Fall is finally here and we’re quickly approaching October, or Action Speaks Season! This week we’re welcoming Natasha Dow Schull to our Las Vegas panel on October 3rd. Natasha is a cultural anthropologist and associate professor at MIT’s Program in Science, Technology, and Society. Natasha’s research has focused on the connection between technology and social culture, specifically when it comes to gambling. Her recent book, Addiction By Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas explores the relationship between compulsive gamblers and the designers behind this addictive technology.
Natasha is not only an anthropologist and scholar but also an accomplished filmmaker. In 1991, she directed and produced “Only In Vegas” a video documenting the Las Vegas wedding chapel industry. More recently, her documentary “BUFFET: All You Can Eat Las Vegas” examines the buffet as the ‘happiest and saddest place’ in America and has been has been screened multiple times on PBS and at numerous film festivals.
“Our goal was to capture both the playful, carnivalesque, celebratory aspects of the buffet, and its darker, disturbing side. Instead of casting the buffet as a site of middle-American gluttony — as in SouthPark, The Simpsons, and countless popular movies — we wanted to convey the joys, shames, and insights of actual buffet patrons…As American consumers, we have all known the pleasures and shames of excess – we have all tasted the buffet.”
From all-you-can-eat buffets and wedding chapels to slot machines and gambling addictions, Las Vegas is a whirlwind of utopic stimulations and dystopic hyperrealities all rolled into one. And we can’t wait to examine it all this upcoming season!