Reflection // Transnational Media & Cultural Industries

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Through the progression of BCM288 [Transnational Media & Cultural Industries] I have been challenged to explore both Australian and international industries that contribute to the audience experience, production and content therefore creating a global media and culture. Each week introduced a new topic along with case studies that assisted me in grasping the transnational development of information and underlying values and dimensions that came with them.

At the beginning of this subject I had little knowledge about television and film, only their end results in the box office. BCM288 allowed me to delve into the development of such projects through notions such as ‘Co-Productions’ and the localisation of television within different nations. Firstly, I was able to compare elements such as the financial funds that differed between domestic produced films and that of co-produced whereby some of the numbers were staggering. The immense difference therefore impacted the kind of project that was being developed and then shared with global audiences.

We explored the context of television within Australia whether it be the production, exhibition, reception and potential transnational success of programs. The use of ‘Black Comedy’ was evident where we researched it’s adaptation, cross -culture potential and its offensive/satirical label that was thrown by audiences and critics. This then led to my individual exploration into the depiction of multicultural societies and cultures in the the Australian television industry. The notions of ‘Aboriginalism’ and the ‘Indigenous Public Sphere’ stuck with me, where this form of representation leads to discourses that create expectations and assumptions of Aboriginals on the television screen; outlining one’s overall presence portrayed by attire, personality, sound and depicted values. This research dealt with the issues of stigmatization, tokenism and stereotyping humor that was prevalent in an industry that has previously  lacked has the contribution of the affected minority. The ways that diverse forms of Indigeneity have been convoluted in the Australian television industry have altered perceptions nationwide and perhaps globally. These representations within the screen have been inhibited by the ideas of ideological disparities and are now slowly moving towards the empowerment of vulnerable issues and populations.

Cosmopolitanism was also a notion that I found myself engrossed in. Cosmopolitanism is the ideology that all human beings belong to a single community, based on a shared morality. Through a class debate, our group was to argue against the statement ‘Does unprecedented rise in global media flows and human mobility always lead to cosmopolitanisation of culture and political values?’ I found this task very challenging though we were able to explore key concepts such ‘Ethnocentrism’ which is the evaluation of other cultures according to preconceptions originating in the standards and customs of one’s own culture. How can you one expect shared morality and values of a nation with diverse communities from broadcasted parochial content, especially that of a country that oppresses its inner populations.

This subject has given me a wider perspective upon global media as a whole rather than that closed off by borders. I was able to learn about global media flows, their impacts and the logistics of how they become what they are and what they mean to stakeholders both active and passive. It has built upon my skills to research specific components of the media market and help bring them to the limelight for myself and those who follow my blog spot.

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Cosmopolitan Riot!

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Cosmopolitism is the ideology that all human beings belong to a community, based on a shared morality. The contemporary media landscape invites us to experience a belonging to various distant places, mourn the victims of faraway disasters, expose ourselves to foreign cultures and engage in political issues in places far from our local context of living. It epitomises the needs that social agents have to conceive of a unified entity. The concept presupposes a positive attitude towards difference, a desire to construct broad allegiances and equal and peaceful global communities.

Cosmopolitanism can be seen as a concept that is difficult to fully practice, but the processes and steps to which a more cosmopolitan viewpoint is achieved are prevalent throughout society and especially through the media and media flows sector. Social media has the ability to mitigate severe world issues that bring collectives of people in unison to create an equal worldview. Coined by Jürgen Habermas the “Public Sphere” is the space in which people gather as a collective to explore and discuss issues occurring the society through free speech and conversation, it is separate from the state and the official economy, and is egalitarian and open (Habermas, 1962). In this digital age, Habermas’ notion can be directly linked with the growth of technology and our ability to now broadcast to the world at the touch of a finger, transforming passive consumption to active production “The Internet fosters great dissent application within a digital paradigm by giving protesters the ability to communicate relatively instantaneously and modestly to large quantities of people beyond great distances (Fielder, 2012).

The magnitude to which social movements are capable of, in lessening the stratification and deterring of gender is becoming more monumental through the passage of time. ‘Pussy Riot’ has aimed to penetrate boundaries toward gender within Soviet Russia where they have communicated freedom of sex through radical methods. Based in Moscow, ‘Pussy Riot’ is a feminist punk rock protest group. The unit stage guerrilla-like performances in peculiar locations, filming their music content and then sharing therefore contributing it to the online persona for those arguing gender equality.

“Many forces have made contemporary cosmopolitanism possible: individualism with its relative detachment from immediate, narrow solidarities; global expansion of economic and political systems by military, commercial and religious means; development of transportation and communication technologies that have exacerbated time-space compression and, consequently, the circulation of people, information and commodities on a planetary scale.” –
(Ribiero, 2003)

The world has not certainly not become borderless, but the boundaries are becoming blurred and indistinct, becoming permeable to flows of information and capital. The cosmopolitanism of humanity is showing signs through practice of unconventional methods such as that of Pussy Riot to share an ideology that affects a great number if not a majority of people globally, that is gender. Cosmopolitanism, then, absolutely does not mean uniformity or homogenization. Individuals, communities, political organizations, collective, cultures, and civilizations wish to and should remain diverse, perhaps even unique. Though metaphorically, the walls between them must be replaced by bridges.

REFERENCES:

Fielder, J D 2012, ‘Dissent in digital: the Internet and dissent in authoritarian states’, PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) Thesis, University of Iowa, Iowa.

Ribeiro, G. 1998. Cybercultural politics. Boulder, CO .: Westview.

Ribeiro, G. 2003. What is Cosmopolitanism?. International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences, 1(4), pp.19-25.

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Co-Production or No-Production?

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The most common type of international film industry cooperation happens through the notion of co-production. Co-productions are based on the collaboration between two or more producers from different countries for the creation of film and television programs.

Australia has currently established treaties with the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, Ireland, Israel, Germany, Korea, South Africa, Singapore and China, and Memoranda of Understanding with France and New Zealand in regards to the creation of diverse content. Whereby co-productions can be recognised in providing the access to bigger and foreign markets, the ability to pool financial resources, access to the partner government’s incentives and subsidies and the increase in the quality of production.

Co-productions by country, as at 30 April 2016

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On one hand they have financial, artistic and marketing advantages for the film but on the other hand, they involve some risks in relation to management of the project.

“Creating a balanced structure both for day to day management and financial liabilities of parties is crucial for the co-production. If this balance is not established on a fair basis, even the co-producers with good intentions might find themselves in a dispute. “ – (Birsin, 2016)

Through memorandums of understanding and proposed treaties between countries there are specific guidelines that can occur during a co-production’s progress. Yecies’ states there are two underlying intentions and justifications between these agreements; one being the motives for economic benefits and the other aiming for collaborative and converged cultural experience (Yecies, 2009).

On average, the budget of co-productions undoubtedly exceed the budget of those committed domestically, because of the multiple stakeholders contributing to the creation of content. There are addition complexities such as translation, travel and legal costs, driving the costs higher and higher every time something major and/or minor happens. This means that because of the constant rise and heightened costs of these sorts of productions it dictates that these types of stories and projects must accompany accordingly (Screen Australia, 2016)

Co-production budget ranges.

This has led to films such as ‘I-Robot’, ‘Superman Returns’ and ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ (which was the second highest grossing Australian Film ever, though did not depict Australian culture) to embody such success through a co-produced system. Though, there is a risk and observation that economic aspects of co-productions are made a bigger priority rather than the conservation and reinforcement of Australian culture both in the film industry and in terms of national identity. For a film to be considered Australian by the Cannes film festival standards, it relies on the Producer’s nationality (Rosen 2014). The film ‘The Piano’ was written, filmed and directed in New Zealand but produced by an Australian, technically making the film Australian. Is Australia’s involvement in the these representations make the films Australian or encompass true Australian culture?

“Co-productions have the potential to reflect upon globalization processes, such as the hybridization of cultures and their diversification; however, due to their commercial focus, they target international audiences as consumers rather than citizens.”  (Baltruschat, 2002)

Co-productions seems to be evidently one of the most successful avenues offered to Australian box office – breaking through a domestic barrier and reaching out to new and more immense grounds. However, through speculation there has been a representations and co-produced input by Australia that has resulted in a richer story, financially rather than culturally. 

REFERENCES:

Baltruschat, D 2002, ‘Globalisation and International TV and Film Co-productions: In Search of New Narratives’, Media in Transition 2: Globalisation and Convergence, pp 1-19, date accessed: 12 Sept 2016 <http://cmsw.mit.edu/mit2/Abstracts/DorisBaltruschat.pdf&gt >

Birsin, S. (2016). Risks And Advantages Of Co-Production Agreements – Media, Telecoms, IT, Entertainment – Turkey. Mondaq.com, date accessed:12 Sept 2016 < http://www.mondaq.com/turkey/x/464396/broadcasting+film+television+radio/Risks+And+Advantages+Of+CoProduction+Agreements

Rosen, B 2014, ‘Is the Great Gatsby really an Australian film?’, Daily Telegraph, 30 January, date accessed: 12 Sept  2016, < http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/is-the-great-gatsby-really-an-australian-film/story-fni0cwl5-1226813252222>

Yecies, BM 2009, What The Boomerang Misses: Pursuing International Film Co-Production Treaties And Strategies, n.p.: Research Online, Research Online, EBSCOhost, date accessed: 12 Sept 2016

 

Cross Culture Television

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The transcultural localisation of television content flows is prevalent in the media industry today . Remediation and re-adaptations of programs tend to cater better to an audience when produced in the same nation, often addressing and stimulating cultural themes and issues of relevance. This therefore arouses the notion of ‘The Format’, the format arises when a program developed in one country “can be reformatted in different territories and the local producer and broadcaster can access a template that has already withstood two rounds of R&D – first, to survive development and trialing before broadcasting executives; and secondly, further testing before viewing audiences” (Keane and Moran, 2008).

This is evident in the UK television program ‘Shameless’ which was created in 2004 and first aired in Britain. Seven years later progressed the remaking of classic British narrative, highlighting the same characters but adapting them, the stories and representations in slightly different ways. While most Americans won’t have watched Paul Abbott’s Shameless, a drama about a family with a drunk patriarch who live on a Greater Manchester council estate. However the Chicago-based alternative has since been nominated for a  Golden Globe in 2015 and multiple Primetime Emmy Awards.

The writing differs between each version where humor and drama is translated drastically diverse from one another. When British comedy or drama idealises social deprivation, most of the time it’s charming and daft, so audiences are happy to suspend their disbelief. The US show emphasises situations a little bit more uncomfortable and disingenuous manner, where US television seems to paint a more sympathetic image of a middle class family.

The successful sitcom ‘The Office’ first adapted within the UK has since been introduced and remade in various countries, with an overall viewership of hundreds of millions worldwide. With this, the German version  ‘Stomberg’ of the mockumentary comes to light, appealing to foreign collectives though abiding by a similar structure of the UK original.

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Cultural Proximity is the intuitively appealing notion that people will gravitate toward media from their own culture (Ksiazek & Webster, 2008). In this context it indicates the way that people recognize themselves in local television, it acts as a catalyst that drives content across global barriers, interacting with diverse ideologies and values. This notion works hand in hand with ‘Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions’, where he defines culture as “the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes one group or category of people from another” (Hofstede, 1980).

These cultural/value dimensions can be seen why different nations prefer different content: The cultural dimensions should explain differences in media evaluation better because they measure underlying values.

  • Power distance is defined as the extent to which less powerful members of a society accept that power is distributed unequally. This can be depicted through the characters interaction with one another and their superiors

  • Uncertainty Avoidance is defined as the extent to which people feel threatened by ambiguous situations and create beliefs and institutions in response to these.

  • Individualism/Collectivism holds one’s will to be loosely tied with a group/society on one spectrum and the need to be associated with a group/society on the other.
  • Masculinity/Femininity holds the value placed on things, power, assertiveness, performance and ambition, while high femininity has a focus on people, quality of life, and nurturance.

Because of cross culture media flows, audiences from different nations desire different outcomes from content such as television programs. Cultural Proximity outlines the tendency for foreign audiences to be more inclined to more comfortable representations of stories,  where Hofstede’s dimensions can be seen to be addressed before publicizing the remediation of existing shows to new viewers.

REFERENCES:

Hofstede, G. 1980. Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work Related Values. (1 ed.). Beverly Hills, CA: SAGE Publications.

Ksiazek, T. and Webster, J 2008,  The Role of Language in Patterns of Polarization and Multicultural Fluency. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Volume: 52, No: 3, pp.485-503.

Trepte, S. 2008,  Cultural proximity in TV entertainment: An eight-country study on the relationship of nationality and the evaluation of U.S. prime-time fiction. Communications, Volume: 33, No: 1 , pp.1-25.

 

 

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