skill and style specifications,competitivelycast againstpeers, alternately boxed into affiliative relations of camaraderie,
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