Global film

Film.

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…

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We need to open up!

It’s no secret that substandard treatment and recognition of international persons who come to Australian shores today is a prevalent issue, and this has had detrimental effects on perceptions of Australian morals and values across the border. The issue of internationalising education and cultural competence within Australia is one that must be improved if we are to repair this image, and with its amelioration comes a more enjoyable and enriched experience for our overseas population.

“Education is more than a profit making business, it is an educational and social experience with immense potential to enrich lives… if international education is to continue to succeed as a business in this country, the student experience must keep improving as an intercultural encounter” (Marginson, 2012).

To me, this is a serious matter of equity and student wellbeing, and here I agree with Marginson that the route to rectification lies with strengthening the relationships between Australian and international students to create a sense of social security and produce educational value for both parties. It has interestingly also become apparent that the majority of international students strive to achieve better relations with local students in schools and universities, however recent studies have revealed that this desire is generally not mutually shared (Vogl and Kell, 2011).

But why is this the case? Why is intercultural mingling and ethnic division a choice?

The answer is not entirely clear, however it may have something to do with the strong element of pride and patriotism that has uninvitedly overwhelmed the Australian population. Ethnocentrism is based on the attitude that one particular social group is superior to another; a concept that has been strongly associated with Aussie citizens who are supposedly “trapped within an Australian-centred view of a diverse and complex world” (Marginson, 2012: 2).

I do believe that this attitude is sculpted by our cultural background which creates an element of parochialism – a lack of media exposure and access to communication channels resulting in a limited knowledge about other cultures. I can’t help but wonder if the media channels that we do receive our information from accurately educate and inform us about happenings in the world. Nonetheless, this less than openminded attitude may play a role in hindering the process of internationalising education and cultural competence, as being a college student myself, I am constantly bombarded with pessimistic chit-chat regarding clashes in personality, lifestyle and interests from my fellow local Aussies about their international flatmates.

“All he talks about is his expensive cars! You’re not in Dubai anymore mate.”

“Can’t believe she doesn’t like the food here… I can’t see how the U.S. could do any better…”

Ethnocentrism and parochialism, even in mild forms such as this, results in a deprivation of educational opportunity.

We need to open up.

Broadening our awareness of these differentiations across nations is the key to an improved cultural competence. In return for an enriched Australian experience for our international students, the increased interaction we offer will develop our communication skills and widen the scope of our knowledge that we may not have access to in the global media.

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References:

  • Kell, P & Vogl, G. International Students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes, Centre for Research on Social Inclusion (2007).
  • Marginson, S. International education as self -formation (2012). University of Wollongong, Pp 1 – 11.
  • Mounsey, S. Ethnocentrism and Attitudes to Cultural Diversity and Immigration: A Review ; Ethnocentrism and Attitudes to Cultural Diversity and Immigration in Western Australia (2007). [online]. Available at: http://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses_hons/1145 (Accessed 12 August 2017).

Globalisation vs. Tradition

The term ‘globalisation’ and the effects that follow its widespread path across local terrain can be interpreted in a variety of ways; both for the greater good of the world and expectations of the worst.

It’s meaning entails “an international community influenced by technological development… characterised by a worldwide increase in interdependence, interactivity, interconnectedness and the virtually instantaneous exchange of information” (O’Shaughnessy and Stadler, 458).

I myself adopt a rather dystopian view of such a movement due to the intrusive manner in which it impacts the value of traditional culture; seeping its way into the cornerstones which are keeping a unique and diverse world from homogenising into a sea of similarity. Take American food outlets such as McDonald’s and KFC – these chains are beginning to dominate communities outside of the United States; diminishing the availability of traditional cuisine and hence reducing the ‘authentic’ element of that local environment.

But why is this so? What contributes to the influence of such a force?

The answer in part, I think, is due to the media saturated environment that we find ourselves immersed in day in and day out. Media saturation can be distinguished by a loss of meaningful connection and communication, as well as the loss of cultural significance to traditional communities. The ability of global media to determine how widespread a cultural practice can become, also has the potential to demean the traditional value of that practice.

Let’s explore this concept further.

In some traditional Middle Eastern and Indian cultures, for a woman’s nose to be pierced has symbolic purpose as the left nostril represents her reproductive system, and hence is believed to ease the pain of childbirth. Nose rings in recent decades have been adopted by many other civilisations, commonly seen being worn by American hippies of the 1960s as well as gothic communities throughout the late 20th century. Similarly goes for other culturally significant practices such as the use of stretchers in the ear in some African tribes to indicate age and wisdom. Considered now to be a popular statement of individuality or simply fashion, cultural value is not always the intention.

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The media saturated nature of our global communication environment offers access to an overload of information. This has allowed widespread audiences to view numerous individuals in the limelight sporting little jewel-encrusted studs and silver loops in their noses, including pop icon Madonna, Sinead O’Connor, Miley Cyrus and Lenny Kravitz; shaping our perceptions of what is considered to be trendy.

So the issue of media saturation in global communication can potentially have a demeaning impact on aspects of tradition such as sentimental jewellery wear; widening the scope of the definition for its purpose. I do wonder however, if the ever-growing extent at which global media is communicating such ideas will ever overwhelm a culture so much as to completely eradicate or erase any element of traditional significance? I feel as though this is an extreme thought, but perhaps something to appreciate.

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