Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Donald Duck and some unintended consequences of globalization

Both our readings and the discussion this week touched on one of the unintended side effects of globalization: sometimes, the product is received by audiences in a way not originally intended. For a humorous example of this, check out Slate's article on the surprising longevity of one Donald Duck cartoon in Sweden:

The article touches on many of the issues we discussed: public television, audience studies, Western (American) culture's implicit dominance in the term "globalization." My favorite line, though, goes towards our readings on the Post-TV landscape for next class:
"You do not tape or DVR Kalle Anka for later viewing. You do not eat or prepare dinner while watching Kalle Anka. Age does not matter—every member of the family is expected to sit quietly together and watch a program that generations of Swedes have been watching for 50 years."
 Apparently, Kalle Anke can even survive smartphones.

1 comment:

  1. Anne, thanks for sharing this! I am interested in the ways that certain types of programming seem to resist mobile technology (much as certain types of films, I think, continue to retain an appeal unique to the movie theatre). In thinking about the Swedish family reverently watching the TV set at Christmas, I was reminded of a very funny televisual tradition I learned about when I lived in Canada: the Shaw Fire Log (, a Christmas fireplace broadcast that is a genuinely beloved part of the holiday season for many Canadians. As the article above alludes, a human hand is visible every time the fire needs to be stoked, and many of my friends recounted (to my amazement) the joys of waiting around in front of the TV fireplace hoping to catch a glimpse of the hand. The Shaw Fire Log seemingly encapsulates the uniquely contingent -- not just live, but ephemeral -- temporality of TV that has, in so many ways, otherwise disappeared from contemporary TV culture (outside of sports and news, though even that is probably debatable) at the same time as it lovingly parodies conventional domesticity. Programs like Kalle Anka or the Shaw Fire Log are not there to provide something new or unseen -- they serve almost exclusively to mark the passage of time, one year to the next.