Friday, October 1, 2010

A double edge sword.

Both Visual piracy and the ability of subaltern contra-flows have the ability to disrupt the flow of influence and wealth to the few but reigning TNCs. Revealing that globalization and even glocalisation are more then one way flows from Western powers to the rest of the world. That the same cultural, social and political influences that are embedded into a media product can be turned around and sent back to its originators with a similar imposing force. Bring about a small but growing feeling to the originators of the dominant flow of insecurity and national insecurity.

In Daya Kishan Thussu's "Mapping Global Media Flow and Contra-flow", subaltern contra-flows are characterized as a flow of material from the South (Non-western) to the North (western/mostly US). He gives examples of telenovelas and Bollywood as small but growing influential subaltern contra-flows. While these examples are not a major presence yet there are others that are, such as Japanese animation (which Thussu kindly shoves to the side) and other pop-culture risings (Korean drama, music (of all varieties) and fashion design (where do you think your new concept of layering and leggings came from?)) in influence with regional distinction. Companies are being forced to start carrying products from abroad and recognize the ability of these entities to capture local interest. Thus find themselves having to adjust their own programing to replicate in one form or another this intrusive new media, not to say that this is a bad thing but it is something a little more noticeable then Thussu gives credit to. For example fashion institutes like FIT in New York are now turning their attention to the East for the newest trends, TV programmers are grappling with the concept of multilingual programing, while Walmart is carrying more Latin American and Asian foods in its Super stores.

Much of this is in the face of TNC's who "will respect no tradition or custom, on balance, if it stands in the way of profits" when abroad, as Robert McChesney has mentioned in "The Media System Goes Global" (pg 202). Yet, when faced with things such as piracy, are more the willing to assert their American right to their media content and that suddenly their entire industry is on the verge of collapse because they're influence isn't turning a profitable figure they hold in their minds.

Also it is interesting that in Tristan Mattelart's "Audio-visual piracy" that the threat of subaltern contra-flow isn't talked about. Yet, its been occurring since the 1980's with the boom of pirated regional goods flowing into the U.S. from abroad through those traveling on business trips, loading their briefcases full to sell at a locally "authentic" shops. Or the fact that there has been such a flood of piracy in comic material from Japan (w/ content unchanged), that American companies have just began taking legal action fearing loss of their niche on resealing the same item but with a culturally corrected addition. Its seems only recently that people and companies have began to notice and even question how much of a foreign good is being consumed but in truth the concepts of subaltern contra-flow and piracy have been a large part of American lives for sometime.

Hence, its not that piracy and subaltern contra-flows are one and the same but that they do compliment each other and perhaps even state that its not that something is wrong with globalization but that something is wrong with the players involved. That these players especially TNCs need to be more sensitive to the areas they bombard with media because they can now turn around and have similar media thrown back at them.

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