Creating Culture

Transnational films are everywhere; from Mad Max to Avatar, almost everything we see on the big screen has taken several nations in production skills, actors, and themes.

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But is this blending of culture a step forward to total acceptance and a diverse global culture? Or is it completely erasing the individual culture of countries to create one bland and ambivalent non-culture?

I am of the opinion that transnational film is but one factor of a growing trend towards a ‘glocal’ culture that meshes each of our individual cultures to maintain a heterogeneous new world that every nation’s can see themselves in; and yet out of.

Schaefer and Karan in their article ‘Problematizing Chindia: Hybridity and Bollywoodization of popular cinema in global film flows’ defines the perceived dangers of transnational film. They use the example of Bollywood being slowly ‘Westernised’, with an 86% to 92% increase of Western content in popular Hindi films (Schaefer and Karan 2010). It is implied that while Bollywood is becoming more Western and enjoying more Westernised films; the same cannot be said for Hollywood with only one Bollywood film making the highest-grossing foreign-language films list in the US (boxofficemojo 2015).

Title (click to view) Studio Lifetime Gross /Theaters Opening /Theaters Date
1 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
(Taiwan)
SPC $128,078,872 2,027 $663,205 16 12/8/00
2 Life Is Beautiful
(Italy)
Mira. $57,563,264 1,136 $118,920 6 10/23/98
3 Hero
(China)
Mira. $53,710,019 2,175 $18,004,319 2,031 8/27/04
4 Instructions Not Included LGF $44,467,206 978 $7,846,426 348 8/30/13
5 Pan’s Labyrinth
(Mexico)
PicH $37,634,615 1,143 $568,641 17 12/29/06
6 Amelie
(France)
Mira. $33,225,499 303 $136,470 3 11/2/01
7 Jet Li’s Fearless
(China)
Rog. $24,633,730 1,810 $10,590,244 1,806 9/22/06
8 Il Postino
(Italy)
Mira. $21,848,932 430 $95,310 10 6/16/95
9 Like Water for Chocolate
(Mexico)
Mira. $21,665,468 64 $23,600 2 2/19/93
10 La Cage aux Folles
(France)
MGM $20,424,259 $18,709 5 3/30/79
11 Kung Fu Hustle
(China)
SPC $17,108,591 2,503 $269,225 7 4/8/05
12 The Motorcycle Diaries
(Argentina)
Focus $16,781,387 272 $159,819 3 9/24/04
13 Iron Monkey
(Hong Kong)
Mira. $14,694,904 1,235 $6,014,653 1,225 10/12/01
14 Monsoon Wedding
(India)
USA $13,885,966 254 $68,546 2 2/22/02
15 Y Tu Mama Tambien
(Mexico)
IFC $13,839,658 286 $408,091 40 3/15/02

Thus Schaefer and Karan determine that these transnational films are unfairly taking advantage of Indian culture, without delivering any rewards in return for the possible abuse and use of culture as a profit maker.

But is this accurate? Is Hollywood truly dominating Bollywood with recourse? And will this trend continue?

I doubt it.

The power of transnational film and thus transnational culture comes from the ebbing and flowing of ideas, themes and skills between nations; the country that seems at disadvantage today, may very well become the tycoon of tomorrow.

In his book ‘The Attractive Empire: Transnational Film Culture in Imperial Japan’ Michael Baskett describes the tyrannical nature of Japanese film over its surrounding nations of Taiwan, Korea, Manchuria, etc. etc. Throughout the early 20th century Japan was ruthless in its promotion of Japanese culture through film studios and theatres set up in Taiwan.

japanese_empire_1942

The sole purpose of these films and outlets was to increase tourism, fascination and support for Japan from Taiwan. Which Japan gained in excess, ‘In 1905 Takamatsu [a Japanese film exhibitor] raised over 10,000 yen in donations for the Japanese military through his screenings of short films about the Russo-Japanese War.’ (Baskett 2008)

It seem in 1905 Taiwan, as it does in 2015 India; a powerful empire taking over the culture of a nation through film.

Yet in 2015 Taiwan and Korea, the story is very different from a century ago.

Today; Korea is the powerhouse of culture within the Asiatic region, with its unique dramas, pop music and films sweeping through the region; to even become a sensation in Japan.

Yet we do not fear for the cultural corruption of Japan; it appears that in the face of Korean Wave Japan is trusted to maintain its own cultural integrity. This is the outcome that I foresee for India; which Schaefer and Karan seem not to.

Transnational culture is not a bland amalgamation of the globes most powerful nations; it is an ebb and flow of ideas and themes that we see visually through transnational film.

And it is through transnational film that we gain the sense of a global community; that still retains its diversity.

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Sources

  • 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. [Accessed 28 Aug. 2015]
  • Boxofficemojo.com, (2015). ‘Foreign Language Movies at the Box Office’, Box Office Mojo. [online] http://www.boxofficemojo.com/genres/chart/?id=foreign.htm [Accessed 1 Sep. 2015].
  • Fujiki, H. (2009). ‘The Attractive Empire: Transnational Film Culture in Imperial Japan. By Michael Baskett’. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2008. Pp. 216. ISBN 10: 0824831632; 13: 978-0824831639. International Journal of Asian Studies, 6(02), p.244.
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Australia: The (Un)Lucky Country

Australia is constantly portrayed as the ‘lucky’ country; the country of the fair go, where no matter who you are or where you come from the same opportunities are your’s to take.

Unfortunately this is not the reality of the great country down under.

With just under 600,000 international students studying in Australia in 2014; tertiary and vocational education has become one of our largest and most profitable industries.

Australia boasts world-class education for these foreign individuals, but when coupled with promises of permanent visas, its seems that this dream might just be too good to be true.

Recently a Fairfax Media investigation unearthed the truly corrupted exploitation of international students seeking to enhance their skills with an Australian education.

TK Melbourne Education and Training Collage had allegedly provided fake qualifications to their international students; providing that they paid the thousands of dollars to acquire their necessary certificate.

The owners of the Saint Stephens Institute have also come under fire for falsifying documents, exploiting their students who were sub-contracted to Australia Post, and withholding pay in return for Australian visas.

The examples exemplify how the Australian education sector has failed these students that have left their lives behind in hopes of a brighter future. These educators seem to deem these individuals as lesser than themselves. They forget the struggle of self-formation that occurs when these mostly-young people arrive in a new culture that they must adapt themselves to.

When an international student arrives in their new country they must quickly adapt to the strange customs, beliefs and people of the foreign land. This requires the arduous process of survival, coping and uncertainty. The student can feel alone, homesick and depressed as they battle with the realities of living abroad. The most common issues that face these people include; lacking sufficient proficiency in English, which then leads to issues of communication with peers and teachers, which can cause lower grades at their place of education. But with time, effort and support these students can easily ingratiate themselves into the culture and lifestyle of their hist country. Once this is achieved, the student gains their final state of cultural plurality; where the traditions of their homeland meet the culture of their new lives.

Clearly the simple experience of a new country is profound enough to completely redefine these struggling individuals; who despite their inherent strength and determination evidenced in their brave decision to leave behind all they know for a strange new world, sometimes need extra support.

Yet how can one individual manage all of this self-altering experience when their education is nothing but a sham?

As the Immigration department slowly gains momentum on this growing issues, more and more vocational education facilities are being shut down; and while this is a good thing as the falsified educators are being diminishes, there still remains a gaping whole of easy-to-access and affordable education for these international students.

Thus it is our duty as inhabitants of the ‘lucky’ country to ensure that it remains lucky for everyone.

Sources

  • Australian Government Department of Education and Training 2014 https://internationaleducation.gov.au/research/International-Student-Data/Pages/InternationalStudentData2014.aspx
  • Sydney Morning Herald National, Exploitation Fears as Students Pay for ‘Fake Skills’, Nick McKenzie, Richard Baker, 2015 http://www.smh.com.au/national/cash-for-visas-international-colleges-fake-qualifications-in-migration-rackets-20150805-gis11z.html
  • Morphing a Profit-Making Business into an Intercultural Experience, International Education as Self-Formation, Simon Marginson, 2012
  • International Students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes, Peter Kell & Gillian Vogl, 2006