Globalization Often Has a Paradoxical Book Report

Excerpt from Book Report :

Q2. From an American perspective, it is tempting to look out at the world and to assume that American culture now dominates and reigns over all, given the seeming ubiquity of American movies, television, and music. However, a cultural analysis of many regions of the world yields the finding that culture is far more regional and pluralistic in nature.

For example, in Mexico, soap operas known as telenovelas captivate almost the entire population. They often give voice to Mexican fantasies about transgressing economic borders. One such soap opera, Ugly Betty, has actually been appropriated by U.S. culture. Mexican culture has changed the U.S., as well as vice versa, despite the U.S.'s greater economic power in the region. And within India, Bollywood films are far more popular than Hollywood films because of the way they speak to unique Indian culture needs. Within this densely-populated and fantastically diverse nation, the fascination with Bollywood forms a source of cultural unity, as noted in Raminder Kaur's and Ajay Sinha's discussion of the history of Bollywood. It is also very clearly not 'of' the West, in terms of Bollywood films' high level of theatricality and embrace of music. Its style is often jarring to Western viewers, even though it has adopted some of the conventions of old-fashioned Western cinema.

As noted by John Tomlinson, in his essay on mediated cultural experiences, human beings are not passive recipients of culture. When individuals perceive even mass American culture's commentary upon their own nation, as noted in Pico Iyer's comments on the uses of Rambo in Asia, they do not 'read' the cultural text in the same manner as Americans. While Rambo might seem like a crude view of the effects Vietnam conflict, Asians are able to appropriate it in their own cultural language. However, despite the unpredictability of peoples' responses to depictions of their own and alternate cultures, the fact that the media has had such power in stimulating creative growth should not be underestimated. Faisal Devji's argues that the concept of martyrdom in contemporary Islam, far from a fundamentalist reading of the Koran, as is often portrayed, is actually generated by the mass media. The 'Islamic fundamentalist' has become a cultural trope and artifact embraced by many jihadists as a form of identity, even while jihad and martyrdom is despised and feared in the West.

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