Popular culture and globalization
“All the world’s a stage and all the men and women, merely players”, said the bard. This prescient observation of Shakespeare over four centuries ago is seen today as everyday experience of common people. We open our newspapers and read about local, national and international events. We switch on the televisions and view / hear about events anywhere in the world, in real time and space. Common people are effortlessly exposed to each other through the media. Our everyday experiences these days are shaped by the technological revolution of the past five decades on the one hand, and the movement of the world economies towards globalization on the other.
Globalization is an opportunity and not a cost. Today it is possible to see the entire world as a market place, and each country as a potential source for gaining competitive advantages. Economical local costs and talent make globalization an opportunity to be exploited in every field. Globalization of economies of the world permits each country to exploit its natural advantages and play its rightful part in global trade.
In the popular culture field, while the Hollywood films in the English language could reach a section of the people around world at one time, we see them dubbed into local languages for the vast global audience today. MTV which started airing its original US programs in English was soon facing stiff competition from other music channels that offered a great deal of local content in the local language, and had to follow suit. Television channels, be they for children or for grown-ups, be they for city based audience or for small town / village viewers, are now routinely offering content in a multi-language platform and gaining larger viewership and therefore revenues through advertisements. Movies and film music based events from Mumbai are huge draws for the Indian immigrants in UK and the USA. Madam Tussauds wax museum in London has attracted twice the number of South Asian visitors this year as compared to a year ago, after it launched its wax model of the current Hindi film star (Deccan Chronicle).
In the eyes of some groups, globalization is not an undiluted blessing. With particular reference to popular culture, some fear that the dominant cultures exploit mass media to overrun others, and that this results in loss of diversity, independence of thought and promotes decadent life style. For example, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola brands invite as much accolades from the younger generation all over the world, as they incur the wrath of the environmental groups for the popularization of unhealthy food and drink habits; Feature articles from The Spectator, NYT or The Herald Tribune appear simultaneously in the Indian newspapers and shape public opinion; commentators like Tom Friedman or Rod Liddle are familiar names in English educated urban households; so also are the popular TV channels like BBC and CNN, much to the dislike of traditionalists.
The above facts reveal a significant difference in the mindset of the different groups – governments promoting their geo-political strategies by manipulating public opinion; multinational companies exploiting global opportunities for increasing their business volumes and profits; environmental groups seeing this as an assault on the diversity of human culture and promoting decadent life styles, etc.
UK Honour for Bachchan, Deccan Chronicle 1 Dec 2007. Available:
http://www.deccan.com as retrieved on 1 Dec 2007.
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