Laughter as a global matter

Laughter is an essential action which indicates a sense of joy within one’s self. Comedy can act as a sort of remedy to a broken-heart, depression or can simply act as a distraction from real life situations. However, comedy (particularly television and film) often features cultural characteristics from their respective countries. But if these shows or films are adapted by industries from different countries, the comedy may fail to connect.

In the fall of 2008, American network NBC launched its ill-fated remake of the cult Australian comedy television series “Kath and Kim”. The remake was extremely badly received and was consequently cancelled after the first season. So, why exactly did Kath and Kim fail in the U.S.? Brian Lowry in Variety suggests that ‘something had been seriously lost in translation’. And he may be right. Sue Turnbull (2008) suggests that the principal factor which has been lost in translation “is the role and place of irony”, particularly the way a character perceives themselves to be as opposed to the way the audience does. Furthermore, The Los Angeles Times critiques the show as it “can’t decide what it’s satirising”. The NBC remake of “Kath and Kim” is a prime example of the way comedy can fail to connect due to lack of cultural understanding. However, there are examples of successful U.S. remakes of foreign shows such as The Office and Ugly Betty. The reason, I believe, behind the success of The Office is due to the showrunner’s (Greg Daniels) understanding of the humour that made the original show so popular. Daniels managed to maintain the awkward, almost uncomfortable humour from the original, whilst integrating different cultural contexts in order to make it relatable for U.S. audiences. It is in this respect that the U.S. remake of The Office worked so well.

In conclusion, comedy adaptations are a very risky move. They can either fail enormously (Kath & Kim) or can be highly successful (The Office). The one element which differentiates the two is cultural understanding. Without cultural understanding, comedy often finds itself lost in translation.

References:

Turnbull, S (2004) ‘Look at Moiye, Kimmie, look at moiye’: Kath and Kim and the Australian comedy of taste’. Media International Australia incorporating Culture and Policy, no. 113, pp. 98 – 109

Lowry,B 2008, ‘Kath & Kim’, Variety, 9 October 2008, http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117938594.html?categoryid=32&cs=1

McNamara, M 2008, ‘Mama Kath’s nest is invaded by a baby’, LA Times, 9 October 2008, http://articles.latimes.com/2008/oct/09/entertainment/et-kathandkim9

Media Capitals

Bombay. Cairo. Hong Kong. What do these three cities have in common? They are all examples of media capitals or, as Curtin (2003) states “emerging states of transnational cultural production”. As well as the previously mentioned media capitals, there is another which is far more recognisable: Hollywood.

So what exactly is a media capital? Well, a media capital is a locality or place where ideas become collected and therefore allow mass cultures to be distributed and demonstrated. The U.S., being a country of power, produces hundreds and thousands of film and television shows which are constantly displayed to a global audience, hence making it the biggest media capital. In fact, many television shows, developed in the U.S. are often reinterpreted in different media capitals. An example of this can be seen through the Colombian show “Metátastis” which is a remake of the U.S. television phenomenon “Breaking Bad”. The Colombian remake, however does have its differences to the original, mainly that it mixes the popularity of telenova with the thrilling storytelling nature of U.S. cable television.

Hong Kong’s’ television network TVB has contributed significantly in the rise of Hong Kong as a media capital. TVB is in fact, the leading television network in Asia. However, its success also came with various criticisms. For example TVB founder Sir Run Run Shaw was criticised early in TVB’s history by many for his steeply-integrated control of the channel. TVB, however, struggled to compete with American networks, partially because of its inferior finances and tight constraints on media content.

Hong Kong’s TVB and the Colombian remake of American cult TV show “Breaking Bad” are both examples of the sigficance of media capitals and the content produced.

References:

Curtin, M 2003, ‘Media capital towards the study of spatial flows’, International Journal of Cultural Studies, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 202-228.

Crossover Cinema: An Evolving Form of Cinema

Crossover cinema is a complex term to define, because of the many factors which differentiate it from other forms of cinema. Khorana (2013) defines crossover cinema as “an emerging form of cinema that crosses cultural borders at the stage of conceptualization and production”.  As an emerging form of cinema, the question remains: How does crossover cinema affect audiences and the content being produced?

In order to fully comprehend the emerging form of cinema that is Crossover cinema, it is essential to identify the factors or characteristics that define or differentiate it from other forms of cinema. The 2014 South Korean/North American film “Snowpiercer” directed by Bong Joon-ho demonstrates clear characteristics of crossover film. The film, which is entirely set on a train in a post-apocalyptic world, was shot principally in the Czech Republic and was co-produced by South Korean company “Moho films” and by North American company “RADiUS-TWC”, which is run by The Weistein Company. These production elements alone demonstrate the cross-cultural nature of the film. However, multicultural productions don’t solely define a film as crossover cinema. The elements of the content also have to be considered.

lat-christy-snow-la0017982085-20140605

The film “Snowpiercer” principally revolves around a train which contains all that is left of humanity, after a failed attempt to counter-act global warming. At the tail-end of the train are the lower classes, whilst the higher-classes, capitalist people belong to the front. The film contains many universal, political allegories and ideas that are hyperboles to the current global situation, particularly the situations of Iran and Gaza. These are the sorts of contexts or themes that differentiate crosscultural cinema to other forms.

So how did “Snowpiercer”, as a cross-cultural film, affect audiences? The film was very well received by critics globally, and according to Box Office Mojo the film grossed $86,581,701 worldwide and is the 12th Highest Grossing Film in South Korea. The film received a limited release in the U.S., before gaining a mainstream release due to critical acclaim. The film made a total of $4, 526,345, which demonstrates that U.S. audiences have not yet fully accepted the form of crossover cinema, despite the previous success of the 2008 UK/Indian film “Slumdog Millionaire”. I hope, as a filmgoer, that crossover film will continue to emerge and increase its success globally.

References:

Khorana, S. 2013, “Crossover cinema: a conceptual and genealogical overview”, Research Online, pp. 1-18

Olsen, M. 2014, “Summer sci-fi: an up-to-minute reflection of our transnational world”, L.A. Times, July 21, viewed 18 September 2014 http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-et-mn-on-film-20140720-story.html#page=1

http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=snowpiercer.htm

 

Nollywood as a Virtual Mirror

When we think of Nigeria, one of the features that don’t immediately come to mind is its film industry. However, Nollywood (the Nigerian Film Industry) is, according to the UN, the second highest employer today, only behind agriculture. However, Nollywood isn’t just beneficial for the Nigerian economy. Nollywood is much more significant, socially and politically.

In Lagos, the capital of Nigeria, there is two principal areas where audiences consume Nollywood films: the “Street Corner” and the “Video Parlour”. “Street corner” audiences are, according to Okome (2007), “a special audience who congregate on the streets” to consume films.  Street corners are a more casual way in which audiences consume Nollywood films. Street corners are a prime opportunity for public unity, in a corrupted and troubled country.  In addition to the “Street corner”, the “Video Parlour” also provides public unity, but also acts as a platform for citizens to discuss themes explored in the film being consumed, and how the film relates to Nigeria’s everyday problems. The “Video Parlour” is a more concentrated way for the public to consume Nollywood films, as they often engage in discussion after the film is shown.

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Source: http://loft965.com/2009/08/27/nollywood-nigerias-film-industry/

The “Video Palour” is essential to the idea that Nollywood acts as a virtual mirror. A majority of the films, with very low budgets, produced in Nigeria reflect on real-life problems and situations, which occur in Nigerian society. For example, the film “Domitilla” described in detail by Okome (2007), revolves around a prostitute who becomes entangled with a politician’s death. Ideas of corruption and the role of women are thoroughly explored and provoke audiences to discuss and compare the film’s characters and plot to their past experiences. “Domitilla” is just one of many films which provides evidence that Nollywood acts as a virtual mirror.

References

Moudio, R 2013, Nigeria’s film industry: a potential gold mine, United Nations, viewed 24th August 2014, http://www.un.org/africarenewal/magazine/may-2013/nigeria%E2%80%99s-film-industry-potential-gold-mine

Okome, O 2007, ‘Nollywood: Spectatorship, Audience and the Sites of Consumption’, Postcolonial Text, vol.3, no. 2, pp. 6-7.

 

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