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.

Missing White Woman Syndrome

The mainstream media play a vital role in constructing certain endangered young women as valuable ‘front-page-victims’, while dismissing others as disposable’ (Stillman, 2007).

We need not look far from home to witness this phenomenon with two relatively recent Australian examples including the news coverage surrounding the rape and murder of ABC journalist Jill Meagher as opposed to the coverage surrounding the rape and murder of Tracy Connolly, a Melbourne sex worker.  Current news values arguably perpetuate stereotypes of ‘worthy’ and ‘unworthy’ female victims.

The disproportionate amount of media coverage for certain victims has been evidenced over a number of decades throughout Australia and the US and has been coined by academics as ‘Missing White Woman Syndrome’. When a beautiful young white woman is killed — Jill Meagher and Reeva Steenkamp being the latest tragic examples — the media seemingly show much more interest than when the victim is male, of a lower class, of a particular ethnicity or apparently more deserved of their fate. According to US journalist Eugene Robinson ‘It’s the meta-narrative of something seen as precious and delicate being snatched away, defiled, destroyed by evil forces that lurk in the shadows, just outside the bedroom window. It’s whiteness under siege. It’s innocence and optimism crushed by cruel reality. It’s a flower smashed by a rock’ (Robinson, 2005).

However, as horrendous and undeserving as these cases may be, the disproportionate coverage of such crimes has the potential to distort society’s perceptions of risk. I will also examine how exposure to news coverage of these types of crimes can potentially increase levels of fear among young white women of their safety in public spaces (Sharp, 2011). Indeed much of the commentary surrounding Jill Meagher’s murder, as opposed to that of Tracy Connolly, was based on the ideology that ‘it could have been me.’ Whereas as a society we seem more likely to dismiss the crimes against a sex worker in the sense that ‘women like that’ are so far removed from our everyday.

Regardless of the extensive research into missing white women syndrome and the news media that continue to embrace the stereotype, it remains an example of gender inequality in our media. The idea of a damsel in distress as an ‘ideal’ female victim continues to grab headlines.  We see another distraught family, another shattered workplace, another city in horror. We don’t see the hundreds of other families whose loved ones have met the same fate but don’t comfortably fit into traditional cookie cutter news values. Those deemed not important enough to intrude into our living rooms during the prime time broadcast.


Ford, Clementine. (2013). ‘How did we let Adrian Bayley happen?’. Available at: < s-and-views/dl-opinion/how-did- we-let-adrian-bayley-happen- 20130613-2o67f.html>

Iaccino, L. (2014). What is ‘Missing White Woman Syndrome’?. [online] Available at: <>    

Rizvi, J. (2013). Jill Meagher’s murderer sentenced to life in prison.  Mamamia [online] Available at: <;

Slakoff, D.C.. (2013), Newsworthiness and the “Missing White Woman Syndrome”, ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing.

Robinson, E. (2005).  (White) Women We Love. The Washington Post [online] Available at: <>    

History Repeating?

The end of the world as we know it is coming. The internet has taken over. The 24hour news cycle has murdered traditional journalism. It’s history on repeat. As discussed by Tom Rosenstiels’ TED talk The Future of Journalism, the notion that people are turning away from news is not in itself true. He believes that instead, journalism is entering a ‘new enlightenment’. Mediums have adapted. Radio did not kill the newspaper. Television did not kill the radio. Online journalism will not kill traditional journalism.

Today news is on demand. We can get the news we want, when we want it. We are in control of our own learning. Thus Rosenstiel argues that we are to a greater degree than was ever true before, able to determine what we know and how we think about the world around us essentially making us more democratic citizens. Previously we had responsible gatekeepers force feeding us the news they thought we should know. People trusted them because they were a renowned brand with a good track record. The media told us what to think. Today news is on demand – we can get the news we want when we want it. We are in control of our own learning. We are not being told what to think, we are determining it for ourselves.

Overall it seems that the disruption caused by digital technologies in journalism is good for consumers. However it is, evidently, bad for media companies. Media companies are no longer the trusted gatekeepers of fact and fiction. We have become the producers. It cannot be debated that journalism is in a financial state of chaos as a result of the collapse of the advertising model, however it is not all doom and gloom for the future of news as a whole. Rosenstiel argues that ‘this disruption holds they key to journalisms own reformation’. It has happened before and we can do it again, embracing change and adopting technologies that overall enhance the quality of news and journalism has far greater benefits than desperately trying to salvage an industry that is rapidly losing face.


Art as Journalism

‘Journalism is the interface we use to understand how things work and affect us, and it forms the base for public knowledge in science, politics and many other fields’ (Cramerotti, 2011). If this is the function of journalism, then it only seems fitting that as a society we see relevance in the increasing presence of the journalistic method in contemporary art as they combine to create new experiences and tell new stories.

An example of an amalgamation of traditional journalism and art is Inside Out: Iran. The Inside Out Project is an ongoing global multimedia, participatory art project started by JR in 2011. The concept of Inside Out revolves around giving the unknown an identity: a name and a face. The various projects that have taken place all over the world have allowed ordinary people to turn global thoughts and prejudices ‘inside out’ (hence the name). While Saman Arbabi was working on a video report about JR’s Inside Out Project for ‘On Ten,’ a weekly Persian-language political satire show, he learned that even though 135 000 people worldwide have participated in JR’s project, only one of them was from Iran. Deciding to create his own version of JR’s street art, Arbabi used portraits of 40 people killed in the uprisings following the 2009 Iranian presidential election. The images occupied a 20-foot by 50-foot area on the well-known Bushwick Art Park in Brooklyn, USA.


Inside Out Iran carries a potent message about identity: challenging Western attitudes and perceptions of ordinary Iranians, not just extremists, or those featured on brief international news clips, but the ‘everyday-Iranian’ like the 40 portraits Arbabi selected for this project. Although his work could easily be dismissed as just a piece of New York street art, it communicates ideas that could easily be written in a dissertation or newspaper column, and instead portrays them with real emotion, demonstrating the power of visual impact in art as opposed to traditional journalistic mediums. It’s not just a work of art; it is a collaborative form of media, dependent on not just the artist’s views, but also the way in which the audience receives it, and the conversation it creates about our own values and culture. In this way it should be considered as a journalistic piece, an example of Cramerotti’s ‘aesthetic journalism’, a creative way to shape opinion and form an understanding of the world around us.


References 2013. INSIDE OUT turns images into global action from the North Pole to Malawi | TED Blog. [online] Available at:

Cramerotti, Alfredo, 2011, “What is Aesthetic Journalism,” in Cramerotti, Alfredo,
Aesthetic Journalism: How to Inform Without Informing, Intellect, London

Steinhauer, J. 2013. Remembering Iran’s Fight for Democracy in Brooklyn. Hyperallergic, [blog] 27th June 2013, Available at:

YouTube. 2013. Saman Arbabi explains Inside Out: Faces Of Iran project in Bushwick. [online] Available at: /74354/remembering-irans-fight-for-democracy-in-brooklyn/ 


Is there really a ‘crisis’ in journalism?

It cannot be denied that the journalistic environment has, and still is, rapidly changing. Those that chronicle the development of new media forms like to focus on the decline, the melodrama, the ‘collapse’, the so-called ‘crisis’ that has become a catch cry for the death of the news industry altogether. However while jobs may be going in newsrooms, there is an undeniable growth in digital news operations.

This is not a black and white case of out-with-the-old-and-in-with-the-new. Yes, journalists have found themselves in the midst of a glacial shift towards online content and digital forms. Does this diminish journalism as a profession? Or merely encourage professionals to embrace a convergent media culture? Journalists, by nature, should want to be ahead of the crowd, blazing the way and guiding the future of journalism, not struggling to catch up. Media magnate Rupert Murdoch himself explains ‘the world is changing very fast. Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow’.

In our new digital age, there needs to be an appropriate balance between the traditional and the fresh in order to create well-informed citizens no matter their chosen medium. Indeed John Pavlik notes ‘the key to the viability of news media in the digital age, as demonstrated by both long- and short-term patterns, is innovation’ (Pavlik, 2013).

Take for example Farida Vis 2012 study ‘Twitter as a reporting tool for breaking news: journalists tweeting the 2011 UK Riots’ focusing on the use of twitter by journalists Paul Lewis (The Guardian) and Ravi Somaiya (The New York Times). Both actively tweeted throughout the four-day riot period embracing Twitter as a reporting tool and the two became the most frequently mentioned national and international journalists on Twitter during the 2011 UK summer riots.

One of the most accessible, and affordable, means of building an online presence is through creating a Twitter account. As of 31st of March 2014, there are approximately 972 million existing Twitter accounts. Not only does Twitter allow journalists a platform on which to promote their articles and break news, but it also gives them the opportunity to collaborate with citizen journalists, their sources, and audiences in a way they never have before. While this may in fact destroy the traditional media business model, it can also enhance the quality, reach and availability of news content for a global audience. Where is the catastrophe?

So perhaps we should quit with the over zealous use of  ‘crisis’ and start embracing the change. Watergate was not the mythical highpoint of journalism – there is still hope.  Journalism is not a dying form, it is an evolving one. In order to stay relevant, the profession must stop trying to revive the traditional and instead embrace the digital.


Farida Vis (2013) TWITTER AS A REPORTING TOOL FOR BREAKING NEWS, Digital Journalism, 1:1, 27-47

John V. Pavlik, 2013, “Innovation And The Future Of Journalism,” Digital Journalism, 1:2, 181-193,


Constructing truths in the public sphere

With the growth of new media forms our mediascape has gradually shifted. We are no longer forced to rely on traditional journalistic mediums to tell us what is happening in the world around us. Indeed Dan Berkowitz in his article Journalism in the Broader Cultural Mediascape notes that ‘journalism no longer dominates the mediascape as the source for helping a society learn about itself. Instead, journalism has become part of a holistic mix of media elements that intentionally or unintentionally provide people with varied glimpses of the world around them’. (Berkowitz, 2009)

What is left is the ability for citizens to construct our own truths in the public sphere. How people choose to represent society in the media sphere, one that is not regulated or mediated in the traditional sense, can challenge who we think we are a nation, and the values that we uphold. Take for example the 2013 social media uproar surrounding a video posted on the internet of Jamie Jackson, an 18 year old partygoer, as he was assaulted by a NSW police officer at the Sydney Mardi Gras. Footage of the events revealed police handcuffing Jackson, gripping his neck in a lock-hold, slamming his head against the ground and stepping on his back, sparking a flood of outrage against NSW Police.In the footage, Mr Jackson is seen crying and repeating that he “didn’t do anything wrong”. Another woman is overheard: “They just slammed his head. There’s blood all over the ground.” The video, which went global after it was uploaded, has since been viewed almost 2 million times.

Why is it that this video shocked Australians so much? Presented to us without any context, the small clip affronts us as it subverts everything we are taught to know and respect of our police force, thus challenging social norms in the public sphere.

The dangers of this kind of citizen journalism is this lack of context and gatekeepers that, albeit sometimes bias, filter illegitimate stories in our traditional media forms. In a court hearing last September police alleged Jackson kicked a female partygoer before punching and kicking several officers, a arguably vital element of this story that was unavailable to viewers of the clip in the first instance.

The rational discussion in particular public spaces described as ‘characterising the public sphere’ is now being supplemented by a range of artistic, emotive and other ways of moving these ideas around in the media and in discussions which has important consequential effects on the way we effect change in our society.


Berkowitz, D. 2009, “Journalism in the broader cultural mediascape”, Journalism, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 290-292.

YouTube. 2014. SYDNEY MARDI GRAS 2013 | POLICE BRUTALITY. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 26 Mar 2014].