Thursday, April 6, 2017

Core Post 4: Industry Studies (Week 12)

The recent phenomenon of mass media convergence has always interested me. Having come from and been brought up in one of “have not” regions of the world that Jenkin’s references (South Africa), I am particularly intrigued by the dichotomy between Gillespie’s idea of the “cultural boom” and Miller’s idea of the “American monoculture” with respect to the emergence of new media technologies and their effect on media convergence.

It’s amazing to me that major channels like MTV, Cartoon Network and National Geographic, to name a few, were only introduced to South Africans around twenty years ago. Before then, the only way to consume American media was through cinema, in which only a select few films were imported from the US and even then they would only be released after a number of weeks after they had been premiered in the west. The only other exposure to western media was through one of the four South African television channels (three of which were government run public service channels… so really only one channel) and even then, was few and far between and exclusively off-network syndicated programs (The Cosby Show aired in the late 90s).

However, the development of new media technologies (particularly the internet) and the millennial push toward globalization really has, as Jenkin’s puts it, shifted the relative status and prominence of developing nations. South Africa has been thrust into rapid cultural “evolution” or at least westernization because of unchecked access to the well of American media. But at the same time, South Africa doesn’t have the tools or resources to contribute to the swelling wave of globalization and participate in Gillespie’s “cultural boom”. I agree with Miller’s position that “globalization” is just the propagation of an “American monoculture”. Most of Africa, certainly South Africa, has seen a large scale abandonment of their eclectic cultural identities in favor for a global western culture. In short, it’s my opinion that the rapid development of media technologies aren’t tools of globalization, but rather tools of insidious cultural colonization.

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