Curtin’s Capital Collaboration

When discussing the term ‘Media Capital’, I immediately think about the United States of America. At this point in time, I am watching Suits, Breaking Bad, Workaholics, Blue Mountain State and Community. This leads to my inevitable assumption that the media is a one-way, dialogic flow from the U.S.

After this week’s lecture and reading, my vague opinion on this matter has changed dramatically.  A point that resonates with me is that: “media capitals are described as places where things come together and, consequently, where the generation and circulation of new mass culture forms become possible” (Curtin, 2003). With the impact of globalisation and hybridisation, media capitals have emerged, creating a central hub where different cultures interact to form the modern day media.

The clash of civilizations is an idea that was initially proposed by Samuel Huntington in 1993. He divided the world into seven different civilizations, which focused on boundaries and containers rather than complex patterns of flow. With the convergence of technology and the emergence of media capitals, this theory was somewhat dismissed.

The recent economic growth of China and India has led to the emergence of local media capitals. Sukhmani Khorana’s theory of ‘Communication Movement’ states that economic growth directly coincides with the purchase of televisions, resulting in the demand for new and original entertainment. This growth can be seen in relation to Hong Kong Television, which has seen the city become a media capital. This is as a result of the shift from film to Television and the emergence of Crime Dramas and Cantopop. Curtin states “the city’s fortune as a media capital rests not only on its centrality, but also on its marginality”. While Hong Kong television is very culturally specific, it also holds many features of Western Culture, which has resulted in an increased interest in international markets.

With Bollywood virtually doubling Hollywood’s film production rate and Nollywood continuously rising, it is clear that there is a major battle between India, Nigeria and China to nab America’s place as the world’s leading media capital. This could be a positive change in the continuing push to break the boundaries of the media, in order to disrupt the conventional structures of domination and result in new patterns of flow.

Local, Global and the Vocal

Established within Bronx communities during the 1970’s in New York City, hip-hop includes a broad range of artistic forms that originated as a specific street subculture. In its most basic form, hip-hop is represented by four main elements. Deejaying, Emceeing, Breaking and Graffiti Art. Despite boasting contrasting methods of execution, they unite in their common association to the societal ills that birthed the culture.

April K. Henderson’s article The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip hop and globalisation of black culture explores hip-hop – both as a culture and as a commodity. She provides an insight into the implications of hip-hop globally and locally, with reference to several MC’s from the Pacific, Australia and Canada as case studies, with a focus on one significant diasporic node, Aotearoa New Zealand.

Henderson refers to reductive stereotypes in relation to Samoan physicality and how they continue to effect Samoan communities in the U.S. With their accents marking them as foreign, young Samoans living in multi-ethnic neighbourhoods earn status and respect through dance or sport.

Stereotypes are ever-present in the hip-hop world. As Macklemore discusses in his hit song ‘Otherside’, most artists feel the need to rap about events of their lives that have not in fact occurred in order to gain respect. He states that ‘violence, drugs and sex sells, so we try to sound like someone else’. An example of this is seen in the life of Rick Ross. The ex correctional facility officer, come rapper, puts on the persona of having been a major player his whole life, and promotes the image of drug dealing in each of his songs.

Lecturer, Annalise Friend states that contemporary hip-hop artists outside the U.S. use notions of cultural authenticity, being truly ‘hip-hop’, or representing a particular local community.

This is supported in the further reading by Tony Mitchell, Doin’ damage in my native language: The use of “resistance vernaculars’, where he discusses Maori resistance and sovereignty. Mitchell makes reference to local hip-hop artist Hapeta and his twenty track album that was written entirely in Maori.
With the use of a ‘minor language’, spoken by only 8% of New Zealand’s population, this supports Friend’s argument that artists outside the U.S. are more culturally authentic through representing their local community. In this context, the choice of ‘resistance vernaculars’ is an act of cultural preservation of ethic autonomy, therefore overriding any global or commercial concerns.

Mitchell then provides a stark contrast with reference to Swedish hip-hop crew Loop-Troop who contribute to the continuing dominance of the English language and American culture in the formation of global hip-hop.

There is a lot of contention surrounding ownership and identity in the hip-hop community. In spite of that, there is still a diverse popular culture present on a global scale. It is clear that hip-hop discusses cultural and social issues, whilst incorporating a modern sense of identity and connectedness within the Maori community.