Channelling in to Television Cultures

Tag Archives: transnational

I think it is amazing that moments in time can be recorded and experienced again and again. Television can defy time and space, bringing us images of the Eiffel Tower from 1930 as we sit comfortably in our Australian suburban homes. It crosses time zones, borders and nations. Yes, my friends, it truly is transnational.

‘Define for me transnational’ you say? Okay, well Word lists synonyms such as:
– international
– multinational
– transcontinental
– intercontinental
– global
– worldwide
– large-scale

What we mean by transnational television is the crossing over of cultures and national values through the medium of television. As Brian put it in the lecture this morning, “culture matters”. Countries pour their values, beliefs and traditions into the media they produce, and in general this resounds throughout the nation. However, TV shows can be popular in different countries with different national identities, and this is where ‘transnational’ applies.

There is a lot of speculation around ‘globalisation’, and how many assume this simply equates to the ‘Americanisation’ of the world. However, as pointed out in the lecture, this can be as naïve a view as The Hypodermic Needle Theory of communication. A lot of the world watches American TV shows, however this does not make us turn into Americans. We can watch and appreciate Friends, but still be Australian (Korean, Japanese etc.) on the inside. Koichi Iwabuchi states that ‘the historical process of globalisation has not simply produced a Westernisation of the world. Its impact on the constitution of the world is much more heterogeneous and contradictory’ (2005, pg. 19-20). Globalisation has affected all nations and cultures. It is not simply America stretching its arm out across the world and engulfing it. All countries, and all cultures are able to cross borders in a way previously impossible.

With this in mind, I’ve watched a bit of the Japanese show Long Vacation. It’s so interesting to see such a different sort of program – not that it is different from Australian or American shows, but that in this country we never hear about Japanese television. Watching the opening sequences of episode one, as Minami runs down the street in her wedding costume, I was reminded of the first episode of Friends in which Rachel runs into the coffee shop in her wedding dress. Both characters are devastated about how the wedding has turned out, and are acting irrationally. However, watching the Japanese show, though there wasn’t much difference in camera work or action, but it felt different for some reason. There is the obvious fact that it features Japanese actors, and they are speaking Japanese, yet there is also an apparent difference that goes beyond this. The culture of Japan speaks through the program. Characters speak more slowly and thoughtfully; there are periods of extended silence and long glances. It is something I can’t quite understand myself.

Another interesting thing about Long Vacation is that it features songs in English. Even the opening credits have a mixture of Japanese and English words, which could potentially show the influence that English-speaking nations have on Japan (???). It would be strange to hear songs so obviously in a foreign tongue in an American or British show.

I have never watched Japanese television before. Except for Studio Ghibli films by Hayao Miyazaki. Good stuff. I can see how something like Long Vacation could become as addictive as Australian/American/British television though. Storylines are interesting, characters are believable and lovable, and you can be drawn into the action, wanting to know what happens next.

SOURCES

Iwabuchi, K. In Erni, J. and Chua, S. (eds.). Asian media studies: politics of subjectives, (pg. 19-36). Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub. 2005.

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