Diasporic Media: Cantopop

Diasporic groups, that is, people who at some stage in their history migrated from an original homeland and settled in another country, according to theorist Myria Georgiou in her 2003 article ‘Mapping Diasporic Media across the EU: Addressing Cultural Exclusion’, struggle in representing diasporic groups to themselves and to the rest of the society. However, growth of new media platforms and technologies illustrates a growing potential for mobility and communication, which, according to Georgieou, leads to ‘new forms of inclusion and exclusion in transnational communities and multicultural societies’.

The emergence of new media capitals is just one aspect enabling the globalisation of culture through media. As explained by Curtin, media capitals are places where cultures come together and evolve into a new mass culture in the form of media platforms that are then broadcasted to a diverse audience, hence globalising culture through media and enabling the inclusion of diasporic groups.

This is evident in the emergence of Hong Kong TV, which was dependent on the influence of cultural institutions and creative talent from Guangzhou, a large city in Southern China,  which was the centre of Cantonese entertainment until war disrupted this and caused the Guangzhou people to flee to Hong Kong. However despite the large number of refugees,  Hong Kong continued to produce films with content that was not relevant to the new local diasporic community, which in turn led to the decline in interest and attendance. As a result Hong Kong saw a shift in medium to TV, which was able “to address a rapidly growing and increasingly prosperous local television audience” (Curtin, 2003). According to Curtin, TV began to emerge as a foundational feature of Hong Kong identity and society. It began to produce variety shows, featuring music stars that were creating a local music style “that merged US, Japanese and Chinese influences into a distinctive pop form featuring contemporary lyrics by local songwriters”. This genre became known as ‘cantopop’ and is still popular throughout Asia today, a prime example of diasporic media.

  • Top 10 Cantopop Classics from the ’80s
  • Joey Yung: Awarded “Most Popular Female Singer” and “Ultimate Best Female Singer – Gold” a record breaking eight times, thus emerging as one of the premier Cantonese singers in Hong Kong. Joey is ranked 52nd on the Forbes 2013 Chinese Celebrity List, making her the highest paid Hong Kong-based Cantopop singer with an estimated income of $29,200,000 RMB last year


Curtin, Michael. “Matrix Media.” Television Studies After TV: Understanding Television in the Post-Broadcast Era. Eds Graeme Turner and Jinna Tay. London: Routledge, 2009. 9–19.

Georgiou, Myria. (2003). ‘Mapping Diasporic Media across the EU: Addresing Cultural Exclusion’. Key Deliverable: The European Media and Technology in Everyday Life Network, 2000- 2003.

Moran, Albert. New Flows in Global TV. Bristol and Chicago: Intellect, 2009.





Globalisation & the Media: Bollywood

Changes that have shaped the collective consciousness of our people have happened before in our history: think antiquity, renaissance, enlightenment. Just like the original enlightenment in the 18th century that wasn’t an exact, cohesive movement, with a defined start and finish – globalisation is a 21st century process, changing the core ideals that shape the values, norms and lifestyles in our new global village.

In the same way that Hollywood is producing films that have great success internationally, the East Asian film industry has successfully mixed unique cultural content such as martial arts and Wuxia narratives into films that appeal particularly to Western audiences (Shaefer & Karan, 2010). The globalisation of India’s film industry began in the late 20th century and the 2000’s saw a growth in Bollywood’s popularity throughout the world. While Western influences have contributed to the nation’s filmmaking improvements in terms of quality, cinematography and innovative story lines, as well as technical advances in areas such as animation, the films are uniquely Bollywood. The Indian film industry as a global media source has hybridized in order to accommodate for a wider and growing international audience. For promotional purposes, many of the films are shot abroad in order to generate vast media publicity during filming, for example the Sydney filming of ‘Step Mom’ by one of Bollywood’s most iconic filmmakers, Karan Johar caused massive media stir in late 2011. In addition to filmmaking, film production has seen change with scripts incorporating more English words/phrases and many films produced with English subtitles. Similarly the dancing in modern Bollywood films is said to blend contemporary Western, Latin, and Arabic dance styles with traditional Indian dancing.

Thanks to globalisation,  Bollywood has transcended geographical boundaries. Many Indian films are not only making more money outside the Indian market but also attracting foreign producers and directors to the industry including Gurinder Chadha (Bride and Prejudice) and Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding). In addition Several Indian film personalities have received recognition abroad as well such as A.R. Rahman, who composed and collaborated with the Pussycat Dolls for the hit song “Jai Ho” for the 2008 British film “Slumdog Millionaire”. Slumdog Millionare went on to be nominate for 10 Acadmy Awards in 2009, winning eight, the most for any film of 2008 including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. It also won seven BAFTA Awards, five Critics Choice Awards and four Golden Globes.

The globalisation of media promotes cultural diversity of the world where ‘the melting pot of different cultures’ (Shimemura, 2002) is given the opportunity to become a reality and the transnational film industry is a platform for this to happen.


Karan, K and Schaefer, DJ (2010) ‘Problematizing Chindia: Hybridity and Bollywoodization of popular Indian cinema in global film flows’ Global Media and Communication Vol 6: 3, pp. 309-316

Shimemura, Y. 2002. Globalization vs. Americanization: Is the World Being Americanized by the Dominance of American Culture. Comparative Civilizations Review, 47 (Fall), pp. 80-85.

Soo Yee Ho 2004, “Is Bollywood an Imitation of Hollywood?”Film International, , no. 11, pp. 38.

Takhar, A. & Maclaran, P. 2012, “Bollywood cinema’s global reach: consuming the “Diasporic consciousness”‘, Journal of macromarketing, vol. 32, no. 3, pp. 266-279.

Voltmer, Katrin. (2008). ‘Comparing media systems in new democracies: East meets South meets West’. Central European Journal of Communication, Vol.1 No.1.



Challenging Representation: Fear of a Brown Planet

Fear of a Brown Planet are an Australian stand-up comedy duo, who work to include racism as a topic of conversation in Australian comedy. Tackling the topics of immigration, race relations and the War on Terror head on, Fear of a Brown Planet provoke and entertain audiences with an comedic take on politics and race, whilst boldly tackling the delicate topic of Islam. Not speaking about racism only exacerbates it, Hussain believes, and comedy provides a space for people ”to own the conversation… when racism is talked about publicly in Australia, it’s generally by panels of white people on TV telling us what is and isn’t racist and what should and shouldn’t be tolerated,” he says. ”You wouldn’t get a discussion of sexism by an all-male panel – it would be absurd – but if it’s about race, that’s OK.”

Their sardonic humour focuses on debunking common racial stereotypes particularly regarding muslim men and women in Australian society. In their 2008 show the dueo held ”workshops for whiteys” (sample advice: ”Just because I’m at the petrol station doesn’t mean I work here”), joked about their experiences as victims of casual racism and skewered anti-hijab sentiments. ”If everyone else can shop at Supre and not get arrested,” observed Hussain, ”I think Muslim women should be able to wear whatever the hell they like.”

Since then, Fear of a Brown Planet have been funded by VicHealth to work on a project exploring racism in Melbourne’s western suburbs. Rahman and Hussain, who both have law degrees, have approached it from many angles. As part of their research, they’ve filmed interviews with community workers, student advocates and taxi drivers and done vox pops such as that cafe ”hit”. Much of this footage, along with some incendiary mash-ups, is being posted as an online video blog.

Although not all of their content is focused on representation in the media, the duo themselves are an example of how they are using art, social media and comedy to challenge ethnic representation in Australia). The comedy duo believe that Australia is an inherently racist place. ”There’s a really banal, unassuming racism in Australia,” says Rahman. ”The most basic question you get asked all the time is ‘Where are you from?’ Or people say ‘Welcome to Australia’. It’s still overwhelmingly an idea of white ownership of this country.”

A lot of this stuff, adds Hussain, is patronising and possibly unintentional. But even multiculturalism is seen as ”a kind of favour from white people”.

As The Vine reporter Suzy Freeman Greene concludes: facing racism is not easy.  As media consumers we are all constantly affected by its visceral taint. However comedians such as Fear of a Brown Planet who aim at throwing these tough conversations into the public sphere work to lighten the mood over dark, and often hurtful, issues of racial stereotypes and representation in the media. Ending racism requires us to confront its institutional forms. To bring these issues to the forefront of public consciousness and the media industry is a perfect place to start.