From Hollywood to Nollywood

An industry affected significantly by the rise of globalisation is that, of film and production. Global films with transnational appeal are produced in various countries across the globe, but it is Nollywood films produced in Nigeria and other parts of Africa, that are, perhaps, the most intriguing.

Established in the mid 1990’s, Nollywood was inspired by African traditional travelling theatres. Nollywood films are made direct to video and, as such, are never screened in cinemas. In 2007, Nigeria’s film industry produced 1687 films, making it the third largest film industry in the world, in terms of volume and production rates. Thus, it seems that while the business of film production has spanned wider than Hollywood and the American film industry itself, the cinematic experience remains somewhat localised. If this is the case, what makes possible, the retention of such great popularity regarding Nollywood films?

The argument in the University of Alberta’s ‘Spectatorship, Audience and the Sites of Consumption’, is that outside of Nigeria, and indeed Africa, Nollywood is still largely a curiosity but within its borders, the Nigerian film industry has had nothing but success, after unanticipated success. Often, these movies are completed in a week with a budget of no more than $20,000.The films draw upon traditional characters and events inspired by dramas from other such countries, as Venezuela, Argentina and Mexico, in which, they produce soap operas titled Telenovelas. Nollywood films play on this structure, with a mix of melodrama and culture. Perhaps what makes the popularity of Nollywood films so isolated, is the television aesthetic, of which, the films adopt, appearing more on the side of an extended length television show, than a typical feature film. Nonetheless, the films remain popular within Africa, with the average film selling more than 50,000 physical copies.

“It’s born out of passion. We are using what we have to tell our stories and get it out there,” says British- Nigerian film director and founder of Blu Star Entertainment, Michelle Bello.

Despite the rapid growth and success of the Nollywood film industry, there is one major downfall. With films being produced solely for immediate transfer to DVD, this enhances the possibility for piracy. An estimated $1 billion is lost to piracy each year, with bootleg copies of a film often hitting the streets within hours of its release. The World Bank estimates that for every 10 Nigerian movies sold, only one is a legitimate sale.

In order to rectify these losses, the Nigerian Copyright Commission is working to reform a law that governs the ways, in which, filmmakers and producers can be compensated for the loss of profit from their art and intellectual property.

With unprecedented acceptability in Nigeria and across Africa, it is only a matter of time before globalisation influences the popularity of Nigerian films worldwide. Soon Nollywood films will become, not a curiosity, but a widely accepted style of film and production, increasing profitability for production companies, and, in turn, increasing revenue for the film industry in Nigeria.

The Perils of Parochialism

International education is Australia’s fourth largest export industry. Despite its success, it is more than just a profitable business. International education gives individuals, who otherwise would not have had the chance to learn on a global scale, the opportunity to gain a higher education through a global network, consisting of a number of academic institutions, from various countries worldwide.

International education also provides travel opportunities for those students engaging with such programs, in order to gain deeper knowledge, together with the often-anticipated intercultural experience, that is expected when participating in international education.

Often times, it is the social experience that comes along with travelling for the purpose of education that international students most look forward to. But, as the potential for international education is severely under-realised and underrated, this intercultural experience is habitually overlooked.

In order for the business of international education to continue to flourish within Australia in particular, we as a nation must work collaboratively in order to improve the experience of international students and focus upon creating an international encounter, inclusive of socialising activities. This can be achieved through avoiding Parochialism with Australia being labeled as parochial in relation to international education.

 Parochialism is the confined or restricted view, whereby an individual, or in the case of Australia, in relation to international education, a nation, retains a narrow minded and somewhat self-centered, self-interested view of what is, in reality, a diverse and complex world. The term “parochial” can be applied in both culture and politics and is extremely evident when considering the experience of international students who visit Australia.

In Tim Deane- Freeman’s “The Lucky Country… If You’re White” Parochialism, is linked closely to racism. Issues inclusive of Pauline Hanson’s policies regarding immigration, and refugee detention centers are explored within the article. Australia can also be considered racist, in conjunction with that of being parochial, when considering the coverage of the Olympic games. “While the Olympics are ostensibly an event that brings the world together, the racism that runs through much of the coverage serves to underscore the differences between ‘us’ and ‘them.” Australian Olympic coverage is frequently one-sided, epitomising the parochial views that Australia is said to retain.

In ‘International education as self-formation: Morphing a profit-making business into an intercultural experience’, Simon Marginson argues that Australians are too parochial, “trapped within an Australian, culturally isolated view of the world.” “Most international students want closer interaction with local students, and are prepared to take risks to achieve this… most local students are not interested” (Marginson). He argues that local Parochialism is a missed opportunity for intercultural interactions and relations. He says in order to improve the intercultural experience of international students we must encourage ‘Self-formation’ and ‘Self-definition’.

While perhaps the reason behind Australia’s labeled parochialism is our geographical isolation, in a modern technological age, this is no excuse. In order to promote a positive experience of international education and exchange within Australia, we must first improve our cultural acceptance, nationwide.

Homogenous Happy Meals

“If there is a global village, it speaks American. It wears jeans, drinks Coke, eats at the golden arches, walks on swooshed shoes, plays electric guitars, recognises Mickey Mouse, James Dean, ET, Bart Simpson, R2-D2 and Pamela Anderson.” (Gitlin 2001, p. Media Unlimited)

Americanisation is the process, whereby, Western values upheld in the US, are projected on to countries outside of the world power. A perfect example comes in the form of American fast food giant, McDonalds, which has become one of the most globally recognisable and ubiquitous corporations, in an age of increasing interconnectedness.

While the USA is not the only controlling force in the media world, the predominance of Americanisation has led to increased popularity of brands and commodities, like that of McDonalds, outside of the US. This adoption of American culture can be examined through the concept of Cultural Imperialism.

Cultural Imperialism describes how one civilisation spreads its values and ideas. Imperial domination is maintained, partly, through the dissemination of cultural products, brands and commodities. (O’Shaughnessy 2012, p. 465)

Globalisation, in particular, Cultural Imperialism, has the potential to set in motion, the homogenisation of world cultures, reducing cultural diversity in the process. Through the popularisation and diffusion of a wide range of cultural symbols, inclusive of, but, not limited to, physical objects, ideas, values and customs, the world has become increasingly amalgamated.

In, From Big Mac to Rice Burger – Globalisation: McDonald’s in Japan, Manya Koetse describes how multinational corporations such as McDonalds, are a prime example of the process of globalisation. Discussed, is the widespread popularity of the food chian, referring to the presence of McDonalds in over 118 countries worldwide.

“Whilst McDonald’s initially symbolised American culture (or rather, symbolised how the US was perceived), it has now become part of many countries ‘local’ culture. I would rather refer to this as ‘glocal’; a concept to illustrate the intermingling of the global and the local. McDonald’s has become indigenised by many cultures across the globe.”

Globally, there is an omnipresent tension concerning the loss of cultural diversity and identity, due to the increasing Westernisation of the world. The fear that traditional cultures are being destroyed by the flow of capital, in the form of currency, stock, and commodities, like that of McDonalds, is a popular point of view. In concurrence, many believe that the intrusion of Western culture is increasing the glorification of values such as materialism and consumerism, which are believe to be detrimental to traditional culture and customs.

Thus, there is debate concerning the process of Westernisation, that poses questions as to whether this is a positive or negative occurrence. Is the possibility of interconnectedness and the success of the ‘Global Village’ more important than preserving traditional culture and the heterogenisation of countries around the world? Should we be fighting against Westernisation or embracing it as a form of conglomeration?

The Lonely Girl who really wasn’t

The development of Internet communication, specifically, social media has expanded the traditional notion of identity. Now, it is possible to craft online identities in addition to those in real life. These online personas can shape people’s interpersonal perceptions towards individuals in the real world.

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In 2006, ‘Lonelygirl15’ established a YouTube channel, on which, she posted regular vlogs. Bree, who featured in the videos, was a teenage girl who lived a seemingly normal life. It soon became evident that she was perhaps, lonely and bored, hence the creation of Lonleygirl15. The youtube channel and vlogs gained a massive international following and became extremely popular, in a seemingly short amount of time. Bree had become one of YouTube’s youngest and most popular stars. She reinforced this popularity, starting her own forum and myspace account.

However, after gaining a mass following, it was revealed that Bree and Lonelygirl15 were, in fact, fictional and the channel and videos were produced by a number of writers and actors. Fans, YouTubers and the media alike, had been duped by an artificial online persona, who, projected online, the parts of her life that the writers wanted viewers to see.

Is this so different to what we do each day when posting on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat? We post, often times, edited images of the most exciting parts of our lives, leaving out the mundane occurrences, in order to create the perception we want surrounding our name, image and brand.

To PC or not to PC: Locked vs Generative Platforms

I am, by no means, a gamer of any sort, but, looking into locked vs generative technological platforms, led me to the debate surrounding PC gaming, as compared to, console gaming.

There is fervent discussion about, both, open and closed technologies. Specifically, how closed technologies enforce ideologies that limit the generativity of audiences, by controlling the flow of content across channels. Simply put, this relates to the types of access provided by both open and closed source technology.

The intended result for locked appliance technology is that of pure consumption. This is evident, when considering console gaming. Sony’s Play Station and Microsoft’s Xbox are perfect examples of the iteration of products that lead to increased consumption, with the release of new models every few years. This ultimately creates technological obsolescence for old consoles, when a new model materialises. In contrast to console gaming, PCs give you the freedom to upgrade whenever YOU decide to, not when Sony or Microsoft decide to, rendering the PC, a generative technological platform.

PlayStation and Xbox both market games as ‘console exclusive’, yet, Steam provides these games, inclusive of; Dead Rising, Transitor, and Hotline Miami 2, online, for everyone, at a fraction of the price. Essentially, Steam is providing the same products as big brand names, like PlayStation and Xbox, in an open source environment, that is ultimately, cheaper and easier to access.

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Entry Points into the Happiness Factory

In 2006, Coca Cola created a TV advertisement called the Happiness Factory. It portrayed the animated world inside a soft drink vending machine. Following the global success of the ad, a 3-and-a-half minute film was produced. Various trailers were used, along with movie inspired posters, in order to promote the launch of the film.

Marc Mathieu, the Senior Vice-President of global brand marketing at Coca Cola has said, “Through the short film and other aspects that we have created, including promotional packaging and a brand new online element, we hope that people will have fun with the campaign.”

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Coca Cola collaborated with Xbox and made a Coca-Cola skin available for customised dashboards. They also enabled a free download of the Happiness Factory ringtone.

Not only were they able to increase revenue and popularity with this campaign, but, they were also able to reach a greater number of consumers, extending into multiple platforms and continuing to widen the influence of their brand.

Ultimately, this became one story scattered over many channels, creating different points of entry for different audience demographics that fit together to tell one pervasive story. This campaign, in itself, is the perfect example of Transmedia, which is the creation of a unified and coordinated entertainment experience, through the utilisation of various media avenues.

The ‘Blurred Lines’ of Copyright Laws

In 2015, musicians, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were challenged by the family of Motown legend, Marvin Gaye, in relation to a copyright infringement in their 2013 hit, “Blurred Lines”. The Gaye family claimed that the pair had stolen the tune form Marvin Gaye’s 1977 track “Got to give it up”.

However, following an appeal from the duo, the judge cut their copyright infringement verdict by more than $2 million. This occurred on the basis that  “a ‘groove’ or ‘feeling’ cannot be copyrighted”, as, was argued by Thicke and Williams. This case has transfixed the music world because it raises questions as to when a song can be considered plagiarized and when it merely serves as inspiration.

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The dispute brings about the notion of intellectual property rights. Before copyright anyone could freely copy, modify, or sell content. Before copyright, the notion of property related only to owning land with the thought of owning ideas considered absurd. Now days this is almost impossible, with industries and corporations seeking control over content, ideas and all possible uses of information, rendering the thought of a copyright free world, a thing of the past.