Godzilla to Gold: Hong Kong’s rise to Power

Hong Kong is one of the largest media capitals in the world. First gaining broadcast television in 1967, Hong Kong broadcasts TV channels to over fifteen countries, including Australia, New Zealand, UK, US and many countries across Asia.

After WWII, Hong Kong had a large increase of immigrants arriving from different parts of Asia. With its population tripling from an original 1 million, creative communities emerged in HK with artists particularly from China. Most filmmakers continued to feature themes, actors and genres that were popular in their place of origin. The new generation however, had more experience with western popular culture than traditional Chinese culture. Realising this new audience needed material that they could relate to producers began offering more contemporary topics that responded to Hong Kong’s economic, political and cultural changes. Relatable

Hong Kong’s first license broadcast TV; TVB operated a vertically integrated media empire throughout East and Southeast Asia. According to this weeks reading, ‘Media Capital’, “In 1973, 80% of homes in Hong Kong had access to two local Chinese stations, therefore TV was becoming the primary site of public deliberation regarding emergence of a distinctive Hong Kong identity” (Curtin, 1999).

Forms of popular TV:

News was the first public examination of relevant and ‘happening issues’.

  • It created a widespread public sphere for society to discuss tradition, ethics and rule of law

Primetime crime shows also became popular and were the first seen dramas on Hong Kong television.

The influx of Western television shown in Asia inspired a large amount of Hong Kong’s broadcast material. TVB created talent style shows such as the voice Hong Kong and Jade Starbiz, imitating similar shows in the US.

Domestic dramas are the most popular of all.  The Great Man can be seen as Hong Kong’s Home and Away. It explores the story of a long lost son reuniting with his family.

  • Viewed by more than 90% of Households
  • According to Jiewei Ma’s “Culture Politics, and Television in Hong Kong” it provided a pretext for discussing re-identity, migration and popular values.

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Hong Kong’s rapid embrace of television is he result of its mediation between the East and the West. By integrating aspects of both cultures, it has successfully produced content relevant and accessible worldwide. This development as a media capital has led Hong Kong to be a globally recognised figure of Chinese culture and a leader in the spread and development of media content.

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Popping ‘n’ Locking to a Global Beat

Unlike popular belief, hip-hop is not a new form of expression. It has however, created a new form of interaction, for many all over the world. It has particularly given a means of communication to a class and generation that has not had a voice. Although having a stereotypical image, hip-hop encourages different genders, races and ages of people to participate, with no rules to discriminate.

This weeks reading by April Henderson, ‘Dancing Between Islands: Hip Hop and the Samoan Diaspora’, explores the origin and forms of hip-hop, particularly looking at its activity on Polynesian Islands. Hip-hop originated in New York in the 70’s and is made up of four main elements which represent different aspects of the culture; breaking, DJing, graffiti and MCing. Henderson explores Samoan dancer, Sugar Pop, whose successful career allowed for the international recognition of hip-hop. Incorporating aspects of his Samoan culture, Sugar Pop travelled all over the world teaching and developing hip-hop on a global scale.

Hip-hop often has a negative reputation due to its popularity in ‘the hood’ and similar low-economic areas. Its presence in such areas is due a form of recognition for those who want to be heard but haven’t had a chance or opportunity to speak out. Many styles and lyrics of hip-hop are inspired by the social and economic inequalities faced by these people. Although they are often critisied for their crude and somewhat offensive language and material, it speaks a truth of what many have experience.

Nevertheless, it is not only these groups that are ‘hip hopping’. Most dance schools incorporate hip-hip into their repertoire of dance categories now days with competitions awarding the best b-boys and b-girls. Shows such as “So You Think You Can Dance” often combine different genres of dance and music, including hip-hop, to create original and new performances. This idea of hybridity, has allowed hip-hop to continue to develop and grow as a means of communicating to different groups, cultures and people. Unlike many styles of dance, hip-hops freedom to personalise its features has given this culture no limits, ensuring its longevity.

Nappytabs choreographers, Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo are regular and popular choreographers on So You Think You Can Dance. The two specialise in lyrical hip-hop a form of dance that combines classical dance techniques from jazz and ballet with hip-hop to tell a story through movement. Judge Adam Shankman believes that the pair has successfully shown that, “hip-hop [has] completely become a really legitimate beautiful genre in and of its own and you can tell such beautiful and heart breaking stories.” (“The Top 16 Perform” So You Think You Can Dance, season 4)

Do ya speak English mate?

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Living in a globally connected world has meant that the idea of travelling overseas and studying for a period of time is no longer an unlikely choice for many students. Universities such as Wollongong, offer students the opportunity to study at Universities all over the world. It allows them to broaden their cultural, educational and personal experiences whilst become independent and still completing their degree. Not only are Australian students going abroad but many international students are travelling to Australia to complete part of their education. Although Australia is considered one of the most multicultural countries in the world, many international students still face challenges in assimilating into a different culture.

English is the most spoken language in the world. However, learning a foreign language and being able to fluently communicate in a foreign language are two completely separate concepts. As part of my International studies degree I am required to learn a second language, which I chose to be Spanish. Although I am able to read basic Spanish I have much difficulty in speaking it. For many International students who have learnt English prior to coming to Australia their experiences in speaking English in a class do not prepare them to speak English in countries such as Australia. Kell and Vogl (2006) explain that Australian English is featured by “informality, abbreviated expressions, rhyming slang [and] descriptive similes”, all of which cannot be taught without an understanding of the “…cultural context in which [they are] situated in”.  As a result many International students, although fluent in English, have a hard time communicating with local students, not being able to understand the ‘Australianised’ language. When asked to go to a ‘barbie’ to have some ‘snags’, these international students have a hard time understanding what ‘English’ really is.

University is a time for people to find themselves and create their own identity. Marginson (2012) explored the concept of identity, with a focus on International students in his study of higher education. His idea was that our identity is not fixed, but rather influenced by experiences allowing it to always develop and change. The idea of self-formation, that is managing and creating ones life and identity, is seen as a strong aspect of studying internationally. Marginson insists that students crossing both cultural and geographical borders, self-formation involves cultural plurality. Many students achieve this through the strategy of hybridity, which “…combines and synthesizes different” cultures rather than isolating them and trying to live ‘separate identities’. If these students are to incorporate and embrace aspects of the new culture they are living in whilst maintaining their own culture they will create a transformed self.

Mutual understandings and effective communication is the key to International students successfully immersing themselves into a country. It is safe to say that international education is a prime example in defining globalisation. Physical and mental obstacles such as language and cultural identity often challenge the environment globalisation has created. Nevertheless, the encouragement of international communication through concepts such as studying abroad help in breaking down these barriers, thus allowing different cultures to interact and form relationships.

A Race Under the Golden Arches

Globalisation is the international integration of trade, communication, and finance. It looks at ‘breaking down’ barriers to create an interconnected and interdependent world and affects economic, social and cultural aspects of every country. Seen as the key to International communication, it is the links between nations that allows for the constant flow of information. Through businesses and enterprises internationalising their work, the need for greater technology, transport, finances and forms of communication comes into place. Jumping on a plane and travelling to multiple continents in a number of days is no longer impossible. The ability to access worldwide information through the Internet, send a message in a matter of seconds or eat food from another culture are considered aspects of every day life and that is all thanks to Globalisation.

We see different forms of globalisation every day, often without even knowing. McDonald’s is a prime example as it is the largest fast-food franchise that has successfully changed eating habits on every continent. You will find 34,492 restaurants in over 118 countries, with 780 of them being in Australia. By McDonald’s transporting raw materials, money and technology across borders, and communicating ideas on an international scale has allowed the world to be more connected and integrated than ever before.

Nevertheless, the fact that McDonald’s symbolises economic power and dominance of the West, can be seen as a cultural invasion on the East. This idea of ‘McDonalisation’ is arguably the reason for a loss of culture in many places, with people choosing to eat ‘Big Macs’ in countries such as China and India rather than traditional cuisines. Although a comforting thought that McDonald’s is one consistency wherever you go, isn’t the thrill of travelling to foreign places putting yourself out of your comfort zone and experiencing new cultures?

It seems as though we want the best of both worlds. We recognise the negative affects globalisation is having on cultures however we are not willing to give up everything it has established. Globalisation is an essential to the development of the world; we could not be where we are today without it. However, I feel as though we need to take a step back and appreciate what we have, before it becomes latest toy in a happy meal.