Emerging Media Capitals

“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.” (Curtin, 2003)

For a large majority of us, our favourite television shows and films are made in the United States. Western countries tend to source all their entertainment needs from the United States for many reasons. Some of these reasons include the themes being portrayed throughout plot lines and the self identification in characters. We necessarily tend to avoid series and films about issues we aren’t 100% sure and educated about. Through the development of globalisation, more and more media capitals are becoming apparent to us. Hong Kong and India are a few examples of countries that are being recognised for the content they have been creating.

Hong Kong has emerged as a new media capital with its development being heavily influenced upon that of the migrations of cultural institutions and creative talent. Hong Kong had a mass amount of immigrants from overseas Chinese communities, and they utilised the large number of creative talent that came with that. While these Chinese refugees settled into their new home of Hong Kong, the film industry was enhanced by the creative resources provided to them. Around the 1960’s, audiences become less and less interested in Chinese cinema and the film makers noticed that. They started created stories with more of a focus on contemporary and relevant topics.

With the impact of globalisation, it is no surprise that America is no longer the only recognised media capital. Although America will continue to play a big part in the production of films and television series, the newer, more overlooked capitals will provide influence and change will be noticeable.

  • Curtin, M 2003, ‘Media Capital: Towards the Study of Spatial Flows’, International Journal of Cultural Studies, vol.6, no.2, pp202-228

Television in Translation: Drama Focus

Distributed and received worldwide, Sherlock Holmes is one name everybody knows. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original character has been adopted by millions worldwide and is used in multiple books, television shows and well acclaimed films. Most fans of Sherlock Holmes ask for one thing, and that is for his characterisation to remain the same. All they wish is that Sherlock remains as the idealised Englishman. Cultural differences are often apparent and variations have to be made for the story to make sense. This idea is displayed in the Sherlock Holmes inspired television series Elementary. This contemporary version of Holmes, set in New York City, follows the tale of Sherlock Holmes (Johnny Lee Miller) and Dr Joan Watson (Lucy Lui).

Lui and Miller in Elementary

Lui and Miller in Elementary

One of the most obvious changes from the BBC’s Sherlock is Elementary’s introduction of a female Watson. Typically portrayed as a male in most adaptations, Elementary’s Watson continues to play the role of a companion/ apprentice. By casting Lui, instead of the regular male counterpart, an Americanised element of political correctness is added to the narrative. Continuing on with the female lead roles, another difference that has been made by the American adaptation is having Natalie Dormer play both Irene Adler and Moriarty. Adler, Holmes’ former lover who broke his heart, sending him into drug abuse and addiction, when she died later returns in the series as the criminal mastermind that is Moriarty. The female characterisation of Moriarty also adds the Americanised element of unresolved sexual tension.

Dr Joan Watson (left) and Irene Adler/ Moriarty (right)

Dr Joan Watson (left) and Irene Adler/ Moriarty (right)

A lot like comedy adaptations, drama adaptations can either sink or swim. Although it seems to me that drama is easier to adapt into different cultures. Unlike comedy, they aren’t relying on a large group of people to understand a particular joke or instance.

“Look at moi, ploise”

Kath and Kim showcases life as your typical ‘Aussie bogan’ and the way that we all live. To the large majority of viewers, we can all relate in some way to the lives of these two women. Right? The characterisation of Kath and Kim, with their laid back attitudes and ‘punny’ speech, attracts viewers, even to this day. The show, first released in 2002, remains to be one of the most iconic situation comedies in Australia. For a country whose films are highly influenced by the American culture, the writers of this show took a risk with writing a comedy that directly targets the audiences about issues they would understand.

Cast of Kath and Kim

Cast of Kath and Kim

Was the irony and comedic value of Kath and Kim lost when Greg Daniels decided to create an American adaptation? Most Australians believed so. After only seventeen episodes, the US version of the show was cancelled after audiences decided it just wasn’t the same. The classic Australian humour was very hard to translate to an entirely new and somewhat foreign audience. Some of the one-liners that us Australians would find hilarious blew straight over most American’s heads. It just wasn’t working. Not only did the storyline fail in working, the character execution was lost in translation. The ironic component of the show was no longer there. Size-sixteen Gina Riley would purposefully buy clothes several sizes smaller to display herself as a self imagined size-ten ‘horn-bag’. This characterisation is entirely different to the US version where the size-eight Selma Blair “juts out her tiny belly and plays at being a fat person” (Marieke Hardy). Kim was no longer apart of the funny suburban family, but living the part of a tabloid queen influencee.

The Australian Kath & Kim (left) and the American version of Kath & Kim (right)

The Australian Kath & Kim (left) and the American version of Kath & Kim (right)

“The successful translation of a comedy depends not only on the translation of the cultural context from one locale to another, but also on the kinds of production deals which are made and the expectations about audiences which are then inferred. Even more significant may be the choices that are made about casting and the character of the ensuing embodied performance” – Sue Turnbull (2008, pp. 174)

With all of that being said, not all remakes fail. Ugly Betty and The Office US, also created by Creg Daniels, have proved to be very successful all around the world. These shows typically have a universal theme that everybody can relate to. Kath and Kim just proves that only certain shows can relate to particular cultures and that it is quite difficult to be accepted by other cultures.

  • Turnbull, S. 2008. ‘It’s Like They Threw a Panther in the Air and Caught It in Embroidery’, Metro Magazine: Media & Education Magazine, no. 159, vol. 1, pp. 110-15.

Culture Crossover

“… the term 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 distribution and reception. t argues for the importance of distinguishing between crossover cinema and transnational cinema” – Sukhmani Khorana (2013, pp. 2)

The introduction of crossover cinema offers different themes, beliefs, challenges and cultural differences to western audiences. The idea of crossover cinema, and the exploration of different cultures can be beneficial and educational to newer audiences, but more often than not, we miss the point that the text is trying to make. We, the majority of the western audience, are so caught up in our own world and our daily tasks that we neglect what is happening all around us. Through technological advancements, television and cinema have been used as a tool to introduce the different ways other cultures live. By bringing all of these different cultures together, through film, we are surrounding ourselves with culture being explored within. No longer are the days of the typical and/ or glamorous American family going about their daily routine. As a result of globalisation, we are subjected to cultural crossovers and are able to get a feel as to how others live.

Bend It Like Beckham Film Poster

Bend It Like Beckham Film Poster

An example of this is the film Bend It Like Beckham. The film, released in 2002, is set in West London, explores the day to day routine of Indian teenager  Jesminder Bhamra. The English-speaking film, directed and produced by British film maker Gurinder Chadha, who is of Sikh Indian origin, delves into themes of “bending of rules, social paradigms and lives” (Times of India). Chadha herself works closely with what it is like being an Indian in a different country; a large majority of her films explore the lives of Indians living in the United Kingdom. Bend It Like Beckham was also the first ever western made film to air on North Korean television in late December of 2010.

…There’s a wonderful kind of yearning quality about what is culture and the perils of living in the West and the dangers of what could happen” – Gurinder Chadha (2011)

 

  •  Chadha, G. 2011. Interview by Robert K. Elder. The Film That Changed My Life. By Robert K. Elder. Chicago: Chicago Review Press. N. p189. Print.
  •  Khorana, S. 2013. ‘Crossover Cinema: A Genealogical and Conceptual Overview’, Producing a Hybrid Grammar, pp. 1-7

Battle of the ‘Woods

India, Nigeria and the United States are the three largest film industries in the world. Why is it that we only hear about Hollywood? Is the production rate of Bollywood and Nollywood too fast so citizens of the world can’t keep up? Does the lack of production money reflect on the final product? Hollywood, for me and a large variety of individuals, is the be all and end all of film industries. So often stories are passed around about their experience walking the star studded pathways of Hollywood, California, trying with all their might to spot the newest and highly talked about film stars.

Bollywood is often overlooked by the Western culture but as globalisation continues to spread, many Hollywood films are taking inspiration from the Hindi cinema. This cultural hybridity can be seen in James Cameron’s film Avatar. We’ve all seen it, but how many of us stopped to think where the concept came from? Not once did I think that this highly distopic film was in any way influenced by the highly glitzy and glamorous ways of Bollywood. Cameron himself has described the meaning of the film as  “It’s an incarnation of one of the Hindu gods taking a flesh form.” David J. Schaefer from Franciscan University of Steubenville and Kavita Karan from Southern Illinois University have citied the works of many explaining the link between Avatar and Bollywood.

James Cameron's Avatar (2009)

James Cameron’s Avatar (2009)

The blue colouring of the skin of the Na’vi characters symbolises the colours traditionally used for religious avatars Rama and Krishna (Jain, 2005). Hindi elements were also sprinkled through the story line, with a heavy focus on Ramayana. The plot of the story;an avatar-led battle against foreign invaders, showcases the Indian political tradition (Mishra, 2002). One of the most significant Bollywood references is one of the more important themes explored throughout the film. The motif of ‘seeing as understanding’ , quite similar to the Hindu concept of ‘darshan’, or the principle of seeing and being seen by the deities in order to receive blessings (Chatterjee, 2005).

Nollywood is the third largest film industry in the world. These films, emerging in the early 1990’s are a mixture of melodrama and magical culture, with corruption being a main motif used throughout. The Nigerian film industry receives no funding from the government, so everything is fairly low budget and quickly edited. All Nollywood films are made direct to video for a number of reasons. Due to the high rates of crime, films are never screened in movie theatres, leaving individuals to watch them from the safety of their homes. Another reason for Nollywood films to be direct to video is the reduction of funds. This allows the film makers to spend extra money on other departments, such as the editing stage.

After researching the global film industry, it is apparent that Hollywood, Bollywood and Nollywood can work together and influence each other while still remaining as separate entities.  As globalisation continues to develop, the film industry is going to be taken to places that we can not even begin to imagine.

  • Chatterjee, G, 2005, ‘Icons and Events: Reinventing Visual Construction in Cinema in India, in R. Kuar and A. Sinha (eds) Bollywood: Popular Indian Cinema Through a Transnational Lens, pp. 90-117. New Delhi: Sage
  • Jain, K (2005) ‘Figures of Locality and Tradition: Commercial cinema and the networks of visual print capitalism in Maharashtra’ in R. Kuar and A. Sinha Bollywood: Popular Indian Cinema Through a Transnational Lens, pp 312
  • Mishra, V. (2002) Bollywood Cinema: Temples of  Desire. London: Routledge. pp 312
  • Schaefer, D & Karan, K (2010) “Problematizing Chindia: Hybridity and Bollywoodization of popular Indian cinema in global film flows” pp 309-314

 

Internationalising Education

The idea of becoming an ‘international student’ and travelling overseas to complete our studies at various colleges and universities is growing in popularity. What defines an international student though? Is it the act of being in a different country, or is it the knowledge you receive as a result of said studies? Sheffield University’s Student Union believes that students don’t necessarily need to travel abroad to be categorised as an international student.

International education is known to be one of Australia’s top three export industries, but the experiences it should provide is lacking. A large majority of international/ exchange students are not receiving the social experiences they should when visiting and living in Australia. Even though Australia is a place where multiculturalism is encouraged, local students display little to no interest when it comes to interacting with the new international students. Nobody wants to put themselves out there and take a risk; no matter how beneficial it could be.

There are many barriers international students have to deal with when they first move to their new country of choice. Not everyone speaks English to begin with, so many students are fronted with the task of learning a new language to better understand their surroundings. It may not even be learning a new language, but understanding the slang used in everyday Australian speech. Another issue they may have to deal with is home sickness. Some may have a harder time adjusting to life without their family being within close range to them, and many local students overlook that. They don’t necessarily understand how hard it may be for people to move, sometimes, half a world away from some of their biggest supporters.

Simon Marginson from the University of Melbourne states (2012, pp.1) “… if international education is important to succeed as a business in this country, the student experience must keep improving. It must keep improving in exactly this way, as an intercultural encounter.”