Films and Cultural Hegemony: American Hegemony "Outside" and "Inside" the "007" Movie Series

By Shin, Byungju; Namkung, Gon | Asian Perspective, April 1, 2008 | Go to article overview
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Films and Cultural Hegemony: American Hegemony "Outside" and "Inside" the "007" Movie Series


Shin, Byungju, Namkung, Gon, Asian Perspective


This article examines empirically how American cultural hegemony operates through the medium of film-in this case, via the James Bond "007" movie series. It is evident that American values are diffused worldwide via the motion picture industry. The 007 series is a masterpiece that successfully adjusted to the Hollywood system where American capital and structure prevails. The films are controlled by U.S. funding and reflect American perspectives vividly. Between the lines in the scripts, filmgoers are urged to link the United States with positive-hence legitimate-values and accept American's dominant position. The authors of this study argue that the "007" movie series satisfies certain conditions to diffuse and reproduce American hegemony. Moreover, since the series reflects different aspects of the international environment, it is an appropriate case to speculate about hegemony in films.

Key words: cultural hegemony, U.S. hegemony, Social Network Analysis

American Hegemony and the "007" Movie Series

The operation of American hegemony is evident not only in the politico-economic and military realms, but also in the cultural sphere. Nye's discussion of "soft power," for example, reconfirms that maintaining American hegemony in the cultural realm is essential in general to U.S. leadership of international politics. However, cultural hegemony is not easily recognized. Culture is typically disseminated with relatively less resistance and opposition than other forms of hegemony. Compared to its importance, study on American hegemony in the cultural sector is rare. When we consider that interest regarding culture in international politics has existed for quite some time, the relative lack of empirical studies seems odd.

The purpose of this article is to analyze empirically how American hegemony operates in the cultural sphere. Specifically, this article examines how American cultural hegemony is maintained via the cultural medium of film, and in what way American values are disseminated through films. It is evident that American hegemony obviously operates worldwide via motion pictures. Especially in Asia, Hollywood blockbusters function even more critically in delineating American perspectives because Asian filmgoers use film as their socialization tool to better understand the United States. Thus the reliance of Asian audiences on American films is more significant.

Unfortunately, systematic research that recognizes and analyzes films as political is uncommon, the reason being that proper methodology to deal with film has not been settled in international political analysis.1

This article examines the operation of American hegemony within the "007" movie series (also referred to as "James Bond films"). James Bond films are controlled from "without" by American funding and reflect American perspectives vividly "within" their narratives. Over a forty-five year period, the series achieved tremendous worldwide box-office records and still continues to produce successful products. The 007 series is a masterpiece that successively adjusted to the Hollywood system where American capital and structure prevails. Moreover, since the series reflects different aspects of international environment, it is an appropriate case to speculate about hegemony in films.2

Scholars have shown interest in the 007 series.3 In particular, geopolitical research has dealt with the 007 films.4 For instance, Black contends that 007 films show that international society inevitably needed the United States as Britain disappeared from the political-military scene.5 He believes that 007 films happened to emphasize American influence due to capital and filmgoers' interest. On the other hand, the 007 novels, written by Ian Lancaster Fleming, extended British Empire through the novels' plots. Dodds examined geopolitical factors of the film Die Another Day (2002) and showed how filmgoers recognized the international order between nations.

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