Have you ever seen “The Big Brother”? And what about “Master Chef”? I’m sure you have seen the ” ‘Got Talent” talent show as well. These type of programmes are broadcasted in many countries in the world as an outcome of the so said ‘Media Capital Flows’, that is the flow of media from a capital to another in the world thanks to emerging relations among countries. The concept of media capital flows, indeed, is based on the concept of mediation, that regards media capitals as site of mediation among different countries but also different cultures (Michael Curtin: 2003, p.202). Media capitals are supposed to have many international relations that are often the result of political and historical events. Think of the colonization and diaspora: in that period huge amount of people moved from a place to another and this led a strong blending of cultures and flows as well. The emergence of media capitals, indeed, is the result of an ethno-media scape that characterised our society and that is still in process.
Media capitals flows impact our cultures and our habits as well. Some scholars depict their effects in terms of ‘glocalisation’, a concept coined by the Sony company which claimed that media products are addressed not to specific national boundaries but to specific cultural audiences, they are locally produced but globally consumed, and ‘neo-orientalism, that is, according to Edward Said, the outcome of an overwhelmingly clash of ignorance. Said argues that differences among cultures are the result of certain stereotypes, such as the western way of perceiving muslim civilizations. If we think to muslims, indeed, words like “war”, “terrorists”, “hate”, “beheading”, come soon into our minds. We do not think to muslims as a civilization with a different culture and values, but we regard them as terrorists and warriors. We do not think to innocent people such as women and children, to their values, ideas and habits. It’s a very huge stereotype that is, according to Said, the result of our ignorance towards these different types of culture and religion.
Thus, there is a clash between our civilization and the muslim civilization, as claimed by Samuel Huntington in his book “The clash of civilizations?”, but it is wreaked by our ignorance and not by cultural and religious differences. We are different, it is true, but those differences are not about to clash. As argued by the nobel Amaritya Sen, differences are useful to enrich our hearts and feed our personalities. They are an opportunity.
How do media capitals flows affect our society? Are they linking us to homogeneization? The flows of media enhance the production of hybrid media, characterised by a blending of cultures. Think to the talent show ‘Got Talent. It is broadcasted in more than 30 countries in the world and its format is almost similar in all the countries: three or four back judges, similar stages and performances… And the most extraordinary aspect is that it is a succesfull programme everywhere! Maybe because it entails normal people so anybody feel like to be the protagonist of the show!
We can speak about homogeneization but, as Tussu argues, media products reflect some local aspects which are globally consumed: think of the so said ‘brazilianzation’ and the spread of telenovelas in the world. They are placed in Brazil, with local customs and characters but they are seen in many different countries. Is it an evidence that the clash of civilizations is just a theory? Maybe.
Michael Curtin, “Media Capital, towards the study of spatial flows”, International Journal of Cultural Studies (pp. 202-228), Thousand Oaks, 2003
Daya Kishan Tussu, “Media on the Move”, Routledge, 2007
Edward Said, “The Clash of Ignorance”, 2001, accessible at: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20011022/said
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Samuel Huntington, “The Clash of Civilizations?”, Simon and Shuster, 1996