Transnational Film and Cultural Appropriation

Transnational Film is primarily seen as a result of globalisation, whereby western films aim to incorporate aspects of eastern cultures to appeal to a more diverse audience. The result of this is a more connected and understanding cinematic experience, however Rogers argues that the ongoing influx of Transnational Films has led to a gross misunderstanding of other cultures due to the ‘Americanisation’ of eastern cultures (Rogers 2006).

This amounts to the rise of ‘contra flows’ as argued by Schaefer and Karan, shifting the cultural influence to the Global South and ‘blurring the boundaries between the modern and traditional cultures (Schaefer and Karan 2010).

Through this influence arises the highly controversial phenomena of cultural appropriation within transnational cinema. Cultural appropriation is defined by Rogers as the adaptation of a cultures symbols, traditions, rituals and genes by members of another culture. Through this he criticises the use of cultural appropriation in film declaring that it is used in the “assimilation and exploitation of marginalised and colonised cultures” (Rogers 2006).  The misrepresentation of cultures in transnational cinema comes from both a lack of understanding and respect, perpetuating in largely negative cultural stereotyping.

Through this comes the debate that cultural appropriation infers superiority of one culture over another, and whilst Johnny Depp’s Lone Ranger was apparently aimed at celebrating and appreciating Native American culture – he only succeeded in angering Native American communities, adding to the list of movies that accounted for cultural misrepresentation.

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Aspects of globalisation are more prevalent than we believe, and it is not uncommon to be subjected to cultural appropriation in seemingly acceptable social situations. Simply wearing a Native American costume to a themed party can be deemed offensive as quite rightly members outside of that community are not deemed as worthy or understanding enough of the culture to associate with this symbol. The same principles apply in movies which incorporate cultural appropriation, and can lead to gross misrepresentations and interpretations of customs and beliefs within this culture.

Other examples include:

Babel

Apocalypto

Slumdog Millionaire

When cultures are misrepresented for the purpose of Hollywood entertainment, it can lead to anger within native communities that feel as though they have been undermined and exploited, with a lack of justice and dignity served to their ancestry. Rogers alludes to how Western cultures see themselves as ‘superior’. Furthermore he argues that the appropriation of the elements of a subordinated culture by a dominant culture often come without substantive reciprocity, permission and/or compensation (Rogers 2006).

Whilst this truly is a fascinating debate, there isn’t a lot more than opinion that separates what constitutes both morally and ethically correct film in this context. Whilst the intention of innumerable Hollywood films including the aforementioned blockbusters, there is no comprehensive way that what is depicted is any true reflection of the cultures that have been represented. It is important to be sensitive irrespective of what side of this debate you are on, so the final question I pose is;

What side are you on?

References:

1) Rogers, R. A. (2006), From Cultural Exchange to Transculturation: A Review and Reconceptualization of Cultural Appropriation. Communication Theory, 16: 474–503.

2)Karan, K and Schaefer, DJ (2010) ‘Problematizing Chindia: Hybridity and Bollywoodization of popular Indian cinema in global film flows’, Global Media and Communication, 6: 3, pp. 309-316.

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Actually, the world isn’t flat | Globalisation at a second glance.

Common misconceptions about globalisation revolve around the notion that it is a complete, unified and dynamic movement which seem-lessly connects the world on a universal scale. Whilst O Shaugnessy argues “globalisation is characterised by a worldwide increase in interdependence, interactivity, interconnectedness and the virtually instantaneous exchange of information” (2008), economist Dr Panjak Ghemawat believes “we are not even close.” He insists the world is not a large and unified market, rather one of many small interconnected entities, with varying degrees of openness to one another. Through these ideas he suggests that even the most open of economies are closed, and that we live in a world of semi-globalisation at best.

The coining of the phrase “the world isn’t flat” in this instance is metaphorical for Dr Ghemawat opposing the idea that national borders do not in any way limit the opportunities for trade, economic growth and communication between countries. Ghemawat refutes the idea that there is a single global economy, instead arguing on the basis of various economic measures and indicators, suggesting “nations are much more disconnected than we imagine” (Harvard Business Review’s  2011). It is in this respect, the world is not a flat and one dimensional entity, rather an intricate and diverse mixture of culture, economy and technology – a delta between perception and reality in a not so hyper-connected world.

TEDBlog analyses key statistical information on which Dr Ghemawat uses to reinforce his claims that suggest our world ‘isn’t as globalised as we think’. In a TED talk delivered by Dr Ghemewat, he strongly opposes the influence of globalisation on global interactions, believing there are limited interactions between countries and economies.

Of the telephone minutes placed in the world last year, only 2% were made across nations, whilst online calls made through platforms such as skype accounted for that statistic to rise to 6%. Despite this rather underwhelming statistic, The Harvard Business Review recounts that a random survey of 400 people estimated the statistic to be around 30%. The same review claims that whilst most of us assume there is significant human movement between countries as a result of immigration, only 3% of the worlds population are first world immigrants – contrary to the same survey which estimated this percentage to be over 2o. Dr Ghemewat believes the most prolific evidence for lack of globalisation is evident through educational systems, where only 2% of all University students across the world are studying in a foreign country, which can result in a lack of dialogue and effective communication between countries in regards to future technological advancements.

Furthermore, foreign aid accounts for only 1% of funding in the United States, whilst Americans greatly overestimate the interactions that their country has established with nations from overseas, with samples of people believing the budget for foreign aid would account for upwards of 25%, believing 10% should be the bare minimum to ensure a good rapport with developing or under privileged nations (World Public Opinion).

It is interesting to note how the aforementioned issues relate to the ‘scapes’ of globalisation, and whether or not Dr Ghemewat’s claims are valid and more importantly relevant to globalisation in the future. By referring specifically to aid work, communications and education – the statistics challenge the nature of the ethno, techno and financescapes within globalisation. Whilst it is unclear that individuals are unaware of the apparent presence (or lack thereof) of globalisation and how it is applicable in a modern society, it is interesting to observe statistics highlighted by Dr Panjak Ghemewat in his aforementioned TEDtalk. Despite his claims, Dr Ghemewat remains neutral and encourages people to do their own individual research to make their own informed opinions on the matter of globalisation.

References

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

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Variety is the Spice of Life

https://storify.com/debsyUOW/variety-is-the

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Tinder in Real Life | Alex and Katie’s Digital Artefact

Katie and I took to the streets of UOW in a real life attempt to investigate what the real fuss is about Tinder. Live from the building 25 news desk (bench), check it out!

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Openings that sadly didn’t work on our female friend…

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Master Post | JRNL101 Assignment 3

1) Portrait

Nick Davoren

2)  Aggregated News Articles

War Correspondence | A Dangerous Task

Sensationalism | Dig a little deeper

3) Issues in Journalism Today

Original Interview | Career Aspirations

ft. Rianna Manuel, Aidan Kidson, Keiden Chueng and Ryan Geer

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Portrait: Nick Davoren

Music is special to me. It can take you to a place unlike any other, it’s magic.

Getting to know Nick over the course of the semester has been nothing short of a pleasure. A down to earth country boy at heart, Nick is an incredibly genuine individual who believes it’s important to stay grounded no matter what you achieve in life.

“I think it’s pretty important to never forget where you came from, ultimately it’s made you what you are, and what you’re destined to be.”

After studying teaching for one year at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, Nick discovered he was destined for a vastly different career path. Moving from his hometown of Wagga was never going to be an easy decision, forming the challenge of establishing himself in a new environment.

“I studied at my local university because it was convenient, comfortable. I thought I’d give it crack but it just wasn’t for me”

Despite this the 20 year old moved away from his family to reside on campus in Wollongong, to study a double degree in Creative Arts and Communications and Media.

“I figured that if you never go outside your comfort zone you can never progress as a person. When I got the offer to come to Wollongong I was so excited and since then, I haven’t looked back.”

Self described as impulsive, direct and unsure, Nick believes these attributes will enable him to reach his goal of working in radio alongside his greatest passion in life, music.

“I’d like to think I can bring my own sense of personality and individualism in any environment. Traveling overseas to London or New York would be amazing, I think gaining those experiences would help anyone find a sense of direction in life.”

Music has always been apart of Nick’s life, being exposed to it from a young age. He is an accomplished guitarist with aspirations of music writing and recording, who has already performed numerous times at venues in his hometown.

“I just love how expressive and experimental it can be. There’s music for every mood and everyone’s interests for that matter.”


Nick also has a strong connection to artists who are able to invent their own style and move away from stereotypical performance.

“In terms of artists I really admire Nick Cave, his music is different and his own style. It makes me think that more unique styles of music are widely accepted, and that’s encouraging for someone like me.”

Nick’s career motivation stems from a firm self belief, understanding that the best way to achieve any goal in life is to have faith in your abilities.

“I figure if you want something badly enough there isn’t anything that can stop you. I want to be able to step into an industry and change it somehow, leave my mark on it… Leave an impact that will be noticed’’

Nick has an outstanding attitude towards life, with unmistakable modesty and humility.  Adopting his own style and a free spirit will no doubt provide him with a platform to succeed in his years of study to come.

“I think everyone has their own style, their own way.. What makes mine different? I guess i’m yet to fully find out.”

Written by Alex Debs

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