The United States Of Australia

This week at Greater Union Cinema, Wollongong:

  • Ant-Man – 3pm, 9pm
  • Fantastic Four – 2:30pm, 4:45pm, 7pm
  • Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation – 12:45pm, 6:20pm, 9:30pm
  • Mr Holmes – 12:15pm
  • Trainwreck – 1:15pm, 4pm, 6:45pm, 9:15pm

Now what do all these films have in common? That’s right, they’re all American. Yes, even ‘Mr Holmes’ is in some way American. Though it was filmed in Sussex, England, boasts a largely British cast, and is based on a classic British character; America still gets a piece of the pie. The film’s two main distributors, Miramax and Roadside Attractions, are American companies. FilmNation Entertainment and Archer Gray, two of the film’s production companies, are indeed American. There is no escaping it; America is everywhere! Not that it is anything new.

Hollywood films and US television shows have dominated cinema session times and TV guides for decades now. In Australia, the post-WWII era saw the country become infatuated with American culture, embracing the influx of music, television and cinema. By the 1960s, “American TV shows like Perry Mason and I Love Lucy… rate[d] among the nation’s favourite programmes” and even locally produced content were beginning to follow American formulas (Skwirk n.d.). As technology advanced and communication became more interconnected and instantaneous, the influence of American culture only intensified. These days, Australians clamour to get their hands on the latest Apple iPhone or to illegally download the latest episode of ‘Game of Thrones’; and millions rushed to sign up to Netflix when it launched in Australia earlier this year, almost completely ignoring the local streaming services already available. Now more so than ever, we begrudgingly crave what the US give and don’t give us. Such is the result of globalisation.

Herbert Schiller, an American media critic, coined the term “cultural imperialism” back in 1976 and since then it has been widely used when “refer[ing] to the idea of America exerting cultural influence over the rest of the world…” in ways not too different to the ones previously described (Ketchum n.d.). US commodities are ubiquitous around the world and with them carry elements of the country’s lifestyles and ideals such as consumerism (O’Shaughnessy, Stadler 2008). Schiller argued that such a monopoly can lead to a loss of cultural diversity and cultural traditions, eroding “the long-time dream of international community” (O’Shaughnessy, Stadler 2008). Thankfully the situation has not become quite so dire and cultural diversity and traditions can still prosper, particular in country as multicultural as Australia. However that’s not to say Schiller was wrong.

Perhaps the biggest victim of globalisation and the US’ cultural imperialism has been Australia’s own entertainment industry. Actors, actresses, singers and writers all fight to break into the US market as it has seen has the pinnacle of entertainment world, leaving the Australian industry floundering towards the nadir. That’s not to say the Australian industry doesn’t produce great content; there are plenty of shows and films that prove otherwise. Unfortunately they are rarely able to get a word in, what with all those loud Yanks hogging the spotlight.


References:

2015, ‘American and British cultural influence, Social and cultural features of the 1960s, Australia’s social and cultural history in the post-war period, History Year 9, NSW’, Online Education Home Schooling Skwirk Australia, online, http://www.skwirk.com/p-c_s-14_u-189_t-507_c-1880/nsw/history/australia’s-social-and-cultural-history-in-the-post-war-period/social-and-cultural-features-of-the-1960s/american-and-british-cultural-influence-1960s , viewed 7 Aug. 2015.

Fox, n.d. ‘Try And Stop Us – Simpsons’, image, http://shirtigo.co/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/tryandstopus.jpg, viewed 7 Aug. 2015.

Ketchum, D (2015) ‘What Is the Meaning of Cultural Imperialism?’, The Classroom  Synonym, online, http://classroom.synonym.com/meaning-cultural-imperialism-7841.html, viewed 7 Aug. 2015.

O’Shaughnessy, M and Stadler, J (2008) ‘Globalisation’, Media and Society (fifth edition) Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 458-471.

Sources:

http://www.eventcinemas.com.au/Cinema/Wollongong

http://variety.com/2013/film/news/anne-carey-joins-n-y-production-company-archer-gray-exclusive-1200364541/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3168230/companycredits?ref_=tt_dt_co

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