Peace and War Journalism.

News today is presented in a way that targets audiences with similar ideological views. By doing so this alienates people who believe differently. This is incredibly problematic, especially when it comes to the reporting of war and conflict. As stated by Hafez, As a result of this,

 “…news broadcasters today are more likely to harden existing opinions and attitudes, encouraging stereotypical thinking of the cultural ‘other’, and create increasingly isolated public spheres” (el-Nawawy and Powers 2010, pg. 62)

An example of this can be found in the media today when reporting about the war against the ‘Islamic State’ militants in Iraq. News reports on this topic usually focus on presenting the Islamic state as the enemy and evil and presenting the US and Australian forces as ‘angels’. This has many implications. In doing this the media avoids showing images of any US or Australian military members being involved in violence. However, did not hesitate in showing abusive videos of members of the IS about to behead an American Journalist and British humanitarian. This along with their focus on the religious background have positioned the audience to ‘other’ people who follow Islam and stereotype them with the views shown of the IS. This is incredibly problematic. Because of the way the conflict has been presented in mainstream media, many people do not differentiate between the extremist IS and Islamic practisers. This kind of Journalism has been described by Tehranian as,

“Political or commercial propaganda that constructs hostile images of the Other while creating a ‘global fishbowl’ whereby the excesses of the world’s wealthiest are pm tantalizing display to the vast numbers of desperately poor.”
(el-Nawawy and Powers 2010, pg. 64)

There is an alternative to this kind of War Journalism. It is called Peace Journalism. Peace Journalists focus on giving a voice to the voiceless, including those who War journalists present as the cultural ‘other’. They value non-violent reactions to conflict and try to avoid presenting the conflict as Good vs. Evil by avoiding the cover up of unjust on both sides. Al-Jazeera English is a perfect example of this. Al-Jazeera Englishes corporate profile mentions their aim,

 “The channel gives voice to untold stories, promotes debate and challenges established perceptions… The channel sets the new agenda, bridging cultures and providing a unique grass roots perspective from underrepresented regions around the world to a potential global audience….”
(el-Nawawy and Powers, pg. 73)

Peace journalism provides a much more appropriate approach to reporting conflicts which avoids Othering. The mass media needs to take a page out of Al-Jazeera’s book and stop feeding discriminatory and stereotypical views before the issue gets out of hand.

Peace and War journalism

Source: Johan Galtung 1998 (Sukhmani Khorana 2014, ‘Week 11’ BCM111 lecture power point)

Resource:

el-Nawawy, M and Powers, S (2010) ‘Al-Jazeera English: A conciliatory medium in a conflict-driven

environment?’, Global Media and Communication Vol 6: 1, pp. 61 – 84

The ‘false balance’ effect: Climate change and false balance in the media

When it comes to reporting there are ethical considerations to keep in mind. The US based Society of Professional Journalists provides a code of ethics to guide journalists (Ward 2009, pg. 13). As stated in this week’s reading, ‘Journalism ethics and climate change reporting a period of intense media uncertainty’, one of the ethical considerations mentioned in the SPJ code is “Seek truth and report it… Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information” (Ward 2009, pg. 13). Often in order to be fair and impartial, journalists will give equal time to opposing viewpoints. In relation to debates totally focused on philosophical views this may be justified, however, what about when it comes to a debate which includes scientific evidence and consensus?

It is in these cases that a ‘false balance’ may be created. A ‘False Balance’ is when opposing views are given equal weight despite a widespread majority of experts (people who study and research in the field) agreeing with one side (Heuvel 2014). This is especially evident when it comes to the reporting of the global crisis of Climate change.

false balance

Source:http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/sciencetoolkit_04

NASA reported that 97% of climate change scientists agree that Climate change is real and humans are the cause (http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/). Despite this there is still generally a 50/50 debate presented by media outlets. This has led to much confusion in the public sphere. According to Dugan (2014) 29% of Americans don’t know I there is even scientific consensus when it comes to climate change.

This is a major issue. As the ethical code suggested “Seek truth and report it”, if 97% of climate scientists believe climate change I happening and we are the cause then people need to know this truth.

In order to deal with this issue, the BBC sent 200 of their journalists to workshops on how to give opinions their due weight in order to prevent false balance when reporting scientific knowledge (Knapton 2014). John Oliver also explored another option of how to present a fair 97 – 3 debate on his show Last week tonight.

While in some instances impartiality can be important such as presenting a debate with unclear evidence or with no clear consensus as the truth is unclear. However, when it comes to scientific understandings with a widespread consensus and clear evidence, ensuring the truth of that consensus is known and that there is no false balance is incredibly important, it is dangerous not to. Especially in the case of global crisis’s such as climate change. Because the truth is, the effects are already evident and if we don’t start doing something now, it will be too late.

References:
Dugan, A 2014, ‘Americans Most Likely to Say Global Warming Is Exaggerated’, Gallup Politics, 10/10/2014 < http://www.gallup.com/poll/167960/americans-likely-say-global-warming-exaggerated.aspx >

Heuvel, KV 2014, ‘The distorting reality of ‘false balance’ in the media’, the Washington Post, 10/10/2014 < http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/katrina-vanden-heuvel-the-distorting-reality-of-false-balance-in-the-media/2014/07/14/6def5706-0b81-11e4-b8e5-d0de80767fc2_story.html >

Knapton, S 2014, ‘BBC staff told to stop inviting cranks on to science programmes’, The Telegraph, 10/10/2014 < http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/bbc/10944629/BBC-staff-told-to-stop-inviting-cranks-on-to-science-programmes.html >

Ward, B 2009, ‘Journalism ethics and climate change reporting a period of intense media uncertainty’, Ethics in science and Environmental Politics, vol. 9, p./pp.13-15.

Consensus: 97% of climate scientists agree, NASA, viewed: 10/10/2014
< http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/ >

Drama in translation: Sherlock and Elementary.

Last week we focused on how comedy doesn’t always travel across cultures. This week the focus is going to be on the adaption of television dramas which allows them to travel across cultures and also time periods. Sometimes, in order for a story to be successful across cultures or even time periods, adaptions are made to the original in order for it to be more relatable for audiences. The adaption of the Sherlock Holmes story time and time again is an example of this.

As mentioned in the lecture, the character of Sherlock Holmes was first introduced to the world in 1887, in A Study In Scarlet published in Beeton’s Christmas Annual. After this 3 novels and 56 short stories followed. As stated by Penny in her article ‘Sherlock and the Adventures of the Overzealous Fanbase’, “Sherlock Holmes is now in the public domain” (2014). This has been evident for many years with several adaptions for film and television being made. Each of these adaptions has changed something in order to make the characters and story more suited to the modern world and the culture which it is aimed towards. In order to show these adaptions I am going to compare The BBC’s Sherlock and CBS’s Elementary.

Firstly, both of these have been adapted from the original in a similar way in order to remain popular in the new time period. An example of an adaption is giving Holmes a job title (private investigator) in order to position him as a semi-professional and make him more plausible and believable than just a man running around solving crimes.

Now culturally. Sherlock is set in Britain and aimed at British audiences like the original. Due to this cultural similarity, this version of Sherlock is much more similar then Elementary (Eg. Characters, Holmes has a drug addiction and no sexual interests except for ‘The Women’). In Sherlock, the ‘Englishness’ is emphasised.

Elementary, on the other hand has been adapted greatly. This is because unlike Sherlock, it has travelled across cultures. Elementary is set in America and aimed at American audiences. Although Sherlock still remains as an English character, many of the others are now positioned as American. Watson is Elementary is now a Women and also played by Lucy Lui. This has, as mentioned in the lecture, added political correctness to the original narrative which is a very Americanised concept. By positioning Watson as a women, as well as a few other characters, this creates sexual tension which seems to be much more relevant in American Drama. This adaption also features much more gun crime. This is due to the fact that American society has much more gun crime due to their gun culture which Britain lacks.

The success of both of these adaptions shows how changing the original story to be more culturally specific to time and place is successful in helping audiences relate to a story across cultures.

Charlotte Frew, 2014 ‘Sherlock and Elementary’, Lecture slides, BCM111, Univesity of Wollongong, Week 8, <https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/mod/resource/view.php?id=197359 >

Penny, L 2014, ‘Sherlock and the Adventure of the Overzealous Fanbase’, NewStatesman, 12th Jan.

Do you get it? Comedy in translation.

Jonah From Tonga… Was this comedy genius or racial disaster? Written by Chris Lilley, creator of the very successful comedy series Summer Heights High, Jonah from Tonga has received loads of criticism due to the very high levels of racism. This could be expected as Lilley, a 39 year old white male, was attempting to portray a 13 year old Tongan boy.  Cleo Paskal wrote on Huffington post “a 39-year old white guy in a permed wig and brownface. Yes, brownface. In 2014.” (2014). So according to Paskal, yes this series was a racial disaster.

The character Jonah was originally portrayed in his Hit series Summer Heights High, this series had a huge following and was one of the ABC’s best sellers when released on DVD (Guardian News, 2014). This show was full of satirical, stereotypical characters all played by Lilley. So why has this criticism only come out now?

Jonah from Tonga was funded and produced by HBO and was aired in America. While the character was originally created by Lilley for Australian audiences. This means the joke had to cross between different cultures. In my opinion, this is where the issue lies. Both America and Australia have had horrific racial issues in the past and both countries are still dealing with this. However, as discussed in class, a large amount of Australian’s, unlike Americans have accepted the fact that racism is a part of their history and still is part of their cultural identity. As Sue Turnbull points out in this week’s reading (pg. 112) national identity plays a big role in the understanding of comedy just like comedy plays a big role in the understanding of cultural identity.

Jonah From Tonga lacked that extra evidence of satire which Summer Heights High provided through the extra characters which also portrayed very satirical views of stereotypes. I think because of this, the racist views which Lilley was trying to approach satirically are taken very seriously.

When trying to take comedy across cultures, care must be taken, especially when approaching matters such as racism or discrimination. Although Lilley’s portrayal of Jonah was found incredibly humorous by many Australians (more so in Summer Heights High), this did not translate when he was witnessed by US audiences. This was due to their level of acceptance of racism being different to that of many Australians and the lack of supporting characters to help promote satire. Lilley is a comical genius who has created many different characters that need applauding, his performance in this case was greatly misunderstood as his satire did not translate.

Sue Turnbull, ‘Television Comedy In Translation’, Metro Magazine pg. 169-174.

article-0-1D5483F300000578-905_634x439

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2612715/Chris-Lilley-returns-new-gang-series-sneak-peek.html

Media Capitals: The emergence of Hong Kong

“Media capitals, then, are sites of mediation, locations where complex forces and flows interact. They are neither bounded not self-contained entities. Rather, we should understand them in the manner that geographers like Doreen Massey (1992) and Kevin Robins (1991) understand cities, as meeting places where local specificity arises out of migration, interaction and exchange…Media capitals are places where things come together and, consequently, where the generation and circulation of new mass culture forms become possible” (Curtin, 2003).

As Curtin explains above, media capitals are a very complex term. A media capital are centres for media activity, including finance, production and distribution. Cities which popularly come to mind are Hollywood, Chicago, Bombay and Hong Kong (Curtain 2003, pg. 203). To further explain this concept I will discuss the Media Capital of Hong Kong.

Television first arrived in Hong Kong in 1967 (Curtain 2003, pg. 213), at this time the local society was only just beginning to experience the effects of consumer culture. Prior to WWII, Chinese performers, directors and audiences looked towards the mainland cities of Guangzhou and Shanghai as the main centres of media flow. However, with WWII and the large amount of unrest on the Mainland of China, many fled to Hong Kong. Hong Kong then experienced a few decades of conflicting audience views within Hong Kong over the emerging media (due to a mixed culture of indigenous and immigrants). Then emerged a unique media capital which as stated in the reading, “mediated complex relations between East and West, between tradition and modernity, and between immigrant and indigenous populations.”(Curtain 2003).

The transition of the media capital in this region from Guangzhou to Hong Kong demonstrates how “capital status can be won and lost, and the term itself evokes both senses of the word: capital as a center of activity and capital as a concentration of resources, reputation and talent.” (Curtain 2003). The study of Media Capital points to the complex interactions among a range of flows including economic, demographic, technological, cultural and ideological (Curtain 2003). Media Capitals are constantly changing and evolving, surely enough we can look to the future in expectation for the next big change.

Resources:

Curtin, M (2003) ‘Media Capital: Towards the Study of Spatial Flows’ International Journal of Cultural Studies
Vol 6: 2, pp. 202 – 228.

Crossover Cinema: The Great Phenomenon

Sukhmani Khorana in this weeks reading, ‘Crossover Cinema: A Genealogical and conceptual Overview’ describes crossover cinema to be:

“An emerging form of cinema that crosses cultural borders at the stage of conceptualization and production and hence manifests a hybrid cinematic grammar at the textual level, as well as crossing over in terms of its distribution and reception.”(2013, pg. 2).

In this sense, Crossover Cinema is exactly what it sounds like. Cinema which crosses over cultural boarders not only at a textual level but also distribution and reception wise as mentioned above.

Unlike ‘transnational’ or ‘world cinema’, Crossover cinema is very much a part of mainstream cinema culture (Khorana 2013, pg.4). In order to demonstrate this we should look at some examples. To keep in theme with last week’s post I shall reference a few Indian cross-cultural films. As mentioned in the reading, Indian diaspora directed films such as Bend it like Beckham (2002) and Monsoon Wedding (2001) are both great examples of crossover cinema (Khorana 2013, pg. 5).
Bend it like Beckham (2002), directed by Chadha, and focusses on an Indian family who have moved to England. The film is written in English and features cultural aspects of both India and England. The film was also had much border-crossing popularity.

I think at this stage it is important to distinguish between what was discussed last week in the ‘globalisation of Bollywood’ and this week’s Crossover cinema. While last week we did focus on a kind of crossover, the focus was on the industries and how they incorporated characteristics of different industries in order to cross borders. Cross over cinema also focusses on the cultural aspects.

It is also important to note that just because the Indian culture is explored it does not mean that it is automatically a Bollywood film or an Indian film, nor is it a British film just because it features the British culture. As stated by Khorana, Crossover Cinema is unique in the way that it is “not conventionally grounded in a single national/cultural/generic source” (2013, pg. 5). Crossover cinema should therefore be considered its own genre in order to distinguish it from films which do not fit into this classification.

Crossover Cinema is exactly what Khorana describes as a “Phenomenon”. The thought that a film could cross borders so easily that both cultures identify with it and so easily that the film does not stay primarily grounded in a single source seems unreal. However, Crossover Cinema is real, it is, and will continue to grow in popularity and reach into the future.

Reference: Khorana, S 2013, ‘Crossover Cinema: A Conceptual and Genealogical Overview’, Crossover Cinema: Cross-cultural Film from Production to Reception, New York: Routledge, pp.3-13.

Title: Globalisation of Bollywood – Is the Industry really benefitting?

In the reading for this week’s topic (Problematizing Chindia: Hybridity and Bollywoodization of popular Indian cinema in global film flows), Schaefer and Karan explore the supposed growth of interest in Bollywood films globally. In this week’s blog I am to explore this growing global popularity, the reasons behind it and discuss how it is effecting the popularity of Bollywood locally.

Firstly, I’ll give you a brief outline of what ‘Bollywood’ is. Bollywood, according to Ganti (2004, pg. 2), was a phrase created by the English-language press in India in the 70’s to describe the Bombay (now Mumbai) film industry, hence it is the merging of Bombay and Hollywood. This term, as suggested by Ganti (2004, pg. 3) is also commonly used to describe the genre of ‘popular Hindi cinema’. This genre is what the Bollywood film industry is generally known for internationally and is the most popular genre by far within the Bollywood industry (Ganti, 2004 pg. 3). Ganti describes the distinctive features of popular Hindi cinema as “song-dance, melodrama, lavish-production values, emphasis upon stars and spectacle.” (2004, pg. 3). This is what comes to my mind generally when I think of Bollywood films (along with very long running times, and much disruption from the main storyline). By looking at this general outline it is conceivable that Bollywood is very different

to Hollywood and therefore it can be assessed that Bollywood film may not translate very well into ‘western’ audiences.

However, as suggested by Schafer and Karan in this week’s reading (2010, pg. 66), it does appear that interest in these films from western audiences are growing. So, as in this week’s reading I am going to explore why this interest is growing.

The first reason the reading outlines is the growing incorporation of Indian themes and/or Bollywood characteristics in Hollywood movies, advertisements and much more. Two examples of this are James Cameron’s (2009) Avatar and Boyle’s (2009) Slumdog Millionaire. While these films do give reference to Indian themes and share some characteristics with Bollywood films they do still differ greatly from films in the traditional genre. Firstly, Avatar. While Cameron borrowed much of the ideas in his film from Indian mythology (Schaefer and Karan 2010, pg. 312) apart from the relatively long length does not incorporate any of the characteristics of typical Bollywood films and disguises the fact that the themes are in fact Indian. Secondly, Slumdog Millionaire. This movie was originally labelled as a Bollywood film (Schaefer and Karan 2010, pg. 313), however, is not. Although the BRITISH film does explore Indian themes and does incorporate aspects of flashbacks and song and dance into it, the way in which it does so is not similar to that of Bollywood films, in that it does not distract the viewer from the original story line (it is also very short in contrast to most Bollywood films) (Schaefer and Karan 2010, pg. 313). As suggested by Schaefer and Karan (2010, pg. 313) “Such mislabelling helped American audiences mistakenly associate the Westernised production values…” with the Bollywood film industry.

The second reason is the transformation of the content represented in popular Hindi cinema. Mira K Desai (2013 pg. 60) says “In last one decade, there were divergent trends. On one hand, there were stories told for ‘global’ audiences whereas on the other, there were very very ‘local’ stories”. The incorporation of Western actors, music, locations and themes has become more common with Bollywood film markets (Desai 2013, pg. 60-61). Desai argues that with the exception of “Three Idiots, Dhoom 2, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and Om Shanti Om” the most successful Bollywood films Locally compared to Global success are very different(2013 , pg. 62) – See table for reference. Desai proposes that this evidence suggests that although popularity for Bollywood is growing globally the themes are “…increasingly becoming irrelevant for ‘local’ audiences” (2013, pg. 65).

The growth in the global popularity of Bollywood is due to the popularity of movies such as Slumdog Millionaire (2009) and Avatar (2009) been received with great popularity and creating misconceptions of what ‘Bollywood’ is. Bollywood directors have tried to enhance their global reach by creating movies which are more like these misconceptions. However, in moving away from traditions they are beginning to alienate the local audiences. As shown in the graph bellow and discussed by Desai (2013) very few movies appeal to both local and overseas audiences. Trying to appeal to both audiences is going to be the real challenge for Bollywood into the future.

Rank Indian Markets Year Overseas Markets Year
1 Three Idiots 2009 My Name Is Khan 2010
2 Ghanjini 2008 Three Idiots 2009
3 Gadar Ek Prem Katha 2001 Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna 2006
4 Hum Aapke Hain Kaun 1994 Om Shanti Om 2007
5 Raajneeti 2010 Dhoom 2 2006
6 Dhoom 2 2006 Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi 2008
7 Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge 1995 Veer-Zaara 2004
8 Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi 2008 Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham 2001
9 Om Shanti Om 2007 Don – The chase Begins Again 2006
10 Krissh 2006 Jodhaa Akbar 2008

(Source: Data compiled from http://www.boxofficeindia.com/ 2011)

Resources:
Desai, MK 2013, ‘Globalization of Bollywood: Gain of Markets or Loss of Audiences?’, Media Watch, vol. 4, no. 1, p./pp. 52-66.

Ganti, T 2004 Bollywood: A Guidebook to Popular Hindi Cinema, Routledge, New York.

Schaefer, DJ Karan, K 2010, ‘Problematizing Chindia: Hybridity and Bollywoodization of popular Indian Cinema in global film flows’, Global Media and Communications, vol. 6, no.3, p./pp. 309-316.