News Values in Global Media

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What is news? What makes news? Such questions are constantly under debate in both the public and formal spheres. Ideally, news media institutions have an obligation to report everything that occurs, locally, nationally and internationally in an objective manner. However in reality, news is not transparent and is in fact, a product of journalistic routines and standardised procedures of selectivity (Khorana 2014). In other words, news is a privileged ‘packaged story’ which is largely driven by the values and beliefs the media wishes to present. (Khorana 2014) identifies eight main new values which are maintained news editors when presenting the news:

  • Cultural proximity
  • Relevance
  • Rarity
  • Continuity
  • Elite references
  • Negativity
  • Composition
  • Personalisation

Some of these values were prevalent in the recent Australian broadcast of the Malaysian Airlines, MH17 crash over the Ukraine-Russian boarder in July 2014. It was obviously a _76420019_malaysian_airlines777_pic624negative story which was seen as an act of terrorism. This would also explain why it received such heavy coverage. As (Khorana 2014) says, ‘negative news will more easily be consensual and unambiguous in the sense that there will be agreement about the interpretation of the event as negative’.

Australia’s broadcast of the event was quick and remained continuous and rigorous for many weeks. As (Khorana 2014) outlines ‘once something has hit the headlines and been defined as ‘news’, then it will continue to be defined as news for some time even if the amplitude is reduced’. In fact, only one day ago, on September 30th 2014 — 2.5 months after the MH17 plane was shot down — News.com reported a story in relation to the event. This comes as no surprise, considering the rarity, relevance and cultural proximity of the event.

Firstly, as the clip indicates, the Today presenters were quick to announce the unofficial report that ‘there may be up to 27 Australians on board that plane’ which is ‘awful awful news for all those families in Australia’. The fact that 27 Australians were on board makes the global news story even more personal, relevant and close to home. Furthermore, the Today broadcast also privileged the 23 —unconfirmed —deaths of American civilians on board the flight over other nationalities such as the deaths of 71 Dutch civilians,12 Indonesian citizensmh17-malaysia-airline-ukraine-russia-plane-crash and 44 Malaysian citizens. However, it turns out that only one American citizen died on that flight. This demonstrates the way in which news institutions such as Today play upon the cultural proximity of the event. This also suggests Folker Hanusch’s findings that new institutions privilege the stories and deaths of those we can identify with most. As Hanusch (2007, p.39) writes:

Journalists, assuming that people want to know about people who are like them, show a clear preference for covering deaths that Australians can relate to, be that in terms of the victims’ nationality, country of the event…journalists stay within their own cultural real when reporting foreign news.

Thus, we care about those with whom we identify; such individuals will be from countries which share similar world views, values, political systems, histories, languages etc (Hanusch 2007, p.32). In other words, those who are more ‘like us’ are more worthy of being reported than those nationals who come from countries which are culturally more dissimilar. Therefore, it comes as no surprise when American deaths and reports are privileged in the Australian media over those from other countries. As Hanusch (2007, p.39) sadly asserts ‘one Australian is worth five Americans, 20 Italians, 50 Japanese, 100 Russians, 500 Indians and 1000 Africans”.

Furthermore, the fact that a civilian aircraft was shot down from a missile is pretty rare and remarkable and thus warrants worldwide media attention. As the expert claims in the Today broadcast — a classic use of elite references — it is ‘very unusual for a missile to get to that sort of altitude…very few of them can…’. Thus the unusual circumstances of the event naturally evoked strong ‘blockbuster film-like’ images, which attracted greater media attention. The rarity of such an event also influenced media news institutions to the rely on the analysis of many experts and politicians. As (Khorana 2014) says, news is elite-centred and relies on experts and professionals as a means to display an image of veracity, factuality and certainty. Of course, providing air-time for any expert also involves a process of selection. After all, the news media institution has the power to decide who they wish to broadcast. It may be someone who is more in line with that particular media institutions values and ideologies.

Thus Australia’s broadcast of MH17 was significant and driven by many value-laden journalistic principles. While journalists attempt to be objective, it is clearly evident that new reports are privileged and broadcasted based on the principle of selectivity. Nevertheless, it must be noted that Australia’s broadcast of MH17 was informative and as Media Watch’s Paul Barry says, ‘there was little misreporting or stupid speculation’.

Reference List

ABC 2014, ‘Twenty-eight Australians among 298 killed as Malaysia Airlines “blown out of sky” by missile over Ukraine’, ABC News, 18 July, viewed 30 September 2014, < http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-18/malaysia-airlines-passenger-plane-crashes-in-ukraine/5606004>

Hanusch, F. (2008) ‘Publishing the perished: The visibility of foreign death in Australian quality newspapers’, Media International Australia, vol. 125, pp. 29-45.

Jacobs, H 2014, ‘Here Are The Nationalities Of The Victims Of Downed Malaysia Plane MH17’, Business Insider, 18 July, viewed 30 September 2014, < http://www.businessinsider.com/nationalities-of-the-victims-of-downed-malaysia-plane-mh17-2014-7?IR=T>.

Khorana, S 2014, ‘Who counts in Global Media? News Values’, BCM111, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, 1 October.

Media Watch 2014, ‘The Australian Media’s Coverage of MH17 Tragedy’, ABC, video, 21 July, viewed 30 September 2014, <http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s4050602.htm>.

news.com 2014, ‘Julie Bishop: 251 victims on board MH17 have been identified, process far from over’, news.com, 30 September, viewed 30 September 2014, < http://www.news.com.au/world/europe/julie-bishop-251-victims-on-board-mh17-have-been-identified-process-far-from-over/story-fnh81p7g-1227075138778>.

SydneysTVChannel 2014, Today MH17 Tragedy Coverage 6:32am-6:42am, 18 July 2014, video, YouTube, 18 July, < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GznzyLhI_0>.

Television Drama: Lost in Translation

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Since the late 19th century, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective fictional classic, Sherlock Holmes has remained alive and dynamic in the public domain. Everyone knows who Sherlock is; he is a universal figure or a myth who belongs to everyone. According to Neil McCaw, Sherlock Holmes is the ‘original pop culture icon’ (McCaw 2011, p.19) and is among the most adapted of all literary characters. Indeed, it is impossible not to recognise Sherlock considering the stories have evolved into a number of adaptions in a variety of mediums including: film, novel, television, radio, stage, music, video games and most recently, the internet. These appropriations have led to a limitless number of Holmesian texts in a ‘ceaseless circulation of images, characters, settings and plot lines’ (McCaw 2011, p.20).

However, while the story has been translated into various mediums across the globe, it is important to note that such adaptions must cater to the national and cultural contexts in which their audiences reside. This is particularly evident in the medium of television. In creating adaptions of television shows, producers and writers must also be conscious of the social norms, values, beliefs, behaviours and the overall national identity of their audiences. A good example is the recent adaption of the story of Sherlock Holmes into British and American television. Both adaptions have been highly successful as they have been fashioned around the specific social, cultural and national contexts.

The modern British version of Sherlock is a more conventional adaptation as it encapsulates and maintains most of the traditional features (such as characters and plot lines) that appear in Conan Doyle’s novel. Thus while this is a modern Sherlock Holmes, Steven Moffat ensured that this contemporary Sherlock remained closely linked to the roots of the classic detective fiction. As Lacy Baugher (2011) writes ‘the texting, the sherlock-titlenicotine patches, and the constant cabs are all just modern updates on the telegrams, the pipe and the hansoms’. However, while Britain’s Sherlock has successfully recontextualised the story to the 21st century, it has been criticised for maintaining certain sexist and heteronormative attitudes. As Laurie Penny (2014) claims ‘I’ve got a lot of problems with Steven Moffat’s narrative choices — starting with his ability to reduce even the most interesting female characters to bland archetypes’. Similarly, Emily Asher-Perrin criticises, writer of Sherlock, Steven Moffat as he ‘does not have a stellar track record when it comes to depicting characters who are not cisgendered straight white men’. Thus Moffat writes for his ideal fan base; stories about ‘clever men’ ‘in which women are dispensable love objects, figures of derision, or both’ (Penny 2014).

In contrast, the American adaption of Sherlock, Elementary, does not preserve the classic ‘Englishness’ trope as it has taken a more non-traditional ‘Americanised’ approach. The series has made drastic changes; the most significant one being the casting of Watson. A woman of colour, and beautifully talented, Lucy Liu plays Joan Watson. Unlike Britain’s elementary_367x208Sherlock, Elementary promotes gender equality as Joan Watson is utterly respected by her counterpart. They are played as equals according to the show’s premise. As Asher-Perrie (2014) writes, ‘rather than playfully belittling his partner the way that Cumberbatch’s version is frequently known for, Johnny Lee Miller’s Sherlock holds Watson in an esteem that is expressed outwardly to her, and to their colleagues; much more in line with Doyle’s original incarnation in that regard’. Thus Sherlock and Watson exhibit a true, deep friendship between a man and a woman with no other strings attached. Furthermore, unlike Sherlock, the show promotes multiculturalism and transgenderism as it consciously represents people of different races, sexualities and social classes. For example, Mrs Hudson’s character is portrayed by trans actress, Candis Cayne. All the characters have equal footing as Sherlock works with these people as a member of a team (Asher-Perrie 2014).

Overall, it is evident that the genre of Drama has been effectively adapted to the cultural, social and national contexts in which the relevant audiences reside. The British version of Sherlock has been recontextualised to appeal to the modern trope of ‘Englishness’ amongst the British audience. In contrast, the American adaption has taken a more modern approach whereby the issues of gender equality, multiculturalism and queerness are promoted.

Reference List

Asher-Perrin, E (2014) ‘Battling Super Sleuths: The Awkward Case of Elementary, Sherlock, and Building the Better Adaptation’ Tor.com, available online at <http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/02/battling-super-sleuths-the-awkward-case-of-elementary-sherlock-and-building-the-better-adaptation>. 

Baugher, L 2011, ‘The Great Sherlock Debate: Holmes in the 21st Century, Tellyvisions, 10 November, viewed 17 September, < http://blogs.weta.org/tellyvisions/2011/11/10/great-sherlock-debate-holmes-21st-century>

GreysALIASAnatomy 2013, Sherlock BBC vs. Elementary (Sherlock/Watson), The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, 22 November, video, YouTube, < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aozbi-Gexdk>

McCaw, N 2011, Adapting Detective Fiction: Crime, Englishness and the TV Detectives, A&C Black < http://books.google.com.au/books?id=JI5Qf-7urlkC&dq=ceaseless+circulation+of+images,+characters,+settings+and+plot+lines&source=gbs_navlinks_s>

Penny, L (2014) ‘Sherlock and the Adventure of the Overzealous Fanbase’ New Statesman, available online at http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2014/01/sherlock-and-adventure-overzealous-fanbase.

Television Comedy: Lost in Translation

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Comedy is a social and cultural practice and thus plays a pivotal role in every culture across the globe. Comedy makes us laugh, smile and most importantly, unite. As Andy Medhurst suggests, ‘comedy plays an absolutely pivotal role in the construction of national identity’ because it invites us to belong by understanding and sharing the joke (Turnbull 2010, p.159). This is understandable as comedy usually satirises the flaws and imperfections of a given society. However, these flaws and imperfections are not the same across all cultures. Therefore while humour and satire are key ingredients for comedic entertainment across all cultures, it is important to note that the forms of humour and satire are not universal across the globe as jokes and comedic representation must be culturally altered to suit an audience in a specific country. Such issues are specifically evident in television, where the practice of adapting and appropriating TV shows is very common. However, if a television comedy series is not translated properly from one national context to another, then the series will fail. A classic example of a transnational series gone wrong is Australia’s Kath and Kim.

Kath and Kim originated in Australia and proved to be a huge national success that was0-2
appreciated by Australians for its use of niche and ironic humour. The 2002 ABC series follows a dysfunctional relationship of a suburban mother and daughter. As Michelle Webb writes, ‘the humour is derived from local references, garish costuming and cringe-worthy mispronunciations to create a light-hearted parody in representation of the Australian lower middleclass’. Kath and Kim was a success because its social status-based humour appealed to most Australians. The series exaggerated and mocked middle-class suburbia and cultural stereotypes (such as ‘bogans’) which successfully resonated with Australian audiences who embrace self-ridicule. Ultimately, this success was achieved because the Australian writers and producers of the series understood the behavioural and social norms of their Australian cultural identity.

However, in 2008, America’s NBC aired their own adaption of Kath and Kim which proved to be a failure amongst the American audiences. The US version of Kath and Kim did not translate the original features of irony and satire to American audiences that made the show successful in Australia. The original humour of Australian local references did not connect to the offshore audiences as they were not culturally attuned to understanding the Australian-ized content. As Webb writes, ‘the original “spunky ladies” of Fountain Lakes, Melbourne were adapted to wealthy Los Angeles, which lost all sense of the satirical references of middle-class suburbia’. Australian phrases and slangs such as ‘crack open the Tia Maria’,  ‘barbie of commemorative sausages’, ‘manbags’, ‘Maccas’ or ‘the toot’ accentuate the show’s humour as they reflect the social and cultural identity of the Australian language. Naturally, an American audience would struggle to relate to such Australian localised content.

Another key component in the process of comic adaptation which can ‘make or break’ a television series is performance. As Mehurst suggests, comedy is never just about words on the page, comedic meaning also resides in ‘inflection, timing, nuance, gesture, the balance of sound and silence, the unexpected or wilful pronunciation of key words, the raining of eyebrows or the flipping of wrists’ (Turnbull 2010, p.112). Particularly in the Australian version of Kath and Kim, the characters’ performances are humorous because of the irony they exhibit. As Karen Brooks criticises ‘their [the American] Kath Day and her daughter Kim are not monstrous enough to be cliches, stereotypes, parodies or even brave enough to be abhorrent or funny (Turnbull 2010, p.112). It is the ridiculousness of the Australian characters that give them humorous appeal. However, this facet was removed in the US version, as Americans struggled to understand irony as form of sarcastic humour, rather than rudeness. This demonstrates the way in which irony — the gap between how a character imagines him/herself to be and how they appear to the audience — has been lost in translation ( Turnbull 2010, p.115). While Australia’s Kim imagines herself as a horn bag, ‘the actor’s embodied performance works to undercut her character’s belief and to reveal kim as foolish and self-deluded’ (Turnbull 2010, p.115). In contrast, the American Kim is young, attractive, petite and provocative enough to be a tabloid queen. Thus the irony is lost.

In closing, it is clear that practicing comedy is not necessarily universal as it is socially and culturally conditioned across the globe, depending on each society. If television does not accommodate to the cultural and social differences, then comedy will ultimately get lost in translation.

Reference List

Turnbull, S (2008) ‘It’s Like They Threw a Panther in the Air and Caught It in Embroidery’: Television Comedy in Translation’ Metro Magazine Issue 159 Dec

Webb, M 2013, ‘Television, Humour and Transnational Audiences’, The Artifice, 2 December, viewed 10 September 2014, < http://the-artifice.com/television-humour-and-transnational-audiences/>.

zone003 2008, Kath and Kim US Version, 8 October, video, YouTube, < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUS7OcQfBwg>.

Emerging Media Capitals: Hong Kong

Hong-Kong_skyline

Media capitals… are sites of mediation, locations where complex forces and flows interact. They are neither bounded not self-contained entities… Media capitals are places where things come together and, consequently, where the generation and circulation of new mass culture forms become possible. – Michael Curtin, 2003

‘Media capitals’ refers to cities where multi-directional patterns of flows occur, enabling them to become centres for finance, production and distribution of television programs. These cities are referred to as media capitals as they represent centres of media activity that have specific logics of their own but do not necessarily correspond to the geography, interests or policies of particular nation states (Curtin 2003, p.203). Cities such as Mumbai and Los Angeles are the classic and prominent examples of media capitals as they have established their own statuses as Bollywood and Hollywood. Both these media capitals have flourished because the companies have shown a resolute fixation on the tastes and desires of their audiences (Curtin 2010, p.265). As Curtin (2010, p.265) writes, ‘in order to cater to such tastes, they adopt and adapt cultural influences from near and far, resulting in hybrid styles and aesthetics’. However with the rise of globalisation in the late 20th century, Hong Kong has also emerged as a new media capital as it has developed institutional characteristics which are integral to the accumulation of a media capital.

Hong Kong’s maintenance of a strong and lucrative economic position has enabled it to develop its status as a media capital. The city has prospered ever since the late 20th century, as it acted as a nexus for financial and trade relations between mainland China and the rest of the world (Curtin 2003, p.214). During the last four decades of the 20th century, Hong Kong served as a channel for well over two-thirds of China’s international trade and investment. The city is now a central point which mediates a vast and complex array of material and economic flows. Such activities have enabled the city to attract large migration flows from across the globe. Furthermore, the outbreak of World War II disrupted the cultural activities on mainland China. As a result, cultural institutions fled to Hong Kong. Thus ‘Hong Kong offered sanctuary to members of these creative communities and therefore emerged during the post-war period as the most prolific producer of popular Chinese cinema’ (Curtin 2003, p.215). This demonstrates the way in which flows of migration instigated the spread of culture.

Furthermore, migration also resulted in the rise of young families. As a result, a large composition of young people emerged which helped instigate a youth culture, that was distinct from the mainland Chinese culture. This youth culture ‘exhibited distinctive tastes, values and life experiences’ (Curtin 2003, p.215) which largely altered the cultural flows. Unlike their ancestors who grew up within a more traditional Chinese culture, the younger generation was more experienced with Western popular culture and politics. As a result, during the 1960s, Hollywood movies and American music became popular in Hong Kong.

In the midst of such structural, social, cultural and economic changes arose Hong Kong’s first independent broadcasting channel, Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) in 1967. unknownThis transformed Hong Kong’s social landscape as a new, rapidly growing and increasingly prosperous local television audience emerged. Local television became the site of public deliberation which resulted in the emergence of a contemporary Hong Kong identity. Furthermore, the immense popularity of the dominant broadcaster enabled the channel to grow which resulted in the development of popular genres such criminal dramas and ‘variety shows‘ which catered to the local audiences. TVB has also transcended the regional landscape as Hong Kong television is now produced and consumed in Taipei, Beijing, Amsterdam, Vancouver, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur (Curtin 2003, pp.203-204). This unprecedented initiative is significant as they demonstrate new patterns of television flows whereby Hong Kong’s local content has gone global, thereby allowing the spread of further global cultural flows.

Such initiatives in television have enabled greater cultural flows between Hong Kong and the rest of the world, which in turn, has shaped Asia’s music industry. In the midst of such activity emerged a dominant musical style known as Cantopop (Cantonese pop music). Cantopop involves the fashioning of local musical styles with US, Japanese and Chinese influences into a distinctive pop form featuring contemporary lyrics by local songwriters (Curtin 2003, 217). 

Hong Kong has emerged as a media capital, particularly in television, due to a mix of global, social, economic and historical conditions. As Curtin sums succinctly, ‘Hong Kong’s rapid embrace of television was connected to the fact that it mediated complex relations between East and West, between tradition and modernity, and between immigrant and indigenous populations’ (Curtin 2003, 217). The establishment of TVB both responded to and shaped the social conditioning in Hong Kong. Not only has television influenced Hong Kong’s cultural identity, but it also has exported and shared this cultural identity to overseas Chinese communities. Thus by attracting an audience from a local and global scape, Hong Kong has effectively succeeded in being globally recognised as the capital of Chinese popular culture and as ‘a cosmopolitan centre of East Asia’ (Curtin 2003, p.218).

Reference List

Alan 2008, TWINS — 恋爱大过天 ( KTV ), 11 May, video, YouTube, < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9GFl6Rmd9U>.

Curtin, M (2003) ‘Media Capital: Towards the Study of Spatial Flows’ International Journal of Cultural Studies Vol 6: 2, pp. 202 – 228.

Wikipedia 2014, ‘Variety Show’, Wikipedia, viewed 3 September 2014, < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variety_show>

Crossover Cinema

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Through the breakdown of physical barriers, globalisation has enabled greater integration, communication and interactivity between cultures across the globe. Cultural mixing has indeed created a richer and more diverse global community. Globalisation has particularly had a significant impact on the film industry. Prior to globalisation, the cultural lines of film industries across the globe remained separate and parallel to each other; however, now, a new genre of ‘crossover cinema’ has emerged as a result of the intersection of these cultural lines. As Sukhmani Khorana (2013, p.2) defines it:

Crossover cinema is used to encapsulate an emerging form of cinema that crosses cultural borders at the stage of conceptualisation and production and hence manifests a hybrid cinematic grammar at the textual level, as well as crossing over in terms of its distraction and reception.

bend_it_like_beckham_ver2_xlgThis new ‘globaltic’ genre of crossover cinema has been prominent in the cultural interactions between North America’s Hollywood and South East Asia’s Bollywood. In the past decade or so, it is quite evident that the East has finally met the West with Hollywood adopting filmic practices of hybridity as a means to ‘transgress genre, audience and cultural borders (Khorana 2013, p.3). Adoption of the term crossover cinema gained considerable momentum in India after the release of the films, Monsoon Wedding, Bend It Like Beckham and Bride and Prejudice which gained mainstream success amongst both the Western audience and the Indian audience.

Gurinder Chadha’s Bend it Like Beckham is a classic crossover film that grossed over 11 million pounds in the UK alone (Jouhal 2003). In fact, this made the film one of the highest grossing Black British movies to date (Jouhal 2003). Other than the warmth of the film and the countless comedic moments, why is Bend it Like Beckham so popular? The answer is pretty simple — the film has an ability to attract and connect with a wider audience, including niche audiences. As Tejinder Jouhal succinctly sums in a nutshell:

‘With a desire to make a film that would speak to people from all walks of life, [Chadha] combined the national passion for football with the everyday, suburban family lives of two young girls living in the culturally mixed outskirts of West London.’

Thus the film not only gained great success in the US and the UK, it also proved to be very popular in India.The mixed use of English, Hindi and Punjabi made the film appealing to a wider audience. As Ranjit Keval Kumar (2011, p.137) writes, ‘The use of Punjabi dialogues that are not subtitled in the original version reveals that the film directly talks to an audience that is not geographically confined but to ethnic audiences within and beyond its borders’.

Furthermore, according to Ranjit Kumar (2013, p.138), traditional Bollywood typically follows two narrative tropes in films displaying NRIs (Non-Resident Indians):

The NRI protagonist who abides by every Indian custom and tradition or;

The NRI protagonist is displayed in a negative light as he/she loses to the liberal and non-traditional Western values.

However, Gurinder Chadha departs from such traditional structures and adopts an alternative, Western approach in her film. Unlike traditional NRI Bollywood films, the film explores many universal contemporary issues including gender identity, multiculturalism and issues of national identity. Through such issues, the film draws on integration, assimilation, affiliation and segregation (Kumar 2011, p.137) amongst the older generation of immigrants and the first generation of Indians. The film is set in the backdrop of South Hall, UK, and demonstrates the way in which the Indian identity can be established beyond the country in which one lives. Thus the indian culture or ‘indianness’ is not restricted geographically. However, the protagonist, Jess struggles with balancing her two worlds: her British home and her Indian cultural background (Kumar 2011, p.137) — an issue which i’m sure many individuals can relate to. Thus the film maintains a typically British narrative but also ‘integrates ‘Bollywood music and boisterous marriage ceremonies’ as they ‘remind the viewers of Bollywood-styled song and dance ‘interruptions’ (Kumar 2011, p.138).

It is also interesting to note that Gurinder Chadha is British with Sikh Indian origins. Due to her own cultural mix of ‘Britishness’ and ‘Indianness’, Chadha has a history of exploring the struggles British Indians face in constructing their own cultural identity. Thus Chadha is able to effectively employ her personal experiences of growing up as a British Indian to construct more authentic and relatable movies.

Crossover cinema has enabled greater cultural interactions and awareness which in turn, has attracted diverse groups of audiences. However as Khorana (2013, p.6) notes, while the Western audience have been enriched through such cultural integration, such films do ‘not assume a Western audience at the outset but rather [are] forged from multiple cultural affiliations and eventually appeal to a range of viewing communities among whom the Western audience is only one possibility’.

Reference List

Hotfuss44, Bend it Like Beckham Trailer, 5 November, video, YouTube, < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsmbObwStSQ> .

Khorana, 2 (2013) ‘Crossover Cinema: A Conceptual and Genealogical Overview’ Crossover Cinema: Crosscultural Film from Production to Reception, New York: Routledge, pp. 3-13.

Step aside Hollywood, Hello Bollywood and Nollywood!

Bollywood-Dancing

There has been a huge emergence from the global south through industries such as Bollywood and Nollywood. They are now becoming more lucrative and more in demand to a wider audience. This is largely due to globalisation, which has lead to greater integration and interaction between cultures from across the globe. Thus globalisation has led to the emergence of a ‘global cinema’, whereby Hollywood is no longer the significant, ‘hegemonic’ film industry as it once was.

Now Hollywood is competing with another prominent film industry, which i’m sure everyone is aware of — Bollywood.  As David Schaefer and Kavita Karen outline, the economic liberalisation of the Indian economy in 1991, enabled India to emerge as a competitive player on the global landscape in a variety of ways, including as a film industry. India’s film industry has made a name for itself across the globe. It produces a series of three-act romantically structured narratives (an average film running for approximately 3 hours), which are combined with bright colourful clothing and song and dance sequences (otherwise known as ‘Bollywood music’).

The emergence of Bollywood in the western sphere has indeed created this new dimension of cultural hybridity in cinema, which is attracting more viewers both nationally and internationally. Indeed, since India’s economic liberation, Bollywood has undergone the practices of globalisation and glocalisation whereby Indian films have become more westernised. David Schaefer and Kavita Karen outlined that in an extensive content analysis of the 61 highest-grossing Hindi films for each year between 1947 and 2007, they found highly significant post-liberalisation increases in the levels of Western and modern content in popular Hindi films, accompanied by highly significSalaam_Namaste_Audio_Cdant decreases in levels of Indian and traditional content. This analysis is consistent with what I have observed in the cultural transition in Indian films. For example, as David Schaefer and Kavita Karen note, Indian movies have adopted more western-style clothing as opposed to traditional, Indian attire. Foreign countries, particularly the US and UK have also become popular shooting destinations. These features are evident in this Indian film called Salaam Nameste. As you will see in the video, this movie was shot in Australia (Melbourne). The Indian actress here, Preety Zenta is dressed in western attire — something which would appear to be quite unconventional, in the sense it’s more revealing than what was presented usually in traditional, older Bollywood movies.

Furthermore, what i’ve personally observed in the last 10 years is that Bollywood films such as Salaam Nameste, have starting depicting more physically intimate scenes such as kissing in their movies. This is another unconventional feature in Indian cinema as historically it has been more conservative when it comes to physical intimacy. Such acts are usually symbolically conveyed through bollywood songs. Furthermore, Thus this is another Western feature Bollywood has adopted in certain movies. Despite these unconventional, more westernised themes in this movie, it still adopts its classic Bollywood traits such as, the bollywood song and casually breaking out into a dance on the beach and the classic old love story. Thus this is a classic form of Bollywood adopting the practices of cultural hybridity as a means to ‘glocalize’ its content.

As David Schaefer and Kavita Karen claim, the creativity of combining local and global cultural formations enables the subversion of potentially homo-genising forces associated with cultural imperialism. Thus it not only targets and attracts a wider global audience by appealing to their tastes/trends, but it also challenges the cultural western imperialism in cinema.

In contrast to Bollywood, there is Nigeria’s $800 million film industry, Nollywood. It’s a thriving industry that provides employment for about 300 000 people (Marston et al). According to Forbes, after Hollywood, Nollywood is the second largest in the world — event bigger than India’s Bollywood on a per-capita basis. Similar to Bollywood, Nollywood’s video film genres range from action and adventure to historical epics, horror, morality tales and melodramic storylines.

However, a significant point of differentiation of Nollywood from Bollywood is the centrality of ethnicity in Nigerian life which also constitutes a frequent structuring principle in Nollywood video films. Nollywood video films are produced in many of the 250 tribal languages as well as English which allows for a wide international audience of Africans at home and abroad to appreciate them.Furthermore, ‘the success of Nollywood at home is attributed to its status “as an autonomous local cinematic expression that looks inward and not outward” (Okome, 2007, p.1), focusing primarily on the concerns faced by Nigerians in a setting familiar to their own. Nollywood’s “unprecedented success” (Okome, 2007, p.1) in a global landscape is thus what keeps it thriving.’

Want more information? Check out this video below on Nollywood!

https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/franco_sacchi_on_nollywood.html

Reference List

Karan, K and Schaefer, DJ (2010) ‘Problematizing Chindia: Hybridity and Bollywoodization of popular Indian cinema in global film flows’ Global Media and Communication Vol 6: 3, pp. 309-316

Okome, O (2007). ‘Nollywood: spectatorship, audience and the sites of consumption’ Postcolonial text 3.2.

Marston, S, Woodward K, Jones Paul, John, ‘Flattening Ontologies of Globalization: The Nollywood Case’ Globalizations, vol 4: 1, pp45-63.

Internationalising Education in Australia

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‘International education is not the rich intercultural experience it could be’                   – Simon Marginson (2012, p.1)

Blessed with natural beauty and unique wildlife, Australia is a land of opportunities, rich with egalitarian values and multiculturalism. Thus it is no surprise that Australia rates as one of the most population educational ‘hubs’ for international students. Australia ranks third in the world for international students intake, thus enabling it to educate 9% of the world’s cross-border territory students. While on the outset, these statistics sound great, it is quite evident that not all international students experience the same positive university experience most domestic students share. Barriers such as language, racism, culture, housing, employment, transport concessions, loneliness, homesickness, financial difficulties and many more, prove to be a hinderance for most international students.

According to Kell and Vogl (2007), major factors inhibiting international students from experiencing a rich Australian university experience include language and culture. As they state, ‘while academic success may heighten a student’s confidence, social and cultural adjustment can be important factors that lead to this academic success (Kell and Vogl 2012, p.3). In particular, international students struggle to comprehend English because of the Australian accent (Kell and Vogl 2012, p.4). This is understandable considering International students —from, for example, China, India and Indonesia — learn English with an American accent (Kell and Vogl 2012, p.4). This is different to the distinctively slurred, nasal, high-pitched Aussie accent (Kell and Vogl 2012, p.1), accompanied by shortened colloquial words and slang terms. Thus, while international students want to integrate, understand and experience the Australian culture, such issues naturally affect the confidence of international students as they struggle to understand and interact with local students.

This also indicates how coming to a foreign country can prove to be culturally overwhelming, especially for students who regulate their lives around cultural, religious and social practices. For example, Kell and Vogl (2012, p.6) claim that international students struggle to meet and build friendships with Australian locals due to the ‘pub and club culture’ of Australia. This is explained by two main reasons:

1) international students cannot afford to go out and drink and;

2) many students cannot drink for religious and cultural reasons.

Such cultural changes and practices cause many international students to feel homesick as they miss their own cultural and linguistic settings (Sawir et al, 2007). Thus moving to a new country with a different culture deprives students of the social and familial support network they once had in their homeland.

The cumulation of these factors result in social isolation, causing many vulnerable international students to feel quite lonely (Marginson 2012) — a situation which appears to be endemic to the international student experience. For example, on January 12, 2005, police in Canberra discovered the badly decomposed body of a 25-year-old female Chinese student. Her body remained in the flat for seven months before her death was discovered. This story sadly demonstrates how such extreme loneliness can result in students to become virtually invisible —even from institutions — in some situations.

Furthermore, Simon Marginson (2012) suggest that there is an active and conscience reaction of Australian students towards international students which further strains their relationships. As he states, local students appear to be disinterested in international students as they are ‘too parochial, trapped within an Australia-centred view of a diverse and complex world’. Furthermore, it seems that international students are simply ‘otherised’ because of the view that ‘we are culturally superior to the home countries of international students’ (Marginson 2012).

In fact, the india_OUTLOOK_smh-12009 violent attacks in Melbourne and Sydney on Indian students led to suggestions that Australia was racially intolerant towards international students. These attacks naturally sparked controversy and tensions between Australia and its second largest education exporter, India. Australia developed a bad reputation in India, with 1.2 billion Indians thinking Australians are dumb, drunk, and racist (ABC, 2014). These incidents also costed Australia billions of dollars as there was a significant drop in the number of international students intake post 2009. In particular, Visa applications from Indian students dropped from 79, 759 in 2008-09 to 37, 958 in 2009-10.

In closing, while Australia is a great educational ‘hub’, the positive university experience is not thoroughly enjoyed by all students. Improvements can be made through acknowledging these problems and increasing our awareness of different cultures. This can be achieved through education and the establishment of support groups and networks. At the end of the day, everyone deserves to have a positive university experience. But no matter who you bump into or walk past, make sure you communicate through the universal language of sharing a smile!

Reference List

ABC, ‘Dumb, Drunk & Racist’, ABC, viewed 10 August 2014, < http://www.abc.net.au/tv/dumbdrunkracist/about/>.

Australian Government, ‘Analysis of Australia’s Education Exports, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, viewed 10 August 2014, < http://www.dfat.gov.au/publications/stats-pubs/analysis-of-australias-education-exports.pdf>.

Australian Government 2014, ‘Why Study in Australia?’, Australian Government, viewed 10 August 2014, < http://www.studyinaustralia.gov.au/global/why-australia>

Kell, P and Vogl, G (2007) ‘International Students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes’ Everyday Multiculturalism Conference Proceedings, Macquarie University, 28-29 September 2006.

Marginson, S (2012) ‘International education as self-formation: Morphing a profit-making business into an intercultural experience’, Lecture delivered at the University of Wollongong, 21 February 2012.

Sawir et al 2007, ‘Loneliness and International Students: An Australian Study’, Journal of Studies in International Education, Vol.20, no.10, pp.1-33, < http://www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au/people/marginson_docs/JSIE%20online%20Sawir%20et%20al%20loneliness.pdf>.

Sydney Morning Herald 2005, ‘Murdered student’s body found after seven months’, Sydney Morning Herald, 7 March, viewed 10 August 2014, < http://www.smh.com.au/news/National/Murdered-students-body-found-after-seven-months/2005/03/07/1110044301351.html>.

Waters, J & MacBean, N 2009, ‘Anger grows over Indian student bashings’, ABC, 29 May, viewed 10 August 2014, < http://www.abc.net.au/news/2009-05-29/anger-grows-over-indian-student-bashings/1697904>.