Or similarly, the world’s media is like Neapolitan ice-cream. Weird analogy – yes. But consider it for a second. For the people who prefer to only have one flavour – which is such a waste – you cannot help but get that tiny skerrick of another flavour hanging on for dear life. Film is much the same – what you perceive as a predominantly American film can actually be an aggregation of other nation’s elements. Without this diverse mixture, film would be very bland, basic and repetitive.
Transnationalism has no one global definition; however the best definition would be that it “encompasses a range of theories relating to the effects of globalization upon the cultural and economic aspects of film” (Wikipedia, 2013). I believe that it is through such cultural and economic advancements – such as technology, accessibility and the immense number of migrants as well as itinerant filmmakers – that have allowed for transnational film to make cinema a more porous entity. This means that filmmakers can utilise the strengths that each country possess in order to make a cost-effective film – for example, they may decide that Australia is the best place to shoot as it has a phenomenally diverse and astounding landscape as it is cost-effective rather than building sets, with British actors and actresses.
A recent example of this was the film The Matrix which “was filmed at a studio in Australia with a producer from Hollywood, directors from Chicago, a stunt coordinator from Hong Kong and a digital special effects team from the San Francisco Bay area” (Curtin 2003, 212). The idea of transnational film is to unmask the unique and individual skills that each nation beholds. This in turn allows for a more refined film as each nation – or city – may specialise in a particular area of film making.
Another benefit of transnational cinema is that it is driving the film industry away from “Hollywood’s current hegemony” (Curtin 2007, 289) and encouraging more media capitals to take its place – such as India and China who both have booming markets. In 2009, China made 475 films whilst India produced 1, 288 films compared to the United States who only made 734.
However, like most things, there are some negatives to transnational media as many believe that it is co-optation rather than hybridity. Co-optation implies that a one culture takes another to enhance, transform or redfine their culture without acknoiwledging their source. However, hybridity suggests that two different cultures share, mix and influence another culture. An iconic example of hybridity would be Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Some believe that this is co-optation rather, because of the African masks that were included in his painting were a ‘stolen’ idea and that he never announced his influences instead launched what came to be known as cubism.
Transnational cinema and media are like a big box of chocolates. You never know what you will get unless you take a big bite – because, well, you may just enjoy it.
Curtin, M (2003), ‘Media Capital: Towards the Study of Spatial Flows’ International Journal of Cultural Studies Vol 6: 2, pp. 202 – 228.
Karan, K and Schaefer, DJ (2010) ‘Problematizing Chindia: and Bollywoodization of popular Indian cinema in global film flows’ Global Media and Communication Vol 6: 3, pp. 309-317