What exactly have I learnt so far?..

I originally chose BCM111 as a filler subject, you know? One of the three core first year subjects. But this course has developed my understanding of the world, hence I have decided to change my Communications and Media major to International media. Prior to this course I had a brief understanding of globalisation, but not much beyond what I learnt in Year 10 Geography. So if I had to define Globalisation, before I begin this course, I would say:

Isn’t globalisation when countries communicate better with eachother?

hmm… I guess that’s a really, really simple way of putting it.

SCM_Ch1_Pt4_The_impact_of_Globalisation_on_Supply_Chains

“Instantaneity, Interconnectedness, and Interdependence”

So what have I learnt?

Well, revising from my first blog post on this course, O’Shaughnessy & Stadler words, “instantaneity, interconnectedness and interdependence” come to mind. These words reflect on each weeks topic, which range from international education, hip-hop, media capitals, film, TV, global news media and false balance reporting. From O’Shaughnessy & Stadler’s key words we can understand how globalisation isn’t just about “countries communicating better”, its about how multiple forms of media, communication and technology are all interrelated.

One of my favourite weeks was on transnational film. Prior to this week I had no clue what transnational or hybridity meant. I just thought transnational film was just international film.

life-of-pi

Life of Pi transnational mapping (Photo credit: Mollyniu)

As our world becomes more interconnected, our world of entertainment likewise follows this trend. Consider the 2012 film Life of Pi. The film is directed by Ang Lee who is Taiwanese-US, yet based on a story by French-Canadian Yaan Martel. The film stars Indian actor Suraj Sharma, yet is filmed in Taiwan, India and Canada. The film is a great example of what is classified as transnational, yet this is beginning to be common amongst the film industry. This is identified by Schaefer and Karan as “Asian film industries, particularly those of India and China, will wrestle control of global film flows from Western Dominance”. This “wrestle” of “control” (pp.309, 2010) might explain why non-western films, such as those of East Asia, are “generating huge theatrical profits” (Schaefer & Karan, pp. 314, 2010).

Another key concept that emerged from the transnational film topic is hybridity. Hybridity is essentially an umbrella term for the mixing of cultures and races, but is elaborated by Schaefer and Karan as “central to glocalization… combining local with global cultural formations” (pp.309, 2010). In terms of transnational film, this could include iconic representations of, for instance, Taiwanese and US film styles to be incorporated with that of India. As a film shares multiple cultures, the audience size not only increases, but more importantly it becomes more involved in the film that they can relate to.

Another informative topic was on Media Capitals, which was also what I gave my group presentation on. In this topic I focused upon the popular dating show Fei Cheng Wu Rao.

As depicted in the video above, the TV show, which is produced in Nanjing, is one of the most popular in China with followings worldwide. The show continues to shock audiences, in which footage instantly goes viral around the world. Although controversial, as creator Wang Peijie claims, “through this show, you can tell what China is thinking about and chasing after”. The show isn’t just titillation and banter, its showcases in a somewhat lucrative manner the current cultural trends that are dominating throughout China (and particularly the media capital Nanjing) and their influence worldwide. This re-direction of cultural flows didn’t even cross my mind prior to this course, now it is evident everywhere.

Essentially, what I have learned from this course is that the world continues to interconnect through communication and media, that it is instantaneous where news is spread around the globe in seconds, but also that the world has become interdependent, it relies on other nations – whether it is news, film, TV or education. Globalisation is our world getting closer by the minute, yet always expanding to new great heights of achievement.

Sources:

O’Shaughnessy & Stadler; Media and Society (Fifth Edition); Oxford University Press: Melbourne, 2012

Schaefer, D & Karan, K 2010, ‘Problematizing Chindia: Hybridity and Bollywoodization of popular Indian cinema in global film flows’, Global Media and Communication, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 309-314

Pictures:

Globalisation Map : http://toolkit.smallbiz.nsw.gov.au/part/17/83/356
Life of Pi: http://mollyniu.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/global-multi-production-life-of-pi/

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False Balance: Where ‘presenting’ a ‘balanced argument’ is not in fact balanced

Photo courtesy of theorstrahyun.blogspot.com

Photo courtesy of theorstrahyun.blogspot.com

It is often perpetuated, and in most part blatantly obvious, that the media often presents unbalanced representations, arguments and agendas. This was evident with the News Corp coverage of the 2013 Australian election. Throughout the election run-up, News Corp effectively ran their own campaign to discourage the Rudd-led ALP government (as depicted to the left).

The Media Watch video below further demonstrates this obvious unbalanced media coverage by the Murdoch Press.

http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s3844761.htm

This bias effectively defeats the purpose of journalism, so why bother reporting on an issue that doesn’t inform but in fact attempts to persuade the responder?

As Ward states,

One of the common ethical principles in news reporting is that journalists cannot be both observers and participants in an event on which they are reporting… in other words, ‘avoid entangling alliances’.” (pp.14, 2009)

Ward addresses this with a simple example. If a Catholic reports about the Vatican, are they ‘entangling alliances’? and what if it was reported by an atheist? (pp.14, 2009).

Therefore it was seem vital that a journalist, or other form of informative media, should present a fair and balanced argument on an issue, addressing both sides equally. This is identified by Ward, as he claims,

…the SPJ Code of Ethics urges reporters to ‘give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid’ (pp.14, 2009)

This is logical, as it requires the reporter to not just provide a one-sided agenda, as that could jeopardise democracy (like the 2013 Australian election for example). However, has it ever occurred to you that presenting what appears to be a ‘balanced’ argument can in fact be unbalanced? Consider this with the current argument on Climate Change.

cc-infographic-final_-1250

Past and current views on Climate Change

As depicted in the info graph to the left, climate change isn’t a modern ‘invention’. Nevertheless reporters are currently balancing the debate on climate change by offering equal or disproportionate space to climate change skeptics or opinions on climate change, rather than reporting actual scientific evidence. This concept, known as false balance, is where the media presents an issue as being balanced between the two (or multiple) viewpoints, despite contradicting evidence. This is evident as Lyytimäki claims, “media publicity can highlight both true warnings and false alarms, and there is no easy way of separating these from each other.” (pp.29, 2009).

Ultimately one key problem that Lyytimäki addresses is how climate science can be a temperamental news story (pp.30, 2009). Findings have the potential of  “information overload, which also contains exaggerations, oversimplifications and misunderstandings” (pp.30, 2009). So it is understandable why a journalist may not report on scientific evidence, as it may not serve as a reliable story.

Record breakers in this year’s January.

The issue of climate change, although controversial, is fairly conclusive around the globe (The info graph to the right distinguishes this for Australia). Therefore, as Lyytimäki states, “In addition to better ecological literacy, better media literacy is also needed” (pp.32, 2009). Rather than present a ‘balanced’ argument between opinions on climate change and scientific evidence, the media should in fact educate audiences.

False balance is a very contentious concept; it not only misrepresents very important issues but journalists who are ‘entangling alliances’ are defended by their SPJ Code of Ethics to voice arguments ‘fairly’. So how do we counteract this problem? Do we, as Lyytimäki claims, enforce journalists to educate rather than ‘report fairly’? Or should we have a council that regulates false balance reporting?

Either way, perhaps now is a better time than any to question what you’re told by the media (if you haven’t already).

Sources:

Lyytimäki, J 2009, “Mulling over the climate debate: Media education on climate change”, Journal of Sustainable Development, vol. 2, no. 3.

Ward, B 2009, “Journalism ethics and climate change reporting in a period of intense media uncertainty”, Ethics Sci Environ Polit, vol. 9, pp.13-15

Media:

Murdoch Press: http://theorstrahyun.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/breaking-news-newscorp-reveals-newscorp.html

Media Watch – ‘Final Tele Tally’: http://theorstrahyun.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/breaking-news-newscorp-reveals-newscorp.html

CC is happening now: http://www.greenhomeandgarden.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/climate-change-now-tile.jpg

Record in Aus: http://staging.climatecouncil.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/The-Angry-Summer-Map1.jpg

 

Global News Media… is it actually global?

What is Global News Media? Is it media with a global reach? or is it media that reports on events and issues globally?

In fact, Global News media could be identified as transnational media, where “creators, objects, and consumers of news are less likely to share the same nation-state frame of reference” (Reese, 2010). This is evident as more consumers are flocking to international or non-western forms of media for their news. This is demonstrated by Lee-Wright, who argues that Foreign News, although offering a distraction from “discomforts at home, but also exposes stresses and strains within news organisations” (2012, pp. 1).  Furthermore Lee-Wright claims “Arab media had already begun to challenge the unipolar tendencies of Western media” (2012). This is evident with the rise of news organisations, such as the reputable Al Jazeera network.

Screenshot of the Al Jazeera website

Screenshot of the Al Jazeera’s website’s Home Page

As depicted in the picture the left, the Al Jazeera home page displays key news stories from around the globe. Surprisingly, there is a strong focus on African news, which is often underplayed in Western media.

So why does some news seem more important or more ‘newsworthy’ than others? For instance, why does the death of a music star, or the birth of a British Royal, or a massacre in the West deserve a whole day of coverage compared to other significant stories globally?

Martin Turner, Head of BBC Newsgathering Operations, describes the strong focus on Western news as “mainly a matter of funding” (Lee-Wright, 2012, pp.1). This is similarly described by ABC Middle East Bureau Chief Simon McGregor-Wood as “principally by budgetary constraint”(Lee-Wright, 2012, pp.1).

However, Anna McKane (2006, pp.1-5) argues that the following define what is newsworthy:

  • Frequency
  • Threshold or impact
  • Unexpectedness
  • Elite Persons/Nations
  • Negativity
  • Continuity
  • Unambiguity
  • Meaningfulness
  • Consonance
  • Human Interest
  • Conflict

Consider the death of Michael Jackson in reference to these points. Jackson’s death definitely falls under several of these categories. Firstly, as a world-renown music icon, Jackson can be considered an ‘Elite Person’. Furthermore the death itself was extremely unexpected, but also negative. Lastly, the death caused a lot of conflict with an inquiry and subsequent trial into his overdose.

Lost in Translation: Is Comedy a Universal Language?

Inbetweeners: A worldwide success - so why have an American version?

Inbetweeners: A worldwide success – so why have an American version?

Is comedy truly translated? Is what one culture finds humorous have the same effect on another culture?

Susan Purdie in Comedy: The Mastery of Discourse argues that comedy is about breaking the rules of language and behavior, but first we have to know what the rules are and while all cultures may laugh at the same kind of rules being broke, the rules may be different in different contexts.

Considering Purdie’s argument, it would be presumed that Australia, UK and the US (being Western countries) would be able to translate comedy easily. However, with notable exceptions (such as The Office remake) comedy has proved to translate with much difficulty.

One example on Britain’s E4 channel, which is well-known for its television successes such as The Inbetweeners, Skins, and Misfits. The Inbetweeners has so far spawned 3 seasons and a very successful movie and is very popular for its dark and awkward humor.

The TV series was then remade on US’ MTV, but was an immense failure and cancelled following its first season due to a lack of ratings, despite the massive popularity of the original. Critics of the American version argue that the actors in the US version lacked the authenticity that the UK perfected. Sue Turnbull addresses this in her article, claiming performance plays a large part into the success of comedy. So, similar to how a joke being repeated eventually loses its humour, perhaps this can be applied to television comedy as well.

As depicted in the video below, the joke isn’t anymore original or more funny (does anyone even use ‘turd’ anymore?).

So how can one predict whether a comedic television show will translate effectively? well as Turnbull states

“The successful translation of a comedy depends not only on the translation of the cultural context from one locale to another, but also on the kinds of production deals which are made and the expectations about audiences which are the inferred.”

With so many factors depending on the success of the show, it can be a large gamble to translate a show from one culture to another. Or perhaps, in the case of The Big Bang Theory, its the laughing track that makes it successful.

Transnational Film: Where Movies Cross Borders

Whilst continuing with the Globalisation theme of the BCM 111 course we arrive at what is known as the Transnational Film Industry. Quite simply, it is a film industry like no other and unlike the international film industry, which focuses on movies produced outside Western nations, transnational films are films that “reach beyond national boundaries”. They are essentially a form of hybrid film that combines elements of different nations and cultures all into one singular media.

This concept is explored by Schaefer et al. claiming that “Scholars are increasingly predicting that Asian film industries, particularly those of India and China will wrestle control of global flows from Western dominance”. Schaefer et al. continues using the hybrid phrase ‘Chindia’ which refers to the “high level of cooperation between China and India as an economic challenge to the West”. Notice the negative connotation Schaefer et al. uses describing ‘Chindias’ soon takeover? If one thing is clear Transnational film is a pressing challenge to the West, and Hollywood apparently isn’t going down without a fight!

Some would argue that Hollywood is as strong as ever with massive hits like James Cameron’s Avatar that grossed $2.7 billion.

But hold on…

w0t?

huh?

Yes, as the DVD-launch spokesperson Rakeysh Omprakash confirmed, “Avatar borrowed from the Indian mythology”. A large part of the Avatar storyline, as Schaefer et al. describes, borrowed elements from the Hindu epic Ramayana.

Schaefer et al. provides explicit examples, such as:

  1. The blue skin of the Na’vi characters is the same traditional colours of the religious avatars Rama and Krishna
  2.  The plot focusing on the avatar-led offensive against foreign invaders
  3. The verbal description of the Na’vi as ‘blue monkeys’, referring to monkey army that supports Rama
  4. The Na’vi use weaponry like bows and arrows in the film Avatar, similar to Rama and his followers.

The increasing incorporation of Indian influence in Western film demonstrates the effect transnational film is having on the film industry, even in America.

Another example is Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Moulin Rouge’ released in 2001. The Australian-American film was very successful, being nominated for 8 Oscars. Try an take a guess of how many different nations/cultures are depicted within this scene of the film.

  1. The first dance scene is obviously Bollywood-esque… so that’s Indian/Hindi
  2. The leads, Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor are Australian and Scottish repectively
  3. Baz Lurhmann is also Australian
  4. ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Bestfriend’ originated from the Broadway musical ‘Gentleman Prefer Blondes’ and popularised by Marilyn Monroe – so that’s American
  5. And lastly, if you hadn’t forgotten, Moulin Rouge is a french cabaret in Paris.

That’s a whopping 5 different cultures/nation influences all in one scene!

In an interview on Moulin Rouge, Lurhmann stated:

“Catherine Martin (production designer and Luhrmann’s wife) and I went to India to work on “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” We went out one night and there was a big poster up for a Bollywood movie. I said, “Let’s go see that.” We did – 2,000 audience members, high comedy, high tragedy, brother kills brother, [they] break out in some musical numbers, all jumbled up together in 4 hours of Hindi. We thought that was amazing. So our question was, “Could we create a cinematic form like that? Could a musical work?” A musical must be able to work in western culture again, and could it be comic-tragic? So then began this commitment of moving toward “Moulin Rouge.” I decided I’d do “Romeo + Juliet” and then a musical film.”

So it is quite evident that Transnational films are impacting quite heavily on the film industry, and in fact without the “wrestle” or “challenge” that Schaefer et al. claims.

Dating Shows and Crime Dramas: The Trending effect of Chinese Media Capitals

Chinese Media Capitals are slowly trending on world audiences. From the the Kung-Fu age of Hong Kong to the serial dramas of Shanghai, Chinese television and film has had a strong impact on Western Audiences. And we love it!

Hong Kong, as described by Curtin, is “positioned at the intersection of complex patterns of economic, social and cultural flows”. It is a city that has been immigrated by waves of mainland Chinese, yet heavily influenced by Western culture – especially during the British occupation until 1997. Broadcast Television only became available in Hong Kong in 1967 and at this time early Hong Kong films were not well-received as they “were not expressive of life within the colony” due to Western influence.

However, television was immensely popular following its emergence in Hong Kong. Curtain credits this to local news programming which was reporting on the independent commission to investigate business and government corruption. The news reflected the issues of the period and as such provided a means of discussion former mediums of media had not. Wilkins states that “Hong Kong residents were discouraged from identifying too closely with the nations Britain or China during colonial rule, instead an indigenous culture… was highlighted”.

This was further demonstrated when The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Featuring the suave Yun-Fat Chow

Featuring the suave Yun-Fat Chow

A “serial narrative about the fortunes of a local family that is unexpectedly reunited with a long-lost son from the mainland”. This character was unable to adapt to Hong Kong society and depicted the distinctions between the values and attitudes on either side of the then Chinese/British border.  This TV series was viewed by more than 90% of TV Households and provided discussion on issues of identity, migration and popular values.

So to put that into perspective, that’s twice as popular as the Seinfeld final, three times as much as Friends, 30 times as much as Game of Thrones and over 112 times as much as Gossip Girl.

At the moment, the mainland city Nanjing airs the one of the most popular shows called “Fei Cheng Wu Rao” or “If You Are the One”

The show was based on an English show called Take Me Out. In China, as depicted int he clip above, the show has over 50 million viewers per episode. One of the creators, Wang Peijie claims that “through this show, you can tell what China is thinking about and chasing after”. The show is massively popular internationally as well, including in Australia where it airs at 8:30 every Friday night on SBS 2.

This show is an example of how Chinese media capitals are beginning to have a trending effect on Australian audiences. Already within Australia the show has a relatively large following. However is this the start of an emerging media capital to trend Australia’s media consumption?

Another example is how the Chinese film industry has impacted internationally, and surprisingly Western audiences. Gary Needham states that Asian “films are shown in British multiplex cinemas and not in arthouse cinemas”. So here we can see that international films are slowly breaking the scene, finding larger audiences and cult followings. The movie The Departed directed by Martin Scorsese for which he won an Oscar is actually a remake of the Chinese film series Mou Gaan Dou or Infernal Affairs. Here’s a video to show you the comparison.

The impact of Chinas media capitals is having a large effect on media consumption worldwide. And as Needham states, “the way in which these films are promoted for theatrical consumption and their continued popularity on DVD does demonstrate that there is a loving audience for popular Asian film” and TV.

Sources:

Needham, G; “The Post-Colonial Hong Kong Cinema”; Asian Cinema:  A Readers Guide; Edinburgh University Press; UK: Edinburgh; 2006

Wong, E; “China TV grows racy, and gets a Chaperon”; The New York Times; http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/01/world/asia/censors-pull-reins-as-china-tv-chasing-profit-gets-racy.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0; Published: 31/12/2011; Accessed: 25/08/2013

Curtain, M; “Playing to the World’s Biggest Audience: The Globalization of Chinese Film and TV“; University of California Press; USA; 2007

Wilkins, K.G.; “Hong Kong Television: Same as it Ever Was?”; TV China: A Reader of New Media; Indiana University Press; Bloomington, IN, USA; 2009

The Problems of Studying in “Ostrya”

International students is big business, Australia’s fourth biggest export  in fact.

But unfortunately it isn’t as easy living and learning in the land down under. The HSBC Bank found that Australia is now the most expensive place for international students with an annual cost of $42,195 (US$38,516).

Ouch...

Ouch…

However, costs aren’t the only issue International students must face when arriving to Australia, as Kell and Vogl’s study confirms, Australia-English isn’t the easiest accent to understand as “they tended mumble and slur words” and “they shortened words… which tended to confuse students who were used to a more formal type of English”. Many international students, prior to studying in Australia study English in their respective countries as “English has assumed an important status as providing  access to economic, educational and immigration opportunities”. Yet Kell and Vogl claim that this ‘laziness’ in Australian-English accent is due to a “hybridisation of Gaelic, Welsh, Scots, London Cockney, Northern English dialects, as well, as some Indigenous, Malay and Polynesian words”.

Another issue that most, if not all of my international friends found was that Australians tend to be very late. Whether this attributes to our somewhat lucrative public transport system, or once again just sheer laziness, it appears we can never get there one time.

Within my time at University, I have made several international friends, most of which can relate to the difficulties studying abroad which include adjustment. As Marginson claims. “Much research suggests the pathway to improvement lies in lifting the interactions between international students and local persons, especially students. These interactions create both educational and welfare benefits”. Through my study of Mandarin, I have found that most of my international friends (which range from China to all over Europe) often make numerous attempts to socialise with local students. Many do this through the clubs on campus, to playing sports and even through religion.

Despite some of the hardships many international students face in studying in Australia, and deterring from my own national pride, Australia is often quoted as “The luckiest country in the world”. Well… umm… maybe second best to those damn Swiss!

Source: http://www.afr.com/p/national/australia_world_most_expensive_country_k69TFK4iDk78HrEUxyfEPP