Friday, 20 September 2013

Globalisation and Hollywood

When sitting down for the latest blockbuster cinematic production, most people aren't likely to ponder where the idea of the film was drawn from. However, an analysis of major US and Asian films in recent times indicate there are many similarities between the two markets.

'The Departed', a Martin Scorsese-directed film
based on a Hong Kong original titled 'Infernal
Affairs' (Source:
In 2004, Christina Klein observed that 'Hollywood is becoming Asianized in diverse ways, while Asian film industries are in turn becoming Hollywoodized' (Klein 2004, p. 361).

In the decade since asserting this claim, there is much evidence to suggest that these patterns are continuing.

Analysing the US film industry reveals many major productions since 2004 which have been heavily influenced by the Asian market. As Klein suggests, these come in diverse forms, including films: based on Asian culture; directed by accomplished Asian filmmakers; and, those which have been re-adapted to suit international tastes.

One man who has been central to this diversification has been Taiwanese-born Hollywood filmmaker Ang Lee, who directed the award-winning Brokeback Mountain (2005), which grossed $US83 million at the box office, and Life of Pi (2012), which took home almost $US125 million, respectively (IMDb 2013a; IMDb 2013b). Lee was awarded the Oscar for Best Director for both of these productions (WideScreenings 2013).

Meanwhile, other box office hits such as 2006's The Departed (grossing $US132 million) have been adapted and remade based on Asian originals - in this case, on a Hong Kong film titled Infernal Affairs (Lagel 2006).

It is also worth mentioning Hollywood blockbusters such as The Karate Kid (2010)Kung Fu Panda (2008) and Transformers (2007), each of which were influenced by aspects of Asian culture.

For Klein (2004, p. 363), such films have 'had a denationalising effect on the US film industry', where movies' 'style and content has been ... tailored to the world market'.

At the other end of the spectrum, US films have tended to dominate Asian markets over recent decades, though local filmmakers appear to have discovered a way to overcome their American competitors - by following their initiative.

In China this year, ticket sales for local films jumped 144 per cent, while imported films dropped by 21 per cent (Frater 2013). Patrick Frater puts this growth down to Chinese filmmakers 'taking a page from the Hollywood script, offering genre films, including horror, thrillers and romantic comedies, all told in a slick and fast-paced style'.

                              'Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons' is a Chinese action-comedy 
                                   film which smashed local box office records when it was released in February 2013.

Similar developments have occurred in South Korea, where last month domestic films attracted 'about nine times the rate of Hollywood products' across one particular weekend (Goldsea 2013).

Indeed, whilst this signals a decline in US film dominance of the Asian market, it is clear Hollywood films retain importance for the way they influence the content of Asian productions.

It will certainly be interesting to see what steps the US film industry takes to tap back into this lucrative market.


Frater, P 2013, 'Is China Outgrowing Hollywood Film, TV Industry?', 12 September, retrieved 21 September 2013, <>.

Goldsea 2013, 'Korean Films Overwhelm Hollywood Imports in Domestic Market', retrieved 19 September 2013, <>.

IMDb 2013a, 'Brokeback Mountain', retrieved 21 September 2013, <>.

IMDb 2013b, 'Life of Pi', retrieved 21 September 2013, <>.

Klein, Christina 2004, 'Martial arts and globalisation of US and Asian film industries', Comparative America Studies, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 360-384.

Lagel, L 2006, 'Infernal Affairs vs. the remake, The Departed', retrieved 21 September 2013, <>.

WideScreenings 2013, 'List of best director Oscar winners and nominees they beat', retrieved 21 September 2013, <>.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Celebrities, Me and a Specular Economy

The specular economy - if you're on social media, there's a very good chance you're involved in some way.

Kevin Rudd takes a 'selfie' with a high school student
(Source: AAP/Bob Iddon)
Marshall describes the specular economy as 'where collectively we are becoming more conscious of how we present ourselves and how others perceive us'. These 'idealised representations of ourselves' are no longer presented through traditional mediums such as television or magazines, but through new arenas which have evolved through the Internet and mobile communication (Marshall 2010, pp. 498-499).

The rise of social media platforms - such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - has given rise to new ways in which people can construct and adapt their very own identity online.

Indeed, all types of people have been involved in this process, from celebrities to everyday people like yours truly - each with varying reasons for doing so.

In a current example, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has utilised new online media to build large followings. Arguably, the most successful of these ventures is Rudd's Twitter page, which has more than 1.39 million followers at the time of writing (Twitter 2013).

Speaking during the recent Australian federal election, Matthew McGregor, a British social media expert who worked for Labor during the recent campaign, said Rudd uses social media to engage - even if this does include some oft-derided 'selfies' (Taylor 2013).

Conservative: I do my best to ensure content on my Twitter page is appropriate and 
does not negatively reflect on me (Source: Supplied)
This claim is supported by academics Walsh and Black (2013), who draw a link between Rudd's social media use and an attempt to win over votes from, particularly, Australia's youth.

Rudd demonstrates engagement in the specular economy through the consciousness of his own public presentations on new online media.

As previously mentioned, Rudd is certainly not alone in this regard.

I, too, am very aware of what content I publish on my social media profiles.

Given my desire for a future career in the media - and, also, not wishing to be seen as unintelligent, immature or, even, unstable - I find it imperative to protect my public image in as many ways as possible.

In practice, this means an attempt to avoid making comments on Twitter that involve swearing or, furthermore, may be perceived as crude. Whilst, on my Facebook page, I ensure photos of myself are mostly respectful or tactful, and that comments I post are grammatically correct. Recently, I even unliked numerous pages which could be seen as distasteful.

Although the gap in followers between celebrities like Kevin Rudd and everyday people like myself are quite substantial, it is evident we all share some degree of consciousness over how we present ourselves, particularly when it comes to online media.


Marshal, P.D 2010, ‘The Specular Economy’, Society, vol. 47, no. 6, pp. 498-502.

Taylor, L 2013, 'Coalition digital campaign 'slick' but Rudd selfies more engaging', The Guardian, 11 September, retrieved 12 September 2013, <>.

Twitter 2013, 'Kevin Rudd', retrieved 12 September 2013, <>.

Walsh, L & Black, R 2013, 'Finding the missing youth vote', The Conversation, 14 August, retrieved 12 September 2013, <>.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Interactivity and manipulation in participatory media culture

In a discussion on the characteristics of computer games, Joost Raessens (2005, p. 374) identified interactivity and connectivity as aspects where 'a gamer is able to control the game's proceedings and/or its conclusion', and, moreover, where players are given 'the ability to exchange ideas, knowledge and game-elements amongst each other via the Internet'.

Computer games are just one of many mediums where
participants possess the ability to influence the produced
content (Source:
Although Raessens' discussion was confined to computer games, such connectivity is also obvious in other - non-game - participatory media cultures, where the audience play a major role in influencing a medium's content. Blogs and social media are prime examples of this.

However, some theorists have criticised participatory media culture as being manipulative and designed to cater to capitalistic ambitions, where users are encouraged 'to buy products through different forms of marketing' (Raessens 2005, p. 375).

Douglas Rushkoff labels this as a "coercion", believing it 'not always easy to determine when we have surrendered our judgment to someone else. The better and more sophisticated the manipulation, the less aware of it we are' (Rushkoff 1999, p. 3).

Certainly, Rushkoff and other like-minded theorists have a point. In today's day and age, where participatory mediums have become increasingly prevalent, it is difficult to escape the capitalist desires of others.

One only needs to visit any one of the most prominent social media platforms to experience over-the-top advertising and attempts for the user to throw his or her money at some form of product.

On social networking sites such as Facebook, users are bombarded with products advertised specifically for them and dependent on their 'location, gender, age, likes and interests, relationship status, workplace and education' (Facebook 2013).

An example of Facebook advertising (Source:
Earlier this year, whilst my relationship status was set as "engaged", my partner and I encountered various wedding-related advertising on Facebook, ranging from wedding venues, to rings, and outfits. Suffice to say, when we signed up to the social medium, we did so in order to connect and interact with families and friends - not to be flashed with consumer products.

Fortunately, for those like myself who have a disdain for intrusive advertising, technological programs such as AdBlock have been developed, allowing users to remove all advertising content when a web page is loaded.

With such mechanisms, interactive mediums can be utilised with less risk of users falling to money-making desires.


Facebook 2013, 'What are my ad targeting options?', retrieved 9 September 2013, <>.

Raessens, J. 2005, ‘Computer games as participatory media culture’, Handbook of Computer Game Studies, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass, pp. 373-388 

Rushkoff 1999, Coercion: Why we listen to what "they" say, Riverhead Books, New York.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Political Microblogging

One of the many consequences of the rise of social media has been the increased prominence of political microblogging. 

As defined by Kaplan and Haenlein (2011, p. 106), microblogs are mediums 'which allow users to exchange small elements of content such as short sentences, individual images, or video links'. 

Twitter is a microblogging platform which has been
central to allowing for political issues to be discussed
and opinions to be aired (Source: Twitter)
Arguably the most noted and influential of the microblogging family is Twitter, which has regularly been examined in recent years in order to ascertain the relationship between the medium and political discourse -- particularly, the role the platform plays in advancing channels of democracy.

One such study has been that of Larsson and Moe, who conducted a content analysis of Twitter use during the 2010 Swedish election campaign. 

Among their findings, which analysed close to 100,000 tweets, Larsson and Moe (2011, p. 741) concluded that 'Twitter contributes to a broadening of public debate: it constitutes a novel arena for mediated public communication, and the sheer number of tweets ... testifies to its use'. 

Indeed, one need not to look at only Sweden to recognise such a trend.

In Australia, Twitter has been increasingly utilised by mainstream television programs in order to foster interactivity between the shows' content and its audiences. 

Perhaps this is no more evident than in Q&A, a weekly ABC1 program featuring a panel of, usually, five political figures, with guests discussing current political affairs and answering questions from a studio audience.
Host of 'Q&A', Tony Jones (Source: Sydney Morning Herald)
Thanks to the Twitter hashtag function, which allows users to categorise topics (such as '#QandA'), audiences are able to interact and assert their opinions on the issues being discussed by guests on the program (Twitter 2013).

On average, more than 21,000 tweets with the 'QandA' hashtag are posted each episode, with a selection of tweets published on screen during the live program (Olivieri 2013; ABC 2013).

Although this is a sign Twitter plays a major role in facilitating political discussion between a large array of citizens, one must recognise the medium's limitations.

Larsson and Moe (2011, p. 741) do so in their aforementioned content analysis, citing a relationship suggesting the volume of tweets are dominated by a minority. 

Certainly, if microblogging platforms such as Twitter are to be seen as a trusted and legitimate arena representing the wider citizenry's views, then the mediums must be consistently and, arguably, evenly utilised by each member of the community.


ABC 2013, 'Q&A's moderated twitter feed', retrieved 2 September 2013, <>. 

Kaplan, AM & Haenlein, M 2011, 'The early bird catches the news: Nine things you should know about micro-blogging', Business Horizons, vol. 54, no. 2, pp. 105-113.

Larsson, AO & Moe, H 2011, 'Studying political microblogging: Twitter users in the 2010 Swedish election campaign', New Media and Society, vol. 14, no. 5, pp. 729-747.

Olivieri, N 2013, 'The real stars of Q&A: the faces behind the faceless tweets', The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 February, retrieved 2 September 2013, <>.

Twitter 2013, Using hashtags on Twitter, retrieved 2 August 2013, <>.