News Values – What Counts?

So the questions we should be asking is – what exactly IS new and what actually MAKES news?
It seems today that news mediums are multiplying. Gone are the days where people could only get their daily dose of news from transistor radios and young boys in suspenders yelling “EXTRA, EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT!”. Now we are bombarded with it on all media platforms. But before they decide to bombard us with their ‘important’ information, how do they determine what news story is valuable?

It is important to recognize that news itself is not purely the workings of the media. The news is not transparent, but a product of journalistic routines and procedures that is extremely tangible in that it can be skewed and modified. Whether we recognize it or not, news is constantly being modified in order to support the claims and perspectives of various media companies.

The potential value of news, as seen by the media, can be reliant on a number of key values:
– Proximity
refers to ‘cultural proximity’, stating that those countries who are culturally similar or familiar will be more likely to be of value whereas those who are more distant will be more permissible.
– Relevance
supports the idea that value can be found in culturally distant countries so long as they have to potential to have meaning to the audience eg. Syria conflict
– Rarity
argues that the more unexpected the event, the higher the chance of it being valuable and recognised as ‘news’
– Continuity
Once a particular news story has it the media platforms, it will continue to be considered valuable until attention dies down and people begin to be uninterested.
– Elite References
refers mainly to people of elite status such as celebrities and the events that occur within their lives that may spark interest in a majority of audiences.
– Composition
stories will be selected based on a sense of balance and composition Eg. if many home stories have been used, even a fairly unimportant foreign story may be included.

The Many Faces of Sherlock

Through the process of translation, the world has seen many variations and adaptations of TV drama across all cultures and nations. The globally recognized television drama ‘Sherlock Holmes’ has undergone many reconstructions as a result of it’s popularity in order to appeal to a diverse range of audiences with all adaptations reflecting the culture from which they emerged.


The British adaptation of the iconic tale, ‘Sherlock’,  first aired in 2010. In production, it succeeded in maintaining all elements of the original story from the cab description to Holmes’s original pipe in order to preserve it’s narrative as much as possible. Britain’s Sherlock is unashamedly strange. He is described as a ‘high-functioning’ sociopath, who withstands from sexual relations and limits himself to whom he displays his vulnerability. He is stubborn in the fact that he believes that he doesn’t need ‘fixing’ and does not allow anyone in his life to perform this function. Typical English characteristics are also displayed through the locations, characters and mannerisms, reflecting the culture and environment of it’s creators. As the ‘Englishness’ of the characters are taken for granted (such as intelligence, charm and sinister intentions) the narrative has to work to represent these characteristics. Nonetheless, Sherlock remains in it’s traditional form.

The American adaptation of Sherlock Holmes is one that has been drastically reconstructed into the program they title ‘Elementary’. The show first aired in 2012 introducing Holmes living in New York City after suffering a severe breakdown. He is a recovering addict who meets the acquaintance of a female Watson, played by Lucy Lui, who is sent to ensure his rehabilitation. One extreme change to the original storyline is having Nathalie Dormer play both Irene Adler – the lover who broke Holmes’ heart causing his drug use and breakdown when she ‘died’ only to re-emerge as the criminal mastermind Moriarty. This adds a certain degree of sexual tension between the two characters that was previously non-existent. The ‘Englishness’ used in this adaptation represents Holmes’ authority and Moriarty’s sinister and cunning temperament which parallels with many other English villains that appear in American drama

In summary, both adaptations source material from the original text – but use varied intensities. The idea of ‘Englishness’ is also played around with in both texts, used in each narrative to serve different dramatic purposes to benefit the culture they are addressing.

The Iss-ewes In Translation

Within Australia, we have learned to grow accustomed to the cinematic reign of Hollywood and it’s productions, so it is not until we are exposed to our ‘home grown’ creations that we take particular notice and pride of our own handiwork, specifically within the realms of comedy. However, would the rest of the world react the same way to our exaggerated, self-criticizing hilarity? Can the humor resonated by one culture be translated to be equally appreciated by another?

Andy Medhurst recognizes comedy as a cultural and social practice that is shaped by historical conjunctures and, in turn, is  a crucial element in the construction of a national identity (Turnbull 2008). When we are able to recognise and understand what a joke is implying and how it makes us laugh, we begin fall into this ‘cultural identity’ and notion of belonging. Sue Turnbull emphasizes that comedy depends on the breaking of rules of language and behavior. When we laugh at a particular punchline or humorous remark within a television show or movie, it indicates that we have recognised the rule that has been broken. In relation to global recognition, if the joke is culturally specific, then other cultures won’t be able to identify the broken rule. Although most cultures can find some mutual understanding with certain broken rules, in most cases, the rules differ from culture to culture.

A major factor contributing to comedy within Australia is the portrayal of our “bogan” trademarks, care-free outlooks, self-deprecating humor and risqué behavior. For instance, Kath and Kim has graced Australian television since 2002, attracting more than 1 million views a week for depicting your ‘typical’ dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship in Australian suburbia. While we found pleasure in mocking Kim’s exposed G-string, Kath’s terrifying perm and Kel’s excessively greased combover, the US market decided to remake the TV series in an attempt to try and create the same success. But as Medhurst suggests, “..comedic meaning resides in inflection, timing, nuance, gesture, the unexpected or willful pronunciation of key words..” and in addition, irony. Through accurate prediction, the American remake of Kath and Kim ‘flopped’ –  but why?
Turnbull hints at the idea that the irony has been lost. The critical gap between how the character imagines themselves and how the audience actually sees them, has vanished. For example, Gina Riley is a mid-40’s actress playing a mid-20’s women. The hilarity is that her character, Kim, considers herself a “size 10 yummy mummy” and a “horn-bag” in her short-shorts and mid-drifts whereas the audience views her as a moderately overweight, self-absorbed, immature wannabe. In comparison, the American Kim equally considers herself “hot-stuff” and “drop-dead gorgeous”, but considering the character is played by a young Selma Blair who is actually skinny enough and attractive enough for this portrayal, yet still tries to ‘jutt her small belly out in order to look overweight’, eliminates the irony of Kim Craig. (Turnbull, 2008) By sheer choice of the actors, the show failed to translate the joke.

Overall America over-glamorized the series, veering away from the culturally specific Australian elements which made the show so successful in the first place. This results in a translation issue between two contexts. It is only when humor is translated correctly that nations can come together and participate in the joke.

References
– Turnbull, S 2008, ‘It’s like they threw a panther in the air and caught it in embroidery’: TELEVISION COMEDY IN TRANSLATION, The Australian Teachers of Media Inc, Metro Magazine

– Turnbull, S 2014, ‘Local TV in A Global Context,’ BCM111 Lecture Week 7, University Of Wollongong, 17th September 2014.

– Image: Sydney Morning Herald 2014, ‘Kath & Kim on Hulu in the US after remake failed’ http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/kath–kim-on-hulu-in-the-us-after-remake-failed-20140912-10fuhm.html

Media Capitals

According to Curtin, Media Capitals can be defined as ‘sites of mediation..where complex forces and flows interact. They are neither bound or self contained entities… We should understand them… as meeting places where local specificity arises out of migration, interaction and exchange’ (Curtain, 2003). In other words, ‘Media capitals are places where things come together and, consequently, where the generation and circulation of new mass culture forms become possible


Through this analysis of this notion, it can be known that one of the prominent media capitals in the world is Hollywood. However, the cinematic industry within Hong Kong is increasingly growing.
Although Hollywood exports continue to dominate global entertainment markets, debates about transnational flows have moved beyond Hollywood into the deliberation of other global markets (Curtin, 2003). Hong Kong’s emergence as a media capital was a mostly a result of influences exerted by migration of cultural institutions and creative talent. Curtin comments on Hong Kong as being “very Chinese and remarkably Western, and yet its not really either”. An example of Hong Kong as an emerging Media Capital includes blockbuster films such as ‘The Karate Kid’ as well as the development of crime dramas and Cantopop (Hong Kong popular music)

References

– Curtin, M 2003, ‘Media Capital: Towards the Study of Spatial Flows’International Journal of Cultural Studies, vol.6, no.2, pp202-228

– Khorana, S 2014, ‘Lecture 6: Television and the Emergence of ‘New’ Media Capitals’, University of Wollongong, Australia

 

Crossover Cinema: The Ring

What do ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, ‘Sex and the City 2’ and ‘The Ring’ all have in common? You wouldn’t pick it, but they are all examples of a new practice called ‘Crossover Cinema’.
Within the study of film, industries in the past have kept their cultural traits within the realms of their national borders, however, within the last decade, there has been an increasing volume of cultural crossovers with film with some countries adopting the characteristics of other cultures. The term ‘Crossover Cinema’ is used to describe an emerging form of cinema that has undertaken the process of crossing cultural borders during the stage of production, distribution and reception, drawing on a range of universal themes and techniques (Khorana, 2013).

The 2002 movie entitled ‘The Ring’ is commonly known as the American production which you shouldn’t watch without a friend, a light or a blanket to hind behind. However, did you know it was a remake of a Japanese film called ‘Ringu’? Hollywood has frequently derived the film plots of other countries and adapted them to fit their own culture. When the Western film industry adopted the storyline and characteristics of Ringu, it is only expected that this crossover be enriched with Japanese culture. It is then that us as Western audiences perceive the storyline differently from Japanese audiences as we are unaware of the Japanese influences that infiltrate the film.
Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 2.20.34 pm
For example, fans of the movie may not realize that Samara’s appearance is actually drawing from a long history of Japanese ghosts. More specifically, she shares many characteristics with yuurei ghosts which are typically women with a white face, long black hair, and a long white kimono. Culturally, this is how Japanese women looked when they were buried. While theyScreen Shot 2014-10-08 at 2.11.27 pm were living, Japanese women wore their hair tied up but it was let down when they died (Chris, 2006).
In particular, the story of yuurei ghost Okiku tells the story of a samurai who tried to seduce her, but she rejected his advances. Enraged, he killed her and threw her into a water well (Chris, 2006). For those who have seen the movie, they would recognize that this legend clearly parallels with the plot of the movie, illustrating how us as western audiences fail to recognize these Japanese customs.

Water and damp settings is a major theme within ‘The Ring’. While it has no real cultural connection to us, the Japanese tend to associate spirits and death with water (Chris, 2006). Throughout The Ring, water is continually connected to the deaths of victims such as: water seeping under the bedroom door, getting electrocuted in the bathtub, horses drowning themselves. If ‘The Ring’ was originally the work of Westernised cultures, we would most likely connect death to dry, musty locations such as mansions, basements or cemeteries as we have seen in so many Hollywood movies before.

Within these crossover films, Western industries that adopt Eastern films often don’t recognise the cultural elements within them. Whilst these films are intended to appeal to western culture, some aspects of Eastern culture can still remain. Due to this cinema crossover, these characteristics are unrecognisable as we are unaware of the pre-existing beliefs that are entrenched within them.

References
– Khorana, S 2013, ‘Crossover Cinema: Cross-Cultural Film from Production to Reception’, Crossover Cinema: A Genealogical and Conceptual Overview, Routledge, New York, viewed 08/10/214, <http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2020&context=lhapapers&gt;

– Chris 2006, ‘Chris’ Survival Horror Quest’,  Guide to Understanding Japanese Horror, dreamdawn.com,  viewed 08/10/14, <http://www.dreamdawn.com/sh/features/japanese_horror.php&gt;

The Bolly of Hollywood

The emergence of the Indian film industry of ‘Bollywood’ has no doubt become one of the cultural dominants of modern India. It’s reign has even secured them the title of the world’s largest film industry, exceeding it’s global competitor ‘Hollywood’ in terms of the number of films produced, number of tickets sold and amount of people employed. However, despite Hollywood’s own global success, we’re seeing a ‘contra-flow’, or a shift in direction of certain cultural influences. Westernized film industries are co-opting East Asian and Indian characteristics, leading to the hybridization or fusion of modern day film.

Classic films such as ‘Bride and Prejudice’ and ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ are optimum examples of this theory as although they may be considered as the works of the Bollywood industry, they are in factproducts of American Hollywood and merely Bollywood influenced. ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ has been said to be successful in bridging this

‘cultural gap’ as it incorporates ‘all of the Bollywood elements (poverty, survival, love and triumph) and having a small amount of songs, satisfying both Western and Indian audiences’ (Matusitz, 2011). Bose predicted that Indian films stood ‘the best chance of challenging Hollywood’s hegemony in the movie making world’ (Schaefer et al, 2010)

Even the 2009 ‘Avatar’ film, one the the highest grossing films of all time, shows traces of ‘ancient Hindu concepts’ infused with ‘Native-American themes’. This can be seen predominately through ‘theblue skin color of the Na’vi characters, the color traditionally used for depicting the religious avatars Rama and Krishna.’ (Jain, 2005).

As a result of the huge theatrical profits East Asian movies have generated for America, ‘Bollywoodization…. is prompting us to question whose economic interest actually is being served by the soft power of the Indian film industry and its cinematic contra-flows.’ (Schaefer et al 2010) and despite these similarities it is believed that ‘Hollywood is better off imitating, rather than trying to displace, Bollywood’ (Giridharadas, 2007)

References:

– Image: Aijaz, N 2012, ‘Bollywood vs Hollywood’,articlesmyway.blogspot.com.au, 25/08/2014, http://articlesmyway.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/bollywood-vs-hollywood.html

Matusitz, J, Payano, P 2011,From Hollywood to Bollywood: An Analysis of the Globalization of Popular Culture”  International Communication Association, TBA, Boston, <PDF>, 22/08/2014, http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p484436_index.html

Schaefer, D, Karan, K 2010, ‘Bollywood and Globalization: The Global Power of Popular Hindi Cinema’, Global Media and Communications, 25/08/2014, https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/260028/mod_resource/content/1/Week%206_Schaefer%20and%20Karan.pdf

The International Struggle

IntlFlags

It isn’t surprising that due to the rapid increase of globalization, International education is becoming more and more popular. The fact that we are no longer restricted by the barriers of our own country in order to fulfill our education provides us with the opportunity to expand our knowledge and to be exposed to various international experiences. However, is this particular experience as positive as the student expects it to be?

“International education is not the rich, inter-cultural experience it could be” (Marginson 2012)

It’s only expected that when an international student visits a foreign country, they aim to increase their interaction between themselves and the locals, however, the research of Simon Marginson suggests that most local students are either not interested or they don’t know how to initiate a conversation with them. He emphasizes that “local practices must change…Australians are often too parochial, trapped within an Australian centered view of a diverse and complex world” (Marginson 2012)
International students are seemingly expected to accomplish the process of ‘acculturation’ in order to ‘meet the requirements and habits of the host country’. This involves the student making a progression from the norms and behaviors of their home country, to the norms and behaviors of the host country. But despite this, ‘the international student is routinely seen as a deficit’ in regards to the host country’s standards.

So is Australia being too ethnocentric? Are we so ignorant to believe that we know what’s best because we are the best? Marginson states that in Australian higher education, it is taken for granted that the educators from the host country know what is best for the international student, following the notion of “Why would international students enroll in English speaking institutions unless they wanted to be ‘like us’?”(Marginson 2012)
But how can we as Australians truly believe this statement without first trying to comprehend the difficulties these international students face? We must empathize their struggle in having to adapt to a new culture. For instance, the research of Peter Kell and Gillian Vogl illustrate that although these students may have studied the English language since junior school, they struggle listening and speaking in English due to our Australian accent. In most cases, they are used to hearing English spoken in American or in the accent of one of their own, making it difficult to understand Australians. They also found that what didn’t help was Australia’s hybridization of the English language, involving slang and frequent abbreviations. “Australians even shortened University to ‘uni’ which tended to confuse students who were used to a more formal type of English” (Kell et al 2007)

In conclusion, i still believe that international education still has the potential to become an enriching experience for any student, however there are certain aspects to consider and understand for both the international student as well the individuals of the host country.

References
– Marginson, S 2012, ‘Morphing a profit-making business into an intercultural experience. International Education As Self-formation’, University of Wollongong, 20/8/2014

– Kell, P, Vogl, G 2007, ‘International Students: Negotiating Life and Study in Australia through Australian Englishes’,Centre for Research on Social Inclusion, Macquarie University, 20/8/2014

– Image: North Central College <http://northcentralcollege.edu/admission/international&gt;