Television Consumption: From 1973 to 2015

In the 21st century, the television has become an essential and ubiquitous piece of technology, which we consume on an everyday basis without even actively thinking about it. Indeed, with 99% of Australian households owning at least one, the television has obtained the status as a default family member. However, this has not always been the status quo. Since its inception in the 20th century, the television and the viewing habits of audiences have evolved. While we now take modern technology for granted, it is useful to hear the voices of those who experienced the powerful transformation the television had upon their family households. My dad (Mr Singh), now 53 years old, tells of his experiences of watching television and what it was like to grow up in a world where technology was —and still is— continually changing.

Let’s time-shift back 42 years to the bustling heart of India, New Delhi. It is 1973 — two years after the Indo-Pakistan War — and Mr Singh’s family have bought their very own, first, black and white television. Asked of his initial reactions as an 11-year old boy, Mr Singh describes the moment as ‘fascinating’ and ‘pure excitement’, which left him feeling as the ‘richest boy on the planet’. This is no surprise, as ownership was an exclusive and rare phenomenon.  After all, up until 1975, only seven Indian cities had a television service.

This excitement was further triggered by the accompanied anticipation as ‘you could not just walk into a store and buy a television; you had to wait at least two weeks before you could actually get it’. On arrival, it became ‘a street affair’, with the television embodying a celebrity status. As Mr Singh recalls, ‘everyone in the neighbourhood knew you were getting a T.V’ as the process began with the television being paraded in the street, followed by the technician arriving with the big antenna ready to install the set.

Before this memorable event, Mr Singh’s only access to the ‘magical’ black box was through one of his best friends. ‘Owning a television was a luxury and made you popular in school’ and thus Mr Singh’s best friend became very popular with most of the neighbourhood kids attending his house many times a week to watch television. He remembers how 8-10 kids from the block would gather and sit around the television with their eyes glued to the screen. He jokingly claims that he was treated like VIP as he always got a front-row seat. As Mr Singh laughs, ‘it was always good to have a friend who owned a T.V’.

When asked if the television set changed the family household, the simple answer was ‘yes’. Echoing Sonia Livingstone (2009, p.2)’s findings of how television viewing became a symbol of ‘shared pleasure’, Mr Singh also claims how watching television became a ‘family affair’ which ‘you did together’ every night in the collective family space of the lounge room. This reflects Linvingstone (2009, p.2)’s assertion of how the television ‘acquired a meaningful place within the family’. Mr Singh recalls how his parents used to sit on the ‘adult’ lounge, while he and his sister would sit on the floor. While there weren’t many channels and broadcasting was restricted to 6-10pm every night, Mr Singh remembers key prime time sessions which his family never failed missed. For example, every Wednesday evening, Bollywood song clips were aired, while every Sunday night an Indian movie was shown. However, Mr Singh’s personal favourite was the British television series, The Invisible Man.

Upon reflection, Mr Singh was amazed by how technological advancements have shaped the current televisions (total of four) he owns in 2015.

Now we have smart TV’s which can record television, play games, show hundreds of channels, access the internet and even show Indian television through satellite TV! Things have changed so much’.

However, my dad and I concur that as a result of such changes, television viewing has changed dramatically in the past decade. Now, consumption has become a more instantaneous, flexible and individualised viewing experience. Choice comes in both the range of content available and the means by which it can be accessed. For instance, the diversity of channels has resulted in a greater fragmentation of audience.

With the rise of the internet and streaming technology, viewing habits have also changed as we now can dictate and control how and when we want to watch our television shows. Furthermore, Australians now have the opportunity to watch television on other screens i.e. tablets, laptops, and mobile phones.  As Livingstone (2009, p.3) claims:

Although for a time the arrival of television signalled a temporary but culturally significant grouping of the family around the living room set…historical evidence reveals that this only briefly bucks the longer term trend towards the multiplication and diversification of media that has facilitated…the processes of individualisation, consumerism, and globalisation that characterise Western societies in late modernity.

Based on personal experience, I agree with Livingstone and believe these developments have collectively influenced the family dynamic. Whether such changes are for better or worse, I will let you decide! But if you are interested in reading about other people’s experiences with television, I highly recommend sambcarroll’s blog and lucmarsden’s blog.

References:

Livingstone, S 2009, ‘Half a century of television in the lives of our children’, American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 625, no. 1, pp. 151-163.

Oztam, 2015, ‘Australian Multi-Screen Report’, viewed 14 August, 2015, <http://www.oztam.com.au/documents/Other/MultiScreenReport_Q1-2015-Final%20amended%20P7.pdf&gt;.

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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.