Cultural appropriation and… Bollywood?

Movies, what are they? Well according to thefreedictionary.com a movie is “A recorded sequence of film or video images displayed on a screen with sufficient rapidity as to create the illusion of motion and continuity.” Of course, the purpose of a movie is to entertain. Entertain can mean many things though. Movies can make us feel emotions that are both good and bad, like excitement or sorrow for example. They can immerse us in a world completely different from ours or very similar to our own.

With all of that said, lets talk about transitional films. What are transitional films? Let’s define transitional first. Transitional is defined as a cultural phenomena that does not fit inside one nation. So, with that said, transitional films are basically films that cannot be as easily defined as other films. They don’t necessarily belong to a single nation. Is there an example of a film industry that makes these transitional films? Yes, there is actually. It’s called Bollywood.

Bollywood is essentially India’s version of Hollywood if you couldn’t already tell. The term Bollywood is used to describe Hindi films that were made in mumbai that adopt Hollywood elements. Bollywood isn’t a pushover industry either. Believe it or not Bollywood films are multi billion dollar productions with the most expensive productions costing around 20 million US dollars.
With all of that in mind, there’s a huge debate going on about Bollywood. The debate is centered around cultural appropriation. What is cultural appropriation? Essentially using elements of a culture that you don’t belong to. The main question that comes to mind when it comes to this topic is, is it honoring another culture or is it cultural theft? Now, one thing to consider is that you can use elements from another culture and respect it. It’s not impossible. Using elements of another culture and completely disregarding it’s origins, now that’s cultural theft.

Bollywood, Nollywood… Kollywood?

With various cultures existing in the world, Hollywood isn’t the only one who reigns supreme in the entertainment industry. Despite being one of the biggest industries in the world, there are others who rival Hollywood. Two of them are Nollywood and Korean Cinema. Just like Bollywood and Hollywood, Nollywood is the film industry of Nigeria.

As of 2007, Nollywood produced 1687 movies which makes it the third largest movie industry in the world. Nollywood started around the early 1990s and it was derived from Yoruba travelling theatre tradition. Unlike its North American counterpart, Nollywood movies are made directly to video rather than having a screening in theatres. The content of Nollywood is very reliant on the viewer being a local. This is because the content is specifically catering towards Nigerian citizens. Majority of the themes within films range from Melodrama and corruption. Because of it catering towards Nigerian citizens, it’s quite popular in Nigeria and even African communities located in the west.

Although, despite being so popular, the budget for Nollywood films are almost non-existent. With films having the aesthetics of television shows. Why is this so? This is because Nigerian directors only purchase technology when it becomes affordable. Considering the budget that these shows have, they’re not going to be buying $2000 cameras any time soon. In terms of how well a film does, every shop gets 30 new titles every week. Generally speaking, they sell about 50000 copies per week.

“While there is no doubt that Nollywood exhibits the hybrid character that is obvious in many forms of African popular arts, it is its acute notation of locality that gives it an unprecedented acceptability as the local cinematic expression in Nigeria and indeed in Africa…Yet, the form and content of Nollywood narratives reminds the casual observer of the obvious ties it has to the complicated trade in global media images even when the point has been made of its unique place in world media culture” (Onookome Okome).

Now, onto Korean Cinema. ‘South Korea has become the seventh-largest film market in the world, with national film attendance totals by 2000 exceeding 70 million. In a phenomenon the Asian mass media have referred to as the Korean wave (or pronounced Hallyu in South Korean), South Korea is now a brisk exporter of music, TV programming, and films to the Asia-Pacific region’ (Ryoo, p.139). So in short, Korean Cinema is kind of a big deal.

‘South Korea, historically more concerned about fending off cultural domination by China and Japan than in spreading its own culture abroad, has nonetheless emerged as Asia’s pop culture leader. From well-packaged television dramas to slick movies, from pop music to online games, the South Korean media industry and its stars are increasingly defining what the people of East Asia see, listen to and play’ (Ryoo, p.139).

With South Korea being a leader in pop-culture rankings, why is it so popular? Well for starters, with such a high income it allows for very high production values. This makes it more appealing to a wider audience. On top of that, Korean cinema uses themes that the Asian community can relate to. With such a high population, it’s no wonder it’s popular.

References:

Okome, O (2007). ‘Nollywood: spectatorship, audience and the sites of consumption’ Postcolonial Text, 3.2, pp. 1-21.

Ryoo, W. (2009). Globalization, or the logic of cultural hybridization: the case of the Korean wave. Asian Journal of Communication, 19(2), 137-151.

Globalisation 101

Globalisation, what is it?

‘Globalisation refers to an international community influenced by technological development and economic, political, and military interests. It is characterised by a worldwide increase in interdependence, interactivity, interconnectedness, and the virtually instantaneous exchange of information.

Globalisation could lead to the homogenisation of world cultures, or to hybridisation and multiculturalism’ (O’Shaughnessy and Stadler, 458).

It really is a small world after all.

Well, not literally. The earth isn’t physically small if it can hold over 7 billion people. However, the world is shrinking in a sense that everyone who inhabits the earth is being connected. With every passing day our technology is getting better and better. Originally, we used letters to communicate with people on the other side of the world. That is not the case in this day and age. Now sending a message from Australia to North America is practically instantaneous. Because of these advancements in technology, people no longer need to be physically near each other to feel a sense of connection.

This leads into a term that was coined by Marshall McLuhan, The Global Village. What is the Global Village? McLuhan used the term to describe that the world has shrunk. Which as said earlier, it has.

Not only have we been able to communicate with different people, but we’ve also been able to learn about different cultures. In turn we’ve opened our senses about the world. You see it in movies, food and even fashion. Learning about different cultures has inspired people to come up with new and unique ideas. This is where the idea of being connected comes in. People of different cultures no longer seem so distant.

With all of this in mind, this links into media saturation. Media saturation is characterised by the loss of meaningful interpersonal communication and traditional communities, languages and value systems. Which basically means we’re getting bombarded with too much information.

References:

Appadurai, A (1996) ‘Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy’, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization, Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 27-47.

O’Shaughnessy M & Stadler J, 2012, ‘Globalisation’, Media and Society, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 458 – 471.