Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My Classmates' Brilliant Contributions!

 In this blog post, I would like to explore a couple students’ blogs and describe the contributions to theoretical concerns and debates posited by each student. I will first explore Chris Favero’s blog post on Globalization and ‘Jai- Ho’. Chris explores the theoretical concerns of Walter Benjamin’s “The Work Of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” and Arjun Appaduri’s “Global Ethnoscapes” to construct a theoretical understanding of the social and cultural significance of – both the Slumdog Millionaire film original version and the Pussycat Dolls version – the song and dance ‘Jai Ho’.  Chris’ blog addresses Appaduri’s argument that imagination has acquired a singular new power in social life …  [as] [m]ore persons in more parts of the world consider a wider set of possible lives than they did before” (Appadurai, 1996: 53). Chris applies Appadurai’s argument through addressing how the Pussycat Dolls reproduced version of  “Jai Ho” may create an emotional connection to individuals who do not have cultural ties to India. An excellent illustration of the imagined homeland is the Pussycat Dolls’ apparel in the music video consisting of traditional earnings, scarf and a Bindi, which may signify traditional body d├ęcor of an Indian woman in India. Therefore, the western pop group is merely  ‘dressing up’ and portraying traditional cultural embodiments of a culture not their own, but rather which they are exposed to and can thus imagine. Chris also explores theoretical concerns of Walter Benjamin who may posit that reproductions threaten the authenticity of the original as the authority, the ‘aura,’ of the original is lost through reproductions, as they are detached from their tradition (Benjamin, 2005: 3).  Chris supports Benjamin’s argument through exploring how the unlike the original, the Pussycat Dolls ‘Jai Ho’ includes western notions of popular culture including promiscuity, western dance and a nightclub-like beat. 
I also explored Alyssa Pipperni’s blog post on globalization and ‘Jai Ho’ which addressed similar theoretical concerns from Benjamin and Appuradni to those in Chris’ blog post. Alyssa addressed how the authenticity and aura of the original ‘Jai Ho’ number in Slumdog Millionaire may be lost in reproductions by providing examples such as how the Pussycat Dolls detached the original song from its tradition as throughout the Pussycat Dolls reproduced ‘Jai Ho’ version, their dancing style is not only provocative, unlike the original, but also, there is overt western product placement such as a ‘Nokia’ phone.  Further, Alyssa exemplifies the theoretical concerns of Apparundi, exploring how globalization has allowed representations of culture across cross cultural boundaries, facilitated by the media, thus allowing people to imagine themselves in a broader and less restricted social life (Apparundi, 1996: 54). By having a popular American group perform the song ‘Jai-Ho,’ it may influence Americans to make a personal connection through this Americanized representation of Indian culture—more so than an Indian representation of Indian culture in America.  Therefore, in both Alyssa’s and Chris’ examples of Appadurai and Benjamin’s theoretical concerns, it may be posited that the Pussycat Dolls ‘Jai Ho” has applied North American media ideals and culture to a song originally premised on Indian cultural ideals, which has perhaps affected the aura of the original albeit, allowed individuals to explore a widened possibility of imagined lives. 
Another scholar who has dealt with similar issues is David Novak who explores the process of remediation as repurposing media for new context of use and how ‘recycling’ media worldwide is a form of cultural globalization altering our imagination of the possibilities of a global society (Novak, 2010: 42).  Therefore, Novak’s theoretical concerns around remediation may relate to Appurandi’s argument on globalization and the possibilities of a wider set of imagined lives such as through the reproduction of media i.e. ‘Jai Ho’.  Also, Novak’s assertion that actively being part of the remediation process may require de-emphasizing the authority of an original, as well as that media reuse – i.e. reuse of sacred symbols – may cause subjects to become detached, recontextulized and watered down, (Novak, 2010) may perhaps compare to Benjamin’s argument that through the reproduction of media the authenticity, and authority, the ‘aura,’ of the original may be lost and detached from tradition (Benjamin, 2005: 3).

1. Novak, David
2010 Cosmopolitan, Remediation, and the Ghost World of Bollywood. Cultural Anthropology 25(1): 40-72.

2. Appadurai, Arjun  
1996 Global Ethnoscapes Notes and Queries for a Transnational Anthropology.      In Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization, Pp.48-65.  Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press.
3. Benjamin, Walter  
1936 The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility. In Water Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 3: 1935-1938. Cambridge Mass: Harvard University Press.

Raise The Red Lantern: Chinese Cinema

Raise the Red Lantern (1991) a Chinese film directed by Zhang Yimou is a pertinent example of traditional Chinese cultural and societal norms and practices related to women’s position and value in society.  Raise the Red Lantern is the melodrama of a 19-year-old female, Songlian who is forced to marry a rich landowner, becoming his fourth mistress.  I would like to analyze this film through a feminist lens such as is provided by Laura Mulvey in Gordon Gray’s Cinema: A Visual Anthropology to critique pivotal themes in the film such as the autonomy, agency, value and status of women reflected through their presentation in this film. 
From the inception of the film, the act of necessitating Songlian to enter a marriage with a 60 year old man reflects the commodification, diminished status and minimized value of women, thus perhaps inferring a woman’s value and identity as premised on and reflected by her tie to a man. Raise the Red Lantern portrays a sexist, androcentric, patriarchal society reflected by the male head, referred to as ‘master,’ claiming ownership over four mistresses. The ‘master’s’ mistresses are also pitted in constant competition against one another, vying for his attention, thus giving more perceived power to the ‘master’ figure, while presenting the women as solely interested in attaining a male’s attention.  Therefore, the women in this film are presented with limited, minimal agency and autonomy and maintain a status and value directly correlated with the amount of attention they receive from the ‘master’.  This film reflects a confucionist society with rigid class and gender lines and customs, which – in the context of this particular film – oppresses women and reinforce their ‘proper’ place as below or subservient to a male. 
  Feminist film theory may be used to explore the oppression of women in this film by examining the demeaning ways in which women are presented and treated, which perhaps  correlates with the way they may be perceived; thus reinforcing the argument that they are oppressed, stripped of autonomy and agency, value and status in Raise the Red Lantern. Throughout the film there are many tight shots (close-up’s) of the women’s faces, however, there were no close ups of Chen’s – the master – face, therefore perhaps signifying an oppressive attitude towards women by suggesting the insolence of a women looking directly into her husbands face.  Further, a feminist film theory approach may critique the portrayal of Raise the Red Lantern by exploring how men are presented as powerful, strong and dominant, while not only are women the subjects of male-gaze, but also fetishism is applied to their bodies.  It is argued that, “the very act of cinema-going is voyeuristic and by looking at the subject (the male viewer) gains power and control over the object of their gaze—usually a woman or more precisely a woman’s body” (Gray, 2010: 59).  In the majority of the shots of the women in Raise the Red Lantern, one, single, specific part of women’s bodies is focused on exclusively; mainly the women’s upper torso from the top of the head to the bottom of the chest. The way the women are presented in this film may create a space for the sexual objectification and exploitation of women, thus allowing males to feel a sense of viewing dominance, and voyeuristic power over the females in the film.  The separation of women’s bodies proliferate in this film perhaps reflects the shaping of patriarchal order and an oppressive attitude towards women through their appearance perhaps coded for visual erotic impact, reflecting the objectification of the female body for male’s gaze and pleasure. Further, the separation of the females’ bodies and suggested portrayal of the women sleeping with the ‘master’ at his beckon call, suggested through quick shots throughout the film of the mistresses beginning to undress in his presence, perhaps also reflects women bodies as turned solely into objects of desire, portraying women’s bodies as stripped of agency and autonomy thus reflecting the subservience and devaluation of women.   Therefore, through the assertion of the principal male character as the ‘master’ and the ways in which women are presented in the film, perhaps influences the male viewers gaze, giving them a sense of voyeuristic power and privilege throughout the film over the viewership of the women’s bodies.

This is  the trailer for Raise the Red Lantern!
 1. Mulvey, Laura                                                                                                                                                1975 Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. Screen 16 (3): 6–18.
2. Gray, Gordon                                                                                                                                                2010 Film Theory. In Cinema: A Visual Anthropology, Pp, 35-73. Oxford, New York:               Berg.

Communicating Community

Radio is a salient, communication tool that has the power to spread a message across vast distances thus representing the inherent ability to transcend certain boundaries or barriers in   asserting ones voice or opinion to the masses.  The radio is effective at proliferating news and instrumental in creating an informed community with an enhanced awareness of their rights and wider surroundings. I will use examples from two case studies, the film CBQM as well as the discussion on women’s radio programming in Guatemala to present examples which assert that the radio is able to both reflect the nature of a community it serves as well as create community.  
Women’s radio programming in Guatemala is a salient example of how radio both reflects the nature of the community it serves and creates community.   The women’s radio programming exemplifies how the radio can be used as a resistance tool that may enhance and facilitate a strong common bond among a group of individuals facing adversity, and thus form community based on a sense of bounded solidarity premised on common values, experiences, beliefs and goals. The radio serves as a protective space where one can say anything, enabling libratory, agency enhancing benefits for women able to express their thoughts and opinions in a safe and private space asserting, “I am woman, I have a word.” In Guatemala, women may face oppression in society and restriction in regards to having the freedom to speak publicly about their thoughts.  Therefore, this radio project allows women to combat their silencing, it gives women a space to both express their voices and make their voices public thus helping to establish a sense of community among these women.  The pubic radio broadcasts of women’s voices perhaps creates an imaginary community, not necessarily physically bound but instead reaching out to a plethora of women who may share similar experiences linking them together and creating an outlet for expression, a resource for assistance and knowledge and a tool of communication. This tool, a vehicle for the spreading of women’s issues and opinions, contributes innumerable benefits towards women’s lives, creating an informed community— i.e. by teaching women about their rights in society.  For example, in a domestic assault situation, knowing that the police are required to help is an example of information gained from listening to women’s radio. Therefore, proliferating knowledge such as about women’s rights and creating a sense of enhanced agency are examples of the beneficial nature and community sentiment created through women’s radio programming in Guatemala.    
In both Fanon’s article as well as in the lecture on radio programming in Guatemala, we are exposed to the idea that the radio can be used as a resistance tool, a tool that can enhance and facilitate a strong common bond among a group of individuals facing adversity or contention and thus form community based on a sense of bounded solidarity based on common values, experiences and beliefs and goals.  In Fanon’s article we are presented with the “ new attitudes adopted by the Algerian people in the course of the fight for liberation, with the respect to a precise technical instrument; the radio) (Fanon, 1965: 69).  In the face of colonial presence and power the national radio broadcast “ The Voice of Fighting Algeria” was of salient importance in consolidating and unifying the people, thus creating a sense of group membership and community amongst these individuals facing adversity by an oppressor group (84).  Previous to 1954, adopting the radio in the Algerian house was seen as a sign of Europeanization, a sentiment of giving voice to and surrendering to the occupier (92). However with the creation of The “Voice” radios became a commonality in the Algerian household through it’s broadcast sending a sense of strengthening the unity of the Algerian people, as possessing a radio signified  “paying taxes to the nation, [and] buying the right of entry in to the struggle of an assembled people” (84).  Switching on the radio no longer meant surrendering to the enemy but instead the “Voice” served as a viable communication tool, creating a sense of communal solidarity, power and resistance against an oppressor. The “Voice” enabled the proliferation of the news regarding the revolution to all of Algeria, thus, it is important to note in regards to this example but also in general, a beneficial attribute of the ratio is that it is not necessarily geographically limited (82). Through reference to Fanon’s article the many beneficial attributes of radio maybe presented, such as the ability of radio’s contribution to creating a community, unity, solidifying a groups sense of agency and proliferating news across geographical boundaries; thus as  result playing a fundamental role  in strengthening the sense of Algerian national consciousness.
CBQM, a radio broadcast program in remote Fort McPherson, is also a unique case study of how the radio serves, creates and enhances a sentiment of community. CBQM creates an actively informed and enhanced sense of community through its many personalized, community enhancing functions including the spread of community messages between members, (i.e. for one person to call another), announcing messages about events, such as the seniors dinner, as well as being used by the local police to announce enforcement news.  Therefore, CBQM creates a sense of connection between the members in this remote physical place, as it allows for members of the community to have a mediator of sorts representing and addressing salient concerns within the community. CBQM reflects the nature of community as its content is premised on the everyday lives, realities and activities of Fort McPherson.  Further, CBQM is not only used as a tool to proliferate well wishes, urgent news, announce community problems/solutions and to share safety/precautionary measures, but also facilitates unique community bonding activities.  I was pleasantly surprised as to how CBQM facilitated a community wide bingo game, as I thought it was a fantastic use of the radio as a communication tool able to reach many people simultaneously.  Overall, CBQM is a fantastic example of how the radio plays a pivotal part in the activities of everyday life as a communication tool reflecting the realities of a group of people as well as bonding these individuals thus, building, enhancing and maintaining a sense of community premised on shared realities.

 This is an excerpt from the CBQM trailer.

1. Allen, Dennis                                                                                                                                                 2010 CBQM National Film Board of Canada.
2. Nitsan, Tal, Lecture on Women’s radio programming in Guatemala.
3. Fanon                                                                                                                                                         1965 This is The Voice of Algeria. A Dying Colonialism



As suggested by David Novak the “process of remediation [is] repurposing media for new contexts of use” (Novak, 2010: 41), thus guided by this definition I will explore the contention and acceptability of media reuse spanning across global and cultural borders. It may be posited that the reuse of media is essential and that without the reuse of media, including media influences world- wide, our media would be much more limited in scope than it is presently. “Recycling” media   throughout the world is a form of cultural globalization and perhaps helps us imagine the idea of a global society—as appropriation that forms new subjects within ‘alternative modernities,’ whose simultaneous engagement with broad transnational mediascapes is part of how we imagine the possibility of a global society (Novak, 2010: 42).  Many people however believe that the proliferated re-making of varied media is indeed cultural appropriation, theft of ‘cultural property’ and has detrimental consequences on cultural value and signifiers, i.e. sacred symbols, or the sacredness of a certain cultural representation staying pure and true to its context. 
I do not believe that the ‘re-making and reuse of media worldwide has detrimental consequences, such as cultural theft or affects on cultural purity, but rather that the reuse of media is a fantastic example of the increasing interconnections and exposure, proliferation and celebration of a myriad of varied cultural elements and contexts. Thus, the re-making and reuse of media enables and signifies the gaining of awareness, recognition and respect for a vast array of cultures, practices and beliefs. Although I argue that media reuse has greater contributory, positive, enriching effects than consequential, detriment I will outline examples of both positive, acceptable instances of media reuse and media reuse that may be viewed as unacceptable. 
  Often, certain forms of media reuse generate contention, are viewed as unacceptable by many individuals and thus generate a sentiment of negative viewership and recognition.  Some media reuse may be viewed as unacceptable as a result of the fine line (that may be crossed in media reuse) between cultural mockery and cultural celebration. It may be posited that through media reuse “subjects are made to be detached, circulated, and recontextualized, creating a tension between “tribute” and “mockery” that can never be resolved (Novak, 2010: 64).  Further media reuse/remakes may take aspects that are sacred and exclusive to a culture such as traditional cultural elements i.e. cultural symbols and information and  ‘water them down,’ proliferating these ‘watered down’ representations worldwide, thus perhaps depleting their original sacredness.  
 Further, parodies or spoofs may be explored as an example of a media remake viewed by many individuals as unacceptable.   For example, there are a myriad of spoofs made in America that objectify and thus make fun of varied elements of Asian media and culture. There are spoofs utilizing dubbing as well as other mechanisms that poke fun at or remake a traditional Asian television show into something totally new, maintaining the characters and setting but altering the content.  Parodies as a type of media reuse arguably crosses the line of cultural mockery, perhaps reflecting the ethnocentric beliefs of western culture. Thus, parody’s are an example of how “[r]emediation works by pushing the limits of cultural identifications with media . . . [producing] different juxtaposed interpretations” (Novak, 2010: 62) which may thus cause contention. 
For years Hollywood has remade Asian films and Asia is now accelerating their own remaking of many Hollywood films.  Some people feel as if Hollywood remakes of Asian film such as ‘The Ring’ (Ringu) and ‘The Departed’ (Jessop, 2010) exemplify a cultural appropriation, or detachment of authentic, original cultural content and value of the film as remaking and proliferating remade films for Western audiences perhaps causes its original cultural pretense and contextual sentiments to be negatively altered.  However, the reuse of film such as Hollywood remaking Asian films and Asia remaking Hollywood films may be viewed as a positive feedback loop.  I believe that the remake and proliferation of these films is positive, as although the movies may be altered from their original contexts to fit the context in which they are being remade, I do not necessarily believe that it weakens cultural power elements, sacred symbols or authenticity.  For example, Hollywood films remade from the Asian original are likely viewed by a different audience than is the Asian original. Realistically, many people are not cognizant of the fact that a movie such as “The Ring” was remade from the Asian original, thus, because the films are largely viewed by different audiences, I do not believe remakes take away authority or significant value from the original as both versions are available to be watched in their own contextual, cultural setting.  I believe that remaking and reusing media enables a strengthening of culture and cultural symbols as well as provides a learning opportunity, as those aware of the remake of the film may thus watch many versions and identify differences and similarities, thus perhaps making people increasingly aware of specific cultural elements and signifiers.  Further, it may also be argued that certain themes are universal, and this is why remakes work” (Jessop, 2010).
As a result, although remakes may generate contention and a lack of acceptance by some, I argue that media reuse contributes to the creation and proliferation of a continually expanding, varied, representative, flourishing broad array of media that people all over the world can enjoy.

 This is an additional example of  a spoof  of Asian media ( Asian  cartoons)  dubbed over by the trailer of the American Film  Juno. I believe this is a good example of   media remix and the intermixing  of specific, contextual, cultural elements  of Asian and American media. 

1. Jessop, Kolenshkov, Sonia  
2010 Cast in Asia’s Image. Newsweek.
2. Novak, David 
2010 Cosmopolitanism, Remediation, and the Ghost World of Bollywood.      Cultural Anthropology 25(1):40-72.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Markin' Up and Claiming Territory: Making a Statement

     The extensive presence of graffiti is visual within a myriad of both urban and rural environments. Often however, the understanding of graffiti as art versus graffiti as vandalism is often disputed. Many people in favor of graffiti argue that it is a form of self-expression, creativity and personal opinion and thus often has varied, multi faceted meanings that may be overlooked as mere vandalism. Thus, graffiti is viewed with opposing perspectives, as it may be seen as a beautiful form of self-expression and art by one person or merely as pesky, deviant vandalism. Further, graffiti is often primarily assumed to be associated with the spray painted messages and murals resting in areas of the urban landscape, however modern graffiti comes in a myriad of different forms including the messages written in a public bathroom stall or school desk, to the large spray painted murals on buses and building walls.  Often, graffiti is intended to send a sort of expressive message to the reader whether it is political, social or personal. There are many themes that directly relate to the act, intent as well as reception of graffiti such as the effects of anonymity versus identity and authorship, creativity and artistry, social class, erasure, youth and liminility as well as resistance.  Each of the following themes are pertinent, relevant areas of exploration in relation to the visible presence and multifaceted meanings of graffiti, however, I will predominantly address the themes of anonymity versus identity and authorship, the political breadth as well as the notion of resistance associated with graffiti.  
     Often, “wall graffiti can be an indicator of attitudes behavioral dispositions and social processes” (Ley and Cybriwsky, 1974:491) and for many is the best way to advertise an idea or opinion that is perhaps controversial in nature. Often, graffiti will lure the passive spector into a reaction by leading the passive urban eye into a state of cultural shock (Rafferty, 1991:78).  In relation to anonymity, often the message of a work of graffiti is very politically directed, thus one of the effects of anonymity is that there is no authorship to the piece and no way of knowing who produced the statement (Rafferty, 1991:80). With anonymity, it is like the walls are expressing themselves, selling only an anonymous worldview (Rafferty, 1991:80).  Therefore, anonymity allows a piece to be read  without bias that may be a result of knowing the source of authorship, thus “anonymity is important because it keeps you from getting caught and it keeps the messages universal, sourceless [and] draws its power from its aggressiveness and its accessibility” (Rafferty, 1991:80). The notion of identity and authorship is predominant to much graffiti also, as the intent of much graffiti—rather than being a anonymous worldview—is to assert power, dominance and ownership over a specific territorial jurisdiction; thus often ‘tag’ graffiti or taking authorship in other ways over a piece of work asserts the notion of identity as exemplified in graffiti example 1 (at bottom). Often the evidence of graffiti on street walls gives an approximation as to territorial boundaries, as “[b]oundaries compiled from the relative incidence of gang graffiti found a ready acceptance by neighborhood youth as an accurate portrayal of each gangs area of control (Ley and Cybriwsky, 1974:496). Graffiti reflects a relationship between social processes as well as spatial order and identity and authorship of graffiti reflects, enforces and reifies this relationship. Thus, ‘tag’ graffiti as well as other signs of visible authorship over graffiti also asserts identity by often reflecting a visible manifestation of a group’s social space. Graffiti may serve as “visible and unequivocal cues to identify ownership and notify outsiders that they are entering a protected place and must respect the integrity of claimed property” (Ley and Cybriwsky, 1974:505).  “[He] who is king of the walls claims also to be king of the streets and master of their use [thus] the walls are more than a attitudinal tabloid [they are] a behavioral manifesto” (Ley and Cybriwsky, 1974 505).   
       Furthermore, resistance is also a pivotal notion related to graffiti as due to the controversial and highly opinionated nature of graffiti, it is therefore considered to be a direct form of resistance, spreading a public message of resistance through art, thus rebelling against common beliefs or governmental laws such as portrayed in example 2 (at bottom) (South, 2008). Therefore, it is interesting to keep an open mind and view graffiti as an art form, a visual, creative, personal, opinioned expression, and to perhaps accept graffiti as an artistic result of our freedom of expression;  thus, accepting graffiti as a socially representative addition to the urban environment rather than solely as a form of vandalism that needs to be ceased and erased.

Example 1
An example of gang graffiti marking territory in New York. 

 An example of  'tag' grafitti. This is an M-13 gang tag in New York. 

Example 2

An example  of the anti Olympic, thus politically related graffiti piece outside of the Vancouver art gallery. There was much anti Olympic graffiti all over the city of Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics that took place in Vancouver.  The Vancouver City council promptly removed all anti Olympic graffiti.

An example of socio- political graffiti on Commercial Drive, Vancouer, B.C. 

1.   Ley, David and Cybriwsky, Roman
               1974 Urban Graffiti as Territorial Markers. Annals of the Association of American Geographers,        
                        64(4): 491-505., accessed January 31, 2011. .
 2. Raferty, Pat
              1991 Discourse on Difference: Street Art Graffiti Youth Source.  Visual anthropology                
                       Review7(2): 77-84.          
                       accessed January 31, 2011.
3. South, Catherine
            2008 Graffiti: Art or Vandalism?,               
                      accessed January 31, 2011.

The REAL Thing

       The film “Slumdog Millionaire” released in 2008 is premised on the story of a teen that grew up in the slums of Mumbai, India and has the chance to become a contestant on the Indian version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” (IMDb, 2010). The Song ‘Jai Ho’, which means ‘to be victorious’ was created for the 2008 film and is presented in the film at the end, accompanied by a choreographed dance number.  Although the song ‘Jai Ho’ was created for the film “Slumdog Millionaire” it has not only received a plethora of international attention due to the broad international reach the film has made, but also, there are a myriad of reproductions of the song and dance number worldwide. In this blog addition, influenced by the theoretical arguments of Walter Benjamin and Arjun Appadurai, I will examine the Pussycat Dolls rendition of the ‘Jai Ho’ song and dance as well as the original rendition in the film, to address the two versions’ social and cultural significance.  
     The film’s ‘Jai Ho’ song and dance number includes a bollywood inspired dance sequence.  Stemming from the presentation of this film however, are a myriad of other reproduced, altered and inspired renditions of the ‘Jai Ho’ theme song that have surfaced in the media. The Pussycat Dolls version of the ‘Jai Ho’ song and dance found on YouTube for example, indeed encapsulates some basic elements of an Indian cultural expression. However, the video clearly appears to have been taken out of traditional Indian context – in which the original appears to be attempting to more or less reflect – as most of the Pussycat Dolls video is presented and structured in a very ‘hollywood-ized’ costume-style manner.  Although the Pussycat Dolls rendition does maintain a very similar tune to the original, in this version the main lyrics are ‘you are my destiny,’ different than the originals’ meaning. Further, much of the Pussycat Dolls rendition is premised on an overexposure and focus on the sensuality and sexuality of the four principal, female members of the musical group, focusing in on close up shots of their bodies.  Furthermore, the setting of the original is in a train station which is also the setting presented in the Pussycat Dolls version, however in the latter video, at the train station setting there appears to be a market also, selling all types of goods, showing the elaboration and addition to the original’s setting. Also, in the latter video the back up dancers are largely American, whereas in the original the dancers appear to reflect and more so display the Indian cultural nature as the dancers in the original version are predominantly Indian. Thus, the two videos are quite distinct from each other in presentation, while still sharing a loosely related theme.  
     The two videos can also lend themselves to reifying and serving as examples in the theoretical arguments of both Walter Benjamin and Arjun Appadurai. Benjamin would argue that there is a threat to the authenticity of the original from reproductions. Through reproductions such as that of the Pussycats Dolls version of ‘Jai Ho’, the authority or ‘aura’ of the original is perhaps lost and thus detached from tradition (Benjamin, 2005: 3). Thus, through the medium of the YouTube video, the aura and detachment from tradition – and thus the cultural significance that the original presents and is premised on – occurs.  As a result, the reproduction becomes a social, reproduced product that is no longer authentic and traditional, as the “social bases of the contemporary decay of the aura” (Benjamin, 2005; 3) has occurred. Further, perhaps the reproduction, the Pussycat Dolls rendition, is reflective of the “desire of contemporary masses to bring things ‘closer’, spatially and humanly” (Benjamin, 2005: 3), a far stretch from the ‘aura’ and thus cultural significance and tradition of the original. Therefore, although the two videos appear to share a loosely related theme, the ‘aura,’ tradition and cultural significance of the original is lacking in reproductions. 
      The social and cultural significance of two videos can also be critiqued based on the theoretical arguments of Arjun Appadurai. Appadurai argues that the landscapes of group identity is no longer tightly territorialized, spatially bounded, historically un-self conscious, or culturally homogenous” (Appadurai, 1996: 48). Deterritorilization such as reflected by the adoption of the internet which allows creation and proliferation of a myriad of reproductions such as that of the “Slumdog Millionaire” ‘Jai Ho’ dance reflect deterriterlizations emphasis on  “transcend[ing] specific territorial boundaries and identities” (Appadurai, 1996: 49), thus “loosening the holds between people, wealth, and territories fundamentally alter[ing] the basis of cultural reproduction” (Appadurai, 1996: 49). As a result, varied cultures and reflections of cultures get proliferated (ie. the original ‘Jai Ho’ video’s cultural elements) and thus more people in varied parts of the world can imagine lives they were not cognizant of before— as perhaps exemplified by the Pussycat Dolls desire to create their own ‘version’ of  ‘Jai Ho,’ (Appadurai, 1996: 53). As a result, Appurandi argues that the link between the imagination and social life is deterritorilized and global, as social life no longer has a finite set of possible lives (Appadurai, 1996: 55). The “power of the imagination in the fabrication of social lives is inescapably tied up with image, ideas and opportunities that come from elsewhere often moved around by the vehicles of mass media” (Appadurai, 1996: 54) such as YouTube videos on the internet. The internet – and the myriad of varied cultural content on the ‘net’ – is thus an influential medium in proliferating and intensifying Appuranduiai’s central argument asserting that we have an infinite number of imagined lives and that our lives are increasingly global.

1.     A.R, Rahman
2009 Jai Ho (You Are My Destiny).
     , accessed January 30, 2011.
2.   Appadurai, Arjun                                                                                                                                                    1996 Global Ethnoscapes Notes and Queries for a Transnational Anthropology.                                                In Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization, Pp.48-65.                                                Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press.
3. Benjamin, Walter  
         1936 The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility. In Walter Benjamin: Selected           Writings,Volume 3: 1935-1938. Cambridge Mass: Harvard University Press.
4. LegoMontageFilms  

      2011 Slumdog Millionaire- Official Jai Ho Music Video.                                                                           , accessed January 30, 2011.

5. IMDb  

     2008 Slumdog Millionaire.                                                                                                                            , accessed January 30, 2011.


A Global Culture

 Mazzarella’s interest in mediation is to argue that “culture is an effect of social processes of mediation” (Mazzarella, 2004:360) and that mediation is a “dynamic principle at the root of all social life” (Mazzarella, 2004:360).  With increasing globalization, I believe the process of mediation is responsible for bringing geographically separated places much closer together. As globalization – the diffusion of ideas, product and peoples – continually escalades, I believe that the myriad of mediation process are responsible for bringing our globalized world into not only closer connections but also making cultural barriers less rigid.  Therefore, an example of the impact of globalization on the process of mediation is the blending of cultures and closer connections between culture and cultural practices in many places worldwide.  As defined by William Mazzarella ‘mediation’ is the process by which a given social dispensation produces itself in and through a particular set of media (Mazzarella, 2004) and the notion of rising interest in globalization is associated with  “the production of locality” inclusive a myriad of culturally reflective aspects. I believe that through the process of mediation varied forms of mediation including the television, commercial advertisements for the variance of different products, foods and services, film, the plethora of foreign films, the news, the internet etc, each uniquely serve an important function in contributing to the blending of cultures, and thus creating increased awareness, knowledge and closer connections between the myriad of varied cultures and cultural practices throughout the world. For example, mainstream film, foreign film and independent film each similarly provide a medium through with the introduction and awareness to a certain culture, cultural practice or belief is presented thus providing an outlet that allows people around the world to gain awareness of this culture, which then perhaps influences their own culture. Further, through globalization, the blending of cultures occurs and as a result I feel as if many cultures evolve from a ‘local culture’ to a more so ‘global culture’ with the increased and proliferated awareness and influence of the culture worldwide. Also as an effect of globalization people from all over the world diffuse worldwide to fulfill certain motivations and thus bring with them their own cultural awareness, which then also gets proliferated. Therefore, with a diffusion of people, ideas and products – motivated by globalization – mediation is influenced as a myriad of not only film but also other media forms such as advertisements, news, theatre etc are reflective of the influences of the varied cultures settled in a certain place.  For example, advertisements for food, products and services advertise a myriad of different cultural products and services reflecting the presence and diffusion of people representing different cultures worldwide; thus showing how the impact of globalization on mediation has contributed to a blending of cultures worldwide.

1. Mazzarella, William
            2004 Culture, Globalization, Mediation. Annual Review of Anthropology

Media Responsibility?

    On January 12, 2010 a devastating 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, shattering the lives of millions of people causing life-shattering consequences (CBC, 2010). The consequences of the earthquake are vast and fatal to the impoverished nation of Haiti.  True to form, the media immediately captured the news of this disaster and spread the story of suffrage and consequences worldwide. Since the devastation of the January earthquake, not only have people been having to deal with earthquake fatalities and being displaced from their homes, but also, a fatal – if untreated – cholera epidemic has been rampant, claiming thousands of lives to date (CIDA, 2010). The virulent cholera epidemic – defined as a diarrheal disease that can kill within hours if left untreated (WHO, 2010) – is caused by drinking dirty water or eating food that has been cooked in contaminated water (Dearing, 2010).  The media commonly speculates cholera to be present in Haiti as a result of the earthquakes consequences, thus framing contaminated water systems to be in part a result of the destruction of the earthquake (Manthorpe, 2010). However, the media also addresses the epidemic as proliferated due to the fact that much of Haiti’s population is displaced, living in tent cities subject to contaminated water sources resulting from the earthquake (Manthorpe, 2010).  
     It may be argued that the media plays a positive role in preventing, lessening or helping remediate the cholera epidemic, as online, TV and print news, and radio media outlets are responsible for capturing and proliferating information about the cholera epidemic worldwide. Thus not only a heightened awareness is created, but also, an introduction to international organizations such as PAHO, UNICEF and the Red Cross responsible for helping to fight Haiti’s cholera outbreak (Dearing, 2010).  However, perhaps the media is responsible for framing the epidemic in a way to socialize donations from the public, for the impoverished, population.
    It is important to acknowledge the deeper role of the media and how the media may chose to manipulate, frame and present news based on their own agenda, thus perhaps creating – instead of lessening – certain negative conditions favorable to occurrences such as Haiti’s cholera epidemic. Although a myriad of varied media outlets are pivotal in spreading the news of Haiti throughout the world, I argue that the media is complicit in the creation of the conditions that led to the cholera epidemic, as amidst the continuous media coverage fuelling donations the epidemic is still present. The said viewpoint may argue that the plethora of sensationalized media coverage has sparked a great public response of donations however as a result Haiti is “frozen in a destructive cycle of aid-dependence and exploitation. . . stripping Haiti of its self-determination” (O’Connor, 2010) and thus contributing to conditions favoring the present cholera epidemic. Further, the superficial, sensational news media reporting on Haiti’s problems – i.e in BBC, CBC and CNN’s repetitive reporting on how Haiti is the poorest country in the world and the provision of pictures featuring dehydrated children – creates viewership and thus donations, yet still the appropriate systems to relieve Haiti of this epidemic seem not to have been effectively put in place. Amongst the coverage of post earthquake Haiti, the media also seems to focus more so on a superficial portrayal of poverty in Haiti rather than the cholera epidemic and what actually needs to be done for realistic relief. The media coverage constitutes a ‘good story,’ albeit the media has no long-term responsibility to Haitians. Thus, the media acts as a factor aiding the perpetuation of a “system of aid-dependence and misguided development policies that help keep Haiti poor” (O’Connor, 2010) and therefore susceptible to and plagued by consequences such as cholera. Also, many media sources will address amounts of aid given, i.e. the world has pledged over 3.4 billion pounds to Haiti (over 6 billion USD) (Owens, 2010).  However, there is little reporting that investigates how exactly the aid organizations have spent the money, as amidst the mass coverage, positive effects asserted to cure the epidemic seem not to be coming to fruition (O’Connor, 2010). American media frames Haitian poverty and the cholera outbreak in a “typically lurid fashion, with little attention to the underlying causes” (O’Connor, 2010) as when addressed, the outbreak is framed as a result of Haiti’s crushing poverty, with little context (O’Connor, 2010). Therefore, the media is complicit in the creation of conditions that led to Haiti’s cholera epidemic as it infrequently addresses the cholera epidemic in much post earthquake news flooding our media outlets, and further, generally does not address the underlying issues and larger story, such as that Haiti’s susceptibility to the present, virulent cholera epidemic is “a symptom of failed foreign policies and organizations that have left the Haitian people as poor as ever and disconnected from the mechanisms of their own development” (O’Connor, 2010) and failing to equipt Haitians with knowledge as to how to eradicate conditions favorable to epidemics such as cholera. Overall, much media frames news on Haiti in a superficial, favorable way to acquire and satisfy certain means, thus asserting its negative role in the Haiti cholera epidemic, visible by the fact that amidst all the said support, supposed funds and infrastructure given to Haiti, the cholera epidemic is present, claiming lives daily.


       Although the overall effort to prevent the inception of cholera initially as well as give the people the knowledge to prevent the rampant spread of cholera are indeed lacking, I thought this image was very interesting and a glimpse of positivity amongst the very trying cholera situation in Haiti.  This image is a poster written in creole,  created by UNICEF and other partners advising people what measures and precautions to take to take in an effort to avoid cholera. Many people are perhaps unaware as to what is actually causing cholera and in which ways it can spread, therefore I found this effort quite interesting.  However, this is the only preventative resource I came across that actually somewhat educated the people as to the possible causes of cholera and the ways in which it could easily spread. I am not too sure as to how widespread this image has been made and understood in Haiti, however I believe this is a great positive effort directed at the people, a resource in which  can foster positive outcomes. This image is a glimpse of  a positive effort amongst the grave tribulations faced by Haiti's population as a result of the introduction  of cholera.  Lastly,  I also believe this image is great as it has minimal exclusionary characteristics towards its audience as it presents both text and images (for Haitians who may illiterate).                                         



1. Canada Expands Its Response To Cholera Outbreak In Haiti

      2010 Canadian International Development Agency. Electronic Document,, accessed January 10, 2011.

2. Cholera

      2010 World Health Organization.  Electronic Document,

3. Cholera in Haiti linked to UN troops: report

      December, 2010 CBC News. Electronic document,


4. Dearing, Stephanie

        October, 2010 Cholera outbreak worsens while world rushes to help Haiti again. Digital Journal. Electronic Document,, accessed January 09, 2011.

5.  Manthorpe, Jonathan
      October, 2010, Cholera Strikes Haiti Earthquake Refugee Camps. The Vancouver Sun.  Electronic Document,, accessed January 08, 2011.

6. O’ Connor, Maura
      2010 Haiti Coverage and ‘Disaster Porn’: Cholera Epidemic Offers B-Roll For Nightly Newscasts. Columbia Journalism Review.  Electronic Document,, accessed January 12, 2011

7. Owens, Nick
      July, 2010 Where’s the Money For Haiti Gone? News Mirror. Electronic Document,, accessed January 09, 2011.