Venezuela

February 7, 2010

No cheesy or even slightly clever titles today. I’ve got nothing.

I remember Hugo Chavez featured pretty heavily in the media during the tail end of the Bush years and I wonder where he’s gone since. I know there was a slight hullabaloo when Obama met him, but since he seems to have sunk back below the media’s eyesight he apparently doesn’t find Obama as much a threat as Bush.

When I first heard of Chavez, I remember he thought Bush might invade his country. As has been stated in many of my previous posts, I really don’t trust the U.S. media and they seemed to be painting him as a slightly threatening figure to the Bush administration so I took little stock in what they actually said. But very little else was reaching me about Venezuela. He didn’t seem very threatening, and the documentary in class pretty much confirmed my initial impressions of him:

A blustery, pompous man and that’s about it. He’s no real threat – to anybody – except perhaps the people in his country. I think just about everyone can agree that the Communist Manifesto looks great on paper, but once you actually try to enact it, everything just falls apart. People, and I speak of the species as a whole, just are not content with the bare minimum. There are always exceptions to the rule, but our natural instinct appears to be one that wants nothing more than to dominate over his neighbors. In the case of Americans, that usually quantifies as having more material goods than the next person.

I certainly cannot speak for Venezuela in this regard. I know very, very little about the country other than Hugo Chavez was actually democratically elected and it has some of the biggest oil reserves in the world. And from what I learned in the article the class had to read and the documentary we watched, he was not an entirely bad leader. It brought most of the people out of poverty and even made the country largely literate. That’s something to admire, but it appears from the end of the documentary that his time as the leader of Venezuela is likely waning.

Now, to clumsily segue into the potential article for this, Hugo Chavez – and this is going to sound very bizarre – reminds me of Sarah Palin.

Oh Palin. Could someone please knock her off the stage already? She still knows nothing about politics! If the Tea Party actually considers her a leader and is willing to follow her then they need to wake up from their dream.

Obama was hammered throughout his campaign for having so little experience in a national office. What does Palin have in the way of experience? She was a small town mayor. That’s it! She didn’t even complete her first term of office as governor of Alaska!

All pomp and bluster and knowing very little about international politics let alone national politics. Hillary Clinton had brains and experience and I still didn’t want to see her in office.

At least Obama is a constitutional lawyer and knows the limits of his power. Can’t say the same for Bush and definitely not Palin.

3/8/10
And yet here is another instance of Hugo Chavez attempting to get a rise out of the US.

Only a week earlier, he had been accused by Spain for plotting with ex-Rebels to assassinate the President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. I just spent twenty minutes trying to find the article that covers it, but apparently CNN no longer covers Hugo Chavez, however the presumed attacks were mentioned in the link above.

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1984 in Italy

January 26, 2010

The article “Italian Democracy Gone Mad” by Hibberd is actually the second reason why I think a government funded media is a bad idea. If the British government ever pulled their funding from the BBC, I imagine it would still do pretty good since it has profitable networks and seems to be a standard in the overall broadcasting.

It’s clear, though, that if the parties in Italy decided it didn’t like the programming on their networks, they could easily cut the flow of money and leave the national broadcasting high and dry. So all you ever seem to get on such networks are sycophants who don’t want to lose their jobs and instead willingly spout the ideology of the party in charge. Always bias and always bad for informed citizens.

I think the example of Silvio Berlusconi as the Prime Minister is example enough of such actions; he’s so powerful he pretty much controls the two main networks in Italy. Absolutely insane.

Fox News, MSNBC, CNN: I don’t like any of them. I never watch, I read. Articles seem to be a little bit more reliable, and the editorials from the actual stories are labeled so I shouldn’t have to worry about spun information as much as if I was watching an anchor.

Still, I don’t think any of those are anywhere near the level Italy’s media likely is – okay, Fox News might be but no big loss. They were crazy anyway.

Silvio Berlusconi and his multiple corruption cases:
CNN Video

Tax Fraud case

BBC History

January 24, 2010

They don’t have a channel for that yet, but I guess it’s only a matter of time.

I knew British culture was considerably different from American culture. It certainly cannot be mistaken for a second America – or first depending on who you are, but I still cannot get over the fact that the BBC is largely funded by the government. It seems to be more of a non-profit organization that does not sink to commercial advertising.

At least it did before it created a channel here in the States(so when it’s called BBC America, does it refer to Canada and Mexico too?). Now it’s both a profit organization and not, but the fact that it is attempting to compete in the global market with government backing is grossly unfair. Yes, I know that the government grants are for local channels only, but when you break it down the BBC wouldn’t be where it is today if the government hadn’t gotten it up and running. Although, who really knows? It could very well be, but the point is the government is backing it. Governments always seem to have a limitless supply of money on hand.

I think taking a look at my own countries astronomical debt and yet it still has money to burn! They’re certainly not going to get turned down for a loan like the rest of us poor saps if we defaulted that much. This very much reminds me of our economic crisis and giving billions of dollars to financial institutions that sunk the economy to begin with. I certainly did not like it then and I do not like it now, but I’m not an economist. I can’t think of a better plan. Give the entire 300 million of our population money to go out and buy things? If we were smart, we’d put most of it in the bank and sit on it.

But I digress. About the only thing I care about with BBC America – once I start watching it. It’s still not a habit – is the news network. None of the other new networks in the United States can be relied upon. I don’t trust any of them with news from the government, which they always seem to put a slightly political slant to.

At least the BBC shouldn’t have qualms about stupid ideals like nationalism.

…And what’s more nationalistic than listening to Fox News? There actually was some good that came out of Fox News earlier this week. Shocker of all shockers, Jon Stewart made another appearance on the O’Reilly Factor and Fox actually posted the entire interview on-line. What’s sad is that we’re surprised they posted it on-line. They’re supposed to be ‘fair and balanced’ news network? It shouldn’t have been edited to begin with, but as Jon Stewart says “it didn’t fit their narrative.” I have to wonder if the GOP isn’t giving Rupert Murdoch money to be their spin machine.

The entire interview can see be seen here. Jon Stewart spends the first five minutes exposing the obvious Fox hypocrisy. …And I have no doubt Fox News edited that out. Oh well, the more who see it the merrier everyone will be.

Globalization

January 13, 2010

It seems the premise of Mirza Jan’s article is largely to point out the extensive cultural imperialism all of the technologically advanced countries have over the less developed ones.  I don’t think anyone denies that.  So many of the biggest powers are capitalistic in nature and the nature of businesses under capitalism is to extend as far as they can for the return of greater profits. Is this good or not? I don’t think either of us could say, especially me.

In his concluding paragraph, he states that, “a global media culture that mingles cultural traditions and social values from many different countries has yet to develop.”  Maybe not to the extent that he wants it to be or, at the very least, considers ideal.  Without the Internet and its reach across the world, there are many different songs that I would not have heard as a result and in many cases animations that would otherwise be censored to death by American television would also never reach an audience beyond what it already has.

People are the using the Internet, more than the television, to stretch out to various countries since the people using it typically have a greater choice and variety offered to them than their television or other dominating companies.

No, it has not reached where it should ideally be for a united society – potentially?  He does say that those within their own country prefer their local programming by far over what the United States or Europe sends over – and who can blame them when having to watch that awful dubbing?  I’d personally prefer subtitles to out-of-sync lips – so therefore the world may very well never be united as a result.

Nothing wrong with that, especially since the continual diversity will simply add to the variety of products available and homogeneity will never become an issue.

Also, in the final paragraph of the article, Jan says, “While the claim that the nation state has been rendered increasingly irrelevant by media globalization is strongly questioned, it is at the same time that media globalization presents significant challenges for media and cultural policy as it has been traditionally understood, which point in the direction of creative industries development strategies and the role of the state that is increasingly ‘enabling’ of industry development rather than ‘protective’ of national identities.”

Oddly enough, an article written today shows just this sort of irrelevance: Google to end Censorship in China

It has been fairly controversial that Google has cooperated with the Chinese government to censor specific things on the Internet. Controversial, at least, for those who live in the United States and in other countries where Freedom of Speech and of the Press is considered extremely valuable. Is it right to allow this? Since China is still a sovereign nation with their own form of government, no matter how much anyone make like or dislike it, Google has remained respectful until now, when computer hackers potentially threatened the lives of other people outside their borders.

It might still respect China’s policies in the end, if it does actually decide to leave.

Translation

January 10, 2010

All of my classes are starting to blend together.  The same day we talk about movies and tv shows translating to different societies and cultures, my World Lit. class also talks about how regionally specific literature tends to have a hard time translating for world literature.   Huh.

This article clearly presents the idea that careful and intelligent handling is needed for every medium of entertainment that is introduced outside of the country it was created, and it uses one of the most popular comedic shows – the Simpsons –  to make its argument.

I have not watched the Simpsons in years and I can only vaguely remember these characters that the article largely discusses.  Apu was quite distinct and one of my favorites had to be Groundkeeper Willy, but I prefer my satire in the subject of politics and in the structure of The Daily Show.  How long has the Simpsons been on the air?

I had already heard about Al Shamshoon, or at least the title, and I’m a little surprised the article didn’t go into more depth with how they translated the comedy of the Simpsons’ next door neighbor.  What is his name?  Flanders, right?  Since he was a mark of religious extremism – albeit the peaceful kind – I wondered if they had any trouble translating him over, or if they simply cut out his parts in the show altogether.

I guess Ferrari used Italy as a clearer and possibly less controversial example to explain the intricacies of translating one culture over to another for a show, but it would have been nice to hear about some other cultures rather than constantly going over the same details of how each secondary character made the translation.

Of course…Ferrari is an Italian name and so she simply used the Italian culture because she is likely most familiar with it.

One thing about translation, particularly of humor, is that the Daily Show does not seem to have difficulty translating to other cultures and worlds. Maybe this is because we all happened to be united under an extreme dislike of Bush, but The Daily show sent correspondent Jason Jones. There are no actual news articles covering this, but in the middle of one of Jason Jones’ interviews a random passersby he was asking questions said, “Oh the Daily Show? With Jon Stewart?! Hello! I’m a fan!”

Viacom hates Youtube, so this clip is from the Daily Show’s official website: Watch out for commercials