Global Films: Nollywood & Korean Cinema

nollywoodNollywood is a term you probably haven’t heard of before. Don’t worry I was the same. Nollywood is Nigeria’s film industry, which is the third largest film industry in the world. These films draw on traditional characteristics and situations that are present in Nigeria as well as TV series that are imported from other places such as Argentina, Mexico and Korea. The producers of these films draw on the motif of corruption using a mixture of melodrama and magical culture which is very popular in the Nigerian and African communities in the West.

One of the characteristics that marks Nollywood as an autonomous local cinematic expression is that it looks inwards and not outward (Ryoo, W. 2009, p.1) Meaning Nollywood as previously stated looks towards to the problems which are current in their population such as corruption, instead of incorporating other influencing problems in the West. Overall it values the entertainment of its clients which is its primary motion, as well as produce culture from the bottom of the street. It does this by providing the imaginary for certain sections of the society where it operates like the poorer part of its postcolonial bases (Ryoo, W. 2009, p.2). However, outside of Nigeria and overall Africa, Nollywood is still largely a curiosity to most of the world. Example of a Nollywood Movie in the making.

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Shop/Marketplace selling Nollywood films and other media 

These Nollywood films with their playful narratives of the social and cultural life of the Nigerian are delivered to shops and market stalls every week, where an average of 50,000 copies are sold. Nigerian films are neither shown in movie theatres or TV and can’t be enjoyed by a larger audience because of the Censor board that is seen by many to be too restrictive (Ryoo, W. 2009, p.5). “Street corner” Audiences are the the target audiences for these movie, they come together in front of the video and music stalls, which are the main outlets for the rental of video, DVDs and cassettes (Ryoo, W. 2009, p.7).

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Example of popular South Korean Music, Artist BoA

Nollywood may be the third largest film production but South Korea is only the seventh largest. The introduction of new media such as TV and satellite has provided technological springboards for this trend, as new media creates fast spaces for multi-channel broadcasting, within this the Rise of South Korea TV, drama and cinema following the popularisation of southern Korean music has created an interesting phenomenon which required closer analysis of the transnational circulation and consumption of media products. The popularity of south Korean dramas and music had begun to edge out American and Japanese market dominance in Asia, which regionally caught the Korean wave. The term ‘Korean wave’ refers to the popularity of South Korean popular culture in other Asian countries.

The Korean wave began with the exporting of south Korean TV dramas (Okome, O. 2007, p.139). South Korean music ‘K-pop’ is also emerging as audience flock to its beautiful and familiar soundtracks. K-pop songs are seen to be expressive compared to Westernised music. BoA is a south Korean k-pop singer who broke records with her smash hits and has become a cross cultural icon helping to bridge historical tensions between south Korea and Japan. Overall South Korean shows, movies and music depict themes that Asian audiences can relate to more easily than other Western cultures. These themes include issues within family circumstances, love and filial piety in a changing society. Because these themes are so close to home for the South Koreans their music and other media is very popular and is often relied upon to get an individual out of a difficult circumstance, E.g. a death of a relative. Example of South Korean K-pop music, BoA – Copy and Paste.

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

International Students studying in Oz

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Australia is often characterised and defined by other countries as a multicultural society, does this ideology however stretch to include international students planning to gain an education in our country? Overall international education is Australia’s third/fourth largest export industry, meaning that international education is a very profitable business.

Marginson suggests that ‘international education is not the rich intercultural experience it could be’ (Marginson 2012, p.1). Yes, international students do seem to ‘dominate’ the university scene, which allows for a lot of cross-cultural experiences but does this in turn lead to a cultural acceptance? International students do seem to hit a lot of walls when it comes to integrating into the university scene as well as gaining acceptance into society as a whole. Barriers for international students would include the obvious differences that include culture, lifestyle and language.

Cultural and lifestyle differences would create a cultural barrier when it came to international students integrating into Australian society and in turn the university scene. “Some students state that it was hard to meet Australians because of the pub and club culture of many Australians . . . There are two groups of international students: Those who cannot go to pubs and drink because they cant afford to and those who cannot drink alcohol for cultural and religious reasons” (Kell, P & Vogle, G. 2007, p.6). So these groups of international students would find it difficult to meet other Australians and in turn make friends. It is also suggested that many Australians who come into contact with these international student don’t want to participate in conversation or get to know them. This could be because of stereotypes that could have been placed on that particular student, or they couldn’t be bothered or are too busy to strike up a relationship.

Language is yet another factor that would create a huge barrier for international students. It is said that the informal and abbreviated nature of Australian English is seen as a form of resistance to the domination of the English colonial masters (Kell, P & Vogle, G. 2007, p.2). It is because of this unusual English many international students find it difficult to follow what is being said. It can be seen in the research that was funded by the Global Development Network of the World Bank that students had to establish common ground by immersing themselves into mainstream media and TV and take risks in order to break the ice and initiate conversations. In doing this it could be suggested that international student would loose their original cultural identity and self-determination as they attempt to integrate into an Australian society.

International students have a great opportunity to enrich not only their lives but also all of those who come into contact with them. However it can be difficult for international students to integrate into other foreign societies if the cultural background differs immensely to their own. I believe having international students in our universities helps students engage with different cultures as well as belief systems that in turn would lead to acceptance of other cultures and ideologies.

References: