Wednesday, April 6, 2011


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.

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