A phenomenon bursting with an amalgamation of ideas about people, lifestyles, attitudes, culture and possession. An experience where viewers can either associate with ideas conveying similarities in interests, or alternatively establish for themselves a view of a completely different manner of living. This unique experience has become available through the transnational flow of popular culture through the media, where we see the implications of cultural hybridisation taking a firm grasp on local industry.
“Cultural hybridization is an emerging trend which occurs as a result of the romance between two cultures through transnational media communication technologies… the breeding of newer cultures has occurred with the aid of transnational communications through the global mass media, including satellite and cable television” (Iyorza & Ekwok, 2014).
This transnational movement is ultimately blurring the boundaries between traditional culture and contemporary incorporations, which can be seen especially through the ‘Nollywood’ film industry of Nigeria. Nollywood is currently the third largest film industry in the world, drawing upon circumstantial ideas from other civilisations including Argentina, Korea, Mexico and Venezuela, and merging these notions with protagonists of traditional significance.
“While there is no doubt that Nollywood exhibits the hybrid character that is obvious in many forms of African popular arts, it is its acute notation of locality that gives it an unprecedented acceptability as the local cinematic expression in Nigeria and indeed in Africa” (Onookome Okomem, 2007). Selling 50,000 copies of such films on average per week in local markets stalls and shops, I wholeheartedly agree with Okome here, as this somehow harmonic combination of intercultural elements has created an ongoing sense of relevance for Nigeria and its bordering African communities. This also serves as an example of how a periphery country can construct a unique niche and radiate a positive blend of enjoyment and authenticity for its local viewers. Although the uniqueness of Nollywood as a genre and its low production quality is frowned upon by certain Western film cultures, the supposed tension between global media influence and locality is somewhat insubstantial in this instance.
However, this sense of congruency is not always the case in other transnational flows of popular culture…
The traditional Japanese art-forms of ‘manga’ and ‘anime’ are increasing their popularity across the global media market; moulded and crafted to produce a unique, hybridised viewing experience for the Western audience. The highly stylised and somewhat abstract representations of character have had a profound influence on Western comic art in the past, and has more recently been trying to wriggle its way into the Hollywood film industry (Mio Bryce, 2010). The recent release of the film ‘Ghost in the Shell’ (an adaptation of the original Japanese animated film released in 1995) sparked much controversy. American actress Scarlett Johansson was cast as the main protagonist, raising questions regarding the whitewashing of Asian roles and the subsequent impact on tradition.
So we can see that transnational flow of popular culture through the media influences local cinema; drawing from elements of tradition and modernism to produce a new and unique experience for viewers. I feel as though there is a desire to participate in cultures other than our own, yet the product of this hybridity can influence communities in more ways than one…
- Berman, E. A Comprehensive Guide to the Ghost in the Shell Controversy (2017). TIME Entertainment [online]. Available at: http://time.com/4714367/ghost-in-the-shell-controversy-scarlett-johansson/ (Accessed 21 August 2017).
- Bryce, M. Barber, C. Kelly, J. Kunwar, S. & Plumb, A. Manga and Anime: Fluidity and Hybridity in Global Imagery (2010). Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies [online]. Available at: http://www.japanesestudies.org.uk/articles/2010/Bryce.html (Accessed 21 August 2017).
- Iyorza, S & Ekwok, L. Global media and cultural hybridisation in the 21st century in Nigeria (2014). Journal of Social Sciences, Vol. 3, No. 3, Pp. 408-416 [online]. Available at: http://www.centreofexcellence.net/J/JSS/Vol3/No3/JSSarticle3,3_3_pp408-416.pdf (Accessed 21 August 2017).
- Okome, O. Nollywood: spectatorship, audience and the sites of consumption (2007). Postcolonial text, 3.2.