New Television, Globalisation, and the East Asian Cultural Imagination

By Chan, Shelley Wing | The China Journal, January 2008 | Go to article overview

New Television, Globalisation, and the East Asian Cultural Imagination


Chan, Shelley Wing, The China Journal


New Television, Globalisation, and the East Asian Cultural Imagination, by Michael Keane, Anthony Y. H. Fung and Albert Moran. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2007. viii + 220 pp. HK$395.00/US$59.50 (hardcover), HK$175.00/US$27.95 (paperback).

When the impacts of globalization are discussed, a frequent topic is how the developed countries, especially the United States, have imposed their value systems on the developing or underdeveloped countries. In other words, a tendency towards cultural monopolization or even hegemony by Western super powers has been observed. Film and television industries are good examples of Americanization: Hollywood is assumed to be the center for production and export of entertainment products which serve as vehicles for the imposition of American values on non-Western cultures.

Against this background, New Television, Globalisation, and the East Asian Cultural Imagination by Michael Keane, Anthony Y. H. Fung and Albert Moran stands out as an innovative, informative and well-researched contribution to the field of television studies. This book consists of three parts: Part I, "Adaptation and Local Production in East Asia", with three chapters; Part II, "Formats, Clones, and Generic Variations", with six chapters; and Part III, "New Television", with two chapters. Keane, Fung and Moran note that these chapters could be read in any order, as they each deal with a different aspect. The book takes as its point of departure the assumption that "Hollywood is the dominant center of production; ... these values are damaging to Asian social traditions" (p. 1) to investigate various television programs, especially those produced in the late 1990s, in 11 different Asian countries, including China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The approach is a combination of interviews, statistics and academic research.

Keane, Fung and Moran examine the increasingly universal use of franchise capitalism in the television industry to see, among other things, the mutual influence of Western culture emphasizing individualistic values and material progress and the collective, hierarchical and socially interdependent human relationships in Eastern culture. Paying special attention to the process of adaptation, the book not only considers the West-East trade flow (the "one-way flow") but also the East-East and East-West dynamics ("contra-flow") of the television industry. It is inspiring and encouraging: indeed Hollywood is "a dominant center of production", yet "its television products have a diminishing influence in East Asian schedules" (p. 3). This assertion challenges the single directional "West-East imperialism model" (p. 3). On the one hand, there are cultural dynamics that "predispose the production, distribution and reception of particular forms of content" in East Asian countries and regions (p. 11). On the other hand, television productions originally targeting local audiences have moved across national borders into a pan-Asian cultural marketplace. Among such pan-Asian cross-border sales, Japanese formats are most successful, followed in recent years by South Korean programs. Furthermore, Keane, Fung and Moran also observe that creative content from East Asia has found its way into the global markets. For instance, Asian professionals have migrated to Hollywood and other global media centers and brought with them their talents in entertainment production. …

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