Mirror Mirror on the Wall – Reflection Time

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BCM111 has helped me to cultivate my understanding of news media on a global level. It has allowed me to understand the complex network of television industries, media capitals and news conglomerates as well as the importance of journalistic integrity and balance.
The group presentations throughout the course were engaging and acted as a way for us to interact on a deeper level with the content. Class discussions gave me an opportunity to foster my opinions into words.

The three weeks that particularly grabbed my attention were week 4, 7 and 9.

I’ve always had a great love for hip hop music in particular Australian hip hop. I now understand hip hop on a global level and how a product or genre can become glocalised.
Week 7 allowed me explore how part of the global entertainment industry works and the key elements of successful global television shows.

Climate change is always something i’ve been seriously concerned about for the last 4 or 5 years and writing this post invited me to put some of my strong opinions into writing.
This assessment task has forced me to research ideas and subject matter that i was previously interested in and write about it succinctly and concisely. It has allowed me to delve into further into academia and better articulate and express my opinions.

International media and communications has invited me to understand how globalisation works on a new and different level. Previously, I was under the impression that the term globalisation mainly focused on our economic and trade markets. I now recognise globalisation and a much wider and complex term and have more of an understanding of what it means for media and social industries.

Breaking News: Climate change a positive for Mother Earth, she’s better off without us

Climate change is a very real and very present part of our everyday life now. It’s of great concern to my parents generation, my generation and future generations. Sydney has seen some of the hottest days of the year already with temperatures climbing to the low 30s and expecting to reach up to 40 degrees… in October – the second month of spring. Not to mention Sydney is predicted to have the hottest summer on record since 1910.

95% of scientists agree that climate change is and will continue to greatly effect the lifestyles that we and our future generations live. There are very few things that scientists agree on (their job description is to test and prove theories) but climate change is nearly a unanimous and resounding IT EXISTS. Yet 50% of Australia’s general population believes that climate change is not real.

Why?

Journalists are practicing false balance. In Bud Ward’s article ‘Journalism Ethics and Climate Change Reporting in a Period of Intense media Uncertainty,’ he describes false balance as …providing space disproportionate to its scientific credibility to perspectives running counter to what is now widely accepted as the ‘established’ scientific judgment.’ Mainstream media has made a number of mistakes when it came to discussing climate change to its audiences. One of the biggest in my opinion, was calling climate change a ‘debate’ – there is no argument nor should there have been any argument, it exists and humans are part of the reason for its existence.

A way to combat false balance is to start reporting on the real human effects of climate change. Some of the smallest islands with lowest carbon emissions output are suffering at the hands of the rest of the world, these people are being displaced from their homes and communities in the South Pacific due to rising sea levels. Already they are seeing the effects of water contamination, flooding erosion and there is serious concern for the loss of culture and tradition (Khorana 2013.)

Journalists need to start explaining that the process of climate change isn’t something that’s on its way, it’s here, it’s very real and real suffering is beginning to occur. 

Rinse & Repeat: The Global Television Entertainment Industry

Television shows have always been one of the media industries biggest exports with many programs shown in hundreds of different countries (e.g. The Simpsons.) Now as media capitals rise and the flows of television change entire series formats are sold to other countries so they can be remade to suit cultural contexts. Comedy series are the most popular to re adapt with some more successful (the American and British versions of The Office) than others (American version of the Inbetweeners.) Andy Medhurst offers a reason for this:comedy plays an absolutely pivotal role in the construction of national identity because it invites us to belong by sharing the joke.’ Sue Turnbull’s article Television Comedy in Translation highlights that comedy and humour is something that does not always culturally translate well. Specifically she uses the example of the American Kath & Kim and explains that the reasons for its failure lie in the missing element of irony.

‘I would suggest that what has ‘seriously been lost in translation’ is the role and place of irony: in this case, the gap between how a character imagines him/herself to be and how they appear to the audience. While Riley’s Kim might imagine herself as a horn-bag, the actor’s embodied performance works to undercut her character’s belief and to reveal Kim as foolish and self-deluded… Blair’s Kim, however, is young enough, attractive enough… and trashy enough to be a tabloid queen.’

Humor is not the only element that might not be translated well, sometimes the entire format of a show will need to be altered in order for it to be culturally identifiable. An example of this is Ugly Betty– originally Betty la Fea, the 1998 Columbian production sold the show’s telenovela format to over 70 different countries. Certain countries made their own version of Betty la Fea for cultural authenticity such as India, Turkey, Germany, Russia – whilst other countries ‘dubbed’ or ‘canned’ the original program.

It was the American version of Ugly Betty that is probably the most interesting, airing in 130 countries once a week with a 40 minute time slot + adds, the American version followed a similar story but couldn’t be more different from a telenovela production.

Ugly Betty Goes Global by Jade Miller describes a telenovela as ‘dramatic narratives, frequently imbued with humour and even more consistently full of romantic liaisons, improbable story-lines and melodrama.’ Telenovelas generally have a half an hour time slot every night, run for 6 months and are cheap to produce with a whole series run totalling around $8 million. (Miller, 2010) ABC studios realised the traditional telenovela format or genre wouldn’t work for American television audiences as the South American version of the show was too simple and too cost effective. We now live in an age where television production is big business and people expect more from TV studios. Game of Thrones costs $6 million per EPISODE. A far cry from the $8 million of the entire series of Betty la Fae.

In an effort to localise the show, Ugly Betty was made into a sitcom. This however failed because they over localised it and stripped it of its universally appealing elements, this meant that it lost its heart. 

The success of a television show depends on how well culture and humour translate. 

The Twisting Times of Television and New Media Capitals

Previously, the media landscape has been localized to America and dominated by American content due to the United States being one of the only countries with the technology and media infrastructure to produce, promote and distribute content.

Now, with an ever globalizing economy media flows aren’t as straight forward as a product produced and sold by one country to another, instead media flows transcend geographical borders and nation states. In Michael Curtin’s essay ‘Media Capital’ he discusses how multi directional flows of media are beginning to rise out of cities that have become hubs for finance, production and distribution of television programs. Curtin refers to cities such as Hong Kong, Mumbai, Cairo, Singapore and Malaysia as new media capitals. Mumbai for example, produces 1200 films a year and are distributed all over the world. Curtin also suggests that we should view media capitals as bound up in a web of relations that exist at the local, regional national and global level.

Unfortunately, neo-orientalism is a problematic product of globalized media and is one that’s hard to stamp out. Unfortunately westerners can often be parochial in their approach to different cultures, this is often then perpetuated by the media which breeds ignorance and ethnocentrism. An example of neo-orientalism is how the media have portrayed Muslims post 9/11. Instead of the accurately depicting the multifaceted religion, images of horror, war, bloodshed and oppression are consistently shown to an audience that are pushed further into their xenophobia.

What is hip will hop borders

Hip hop is now a global product that has been produced and distributed all over the world since the 1980s. With its roots considered to be in the ghettos of downtown L.A and the backstreets of New York, hip hop reached the world stage through globalization. From there the formula of hip hop has spread around the world, allowing other cultures to create and develop their own forms and understanding of hip hop culture as a vehicle for cultural identification.

 Example of British hip hop – The Streets : the irony of it all.

Elements of hip hop

The hip hop formula is made up of four main elements, MCing (rap), DJing (music), breaking (dancing), graffiti (visual) and sometimes beat boxing – these elements allow different interpretations and representations of hip hop to be formed. For example, Australian hip hop culture places less emphasis on breaking and more emphasis on the spoken word and the music in order to be considered authentic. In contrast the Samoan hip hop culture places great importance on breaking as seen in Henderson’s article Dancing Between the Islands: Hip hop and the Samoan Diaspora.

There is one element of hip hop culture that transcends all others and is a crucial foundation for hip hop culture: the notion of authenticity. Being authentic is about ‘representing,’ whether its geographical location, race, group, religion – the authenticity of a hip hop artist is determined by how well they represent a community’s social and cultural context

Hip hop as a product of hybridity.

In 1984 Malcolm McLaren released what is considered to be the first Australian hip hop song – Buffalo Gals.

Although it was initially a hit, McLaren’s song and film clip was an imitation of American hip hop culture with shots featuring city skylines, graffiti and scratching that weren’t specific to Australian culture but typical of American hip hop videos. The lyrics of the song had no identifiable voice, that could be related to – I don’t believe that it was authentically hip hop.

Interestingly, a number of years on and taking many elements of American hip hop culture, the Australian hip hop scene has developed with Australian MC’s making names for themselves by creating a completely separate sub-genre with its own distinctive voice and sound. The Australian accent features heavily and themes surrounding middle class day to day life are prevalent – this was highlighted in Week 4’s group presentation.

Seth Sentry’s song Room for Rent highlights some of the struggles young people face trying to make ends meet in Sydney. His modest and joking tone and his culturally identifiable lyrics helped to make this song a success in Australia.

Hip hop is now a product of glocalisation – the global formula for the hip hop has been applied by artists on local levels thus making the music culturally identifiable to the audience.

International Education

Australia could potentially provide some of the best study abroad programs world wide – we’re a politically and socially stable country with a thriving economy, many good universities and many great opportunities for young people. So why are Australian universities losing international students if it’s such big business? The world is fast moving forward into what has been coined the Asian Century where Asian countries such as India, China, Hong Kong, Singapore etc. become the powerhouses for education, innovation, media and output in general. One the reasons Australia is beginning to lose international students is because more countries like Singapore and Hong Kong are investing more money into their tertiary institutions which can provide students with a degree that’s closer to home.

Unfortunately there are also much darker reasons as to why Australia is losing international students. Following the race fuelled violence towards Indian university students in Melbourne 2009, many international students left Australia in fear leaving people to believe that Australian’s can often be parochial (narrow minded) and ethnocentric (one’s own group is superior.) Peter Kell & Gillian Vogl’s paper International Students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes suggests another of the main issues that international students face are language barriers and understanding Australian colloquialisms: “Australian English has been depicted as featuring informality, abbreviated expressions, rhyming slang as well as descriptive similes.” Learning Australian English takes time and practice and often foreign students find it hard to converse with Australian people as they are often impatient and can appear “…ambivalent, distant and disinterested in international students and foreigners in general” (Kell & Vogl pg. 8 2006) This again lends itself to the idea of Australian’s being parochial and ethnocentric giving Australia a scarred reputation.

Australia is a lucky and country, we’re not even 200 years old and considered one of the Western super powers. We’ve been built on the foundations of migration and we should be opening our doors to cultural homogeneity and multiculturalism. Embracing the international community through the means of education is an enlightening and progressive step forward for Australia as well as economically and culturally beneficial.

Citizens of Australia, its time to adopt a more cosmopolitan approach and become global citizens, embracing and valuing diversity and difference and keeping an open mind.

International students come here not to take anything away from our culture, but to contribute to it. And that should be welcomed. 

Well, haven’t we become one big happy global(?) family!

Globalisation is not an easy topic to define as it’s quite broad: Globalisation refers to the international community, and it’s collective influence on technological development, economies, political movements, media representation and military interests. It is characterised by a worldwide increase in interdependence, interactivity, interconnectedness, and the virtually instantaneous exchange of information. (Khorana, 2013) It is a process that is feared by some and embraced by many mainly because it is almost unavoidable, after all there’s no ignoring the two McDonald’s they’ve built in my hometown of 35 000 people. Every technological event we’ve had since the fifteenth and sixteenth century has led us towards global interrelatedness. Now (with many thanks to the instantaneity of the Internet) communication itself has been globalised and we’re able to interact with people, business’s, celebrities, government, media, experiences on a whole new level in real time. There are now many platforms that allow us to create communities and form relationships that transcend geographical location, race, religion and bring down cultural barriers – exchanging and communicating to create a world that is interconnected. Marshall McLuhan’s utopian term the ‘global village’ imagines a world where media transcends the nation-state in a democratising process that gives everyone’s voice a chance to be heard and enables information to be freely shared. Interactive media facilitates participation in global communication and debates and offers entry into public space. (Globalisation reading, 2013)

I wish we could live in a world with unicorns, rainbows and world peace too.

There is a much darker, more realistic side to globalisation, where the wealth that the global society is generating isn’t being equally distributed. Tied up in secret handshakes and big banks, the money that should be helping to create a egalitarian global society is only helping to further the gap between the world’s richest and poorest.

Manuel Castells paints more of a negative portrayal of what’s to come for human kind with his envisaging of a network society ‘while the media have become indeed globally interconnected and programs and messages circulate in the global network, we are not living a global village, but in customised cottages globally produced and locally distributed’

So where do we go from here? Time will tell. Does globalisation lead us down a path of cultural hybridisation and multiculturalism or do we walk the road of hegemony and loss of cultural identity?

I’ll leave you with this video, Google are a company who are one of the biggest benefactors of globalisation. An interesting thought for a planet that should be united by freedom of information and democratising process separate from the nation-state