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 décor 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.