Friday, September 24, 2010

Cultural Globalism: Does It Really Exist??

In the article Global Media and Communication, Sparks argues that when it comes to entertainment programming, cultural aspects are not deterritorialized; that a center exists which creates and distributes while it is up to the periphery to adapt and modify according to what their consumers want. He uses Winnie the Pooh as an example, describing how the UK cartoon was basically Americanized and commercialized once it was bought by Disney and then became a global cultural commodity.

In class someone used McDonald's as an example of how things that are seen as culturally American are modified to fit other cultures. They noted that the McDonald's menu in different countries reflects that culture's eating habits --vegetarian and kosher options, different portion sizes, etc. Even with Chinese food being the number one eaten food in America, it's not REALLY the food they actually eat in China, but an adapted version. While the class was discussing this idea as an example of cultural globalization, I thought of it another way... is it really considered cultural globalization if every culture continues to modify everything to what best fits their culture?

Another example discussed in class were the Korean soap operas. While they are widely watched and enjoyed in other Asian countries, they are also making an appearance in the United States. But I would say that they would only be watched here because of their likeness to how we view life, drama and romance. It seems to me that we only really open up to foreign media, food, dress, etc. when it resembles that of our own culture.

The question then becomes, is this an example of cultural globalization because it is a type of hybridization of cultures? Or are we really only embracing the things with which only we can identify with? In my opinion, real cultural globalization will be when we can go to the theater and watch a Nollywood or Bollywood film and understand it from the other culture's viewpoint without having to modify or adapt the film's ideals to fit those of our own.

Sparks, Colin. What's Wrong with Globalization? Global Media and Communication 2007; 3; 133.

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