Cultures, Capitals and a Confused Australian Media

Hong Kong night lighting
Hong Kong night lighting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I think about where my media comes from, I usually think of it in terms of emanating from distinct nations. For example, The Good Wife, in my mind, is an American TV show, that then is sold to Australian television networks.

However, it seems that this way of thinking is becoming somewhat out-dated, and what we really need to be thinking about are MEDIA CAPITALS.

That is, instead of seeing media in terms of coming from a particular country, with a distinct cultural stamp, we should really accept the reality of media capitals, which are essentially a hub for media development and distribution.

Cover of "The Clash of Civilizations and ...
Cover via Amazon

What is also interesting about media capitals is that they also seem to become places where different cultures interact, and what results is a hybridised mish-mash of media.

My previous opinion, which I’m sure many people share, was informed by judging media flows by the borders they cross, rather than by looking at the reality of complex, multi-directional flow.

Samuel Huntington published a text in 1993 titled ‘The Clash of Civilisations’, in which he theorised that cultural differences would be the cause of future problems. This sparked much debate, because it was based on cultural essentialism.

Sukhmani Khorana (2012) in “Orientalising the Emerging Media Capitals: The Age on Indian TV’s Hysteria”, describes how attacks on Indian students studying in Melbourne were responded to by the Indian media. However, what is primarily focused upon is the Australian media’s response to the unprecedented coverage the attacks received in India. Indian media, it became clear, was not something to be taken lightly.

This Sunrise excerpt, rather than focussing on issues behind the attacks, instead highlights Australia’s ‘damaged reputation’ and repercussions for Australia’s continued International Student program, which, according to Khorana, was a common response.

 So it would seem that media capitals do, in fact, exist, irrespective of whether or not we are aware of them or give them much credence. Hong Kong is a major capital, while cities such as Rio de Janeiro and Madras may be heading there, according to Michael Curtin (2003) in “Media Capital: Towards the Study of Spatial Flows“. Hollywood undeniably has competition.

The growth of media capitals is yet another result of globalisation, and, despite a lot of confusion, in the long term, I think we can expect to see more positive outcomes from an increase in media from all over the world, not just select places.

 

 

 

References:

Curtin, M 2003 ‘Media Capital: Towards the Study of Spatial Flows’, International Journal of Cultural Studies, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 202-228.

Khorana, S 2012, ‘Orientalising the new media capitals: The Age of Indian TV’s Hysteria’, Media International Australia, vol. 145, pp. 39-49.

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The Whole World and Hip Hop

I hadn’t realised until this week just how important hip hop is to such a large division of society.

The key is, I believe, how hip hop often provides an outlet for those who don’t feel like they ‘belong’.

Hip hop street dancing, aka break dancing, in ...
Hip hop street dancing, aka break dancing, in San Francisco. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Henderson in “The Vinyl Ain’t Final“, talks about how many Samoan people live in other countries, such as Hawaii, New Zealand and the United States. These dislocated clusters of young Samoans were also some of the first to adopt and spread hip hop. Henderson also notes how a young Samoan girl, at the 2000 Aotearoa Street Dance, combined hip hop with the traditional Samoan dance ‘siva’.

This again raises the question of whether globalisation is eclipsing traditional cultures. In this particular case, the issue resides in whether hip hop is eradicating traditional forms of dance, and further, whether this is a bad thing.

I think a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer is not an appropriate response to either of these questions. Instead, I think we need to think of globalisation as something that forces hybridisation. Hip hop has borrowed from numerous cultures over its evolution, and is popular all over the world.  This would indicate that hip hop, by its very definition, requires the individual to contribute something about themselves.

There are, by general consensus, 4 different elements to hip hop:

  • MCing
  • DJing
  • Graffiti
  • Breaking

This means there are a whole range of options for expressing ‘hip hop’.

As a further example of how hip hop has spread, we can look at how it has impacted upon indigenous Australian youth. According to George Morgan and Andrew Warren, in “Aboriginal youth, hip hop and the politics of identification“, it has been a way for disadvantaged young people to connect with each other and with their mentors. It has provided a constructive avenue for them to express feelings of discontent.

The fact that hip hop has been adopted globally is a perfect example of ‘glocalisation‘, where a global concept is adapted in a local way. Despite hip hop originating in America, it has been appropriated all over the world.

To me, this hybridisation is a positive thing. It produces things like this:

References:

Henderson, A (2006) ‘Dancing Between Islands: Hip Hop and the Samoan Diaspora’ The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip Hop and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture Basu, Dipannita and Sidney J. Lemelle, eds. London: Pluto Press, pp. 180 –200

Morgan, G, Warren, A 2011, ‘Aboriginal youth, hip hop and the politics of identification’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, vol. 34, no. 6, pp. 925-947.

#Unilyf.

International education is BIG business in Australia.

It sounds exciting, the perfect opportunity for a better life.

However, the dream life isn’t as easy to get a hold of as expected. There are a multitude of factors impacting the success of international students in this country, and the question is, can we change things for the better?

English: KIS International School Students
English: KIS International School Students (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Marginson, in “International Education as self-formation“, describes how international students should have an educational as well as a social experience.

Many students experience homesickness and difficulty communicating. Peter Kell and Gillian Vogl in “International students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes“, describe other issues, including a sense of isolation, a feeling that local students were disinterested in getting to know them and the sheer difference of culture.

Obviously, some of these issues will always be present. Moving away to study in a different culture, far from family, will always be a steep learning curve. However, it seems some members of our culture experience:

Parochialism: where people have a limited range of view, and are hence reluctant to engage with others.

Ethnocentrism: where people believe their own culture is superior to that of others.

Globe
Globe (Photo credit: apbeatty)

What we need is more people who practise:

Cosmopolitanism: where people act as global citizens, with a responsibility to the world.

It is difficult to decide how best to encourage people to act in a cosmopolitan fashion. Ultimately, it requires the open minds of both parties. So, this really entails a shift in cultural attitudes.

However, there are more serious issues at stake, most especially the fact that many international students find themselves unfairly treated and the victims of fraudulent colleges, underpaid work and lack of educational assistance.

Convenient Education is a documentary that outlines the personal stories of international students. It uncovers some very serious issues regarding the welfare of these people.

For example, the 2009 attacks on Indian students highlighted just how important it is that we deal with these issues. The attacks were reported around the world, as shown by the following clip. This created some very bad publicity for Australia.

 

International students are important to this country, and it is essential we resolve these issues.

A little effort goes a long way.

 

 

References:

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.

 

 

Sharing is Caring?

World cultures have never before been more integrated than they are today.

The word we give this impossibly complex concept is:

GLOBALISATION

English: Actor Robert Downey Jr. promoting the...
English: Actor Robert Downey Jr. promoting the film “Iron Man” in Mexico City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Arjun Appadurai, in “Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization” attempts to categorise aspects of globalisation into ‘scapes’:

  • Technoscapes: involves the high speed at which information now travels globally.
  • Mediascapes: increasing electronic capabilities to produce and receive information.
  • Ethnoscapes: involves the shifting landscapes of people, and how this has altered global politics.
  • Financescapes: the global flow of capital.
  • Ideoscapes: the increasingly interrelated landscape of images.

Is gloablisation a good thing? Unfortunately, this is not easily answered. Michael O’Shaughnessy and Jane Stadler, in “Media and Society”, talk of ‘utopian‘ and ‘dystopian’ views.

This video represents a dystopian (if comical) view of globalisation:

The baseline here though is that globalisation has not affected everyone equally. So, for some people, such as myself, globalisation’s benefits far outweigh its disadvantages. However, those affected by shifting labour needs and increased environmental destruction may feel differently.

For me, globalisation means I get to listen to Mumford and Sons, and watch Robert Downey Jr be Iron Man. I can eat fruit even when it’s out of season, and buy cheaper clothes. All in all, I think I’ve got a pretty good deal. However Appadurai talks of the homogenisation of culture, and in particular, Americanisation. If you watch this video titled “Coca-Colonization“, you begin to realise that there is a risk that, when cultures become intertwined, some may be eclipsed by others.

Companies like Coca Cola, McDonalds and Disney have ENORMOUS global influence. I live in Australia and yet I eat regularly at McDonalds with my friends, and grew up watching the Lion King. Is the imposition of American values upon all other cultures right?

In addition, racism still exists within Australia against indigenous people. Adam Goodes’ was recently insulted during a game, called ‘an ape’. If even within our own country there is tension between different cultures, how on earth is an integrated world going to be successful?

Of Monsters And Men - Øyafestivalen 2013
Of Monsters And Men – Øyafestivalen 2013 (Photo credit: NRK P3)

In all honesty, I think the sharing of cultures is a positive thing. There are undeniably problems. Nike sweatshops, excessive deforestation, continued racism and a widening gap between the rich and the poor are all concerning. However, the further globalisation continues, the more likely we are to be able to deal with these issues.

Globalisation owes heavily to increased communication capabilities. This means we know increasingly more about what happens in other parts of the world. Despite large media conglomerates forming, there are still other outlets for people to get information, such as Al Jazeera and Wikileaks. There is accountability that didn’t exist before.

It is also difficult to argue that America completely eclipses other cultures that are exposed to it. I consume many American commodities, but not exclusively. I enjoy many BBC programs, and listen to Of Monsters and Men, as well as Australian television and bands.

In a nutshell, globalisation, like everything, has a dark side. It also has many benefits.

Like it or not, it’s here to stay…

 

 

 

References:

Appadurai, A 1996, ‘Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Economy,’ Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization’, Minneapolis and London: University of Minesota Press, pp. 27-47.

O’Shaughnessy, M and Stadler, J 2008, ‘Globalisation’, Media and Society (fifth edition), Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 458-471.