China vs. Hollywood

Hollywood has always been dominant in terms of the Transnational Movie Industry, with American studios like Paramount, Fox and Warner Brothers conquering the international market. Alas, this could all be about to change. As Globalization provides new opportunities more competitors are stepping into the ring. Driven by the Internet, satellite networks, cable TV and DVD distribution, Asian production centres are continually drawing on cultural hybridity to meet the rising demand for glocalised content within globalized distribution networks. Through cultural hybridity and glocalisation, homogenising forces associated with cultural imperialism (like Hollywood) may potentially be overthrown. We are beginning to see the blurring of the modern and traditional, the high and low culture and the national with the global. Creating a new era of film.

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Globalisation doesn’t just mean the expansion of larger film industries like Hollywood and Bollywood, but also potential for the expansion for less global industries. In 2009 the annual revenue of American films reached $29.9 billion, of which $10.6 billion was generated from the U.S, while $19.3 billion was generated from an international market. China makes up a predominant sector of the international market, and is the third largest film industry in the world. However is still struggling to penetrate global markets, especially those of Western countries.

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China has abundant national resources for both domestic and global growth within its film industry. 5000 years of recorded history on events and ancient civilizations would surely inspire a whole lot of storylines. Many American movies have been inspired by Chinas rich culture and folklore.

Disney’s 1998 ‘Mulan’ is overloaded with Chinese images that satisfy a Western audiences stereotypical vision of Chinese culture. This film is an example of a movie that has taken or borrowed from Chinese culture, and then hybridized the content to suit a wider target audience. The film features calligraphy, The Forbidden City, the Great Wall, Chinese Gardens, Lanterns, chopsticks, Lion Dances and dumplings. Cultural translation also occurs in this film. This refers to the process in which film directors consider audiences living in different cultural backgrounds, and then Screen Shot 2013-09-06 at 10.13.36 AMtransform the original value of the cultural text into a new form recognizable to a different audience. In this case Mulan has taken Asian values, such as filial piety and obedience, and transferred them into Westernized values like individualism and feminism. For example Mulan should be a compliant girl who obeys and wishes to obtain honour for her family. She is however an unruly teenager who disobeys her parents.

Cultural Hybridity is not only gaining momentum but also complexity. The motives behind film adaptations from certain cultures can range from marketing motives to authentic cultural representations. The progression of the transnational film industry is certainly going to be an interesting one to watch.

Schaefer, D, Karan, K 2010, ‘Problematizing Chindia: Hybridity and Bollywoodization of popular Indian cinema in global film flows’, Global Media and Communication, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 309-316.

Huiqun, L 2010, ‘Opportunities and challenges of globalization for the Chinese film industry’, Global Media and Communication, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 323 – 328.

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