Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Core Post 4

It’s important not to universalize irreducible differences or romanticize the “cross-demographic” effects of globalization -- when in fact our understanding of the concept is largely based on a series of myths. Shanti Kumar breaks down some of these myths while encouraging practitioners of media and television analysis to engage in dialogical rather than dialectical discourse. In her attempt to define "global television studies," Kumar cautions against trying to create a “grand unified theory” (for it is “doomed to failure”) and also eschews comparative discourses which must assume a cultural and philosophical position in their essence; rather, she believes the goal of global television studies is to account for difference, or as she puts it, a fundamental “incommensurability.” Basically, there's a way in which television cultures across the world just don’t "add up" -- and that’s ok, or rather, that’s the point.

While there has undoubtedly been a flattening of national, cultural, and industrial boundaries due to the Internet, it’s important not to assume that difference is elided through such flattening. Looking at stars and celebrities as sites of cultural difference within a largely “universalizing” film, television, and music industry, we might see how incommensurability is delineated rather than minimized through stars as national products. In recent years, celebrity exports from Canada (Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen, Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams) and Australia (Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Naomi Watts), the UK (Madonna, One Direction, Adele), and South Korea (Psy, Girls Generation, BIGBANG) have been especially common. Many of these stars have been absorbed into American culture as part of the Hollywood system or as reigning pop icons. Bieber in particular has been referred to as "America’s sweetheart" despite his Canadian origin.

Though a cultural studies analysis might delimit such stars as primarily cultural products of economic and industrial value, OR as nexuses of consumer engagement and discourse, Kumar might suggest these disciplinary analyses could be broken down beyond the dominant approach. How might Justin Bieber represent a Canadian identity which is flushed out in the construction of his own “Americanness” and where do the national boundaries of these neighboring countries lie? How might Hollywood’s naturalization of Australian talent reflect and refract the fluidity or primacy of “Westernness” as a loose and arbitrary geopolitical construct? How does the recent domination of British musicians coincide with a return to traditionalism amidst American’s own turbulent racial and political conflicts? How might South Korean pop idols illuminate the cultural anxieties of their fans in various national sectors through their omnivorous portrayals of wealth, excess, and sexuality? Meanwhile, how do global television cultures assimilate and adapt concepts of star and celebrity across local and international platforms? 

While still probably "disciplinary" in conception, perhaps celebrities' fluctuating roles as citizens and ambassadors, image-bearers and image-makers can help discover diversity, through their incommensurability in belonging to both the local and the global.  

No comments:

Post a Comment