Reflection on International Media

If I was asked what I knew about International media at the start of the semester, I would probably just blurt out a couple of generic answers such as foreign movies and global news channels. BCM111 has completely broadened my knowledge on what media in an international landscape really means. I did not know that the term “Globalisation” or the notion of something being “globalised” was more relevant then ever. We are living in a society that is constantly chopping and changing its ways due to allowing of cross-border integration. Most people are oblivious to this in society, but when you divulge deeper  into this issue you will discover many patterns and impacts that still continue to surprise me.

I have challenged myself to re-evaluate the term Globalisation. Do we REALLY live in a globalised world, or is it just the western world taking over? I wish in our globalised world today that hybridity was prevalent, as a hybrid world would be celebrating multiple unique and individual cultures coming together to form one, but sadly I personally think this is definitely not the case. Through this semester in International Media, I have come to the realisation that the western world is living up to its “bully stereotype” and forcing unique and individual cultures to become more like themselves aka cultural imperialism at its finest.

Apart from my opinion on our so-called “globalised world”, I have been linking some key course topics to my theories I think about day to day. Such as why do International people think Australians are so racist? Even though I’m not that surprised, I realised it is most likely due to the Australian media we put forward to the world, whether it is our sense of humor or the ways we express ourselves to internationals. This will not change as we are our own culture, so English critics slamming shows such as Summer Heights High need to take a chill pill and realise that the whole world just cannot be as “hilarious” as themselves.

Us as an inevitably globalised world need to take a deep breath and embrace this change and should use international media outlets as a means to INFLUENCE and not CHANGE. “Think global, act local”.


What do you mean Africa isn’t a country?

Somalia? Is that some sort of cereal or something? Unfortunately the majority of  less informed Australians would have this response. You would have to say ‘Africa’ to help them understand, and if you were to ask them anything that they know about Africa, the typical responses would be hunger, poverty and cute orphans. This in my opinion is the media’s fault. More specifically, the western media on global issues. Now I’m not saying that there is a lack of global news networks because there are many. CNN International and BBC world news to name a few. They have the ‘prerequisites’ of being a global news source which is their news reaching people in multiple countries. The issue I’m going to raise is the amount of emphasis these “global” news stories have on the western world and the lack of emphasis on “the rest” of the world.

The recent shooting in a US naval base where 13 people were killed is a prime example of my issue. This story made headlines all over Australian television and presumably all over the world. But my question is, why does this make global headlines whilst there is a countless number of people dying in Africa everyday and never being reported? It could be because America is the most powerful and influential country in the planet or we are just content with how the western media currently portrays the “others”. I personally believe that it’s because we have become used to only hearing about the western world in multiple common interest forms. Whether it is gossip, sport or politics. The only time we are remotely interested about the “others” is when the media emphasises the spectacle of the place. Whether it is another car bombing in the middle east or an AIDS breakthrough in Africa. Do we hear about the latest beauty paegent controversy in Africa or an Iraqi actor that died? No. Peter lee Wright explains that “Globalisation has produced a countervailing ‘domestication’ of stories, where the international has to be filtered through domestic sensibilities and interests.” (pp.2)

We need to question and re-evaluate the actual news values of “global” media organisations. Why is it that we put so much emphasis on petty global news like Miley Cyrus’s controversial new video clip and why we categorise Africa as a country when reporting on it? Even I have become a victim to generalising Africa. Lee Wright puts it into perspective saying ” what does the continuing coverage tell us about the values of news organisations, when comparing the prominence and priority accorded by different western news outlets?

Hahahaha, no.

“I totally understand the irony and sarcasm in this video!”, said no American person, ever. Have you ever been sitting there watching a video that your friend from another country is showing you and you have to cringe out an obligatory laugh? I mean, ok I understand that people are dancing to the ‘Harlem shake’ but this does definitely not deserve one single exhale of my laughter. It must be an American thing to laugh at people dancing to one song in different locations. This does make me wonder however, why is this so? Well, in Sue Turnbull’s reading ‘Television comedy in translation’ she writes Andy Medhurst’s suggestion that ‘comedy plays an absolutely pivotal role in the construction of national identity because it invites us to belong by sharing the joke’. I could not agree more with this statement because ‘sharing the joke’ is quite a hard concept when talking about international comedic similarities. There are many comedic situations that are indeed international such as slipping on a banana peel, a baby laughing at the silly face his parents are pulling and of course, cats being flung from a fan into a wall. I mean, how can you NOT find that funny? But as Medhurst suggests, the notion of comedy is far more complex and specific: “Sizeable and often crucial amounts of comedic meaning resides in infliction, timing, nuance, gesture, the balance of sound and silence, the unexpected or wilful pronounciation of key words…”.

Take for instance this Australian up-and-coming comedian Neel Kolhatkar. His videos are racist, sexist and fairly political, but to me and most of Australia, are insanely hilarious. I would compare him to the already established Australian comedian Chris Liley aka Ja’mie King. Being on YouTube, Kolhatker’s videos are exposed internationally and have already copped a lot of criticism about being racist and not even remotely funny from foreigners. But from my own definition and being an Australian, his comedic approach is to what us Australians call as “taking the piss out of things”. This ironic, sarcastic and mocking approach is not always welcomed and appreciated by other cultures as their customs and values differ. This strongly reinforces Sue Turnbull’s suggestion in the lecture that “comedy is incredibly risky to transport overseas” and has a very high chance to dis-connect with the audience.

So, what is comedy’s deal? Do we all just have to be ‘in the loop’ to find things funny? Or should we start learning the comedic customs of different cultures. I agree with Medhurst and believe that comedy is a big part of a nations identity and is far too individual to transport, but, understanding certain cultures comedic views is not much to ask to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings.

Hybridity or Plain Disrespectful?

If someone was to ask me my thoughts on the movie ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ I would respond “A foreign drama that follows the complicated life of a poor Japanese girl”. I’m sure the majority of people would agree, so take a look for yourself:

Now, most of us would be correct about the main story line, but there is one common misconception about these kinds of movies, they are not as foreign as we all think. In fact, they have become so hybrid ever so slightly that the curtain between cultures is beginning to rip. Hybridity is  “mixing both global and local elements to appeal to audience tastes and trends” (Schaefer, Karan, 2006). Us as a western audience may not completely connect with a film if it only represents aspects of its own culture, so us as selfish westerners are comforted by familiarity in the form of a “Hollywood touch” to the film, whether its familiar actors and actresses or just familiar plot lines.

In the case of ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’, there is a thin line between a hybrid and being culturally disrespectful in my opinion. It’s essentially ‘an Eastern movie for Western audiences’ (Lagerkvist, 2009). The portrayal of Japanese culture within the film is somewhat of a positive attempt to showcase it to the Western world. But this is only the case if the natives of that culture agree, and in this movies case, they did not. Criticisms of inaccurately depicting the life of a Geisha, all the main actresses being non-Japanese, the shooting mostly taking place on a Californian sound-stage and the Japanese actors portraying secondary characters, have all questioned the hybridity and cultural validity of the film. Even as I was scrolling down the YouTube comments under the trailer, there is obvious confusion concerning whether the movie is a hybrid or culturally disrespectful. The pro hybrid comment read “Who the f*** cares if the actress is Chinese? They’re both have Asian features! At least they didn’t use a white girl” whilst the comment critisizing the film read “Its just this movie is based on Japanese culture and civilians. So casting Chinese actresses for main parts a bit weird considering they play Japanese characters in Japan, in a movie revolving around Japanese culture”.

The obvious conclusion that can be brought from this topic is that yes, there is a fine line between hybridity and being disrespectful. However it does really depend on the audience that consumes it. It is essentially ‘an Eastern movie for Western audiences’ (Lagerkvist, 2009).

It ain’t all about the pimps and hoes.

When oneself thinks of “hip-hop”, oneself will probably think of the usual stereotypes. Pimps, hoes, money, African-Americans and of course some “bling-bling”. But when we shovel deeper into the culture that essentially is confronting society with its problems, we are soon to realise Hip-Hop is about a lot more.  “The thing about hip-hop today is it’s smart, it’s insightful. The way they can communicate a complex message in a very short space is remarkable” Barack Obama.

From hip-hops very beginning in the Ghettos of the Bronx in the 70’s, it has been used as a method of political and social activism. The exportation of US movies such as Beat street and Fame (technoscapes) has helped facilitate the globalisation of hip-hop. This is very much evident with a number of Australian hip-hop artists such as Hilltop hoods, Bliss and Eso and Urthboy. Urthboy in particular is much more political with his music. He is signed by the record company ‘Elefants’ who have a reputation to be quite political “I always like to picture them as some kind of new-age socialist community where everyone has equal rights and where they are always picking each other up with their trunks and squeezing lovingly” (Galinovic, 2012) . Urthboy highlights social and political problems but in an “Australianised” sense. His song “knee high socks” highlights the controversial nightlight of the Kings Cross suburb of Sydney “Grab my skateboard from the cloak room, found Kings Cross with her legs wide open, what kind of trouble could a kid get his nose in, when the best of the is as part of Sydney blows in”.

The song 77% by ‘The Herd’ (including Urthboy) is “a song about racism, refugees, and the Tampa (“Wake up, this country needs a fucking shake up”). Not only do they criticise the political policies but are telling the Australian government and people of Australia to “wake-up”. They are using the art of Hip-hop to ‘represent’ the place they come from and informing the globe as a whole (through the help of technoscapes) what their society is all about. The influences of their music obviously comes from the roots of hip-hop which is African-American, but ‘Urthboy’ and the other Australian hip-hop artists are a true testament on how much hip-hop has evolved globally. They do however still hold the true meaning of hip-hop as a platform of representing your society. So no, hip-hop isn’t just all about them pimps and big-booty hoes.

Fair dinkum! What’s not to understand?!

Crikey! Has the “Aussie” dialect of English become that colloquial that foreigners have no hope in understanding us? In some cases yes, but is it really a bad thing? Does our “evil twin sister” form of the pompous, well-behaved Old English language give us a uniqueness in culture that International students are intrigued by and want to learn more about it?  In my opinion and from personal experiences, yes it does.

As Australia is a fairly new country and is essentially made up of migrants, “Australian English vocabulary is a hybridisation of Gaelic, Welsh, Scots, London Cockney, Indigenous, Malay…”(Angelo, 1994). This has given Australian English its unique dialect made up of informality and colloquialisms. Now, when we throw international students into this culture, mumbling sentences at them at 1 million miles an hour such as “Aymatey,gonnagetonthepisswivyaoldpalafterthefootythisarvo?” is probably going to get a very “…..” response from poor old Edgar from Germany who thought he had quite a good grasp on the English language. In the reading ‘International students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes’, its stated “Students mentioned that it was particularly difficult to understand the Australian accent out in the community”. This is mostly due to our tendencies to mumble and slur words, when foreign students listen to clear and accurate accents when learning English e.g. instead of classically saying “going to” we mash the words together to form “gonna”. These sort of words confuse the daylight out of students  and in some cases deter them from speaking to locals. Yes, it is a lazy and colloquial form of language, but that’s what foreigners love about Australia! Take into account the recent tourism campaign “Where the bloody hell are you?”. The stereotypically relaxed, informal message of Australia that the campaign is conveying to the globe, complements our relaxed and informal “Australian language”.

Even though it may be a daunting prospect for international students to understand our “lingo”, the best way to experience the culture is to fully embrace and immerse yourself in it. Find a common ground with some of locals even if its just simply talking about what you had for “brekkie” (breakfast). Whilst us as Australians need to understand that our form of English is not globally taught so patience and constant communication will ensure a culturally-rich experience for the internationals. Here’s a video that will definitely give you a headstart. Cya round you little ankle-biters!

Global village or Western village?

“Think local and act global”, are the words spoken by Manuel Castells in the reading ‘Media and Society’. My interpretation of this quote on Globalisation is to incorporate your own cultures individuality into a product and then communicate this product globally for maximum success. Some examples from the top of my head include Mcdonalds, iPhones and Xbox. Now, I am quite sure that most of my readers are thinking of similar products, as we are constantly saturated in these products every single day. The other similarity that these Global products have is that they all come from America- “the land of opportunity”. This therefore makes me and many others wonder, are we really living in a “global village”?

This music video clip showcases positive globalisation in relation to world music. African music or any music from third world areas of the globe did not have exposure in the past, but through the growth of communication media there is now the exposure they desire. The clever use of the well known Western pop artist Shakira will definitely globalise African inspired music, but will the Americanised editing and pop-styled finished product desensitise the true essence of African music to the world?

Since the explosive growth in media and communication industries in the 20th century when television and radio were popularised, there has been constant debate concerning the positives and negatives with the Globalisation of these media’s. The positive facts concerning the globalisation of communication are characterised by:

Instantaneity (instant access to distant information eg. The internet)

-Interconnectedness (formation of relationships across different cultures eg. Charities)

Interdependence (politics coming together from different countries about certain issues eg. United Nations)

Marshall McLuhan’s utopian view on globalisation suggests that people of the world can be brought closer together by the globalisation of communication. He sees this as an agent of empowerment, education, democracy and equality. As much as I agree with Mcluhan’s view, it is to only some extent, as I believe this view can only really benefit the developed/western world. How can people in Africa with no access to the internet let alone electricity, be included in media globalisation? My answer to this is that they just simply cannot. Even though media globalisation has done wonders for the worlds economic output, the gap between the rich and poor is stretching further and further apart.

These negatives in globalisation are very much evident in the products we all consume on a daily basis. The multi-national company Nike for example has strengthened the Dystopian views on Globalisation. The sweat-shops that are running in parts of Asia exploit the poorer parts of the globe by underpaying workers in horrific conditions. Whilst countries like Australia and England are paying for these product in expensive amounts, the Asian workers that produce these products cannot even afford what they make.

Castell’s distopian view of globalisation ‘we are not living in a global village, but in customised cottages globally produced and locally distributed’ perfectly describes my view on the supposed ‘Global village’. In order for it to be a genuine global village, the western culture should stop being cultural imperialists and embrace traditional cultures.