Global Media Studies was one of my better classes this quarter and the reading material was certainly a notch above some of my World Literature texts. I actually used what I learned in Global Media studies for a final paper in one of my classes, so it definitely helped to have a better understanding of certain vocabulary words such as: globalization, cultural imperialism, and glocalization.

I cannot say I am a terribly big fan of blogs. The stuff I have even heard about them has not been all that bad, but I think my usual distrust of blogs is that they’re little more than a way for the Average Joe to state his public opinion on certain issues, without always properly researching them before his views are already published for the whole world to see. I have heard, though, that there are some bloggers that might possibly be even more researched than regular journalists with their constant surfing of the Internet. Which is to be admired since they’re very likely not getting paid for doing this.

There is one thing that can be said for writing your opinion down, though. It gives you time to read it over again and re-analyze it in different ways, which is what I was certain these blog posts were meant to do. It led me to think of different ways I could apply many of the concepts we learned in particular to video games, since it is the media that I am attempting to specialize in. Also, being given the opportunity to read the other students’ blogs led me to think in ways I hadn’t previously covered in my own blogs and so expand my understanding of the issues at hand.

I think probably the most valuable thing I took from this class was the way media has adapted to local cultures to continue its spread across the globe. I was, also, initially surprised that foreign markets tended to prefer their own local fair since that seemed to go against what I had seen in Austria and Germany. Yes, there were local programs but there was a generous helping of American shows. I have a German friend whose favorite show is House.

I think some of my best work are in my later posts, particularly that of my Global Television comment, which showed that while Canada may be struggling on the TV-front it is doing quite well for itself in the gaming industry. When I attended the Game Developer’s Conference the weekend of March 11-14, I heard that Ubisoft was actually looking to expand its operations considerably. Using my own knowledge of the gaming industry, I think I was able to expand the topic a little from focusing just on TV to focusing on other aspects of a global media.

Other strong posts would be my Venezuela post with my final presentation blog post in juxtaposition to that and perhaps the Chinese; Land of the Dragon, which discusses structural aspects of government and censorship, which are topics I know a little bit about.

There are several posts within my blog which I would deem as weak, and I think the best example of this are the Telenovela posts I have written. Part of it has to do with my misunderstanding of the actual genre itself and quite a bit of it has to do with this assumption which I can’t seem to get away from that Telenovelas really are nothing more than glorified soap operas. I am very certain that the reason I wrote two blog posts about this topic was in an attempt to understand it a little bit better. In my latest post, however, I finally decided that I cannot seem to give Telenovelas a chance is because of the centralized part romance takes. I think I need to actually watch a Telenovela, though, before I can pass anymore judgment onto it, considering how different they are supposed to be from actual US Soap Operas.

My earliest posts in general could use more work and if I could start this whole thing over again, I would do my best to pick from my mind examples of precisely what I’m referring to and scour Youtube a lot more to help provide these examples. I am a visual learner and since my major is meant to specialize in media, it seems only natural to look for videos that reflect the point I am trying to get across.

Although, I very likely will not continue this blog after the class is over, I do feel I learned a more valuable lesson about the usefulness of blogs. The average person may not be the most knowledgeable, but the use of their free speech to spread their ideas, no matter how wrong or right I think they may be, is an important tool to utilize, particularly during this frustrating time in politics.

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I have watched Grave of the Fireflies after almost everyone I know told me that if I didn’t cry after watching it then I didn’t have a soul. Well, as a result of their constant warnings, I was appropriately braced for the ending and thus did not cry when it ended. Did you actually watch it? Let me know if you have a soul.

While our own cartoons might not adequately cover some of these subjects, which are obviously for children, you seem to ignore the fact that Japanese anime is not child-only viewing. I would not want any five-year-old to watch Grave of the Fireflies, not only because it’s still excruciatingly depressing but mostly because they cannot possibly grasp the gravity of the situation. I mentioned in my own Japanimation post that I watched a rather adult war anime and, while I enjoyed it, I did not wholly grasp the intricacies of the plot until I became older and was able to watch it fully.

Our culture does not really have adult cartoons (that aren’t serious at any rate) because we have real-action shows to cover those subjects. Dexter, from what I gather, is about a serial killer who gets away with his crimes because his adoptive father trained him to get away with it, while simultaneously working as a blood spatter analyst for a Miami police department. A new ten-part series by Steven Spielberg is airing every Sunday at this moment which is going to cover the World War II front in Japan:

Then, of course, there’s House, where the hero is a drug addict (well former drug addict now) who doesn’t trust anyone, least of all his patients, and who is an antisocial genius at being able to connect the dots in ways other people can’t. He’s also a jerk who constantly spies on his employees and belittles what few friends he has.

Americans are also original, we just do it in a different medium.

Now this might be a bad example to combat your endings point, but Silent Hill really did not have a standard happy ending. The mother who searches through this mysterious alternate reality of the town, Silent Hill. The town itself has a constant snowfall of ash and frequently warps into a twisted and violent version where monsters crawl out of the shadows to kill all in their sight. The mother eventually finds the daughter, although she is not the one to dispatch the monsters, but they never actually find their way out of the Otherworld and apparently stuck wandering it for all eternity. Not exactly storybook.

Granted Silent Hill was first a Japanese video game, but these story changes were made when adapted to the big screen. In the video game, that is definitely not the same ending.

The movie was not especially well-liked, but I liked it if only because it was so utterly twisted and its set design was pretty amazing. But then, the rest of the story and set design are definitely based heavily off the Japanese video game.

President Barack Obama

March 9, 2010

All politicians use the media to their advantage and the media cannot help but swarm all over like bees. Quite possibly the most famous and abhorred use of a photo opportunity would be this picture:

Photo op

When Sarah Palin first hit the scene, she knew next to nothing about making use of the media. Unfortunately she’s learning – must have hired a better coach – but thankfully that should not matter in the long run because she still won’t know enough to even have the opportunity to become within one position of the most powerful office in the country again. Not long after the election, Sarah Palin was interviewed while some man in the background strangled a turkey:

Stellar photo staging, Mrs. Palin!

As much in my first sentence, Republicans are not the only ones to manipulate media to their advantage (or disadvantage considering Palin’s gaffe) and there is quite possibly no other Democrat who can charm the media to his whims than President Barack Obama.

For those who are reading, this is neither criticism or praise of President Obama. I’m simply stating the facts, as it were, although it does help for Obama to come off in the best light when juxtaposed to the stubborn refusals of the Repulicans in their attempts to fix the country to their ideal. What I’m referring to is the luncheon with the Republicans a month ago, and then the Health Reform summit two weeks ago.

I will use clips from the Daily Show, partly because I watch these clips and know where to find them but also because the Daily Show has a much better track record of keeping situations in context than other news sources.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Q & O
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Reform

Through most of our history, campaigning aside, the President has persisted on an air of civility and respect even when faced with his political opponents, for fear of presenting to the media a combative and stubborn front. However, Obama has the charisma and the youth to apparently get away with chastising his fellow politicians. The Republicans were not the only one to hear his ire; at the State of the Union address everyone was lectured for various reasons: the Dems for being spineless and letting the legislative majority slip and the Supreme Court for ruling that corporations can fund politicians.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
The Apparent Trap
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Reform

As much as some of us might laugh, the reporters and pundits are calling it a “trap” for a reason. At the GOP luncheon with President Obama, the Republicans had trouble coming across as anything other than stubborn and disconnected liars and opportunists. This Healthcare Reform summit seemed only another means with which Obama could throw a wrench into the Republicans’ apparent plan of keeping the legislation stagnating in Congress so that the lack of progress in fact reflects badly on the Democrats and the President. But by featuring this on national TV, it is mostly the Republicans who will look bad for roadblocking legislation.

And photos like this don’t hurt your Presidency either:
The Force is with you!

I was actually half done with my professional brief which happened to center around Canada and a new problem that they’re having with their own media. It seems that the giant broadcast companies, such as Canada TV and CBC are having difficulty finding the funds to produce local programming and are pushing the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission (from here on out known as the CRTC) to tax the Canadian citizens an extra $10 a month on their cable and satellite subscriptions (thestar, LaSalle).

That is a pretty hefty fee and there are actually a number of comments on that article say, to paraphrase, “Let them fail! I didn’t watch local TV anyway.”

Poor Canada has always struggled against the United States, against its more powerful signals – at least in the early days – and, unfortunately, far more well-funded media. That is not to say, however, that it has not had its successes. Maybe the television just is not their arena although they did produce Degrassi and, most particularly, Reboot.

I mentioned Reboot in my Japanimation post. It was on Toonami with the rest of the animes, but it most certainly did not qualify as an anime considering it was the first fully 3D-animated cartoon produced and it was absolutely amazing (Reboot Homepage). This show is for pop culture and computer geeks:

I think every single episode is available on Youtube. The whole show ended sometime in the early 2000s on the most dreadful cliffhanger because whoever bought the license to it screw up its showing to American audiences, much the same way Fox pulled the rug out from under Arrested Development!

However, what Canada seems to be dominating most in the world right now: video games!

Two of the most critically acclaimed video games that have actually be released within the last five months came from Canada.

Ubisoft. I had long known they were a french company, but I had no idea that their main office is based in Montreal, Quebec! Their newest franchise just got a recent installment in Assassin’s Creed II. Shadow of the Colossus is my favorite game of all time for its utter craft and exhilaration, but Assassin’s Creed II is by far the funnest game I have ever played!

The first Assassin’s Creed was merely a really good game. It was fun, but it had its faults in story and gameplay elements, based in roughly Medieval Middle East. It also carried its usual high standard in graphics, particularly with digital cloth. This time the story went to Renaissance Italy (sorta, not really, anyone who plays the game knows what I mean) and as evidenced by the video above, their graphics are of the usual high standard. Excellent game.

Another great game company that happens to be in Canada is that of Bioware. Their newest game is Mass Effect 2, which was released just two weeks ago. I do not own it – still have to play the dozen other games I already have – but from word-of-mouth it is apparently much, much better than its predecessor and might be in contention with Assassin’s Creed II for game of the year.

So, while Canada is unfortunately suffering in their local television programming, they are steamrolling the rest of the video game industry with quality games such as these two above.
—–
References:
LaSalle, LuAnn. “CRTC wants to hear from Canadians on so-called TV tax.” thestar.com (2009): n. pag. Web. 7 Mar 2010. .
http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~ifex534/main.html

Glocalization by Cynara

March 8, 2010

Japan is a difficult country to sort of compare to China, even in this sense, but I have also seen similar influences from Japan, except that Japan is not communist and actually has a booming technological economy.

Tata Young reminds me precisely of Utada Hikaru:

Utada Hikaru is of Japanese descent, but she was born in America and so she knows both English and Japanese. I think you would also agree that she is a pop culture icon much in the same way that Tata Young is. Her big debut in the states, though, was through a different medium: video games. Tetsuya Nomura who produced the Kingdom Hearts series by Square-Enix, featured Utada Hikaru’s songs in the beginning and end sequences of the two major games that have come out (Chain of Memories does not count!):

Here is an interview done on Utada’s work with the Kingdom Hearts song. Click here!

I don’t suppose anyone’s surprised Disney doesn’t pay but….she’s a pop artist. Kingdom Hearts launched most Americans interest into her music. That would have been a GIANT boon. I guess you can’t blame, but she still got a helluva lot of money from the deal, even if indirectly. I thought that was part of what promotion was all about.

The interviewer in this video actually asks Utada what she changes to adjust to the American market:

I think you’re giving Hugo Chavez a little too much credit on his manipulation of the press. When someone like Chavez has been saying the same thing year after year, it’s quite a bit more like an automatic response rather than a genius twisting of the reporter’s question. Bush did this for eight years and I seriously doubt any one of us consider him amazing. He had help, obviously, but I think my point stands.

And Chavez did do a little bit of good there in his first couple of years, according to the article we read: “…the government launched…a series of social development initiatives including literacy programs, free medical care, and discount food markets for low-income Venezuelans” (pg 119). He did accomplish quite a bit at first, but as he continued to stay in power, he became lax and disconnected from the people, living in a complete bubble from the rest of Venezuelan, much like Bush was criticized of in the later years of his second term.

But, of course, “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” We pretty much agree from here on out: Chavez is now slowly but surely chipping away the last regulations that could remove him and disposing of any dissent. First step to tyranny.

Telenovelas. I have been told that these are different from soap operas. They have an ending, for one, even if it is revoltingly cliche. But I think, unless it takes a unique angle or the romance is not the driving plot then I will never have a place in my heart for telenovelas.

My biggest criticism of Avatar was that its plot was too soft and formulaic. I am a digital media major, hoping to model and animate creatures like those that appeared in Avatar – obviously the part of the movie that James Cameron wished to highlight most – but it appears I cannot even separate the innate writer in me.

The whole point of the article about telenovelas is just how much broad appeal they have. Their stories are based on a cliche, but there is a reason why – they are tried and true and tested. Not everyone can engage in an intricate story for years on end, but telenovelas are easy to go back to after a long spell.

But the writer in me won’t give up without a fight. Just because cliches work doesn’t mean that’s all the audience wants. I personally enjoy keeping the audience guessing. The feeling comes with being a writer much like putting our own characters through hell. It’s what we do.

The United States apparently does not have a place in its heart for them either since the writers apparently butchered ‘Ugly Betty’ and now it’s been canceled. Aside from ‘Ugly Betty,’ I find it interesting that telenovelas are having a hard time in the United States for the whole population, not simply the Hispanic American niche. There’s an article in Television Week from 2007, which states, “Advertisers are eager to romance the continually growing domestic Hispanic audience, estimated at 43 million and rising….reaching 71.7 percent in 2010, up from 69.9 percent in 2005.” And basically the advertisers would like to invest in more telenovelas since they are so popular in Latin America.

(Article can be found here.)

The U.S. has this predominant view that telenovelas are soap operas and only middle-aged home mothers would care about them. However, networks are always looking for smash hit shows and if ‘Ugly Betty’ could start off so well on a main network for all of America rather than just Hispanic America, why haven’t there been more attempts to purchase licensing fees for other hit shows? Is it national pride in our own Hollywood productions that we limit our foreign consumption (can we really be blamed for our concern on this? I mean, we already owe China trillions of dollars in debt from our imports) or is there something else? I find it difficult to believe that a main network wouldn’t at least try a telenovela if it meant millions of dollars rolling in.

Japanimation

February 21, 2010

I, for one, have never been a terribly big fan of anime. I’ve seen some shows and movies and it’s very rare when I can’t at least enjoy myself. Cowboy Bebop, Vampire Hunter D(2nd movie. Haven’t seen the original), Gundam Wing, Chobits, Princess Mononoke and the list goes on. They have all been good in their own strange way, but there is one in particular that really stands out to me: Gundam Wing.

I have heard anime fans both decry and praise it all at once and I think part of its charm for me is mostly due to nostalgia. I watched Toonami on Cartoon Network during its golden years and Gundam Wing was one of those animations. The target audience was roughly 11-15 years old and yet here was an anime that not only feature big robots, but also a little bit of edited violence (Cartoon Network would later air the show uncut at midnight) and very adult topics such as politics and war.

I own the whole series on DVD and I have watched it again. It is a thick show. Much too complex and intelligent for young teens to fully grasp and I think that’s the reason why I still like it today. Another thing that has going for it is that it had an end! I’m looking at you Dragon Ball Z. It spawned multiple spin-offs, but it actually finished the show and in 49 episodes. Not bad.

As the article by Shinobu Price said, “Animation here [in the United States] is predominantly kiddy fair.” I actually wondered if people working on Toonami who purchased the licensing fee to air Gundam Wing really thought kids were made of tougher stuff and would love it or if they merely stereotyped it as “kiddy fair.” I think that because Toonami aired it uncut later at night points to the fact that they were not oblivious to the violence and political content and even their other line-up of shows implies that Toonami was not for the little kids of 5 and 6 years old, but for teenagers who can handle a lot more: Sailor Moon, Reboot, Dragonball Z, Outlaw Star, Gundam Wing and it’s other spin-offs.

Even in the United States, private adult jokes are often sneaked into Disney animations. I have had the privilege to view most of these cartoons a second time as a college student and there are jokes in Reboot that I never picked up on when I was 11-years-old. I think animation is underrated by adults in the United States, but now that the generation that first saw these animations and played video games is growing up, the market for anime will open up a little bit more.

China; Land of the Dragon

February 14, 2010

I felt it was fitting that I post this on their New Years Day. I actually went to the auditorium to watch the New Years performance the Chinese students were putting on and to support a friend. It was really quite entertaining.

That aside…China itself really confuses me. I don’t know how they do it, but I cannot reconcile their political system with their market. It’s communist, so everything should belong to the people on an equal level – or that’s what Marx devised – but they have a Capitalist society, which is pretty much in and of itself based on personal profit. What makes their government Communist? Well, as per a government other than capitalist, they pretty much control the media with an iron fist, and just about anyone making a living as a journalist or even a writer must fear for their freedom whenever they publish something. China has arrested more journalists in its country than any either this past year!

As I’m certain I mentioned before, I am a rather big proponent of freedom of speech. I certainly would not be writing this blog, unless it were to be a censored addition, if I didn’t in some ways support freedom of speech. It’s partly how I can reconcile supporting a system like the Capitalist system.

Capitalism is really, truly an ugly system. It seems to be founded mostly on the idea of making a profit, no matter whom you hurt or what negative effects it might have on the land or the government. Regulated Capitalism, like in this country, is pretty much the closest you can get to a pure capitalist society. It’s difficult to agree with the common man when you also recognize the evils of capitalism, but Communism is impossible and capitalism offers the highest quality of life for the greatest amount of people. The advances in technology in the past twenty years are staggering, and they are as a result of capitalism. The high quality in that technology and in everything else is also a result of capitalism: if you want the consumer to buy then you better have a good product or you won’t make any money.

…and I run off onto a tangent. Again. Hard not to when you’re talking about China and its political system. But while we’re talking about political systems:

I am supposed to believe that Tibet is a part of China. It seems now that we have satellites to improve communication around the world, not a single country has not gone undefined. There might still be some islands or kingdoms that have not permeated the general knowledge, but for the most part the lines are drawn and every country knows what land is theirs and what isn’t. But China just cannot seem to get over the fact that Tibet and Taiwan are supposed to be sovereign nations.

But, unfortunately, the United States’ hands are pretty much tied. I think privately we pretty much agree that Tibet is separate from China, but for fear of China asking us to pay our trillion dollar debt to them from imports keeps us from coming out and saying it.

Canada, O Canada

February 7, 2010

I’ve only been there a couple of times and each time just briefly. Niagara Falls was beautiful though, but rumors of the absolute blistering cold there means I’ll likely only ever visit there in the summer time.

I have a couple of friends in Canada and the article we had to read described virtually what I had already suspected. I knew Quebec was largely French-speaking, but I was a little surprised to hear that French is still very much a widely used language up there. One of my friends did say that all government officials had to be fluent in it if they wanted a job. I definitely admire their efforts to keep both languages alive in the country, though I can imagine it’s a little difficult.

And it’s probably made twice as difficult by a media powerhouse like the United States constantly muscling in on their airwaves. This has been discussed before, but media from the United States, particularly blockbuster hits, seems to proliferate the rest of the world while we only get the bare minimum of foreign films. I still kind of wish we got more. Loved Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Its spiritual predecessors were good, too, but not quite to the degree that I loved the first movie. Hero comes a close second though.

Pan’s Labyrinth was amazing, too. Now if only I could get over the violence in that movie. There wasn’t even that much, but it just barely squeaked past my usual threshold. Seen it twice and I’ll probably see it one more time.

Now Degrassi – I know it’s a TV show and this is a leap! – I had never even heard of that show and apparently it’s Canadian and it’s actually quite big in Global Syndication. Only thing is I’ll probably gouge my eyes out before I watch it. If it talks like The OC and walks like The OC then I’ll flip to the next channel.

I never have quite understood this unbelievable fascination with soaps. I suppose it’s the reason why I found myself able to watch Fullhouse the other day when my roommate was in control of the TV. I can’t believe I used to watch that show when I was young and there was enough cheese to melt the screen! But it’s at least a watered down soap at best. I guess it’s nice and consistent that I don’t read crappy romance novels either. I’ll watch Firefly – still haven’t seen it! – before I watch something akin to Degrassi.

I abandoned reading Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time after it started turning into its own soap opera. I just read the cliff notes version of Twilight and I thought my brain was going to start running out of my ears in a liquefied mush after the eyesore of those novels.

I think it’s pretty easy to see I’m a Sci-Fi/Fantasy girl. Tasteful romance intermixed is great, just watch out for the goop.