"Tell us about the mass media of your region," we asked each of
the Monitor's correspondents stationed around the world. Is
Hollywood taking over? Is the local culture holding firm? Are Ninja
Turtles battling everywhere? Some excerpts follow.
HOME-GROWN VERSIONS of "America's Funniest Home Videos" (a concept
that ABC-TV bought from a Japanese broadcaster) are popping up on TV
screens worldwide: The Germans have "Smile, Please," featuring not
only German home films but many American ones as well. Dutch
television has a similar show, and then there's "Australia's
Funniest Home Video Show with Jacki MacDonald." Late last year, a
British version called "Beadle's About" attracted a staggering 17
million viewers, displacing (for a while) the most-watched shows
`WESTERN CULTURE HAS BECOME Kenyan culture," says Kenyan journalist
Mobogo Murage. "Living in a modern house and putting on a
(Western-style) suit and tie is no longer Western as such," says Mr.
Murage, who writes radio and television reviews for the Daily Nation
newspaper. "It has become a kind of universal culture." The major
exceptions to this are found in West Africa, where long, flowing
robes still are commonly worn by men and women.
A small group of Kenyan intellectuals speak out against Western
culture, says David Kamau, another Kenyan journalist. But if you
follow most of these self-appointed critics home, he says, you'll
find the trappings of modern Western culture.
A CHINESE INTELLECTUAL who was released from several months in jail
last year (he was arrested after the June 4, 1989, crackdown) wrote
a list of complaints to his captors. One was that he was not told at
the time of his detention why he was being taken in. Nor was he
"read his rights." "I said they should have done it the way they do
on the US television show `Hunter"' he told the Monitor's Ann Scott
Tyson. The American detective series is very popular in China, with
men saying they like the main female character and women liking the
central male character.
JAPAN HAS ALWAYS ADAPTED foreign influence to its own uses. Tempura
came from Portuguese sailors, who landed in 1543. Dubbed Hollywood
movies have altered the way Japanese speak, as dubbers try to follow
the sentence structure and lip-movements of English-speaking actors.
In the 19th century, Japanese eagerly studied the waltz, drank
coffee, and wore Western-style suits (sometimes over samurai armor).
But in basic character, the Japanese have changed little. Foreign
and domestic things are governed by different rules, to keep the
foreign at bay and the domestic pure. Style is copied without the
Some new museums, for example, display replicas of Van Gogh
paintings or Michelangelo's David as if they were the real thing.
And sometimes the culture transfer is just plain absurd, as when one
department store used Santa Claus in a window display - on a cross.
TELEVISION IS SO PERVASIVE in Brazil that many favela (shantytown)
dwellers buy a television before they get a refrigerator or stove.
One network, Globo, has dominated the airwaves since the 1970s.
Globo invented "horizontal programming," in which the same shows air
six days a week, at the same time every night. This locks in viewers
from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. or later. There is a telenovela (soap
opera) at 6, one at 7, national news at 8, and another soap at 8:30.
Last season, Globo introduced another soap at 9:30, so there were
four nightly soaps, plus an afternoon rerun, six days a week.
IN MEXICO CITY, middle- and upper-class people can afford cable TV:
six local stations plus ABC, CBS, NBC, New York's WPIX, a sports
channel that shows mixed United States and Mexican programming, and
two movie channels (primarily subtitled or dubbed Hollywood films).
Because the government is concerned about generating insatiable
appetites for US consumer goods, all commercials on the US-based
channels are blocked out. …