Hollywood who?

In an increasingly globalised environment, industries such as film entertainment have the ability to flourish due to the expansion of channels and growth of audiences. With this growth new identities for film industries are shaped, namely the influences and the format of production. Through the introduction of Nigerian film industry Nollywood, the past 13 years have shaped a new method of film production, acceptance and quality. It is also through the giant film producer, Bollywood that cultural implications and explorations of producers are increasingly being challenged by Indian qualities. It appears the world scene of film is drastically shifting away from a Hollywood dominated environment and instead becoming far more dynamic. However with these developments, what factors in a seemingly stable industry will occur?

“It is argued that Asian film production centers will increasingly exploit cinematic contraflows that draw upon structures of hybridity to meet increasing demand for globalised content within globalised distribution networks”. (Schaefer, 2010, p. 309)

Cultural hybridity is a creatively self-conscious movement by local film agents to combine cultural elements from their home and abroad in order to appeal and gain the attention from a wider demographic. With the emerging popularity of this concept it is important to recognise the effect this will have on future film production in a global sense (i.e. assimilation of similarities leading to loss of identifiable cultural elements). This created content is known as a hybrid mix and therefore, as it moves across borders, influence of cultures are shifted in terms of modern and traditional elements. These contraflows,  are the shifting direction of cultural influence and the acknowledgment that no longer is power held solely in a Western environment.

Avatar-blue-man_640x960_iPhone_4_wallpaperimagesrdueAs an example, James Cameron’s film Avatar (2009), Hollywood’s highest grossing film to date incorporated central Ancient Hindi concepts throughout the film, causing critics to question the role various cultures play on the development of films. This then brings the identity of Bollywood to the foreground, raising the question: Does Bollywood stand the best chance of challenging Hollywood’s hegemony in the film making industry? While Bollywood has already been warmly welcomed by European, African and Middle Eastern audiences, North American acceptance has been slower. However, more recently there has been signs that the Bollywood ‘culture’ is engaging with American audiences and culture. Through elements such as music, dance and costume culture an Indian influence is very prevalent as well as these same elements being incorporated into pop-culture advertising.

As a final thought, it is important for those involved in creating culturally diverse films (and with that the cultural hybridity) to question whether co-optation or appropriation is occuring. Co-optation (link to an interesting socio-cultural article), whereby a newer or weaker culture is overtaken by one more powerful occurs when there are pressures for assimilation (further reading: Hollywood co-opting the Sundance Film Festival and the effect that has on independent film industry). In this case, the phenomena of ‘Bollywoodisation’ could be argued to be a case of co-optation by the West with questions of who financially benefits from the use of the Indian culture. On the other hand, but using similar processes is the act of appropriation where certain cultural elements are explored in new contexts without original contexts being altered. In the case of Slumdog Millionaire (SDM) – 2008, directed and written by the English, but co-directed, set and filmed in India, cultural elements are at the heart of the film. The film is not a Bollywood production and only uses certain ‘Hollywoodised’ factors from a typical Bollywood film yet it is still regarded by some parties to be a Bollywood film.

“It is completely a Bollywood film. The story is very Indian and so are all the actors. Hence I was offered to do Slumdog Millionaire”  Anil Kapoor upon being asked if SDM is a Bollywood film.

That is the centre of International film and cultural hybridity. It is ideological spread: there are core elements and factors that are shared that in turn develop and shape. These will then be used to question the place and role of different content and feature industries, but in the end, the environment of globalisation leads to mix-up of cultures and identities.

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References:

Schaefer, D.J. & 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.

United States History 2014, History of Hollywood California, Accessed 10th of October 2014, https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CCoQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.u-s-history.com%2Fpages%2Fh3871.html&ei=fXM4VIbaHseB8gXUsYHQDA&usg=AFQjCNGIppmt4EeDzM-sp8jJr03XomMaGA 

 

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