Transnational Films & Cultural Appropriation

Transnational films are those which blend a variety of elements from a diversity of nations, these in turn cannot be easily defined as belonging to one nation as they become transnational. However, I would like to raise the question of wether using transnational elements in films would impact on or change the overall culture that was being presented. Because overall you are in fact using elements from a variety of cultures which you may or may not belong to which could lead to a distortion of meanings within a culture. Culture can be defined as the ideas, customs and social behaviours and characteristics of a particular society.

7a121b0cc2b222fd2c4f29019b62e95c_largeAn example of a transnational film which is presented in the Global media and communication reading would be Avatar. It is apparent in this film there is a mix of native American and ancient Hindu concepts, these are apparent in the use of blue skin colour of the Na’vi characters which depicts the religious avatars Rama and Krishna form the Hindu culture. The plot also mimics a century old Indian political tradition of using the Ramayana storyline which is one nettle between avatar prince Rama and the Demon Ravana, to mobilise the opposition to foreign invaders. As well as this, even the opening sequence where there is an extreme close up of sully’s eyes in a darkened chamber suggests an initial lack of enlightenment, avatar_movie_hindu_perspectivewhich is demolished as he turns into his Avatar and in turn begins to understand the Na’vi perspectives. Karen and Schaefer suggest these examples illustrate a growing incorporation of ‘bollywoodism’ and Indian/Hindu references into mainstream North American Media (Karan, K and Schaefer, DJ. 2010, p.312).  As it seems, this film has drawn upon these features, but do the Hindu and Native American concepts change the impact of the culture which is being presented? In a way I do believe this to be true, and I would like to point out that to me the blending of these two cultural concepts did seem to loose meaning Hindu meaning. I would have never known about the Hindu components of this film unless I was told so, otherwise it would have (and did so to me) feel as if it was an all Native American influenced film.

A line can be crossed when it comes to blending a variety of cultures or using a cultural aspect that does not belong to 6226535_origyour own and claiming it as yours. This is called Cultural appropriation, and it becomes very evident in a majority of our music, films and fashion. Cultural appropriation impacts on a culture as it changes and distorts the elements meaning when individuals decide to use them without having a cultural attachment or not overall recognising that you are not attached to this culture. This can be clearly showcased in Katy Perry’s American Music Award performance where she and her dancers dressed up in a geisha. Between her costume designs, choreography and set design she established a very one dimensional stereotype of Japan and their population.

References:

  • 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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