Cultural Imperialism: Hollywoodization

Do you enjoy whollywoodatching movies during your free time? If you do, I believe you must have heard of the name of Hollywood! Many people have no idea of how movies are produced, they just simply believe that all movies are linked to Hollywood. This belief was the effect after the domination of Hollywood movies in film industry. As stated by Andrew (2013), Hollywood film is the American ideological medium of mass communication, it influences the movie industries around the world. This process is called Hollywoodization, in which Hollywood affects the movie industries in Asia to adopt the production style, dressing, or even imitate the name of Hollywood. Despite many other countries have developed their own film industries to suit the local audience but Hollywood’s style of production, storylines and set designs are still seen in such film. It can be said that Hollywood has come to dominate the way of thinking of filmmakers and the audiences.

While looking at how the movie has helped American culture in dominating over other countries, Maisuwong (2012) defined movies as a global medium that reaches the mass audience with the same message while the film industry plays the leading role in the global media system. Nowadays, the improvement of technology allows us to have coloured films that are being viewed internationally. Furthermore, nicer motion pictures represented in films encouraged people to watch films more and more. The development of camera, make up trend, fashion industry, the advance of tape recorders and video recorders, and etc, are the factors that make films become more preferable. The promotion of American culture through Hollywood movies is seen as a form of cultural imperialism. Hollywood movie become a cultural product where it could have cultural effects to any society that the film goes through. It seems that America is trying to imperialize the world by using a soft tool. Brook (2014) in his article, “How the Global Box Office is Changing Hollywood” described Hollywood as an octopus with tentacles extending across the globe.

With the innovation of Information Communication Technology (ICT) has prominently influenced the transmission of American culture to the rest of the world. ICT is ever-present in today, with over three billion people having access to the Internet (ITU, 2016) and it would be unusual to find anyone between the ages of 13 and 50 who does not own a mobile phone, a computer or have access to the internet (Choo, Yeoh, Stanley and Yee, 2015). At a click of a mouse enable we search for the latest movie showing in the cinema, watching the trailer and share it among our friends. Once these movies have been shared, it therefore enables an encouragement or invitation of others to have a movie in cinema.  Apart from that, ICT offer benefit of user-friendly and caters to all ages, from the young to the old. Therefore, people who missed the movie or those who didn’t watch movie in cinema, with the internet, a full movie is available for download with the software installed in their digital devices, for example, Xfplay. The emergence of ICT allows American culture more imperialism to the rest world because most of the movies we watched are the production of Hollywood. As stated by Rauschenberger (2003), U.S. always remained the dominant player in the global cultural trade, especially in the audiovisual sector. Of the films shown worldwide, 85% are produced in Hollywood, according to UNESCO.

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Maisuwong (2012) studied of Hollywoodization, observed that the world audience became consumerist after watching American movies, for example, the culture of eating fast food in the American movies caused the popularity of global consumer brands like McDonald’s, KFC, pizza, and so forth. Apart from the impact on consume patterns, by watching Hollywood movies, people have come to see America as an ideal society where good always prevails over evil (Andrew, 2013).

bollywood-story_647_080415020120A good example of Hollywoodization is the Bollywood in India. Bollywood is a name of Indian movie industry, the name is primarily based on the Western city of Bombay. In the early Indian films, the audience enjoy the melodious songs and the dance that accompany the actions in the movies. However the influence of Hollywood has brought to a new trend in the costume and settings of such films. The Bollywood began to touch more on the love scenes and sex scenes.According to McDonald and Wasko (2008), the movie portray pictures that taught us to dance rhumbas and sambas; pictures that taught us to kill and steal; pictures that taught us to utter “Hi” and “Gee”; pictures that taught us devilry and divorce and pictures that took us to jinks and drinks. It seems that Bollywood relies too much on the Western idea and Hollywood, where it going to diminish the real and traditional cultural identity of India.

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Besides that, with the popularity of Hollywood around the world, the imitation and transformation of actors in the movie into game has been done by many game creators in game industry for profits. The children play computer games on the Internet and some of these games are violent which in turn tends to promote violence among children. Children are easily influence by what they see and do in the game and are not mature enough to weigh what is right and what is wrong. This unfortunately, may lead them to practise harmful behaviour in real life. (Choo, Yeoh, Stanley and Yee, 2015)

Other than that, the possible cultural effects of Hollywood movies to the audience have been concerned. If I had been questioned about this, definitely my first answer would be the lifestyle effect. The Hollywood has come to dominate the way of our thinking. We tend to adopt the lifestyles represented in the movie to our usual lifestyle. For example, the way we behave, we dressed and we expressed our feeling or rights will accordingly to the movies we have exposed to. Maisuwong (2012) stated that the main lifestyles appeared in the movies are partying, smoking, and drinking alcoholic beverages. These kinds of lifestyle were mutually and commonly include in every of those 30 movies. Many societies nowadays seemed to absorb and adopt these lifestyles to their routine life. For example, since I have watched these movies, I think that to celebrate something, I should then organize the party and make the alcoholic beverages as the main drinks. While look at the some serious impact towards lifestyle that has caused to violence, crimes, sex and drug abusive. People always imitate things occur in the movies, they might had sex before marriage and it sometimes causes social problem like abortion. Some of them even committed suicide imitating the scene happened in the movies they watched.

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Others might be the language effect as people may turn to speak American accent, adopt those American slangs and jargons to their daily life, and value and ideology effect which has cause the changed in people’s behaviour and thought.  For example, the ideology of freedom being promote in Hollywood movies has made people believe that fight was to gain freedom and it could bring to peace.

In short, the interest of American in promoting its culture through Hollywood movies is seen to dominate the other cultural communities around the world in order to become the only culture of the world. We may used to hear that we all could make our culture becomes unique, while we also need to accept other cultures. However, America is doing differently. Andrew (2013) has concluded his study by saying that, America is likely to make its own culture as a universal culture in which every nation or community has to accept American culture and adopt those American cultures as their own culture. As mentioned by John Tomlinson (1991) cultural imperialism is not the process of cultural expansion, but it is a cultural loss process. This process makes our local cultures vanish from time to time.

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References

Andrew, A. I. (2013). Hollywood, The American Image and The Global Film Industry. CINEJ CINEMA JOURNAL, 3 (1), 93-106.

Brook, T. (2014, October 21). How the global box office is changing Hollywood. Retrieved March 14, 2016, from BBC: http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20130620-is-china-hollywoods-future

Choo, W. Y., Yeoh, W. T., Stanley, N., & Yee, S. F. (2015). MUET. (7thed.). Shah Alam : Oxford Fajar.

ITU. (2016). ITU releases annual global ICT data and ICT Development Index country rankings. Retrieved March 13, 2016, from ITU: http://www.itu.int/net/pressoffice/press_releases/2014/68.aspx#.VujPkdJ97IW

John Tomlinson. (1991). Cultural imperialism: A Critical Introduction. Great Britain : Continuum.

Maisuwong, W. (2012). The Promotion of American Culture through Hollywood Movies to the World.  International Journal of Engineering Research & Technology, 1 (4), 1-7.

McDonald, P., & Wasko, J. (2008). The contemporary Hollywood film industry.(1st ed.). Malden : Blackwell.

Rauschenberger, E. (Director). (2003). It’s Only a Movie- Right? [Motion Picture].

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