1. Reading Responses – 20%
Each week there will be a short series of questions set to accompany the
readings. These questions will require an answer of one or two sentences at
most, and generally should be a specific quote from the reading. Students are
expected to come to tutorials with the questions completed to serve as the basis
of tutorial discussions. if students are unable to attend the tutorial, responses
can be emailed to their tutor, but it must be received by the time of their tutorial.
2. In‐class presentations (group work) – 30%
In groups of 3 or 4, students will give a 20 min presentation in class. The
presentation will include visual display (eg. Powerpoint, etc.), and will address a
recent topic present within public discourse in light of at least one of the
theoretical frameworks addressed in the course. Exemplary instances include
issues like Wikileaks, the recent tent embassy issue in Canberra,
environmentalism and the carbon tax, etc. Students should discuss the topic from
as many different angles as possible, and include exploration of both the events
themselves and the ways the event was represented in and across the media and
different sections of the public sphere. This presentation should explicitly refer
to a minim of 2 academic references, and bibliographic details should be
provided as past of the presentation.
3. Final essay (2000 words) – 50%
Students are asked to write an essay on the topic of either Publics, Audiences, or
Globalisation within a context of their choice (contemporary issues, purely
theoretical, as relates to practice, etc.) The essay must critique at least one
specific theory relating to a topic of choice. All topics must be finalised and
approved by tutors within tutes by week 11 at the very latest.
The essay must include a minimum of 8 academic references. Non‐academic
references may be utilised (eg. News articles, government policy documents,
etc.), but in addition to, rather than instead of, academic sources.
Globalisation is the phenomenon which is happening worldwide and Hollywood is also undergoing through by producing and making movies according to the international audience, in order to earn profits and enhance their earning. The most important dimension of Globalisation which is connectivity connects it to the varied cultures across the globe. Structural and cultural hybridisation is what the Hollywood is undergoing right now. By analysing all the aspects of the Cultural theory of Globalisation, we can very well see that Hollywood is undergoing through Media Globalisation. But during this process it has lost the very essence of globalisation and shunned the American culture, rather the various remakes and the predominance of action-packed thrillers which become blockbusters in few months are ruling the roost in Hollywood as they earn bigger profit margins and act as best entertainers worldwide.
Hollywood emerged in the first decades of the 20th century as a consequence of coincidental confluence of exemptions given on royalties and various external scope economies which were concerned with urbanization in the city of Los Angeles (Scott, 2005). Then this cluster started developing external scale economies in a disguise of vast specialized labour market as well as external scope economies as they started attracting large value chains of various film activities in Los Angeles. The case of Hollywood has always dominated the concept of theorizing the film clusters and the reason being it gets the advantage of being an early-mover (Scott, 2005). After the emergence of Hollywood, the film cluster rapidly got involved in developing external as well as internal economies that it has been enjoying dominance in the global markets too (Wasko, 2003) (Epstein, 2006). There is a theory also related to this that Hollywood introduced endogenous sunk costs in the film industry and the method it adopted was to invest heavily in marketing intensity, production and production quality (Bakker, 2005).
Thus globalization became an important aspect for Hollywood to earn profits. Globalization covers the integration of numerous firm, organisation as and nations into the cultural, global economic and to some extent into the political systems too (Friedman, 2000) (Stiglitz, 2002). The most important dimension of Globalizations is ‘connectivity’. That is why the nearly all global institutions, organizations or firms show the strong trait of not being present at multiple locations across globe, but the idea of creating global connections and networks (Dicken, 2003).
In the film industry especially Hollywood, globalization has brought substantial growth in the markets for over a century (Lorenzen, 2009). Increasing global trade along with alignment of customer preferences for Western film narratives have brought mass producers for the Hollywood films. Along with Globalization comes tougher competition for the film cluster’s of the world and that is why some of them are getting connected into global networks via co-production strategy (Morawetz et al., 2007). Thus globalisation involves enhancement of economic, special, political and cultural connectivity in multi-directional form all across the world with we being aware of those connections. Notions of any place are very integral part of globalisation. Thus sometimes localisation reinforcement is also termed as globalisation. Globalisation in structural terms means increase in the modes of availability of any organisation: international, national, municipal, macro-regional, micro-regional, local transnational.
Globalisation and culture have always been associated with each other quite often. Culture which is mainly territorial stems from localised learning process for e.g. the culture of any society or group. The specific notion which developed in the 19th century mainly, romanticism, indicates that culture is a discrete, static and a wholesome thing which has the tendency to have an inward-looking sense for any place. Culture is therefore considered as translocal process and has a fluidic approach and that is why the notion of hybridisation fits best into the culture as an approach.
Structural hybridisation is the phenomenon of increasing the range of options for any organisation and cultural hybridisation on the other hand means opening the doors of the erstwhile community for the organisation. Thus both structural s well as cultural hybridisation are signals which indicate the era of crossing boundaries, but not surely erasing the boundaries. The tide of globalisation is helpful in minimising the room of manoeuvre for states whereas the transnational transactions, subnational dynamics, international institutions, non-governmental organisations and regional cooperation’s keep on expanding in scope as well as impact. Thus the importance of hybridisation cannot be denied as it is essential component which is helpful in counterbalancing essentialism, whereas globalisation is quite complex phenomenon. Hybridisation gives discursive space to understand.
Hollywood can be considered as a good example of an industry which is integration of elements form varied cultures. But some people think Hollywood as totally American. Although Hollywood dominates the world cinema, it has been found that American movies get influenced by foreign movie formulas. Even ‘The Economist’ quoted that one of the reasons for the success of Hollywood is that from its starting days, it has always been open to foreign talent as well as foreign money (“Cultural Protectionism; Television of Babel., 1994). That is why we can see that many American movies are remake of foreign movies. Like the 2007 Academy Award winning movie for Best Picture “ The Departed” was a remake of the Chinese movie” The Internal Affairs”. Another example which can be quoted as American remake of European films in huge numbers, for e.g. “ The Tourist” which earned $287 million at the box office was a remake of European movie” Anthony Zimmer”. This indicates the impact globalisation is having on the Hollywood’s movie making formula; they are not just sticking to the old American style of movie making rather exploring foreign shores by adapting remakes from different cultures (Culture and Globalization, n.d.).
The content analysis of the Top 20 U.S. box office Hollywood movies for the period of 1967-2008 shows that certain genre or film types like “ action” , “ sci-fi” and “ animation” have been domination the movie makers choice in Hollywood rather than “romance” , “ drama” and “musical” which were popular earlier in the Hollywood. The worldwide market for the Hollywood’s big budget , action, fantasy, action-packed, scientific-fiction, special effects laden and other related movies has been widely acknowledged as lot (Ji and Waterman, 2010), the reason being the worldwide audience enjoy such movies to the core. The social and cultural impacts of the most popular products of Hollywood is under scrutiny as numerous movie critics have related them to denigration of America’s image abroad and increase in the movie violence along with the cultural representativeness of American movies (McGriff, 2009). In the presidential campaigns of 1996 and 2000 and in congressional hearings too, the political debate which has been longstanding regarding excessive violence and sex in the movies was seen to be surfacing many a times (Congress, 2004).
Whether the social, political or economic effects are positive or negative in result, the truth is that U.S. produced movies contribute to 80% share of the world box office in the form of Hollywood (Vogel, 2007). This kind of move content development which is studded with sex and violence is due to corporatization and conglomeration of Hollywood studios as well as the ‘Globalization’ of Hollywood (Balio, 2002) (Fu and Govindaraju, 2010). The relative importance of the foreign markets is rising at faster pace; means the profit calculus related to the studios is causing them to take action by either homogenisation of content or selecting specific movie types or to use a designation which more common to the whole media scholars and industry that is “genres” like action or scientific fiction. These genres can very easily cross the cultural barriers across the globe (Ji and Waterman, 2010).
The World-Culture theory or Homogenisations is the Cultural theory of Globalisation which is related with the subjective dimension of globalisation. According to this theory there is cultural convergence which tends to highlight the rise of world tourism, world beat, uniform pattern of consumption, world cuisines and cosmopolitanism (Nederveen Pieterse, 2004). That is why Hybridization which tends to put stress on constantly evolving and newer cultural forms as well as identities which arise due to manifold transnational processes along with the amalgamation of various distinct cultural processes.
The Cultural Theory which indicates the mixing of cultures due to production and globalisation says that it results in formation of new and unique, global and local cultures which are neither global nor local. Cultural hybridization indicates more of heterogeneity than homogeneity as in case of Hollywood getting globalised. Thais is why Globalization happens and that is why we can shift in the trend of movie makers of Hollywood when they globalise (Nederveen Pieterse, 2004). The examples of hybridization like Indians watching Hollywood movies or millions of Indians waiting to see the popular rock star Bryan Adams although it might be possible that amongst the millions of spectators some don’t even understand English, but the language of music binds them.
Commodities and media are treated as providing methods or techniques rather than coercive to create groups or individuals throughout all the areas which are glocalised in the world. That is why Hollywood acts as a medium which helps in creating individuals or groups in the society or communities.” Appadurai’s Landscapes” also emphasis on global flows and disjuncture’s existing between these flows. All the scapes of “Appadurai Landscapes” operate independent of each other and at the same time conflict with each other too. He categorised various scapes like: ethnoscapes, technoscapes, financescapes, mediascapes and ideoscapes (Low, 2010). Mediascapes are the electronic competence or potential to produce and then transmit the information all across the globe. Along with the information the images of the world which have been captured by the media are also disseminated after being created. Mediscapes cover bloggers, film-makers, newspapers, magazines and distributors (Low, 2010).
Thus according to “Appadurai’s landscapes” theory of cultural globalisation Movie makers fall under the Mediscapes category that possesses the electronic competence to produce and transmit the desired information all across the globe (Low, 2010). Thus if we see the globalization is all about being part of one culture and adopting lifestyle of another culture, along with knowing all about the other culture and the Media Globalization works in the similar manner. Media Globalization is all about the film producing or making companies which make or produce such movies which are culture specific as per the culture of the particular nation.
The same need to patronise, market and get resources forced Hollywood to go global and expand overseas (Kitamura, 2004). The large variety of languages, histories and culture made Hollywood successful than other international companies as Hollywood posed to be a tough competition. This resulted in Americanization of the Hollywood movies where the stories were simple just to entertain the audience rather than educating them. The entertaining level of the movie determined the success of the movie and the American audience were generalised as parochial, which means they wanted sensations from the movie along with familiarity (Olson, 2000). Circular Stories were dominant in the Hollywood earlier where the end and beginning of the story used to be same. In such stories the character goes through the same situation once in the start and then at the end for e.g. Twister.
Another trend which is seen in Hollywood movies is ‘Archetypal characters’ , which are the familiar villains, stock heroes and incidental characters which maintain the crux of the storyline marinating the comfort zone of the audience like Superman and Lex Luther, Luke Skywalker and Darth Wader. In Dark Knight also the evil is conquered by the good in the end and this is the only movie which was included in the two list of Internet Movie Databases (IMDB) Top 250 Movies list. It was included in the highest grossing list and IMDB Top 250 list. Although Titanic , a romantic movie which epitomises the real life true story of love although being the topmost grosser could not even make to this list. This clearly indicates the shifting trend of the audience as well as the Hollywood movie makers from the soft and subtle movie making to the archetypal or action based thrillers which do carry the message but hardly depict the cultural aspect of America.
Rather ‘awe’ being the theme which rocks the charts of movie buster every summer all across the globe. Blockbusters are those typically movies which are backed by huge amount of money spent on advertising for months together before their release and gradually a hype is being created for such movies for e.g. Transformers, James Bond, Spiderman, The Fast and the Furious, Lords of The Rings, Batman Begins, Dark Knight Etc. These movies become blockbuster because of intense action sequences, awesome computer graphics and well crafted and placed dialogues, which makes them look spectacular. These movies do not have any solid plot but the main purpose of such movies is to just entertaining and minting money.
‘“Cultural Protectionism; Television of Babel.’, Economist (5 February 1994), p. 52.
Bakker, G. (2005) ‘The decline and fall of the European film industry: sunk costs,market size, and market structure, 1890–1927’, Economic History Review, vol. 58, no. 2, pp. 310-351.
Balio, T. (2002) ‘Hollywood Production Trends in the Era of Globalization, 1990-99.’, Genre and Contemporary Hollywood.
Congress, U.S. (2004) ‘Hearing of the Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee’, H. R. 4586. The Family Movie Act of 2004.
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