Do You Want to Build a Snowman (Before it’s all Gone).

I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it…and I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it, except it will destroy our economy.

Marco Rubio’s interview with ABC in May 2014 shows the disappointing view that many still hold towards Climate Change amongst many other global media issues. The issue is not simply that many conservative governments, including our own, hold this view. The issue is wether we should give views like this air time in a public domain when the overwhelming majority of scientists believe that climate change is real and man made.

This premise is called false balance. False balance refers to giving equal amount of time to argue two sides of a debate, when one side is overwhelmingly supported and the other isn’t. It isn’t just about public opinion. It’s about fact. Laura Bergmann’s depiction of this on her blog quite neatly shows this concept.

The big issue here however, is that people with a public discourse are allowed to argue things that really have no argument. Ward’s  paper on ethical journalism of climate change suggests that it is well within journalists rights to think ethically about what they are presenting and wether these counter arguments belong in the public discourse.

Personally, I think not. The danger we risk entertaining the idea that everything the government does is a conspiracy, with greater motivation than to simply fix the wrongs we have made to the climate is frankly, stupid. This logic can also be put against many other global issues such as anti vaccination, asylum seekers, and whaling.

Still need convincing? I’ll leave the last word to the incomparable John Oliver, who sums up just about everything I want to say quite nicely.

Don’t Call It a Remake.

Dramatic storytelling is of unrivalled importance to the overall cultural competence of the world. Dramatic, but it does! This importance is shown when we look at drama’s that have been recreated for different audiences. Thinking critically about who is saying what in each of their depictions of the characters can say a lot about what people of that nationality, ethnicity and gender feel. This is made strikingly clear when we consider the various remakes of the Sherlock Holmes series as detailed by Penny and Asher-Perrin. Their in depth discussion of the ways in which drama is focused in each of the narratives shows how this can differ across nationalities.

In fact, they’ve done so well that I’ve decided to (somewhat) go out on a similar vain, with a detailing of the different versions of, The Bridge.

Broen, The Bridge and The Tunnel are three series all made from one narrative. Two bodies are laid together, as one, across international borders. The complexity of the international borders and there respective issues are then explored throughout the different shows. Broen or the original Bridge focuses on Denmark and Sweden, which then was remade into a U.S/Mexican version which in turn got turned into a English/French version. They each explore things of national interest and in various ways yet have basically the same plot line.

However where they differ is in the unique locations that they provide and the difficulties the two protagonists have in broaching these localities. With these unique locations also comes unique audiences. This opinion piece shows quite beautifully the differences between each of them. Of particular interest is the idea that the European versions are quite “dark” in comparison to there American counterparts. This is basically something that we would call an “American Trope”. Something that is uniquely American that has been  written in or out of the series to better suit this audience.

This actually happens numerous times throughout the series with reference to; Sonja and her mental state, which is given background in the US, for fear of the audience not “liking her”. In Europe this is left untouched and it is up to the viewer to deem or determine what or if she has a mental illness. The way the female lead is played and portrayed also changes in terms of importance. The Scandinavian version is uniquely female lead, with the Sonja role being the integral character, while she is interchangeable with the male lead in the others. There is also a critical element to the “prudish” nature of the sex scenes that inherently undermine Sonja’s power in picking up the man from the bar. The American need for “closure” also undermines the series 2 finale of the American version, to mine and my father’s bitter disappointment.

What all three say about drama and in particular police drama is how unequivocally localised it is. When the cultural plot or cues are visible to us when can understand and take make much more from the show. If not we often become let down or at odds with why something may have happened a certain way, i.e, when whoever wrote the Dexter ending decided to make it the worst ending ever.

 

 

I’m not a Housewife, I’m a Hornbag.

The irony of this statement from Kim, on the Australian show Kath and Kim, is not lost on an Australian audience. The audacity of a middle-aged woman, dressing down to a stereotype of a young teenager and declaring herself profoundly attractive (it really isn’t fun explaining the joke) gives us fits of laughter . Turnbull suggests that the ironic disconnect between the way the character/s imagine themselves  and how the audience view them to be, is the reason Kath and Kim has received such high acclaim.

Yet this resonance is dramatically lost in the US remake of the series (and that’s putting it nicely).  This is important, especially as an Australian audience as we are quite protective of our (good) content. Which makes sense, especially in this case, as we have made comedy somewhat of a national identity. Medhurst describes its importance in terms of how we view and make sense of our national identity by allowing us to share in the joke. That is to say that the jokes are reflective of our nature and gives us an air of familiarity.

Turnbull also draws upon Moran’s idea of cultural translation to consider how this familiarity could be created when recreating a text across cultures. It was shown that in many drama remakes that there needs to be an air of local appeal to the content. This is certainly the case in the recreation of Kath and Kim as Selma Blair used pop stars like Brittany Spears as her characters inspiration, something that would be unnecessary for the cliché riddled Gina Riley.

Likewise in the American remake of The Office the central themes and ideas are the same but the style and personas displayed are uniquely national. Turnbull suggests that not only is this to do with how the comedy is delivered but is impacted in how the actors look. In the Office the “Englishness” is delivered through the typically average looking cast, headed by the wonderfully eccentric Ricky Gervais. Similar to Riley’s Kim his air of sexual “confidence” gives us awkwardly hilarious moments. However, this would probably be lost in the American market, especially when you compare the depiction by Steve Carell of the equivalent character.

Yet, unlike Kath and Kim the American Office garnered critical acclaim and is seen on an equal footing with the original show. This is mostly due to a departure from the original and a foothold by the remake in its own narrative. This is probably the most useful way to recreate shows, particularly comedy. Pay homage, but depart as quickly as you can.

 

 

With a Capital M.

Hollywood, New York, London and…Hong Kong? While Hong Kong might seem out of place in this equation they definitely fit into the “Global Media Capital” spectrum as defined by Curtin (2003). Global Media Capitals are places which create a central location for production of media content. In particular Curtin (2003) also recognises Bombay and Cairo as other sites of this production.

Thinking in terms of Media Capital is important for numerous reasons but mostly importantly is the idea of media flow. More specifically this means how does media and cultural content flow into and out of the Media Capitals and how do they in turn affect this output. Generally transnational flow has happened in a “west to the rest” kind of way, I.e Western content is produced and then spread to the rest of the world. Lately however, we have seen a shift to very localised production of content that shares stories relevant to the audience that is viewing it.

This is shown in Hong Kong’s recent proliferation as a Media Capital. The new growth reflects Hong Kong recent domination as a cultural capital in the south east, with the blending of the old traditional Chinese culture and the emergence of new culture formed by 1st generation Hong Kong citizens, who feel little connection to the mainland. By depicting this clash in culture the content becomes accessible to a larger market.

This idea of Media Capitals becomes turbulent however when we try to look across different Media Capitals and their depiction of certain cultural content, in particular news. Khorana (2012) describes this tension when looking at the attack on Indian students in both the Indian media and the Australian media. Australian media blamed the sensationalism of the Indian media on adding to the controversy, while the Indian media denounced the coverage by the Australian media.

The tension described here signifies how Media Capital’s cultural view can affect how they depict certain events. It also works into the idea that the cultural flow of content can be lost or misdirected across media capitals as one side or the other can not comprehend the others action.

References

Curtin, M 2003 “Media Capital: Towards the Study of Spatial Flow”, International Journal of Cultural Studies, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 202 – 228.

Khorana, S 2012 “Orientalising the Emerging Media Capitals: The Age on Indian TV’s ‘Hysteria”, Media International Australia,

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Genre.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was one of the first films in the new genre, cross over cinema. Kohrana explains cross over cinema as cinema that crosses cultural borders, but not exclusively in the manifestation of its audience like other similar genres (transnational film, world cinema). Cross over cinema truly is that because it crosses national borders in a multitude of ways including:

  • Conceptualisation
  • Production
  • Hybrid Cinematic Text
  • Distribution
  • Reception

It is important to think of cross over cinema in terms of what it means in an increasingly globalised world. Cross over cinema reimagines the boundaries that film producers may have faced. It is also important to examine how these creative practitioners comprehend this shift. They also need to examine how they produce content in this climate.

Take for instance the cross over hit, Slumdog Millionaire. Danny Boyle’s production spoke to viewers on a much deeper level because thematically it dealt with things that had universality. Kohrana defines this need for interconnection as:

Transnational appeal needs to be both globally and locally dispersed rather than invested in an elite Western milieu.

This explanation also draws attention to the idea that cross over cinema cannot solely rely on Western stories and opinion to define it. This description imbeds the idea that really good cross over cinema like all cinema relies on good story telling. Although it looks and feels genuinely different to stories that are inwardly focused it still must provide the viewer with as much substance.

Iggy Failure.

Increased cultural awareness and interest in different cultures has shifted global trends of media consumption. No longer are Hollywood films the only viable mass market cinema culture. This “contra flow” against Hollywood has generally promoted industries from the South East of Asia and in particular India. Bollywood is the term to describe the Indian Film market that is concentrated in Mumbai. Its characterised by bright costuming, large choreographed song and dance scenes and an overwhelming sense of spirit.

However where this success and notoriety becomes problematic is the appropriation of Indian (and other) culture.

Iggy Azalea’s video for Bounce is rife with this cultural appropriation. Guha‘s assessment of this is spot on and prompts discussion on; cultural appropriation of the culture, how Indians are received (or not received) in western countries, co-opting Indian culture and sexualising its nature and then goes on to ask the bigger question of cultural appropriation.

Are we willing to sell someone else’s culture out to make money? 

Schafer and Karan (2010) best describe this as:

Bollywoodisation appears to have been absorbed into the conglomerate multicultural marketing toolkit, prompting us to question whose economic interest actually is being served by the soft power potential of the Indian film industry and its cinematic contra-flow

This frank assessment questions who really benefits from having other influences other than American in the culture market and how might western markets be benefiting from having a strong Bollywood culture or even a Bollywood culture that they can draw upon for advertising/marketing purposes.

Exploration of the misuse of cultures in promoting and distributing products is undeniably important. It is necessary for us as western producers and consumers to realise that using specific religious and cultural isn’t ok. What we should strive for is the acceptance and proliferation of different cultural aspects and honour them, without being offensive or horrid.

References

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, no 3, pp. 309-316.

Language and International Students

The presence of international students in a domestic university often brings up unique and significant challenges. Central to these challenges is the ability to understand and use the distinct vernacular that is used in each setting. Kell and Vogl (2007) present this idea as;

The possession of an understanding and ability to use colloquial and non – formal English is a key to initiating and maintaining social interactions with and outside the academy. (Kell & Vogl 2007, p.8)

There in lies the success to being an international student, get down with the lingo! (warning:expletive content) However this can be challenging as the departure from a more formal English to the colloquial rampant Australian English, coupled with a new set of cultural and societal norms can overwhelming.

While Kell & Vogl (2007) don’t necessarily delve deep into this interconnection, Kambouropoulos (2014) with her qualitative study looks to delve into these issues. The difficulty in integration is expressed over 3 broad groups; Adjustment, Academic and Social/Psychological. Most notably from these 3 groups is the understanding that some of these factors would have little to no bearing on domestic students. Issues such as parental pressure to the extent that is placed on international students is unparalleled. Although this study is limited by a low male response rate and location, it does give a good insight into the deeper effect that studying abroad can have.

What both papers do express is the need for further development by universities in relation to the connection between international students and their social and cultural experience. Although having English proficiency is necessary it is the connection to place that international students need to foster.

Simply addressing issues of standard and English proficiency in the academy disconnected from social and cultural aspects of student life will not adequately address the needs of an increasingly diverse student population. (Kell & Vogl 2007, p.9).

References:

Kambouropoulos, A 2014, ‘ An examination of the adjustment journey of international students studying in Australia’, The Australian Educational Researcher, vol. 41, no. 3, pp. 349-363.

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

 

A Royale With Cheese.

 “Glocalisation” of products is practically inevitable. Appadurai described it best as such;

…as rapidly as forces from various metropolises are bought into the new societies they tend to become indigenised in one way or another.

One of the great Tarantino scenes actually says a lot to me about how global/glocalisation actually works. The idea of how a major franchise will change its product pending on location speaks volumes to it.

The necessity of this from a business standpoint is unquestionable and expansion into global markets  would likely fail without it.

But what does this say about our new global environment? Does this make “McDonaldisation” a feasible  outcome for the growth and development of a global economy

OR

are we stripping away the very thing that makes the difference in our spatiality so unique and precious for  a quick buck.

I remember during my first degree Dr. Natascha Klocker asking what is a “developing” country really  needing to develop to? Is a western principle of how we should fundamentally develop our economy  suitable to many of these situations or is the loss of culture and tradition suffered too hefty a price to pay?

Inevitably this is always where globalisation debate will end up.

Utopian vs. Dystopian.

While I can’t be definitive  I have an inkling the right answer is somewhere in the vs.