Academic journal article Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media

Intra-Asian Cultural Flow: Cultural Homologies in Hong Kong and Japanese Television Soap Operas

Academic journal article Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media

Intra-Asian Cultural Flow: Cultural Homologies in Hong Kong and Japanese Television Soap Operas

Article excerpt

Why not Regionalization?

Is globalization a myth? Perhaps recent studies have to some extent deconstructed this idea (Ferguson, 1992; Hirst & Thompson, 1996). Globalization, in its simplest and most common connotation, suggests that certain global values--political, economic, and cultural--have been so dominantly circulated that they dissolve national borders and homogenize local cultures. These global values are deemed to consist of westernized values and culture (Cretkovich & Kellner, 1997). Discussion of globalization often centers on the dialectics between the local and the global (Featherstone, 1996). One can locate at least two complications which emerge from those studies challenging the globalization thesis and the micro-processes of local-global struggle. First, globalization does not mean that local culture is completely paralyzed, subdued, or suppressed. This autonomy of local processes is visible in various cultural spheres and media, and the image of a single dominating center and a dominated periphery is no longer accepted as the reality (Dayan, 1998). The notion of local resistance that exists or coexists with globalization in some form of global localism is raised (Dirlik, 1996). The question that remains is then to what extent globalization takes place and how it copes with localism. The outcome of such negotiation--as evident in media studies--always depends on the specific local conditions (Parks & Kumar, 2002, p. 13). Second, globalization means neither homogenizing all aspects of a local culture from a single global origin nor the suppression of local development under a strong national discourse. Amidst the process, the global "West" certainly constitutes a major force but the impacts are always multi-origin and various.

Studies of globalization often reduce the argument to a juxtaposition of the global with the local, and to then equating the local with the national. However, the political subordination of the local under the national is by no means always evident, and more importantly, such a reduction ignores the role of the regional vis-a-vis the global (Sinclair, Jacka, & Cunningham, 1996). If localization and globalization are conceived as two extreme polar opposites, regionalization and nationalization appear in this continuum. As regional impetus is theoretically understood geopolitically or geoculturally closer to the local, its influence is no less potent when compared with the global. Given its solid and real presence, the relative scarcity of studies on regionalization, in particular, an assessment of the influence of regional and global force in a concrete historical context surfaces as a large gap in the field. This paper aims to present a strong case that Japan has had a significant regional impact on Hong Kong despite being nationally resumed by the People's Republic of China (PRC) and globally exposed to the international capitalist economy.

The study of Japan's prominence in interregional cultural flow by Iwabuchi (2002) illustrated how on the one hand, Japan deliberately markets its television dramas, comics, and cartoons within Asia by erasing its "cultural odor," (the association of a country of origin with a cultural product), and on the other hand, how Asian regions such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan could readily adopt and borrow these cultural products from Japan because of its cultural proximity. Explaining the popularity of Mexican telenovela in Brazil, Pastina and Straubhaar (2005) also found that while the logic of cultural proximity within both national and cultural-linguistic boundaries might contribute to the regional cultural flow, they argued that the attraction or proximity of genres--as distinct from the global attraction of melodrama as a macro genre--might also contribute to the affinity of Mexican dramas. However, in the last instance, the researchers suggest, the shared historical experience and specificity within nations at the reception level seem to be the overwhelming factor leading to the favorability of a seemingly foreign program. …

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