Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Core Post 4

Michael Curtin's article, "Thinking Globally: From Media Imperialism to Media Capital," takes a curious industry studies angle ("how do the production, circulation, and consumption of media help to engender spatial relations and patterns that shape our lives?") but only sketches out some ideas about the relations and patterns and never really gets to how they shape us. I think this lack of followthrough is especially noticeable because the article predates streaming technology, which brings foreign television to our living rooms with just as much ease as any other programming. (Of course, much of this foreign television comes via US distributors, who recontextualize, subtitle, and sometimes re-edit series for American audiences.)

For me, this is an important feature of the media age we live in, and without really thinking about it, I realized most of the TV my family watches originates in foreign countries, including a slew of BBC period dramas, "Doctor Who," MHz mystery shows produced in Scandinavia, and a Japanese series we find aesthetically appealing, "Mushi-shi" (which has recently been launched into a new series). My daughter is fond of Australian TV shows about mermaids and a wild child who communes with whales. When she was younger, she binged-watched a Norwegian show called "NutriVentures" (which was never fully dubbed by its American distributor) and a terrible Italian anime (apparently rewritten by US distributor) about fairy superheroes. These are simply things we stumbled upon via Netflix-Hulu-Amazon, and felt intrigued enough to stay with them, and for the most part this kind of programming was unavailable growing up (apart from PBS' long propensity to port British shows).  Of course, a lot of American animation is produced overseas now.

Curtin challenges both the "free flow" of media during the Reagan/Thatcher years and the "media imperialism" espoused by TV analysts in the 1970s.  He opts for a Marxist-inflected idea of media capital that finds itself in a tug-of-war between the centrifugal Accumulation (expansion) of product and the centripetal consolidation of Creative talent. I found his comparisons to the studio system to be somewhat helpful, and was intrigued by his idea of radio being an especially effective tool for Creative Migration. Additionally, his brief comments near the end contrasting the British public service systems versus the American market-driven system, while probably studied extensively elsewhere, seem to merely touch the tip of a fascinating subject.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, Doug! Reading your post made me realized that the actual television globalization happened every day in our TV viewing, but we may hardly notice. Without further research, we may assume that show we are watching is an American drama. While in fact, the production crew is very likely multinational, or it might be a total Australian production. There are less pure American-produced shows than we think, and thanks to the online streaming device, we are exposing to TV globalization more frequently. I realize it is worth research on globalization and digitalization as one topic combined.