Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

The Travels of American Pop Culture

February 10, 2011

A few weeks ago, I sold a Cher mask from the movie Burlesque on eBay to someone in Germany. I also read a news story about two Australian Elvis fans and I found a blog entry about Ghanaian movie posters of American films.

Well, as you can guess, these things got the gears in my head turning. One would think that someone like Cher wouldn’t “translate” to audiences outside of the U.S. As for Elvis, while he did make movies and sang in said movies, he never toured outside of the U.S. What about the Ghanaian movie posters? You ask. I’m getting to that now. These movie posters were developed in the 1980’s as VCR’s and videotapes of American films became available. Entrepreneurs would drive to villages with a VCR, television and a generator, set up a mobile movie theater and charge admission. Local artists were used to create the movie posters that were used to promote the film. The Ghanaian posters are different than what the studios created for the film, yet they are very creative.  You can see examples of these posters here:

http://www.obsessedwithfilm.com/cool-stuff/cool-stuff-ghanaian-movie-posters.php

“Yeah, yeah.” You might be saying now. “American pop culture is found all over the world. Big deal. That’s old news.”

As someone who has visited relatives in Italy and Australia, I can testify to how well American culture travels. Yet, when I see or hear something American overseas, I reflect on how well our culture sells the U.S., even though American life isn’t as pretty as it looks in the movies. After all, we know that not everyone succeeds at what he or she wants to do, no matter how hard the person works, the guy doesn’t always get the girl (and vice versa) and the underling who stands up to the boss more often than not, finds him or herself without a job. Still, depending on the country and income level, foreigners either ignore it, see it as an example as why the U.S. is the great enemy of the world or take it for what it is—namely as a great fantasy.

Yet, a big draw of the U.S. and American pop culture is our belief that there are no limits, creativity and hard work lead to success and the guy gets the girl (and vice versa). Yes,  technology helps to spread our pop culture all over the world. Of course, if it wasn’t so appealing, it wouldn’t have travelled very far in the first place.

Sources:

http://www.obsessedwithfilm.com/cool-stuff/cool-stuff-ghanaian-movie-posters.php

http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2011/01/28/3124178.htm

Other Centers of Movie Making

September 22, 2010

Shocking but true, the United States is not the only place in the world where there is a thriving film industry. There are other places that are making movies and they all aren’t the art house favorites (though a good many take that route).  So, what other countries are making films?

India
The country of Gandhi and outsourced call centers is also famous for Bollywood movies.  Bollywood movies are mostly musicals with comedy, love story and thrills thrown in for good measure. In other words, the guy always gets the girl at the end of a Bollywood film. The term Bollywood comes from a combination of the city of Bombay (now known as Mumbai) and Hollywood. Recently the Bollywood style of movie making has made its way to the mainstream with films like Bride and Prejudice and the Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire. Both films found critical acclaim and box office success.

France
Films from France tend to be of the intellectual art house type and films like François Truffaut’s Shoot the Piano Player and Jean-Luc Godard Breathless are two shining examples. Those films were part of the French New Wave of the 1950’s and 1960’s, in which film conventions of Hollywood were re-imagined and the use of handheld cameras gave the films a “you are there” look. These films influenced a generation filmmakers throughout the world.

Italy
Italian films aren’t exactly intellectual. Instead they take familiar stories and tell them though the Italian cultural lens. They put their own spin on subjects such as mid-life crisis, coming of age and the Holocaust. Films that tackle these subjects are, respectively, Federico Fellini’s 8 ½, Giuseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso and Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful.

Australia
The Land Down Under has a vigorous film industry, ranging from the irreverent Young Einstein, to the genre mixing Mad Max, which introduced the world to Mel Gibson, to the current Bran Nu Dae. Australian films are a mix of reflection on the country’s agrarian past, commentary on current events and cultural mashup. Yet, it all seems to work. Good on ya’ mate.

So if you are in the mood for a foreign film, check out films from the countries listed above. You’ll either laugh, cry or wonder what is going on.

Sources:
http://www.bollywoodworld.com/whatisbollywood/

http://www.amazon.com/Bride-Prejudice-Martin-Henderson/dp/B00094AS9U/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1284738812&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Slumdog-Millionaire-Dev-Patel/dp/B001P9KR8U/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1284739458&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/8-1-2-Criterion-Collection/dp/B00005QAPH/ref=sr_1_2?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1284742131&sr=1-2

http://www.amazon.com/Cinema-Paradiso-Version-Philippe-Noiret/dp/B00007G207/ref=sr_1_4?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1284742359&sr=1-4

http://www.amazon.com/Life-Beautiful-Roberto-Benigni/dp/B00004D0DU/ref=sr_1_3?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1284742762&sr=1-3

http://www.amazon.com/Mad-Max-Special-Mel-Gibson/dp/B00005R2IS/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1284744210&sr=1-1