Article: “An Understanding Between Bollywood and Hollywood?” (Morcom)

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“An Understanding Between Bollywood and Hollywood? The Meaning of Hollywood-Style Music in Hindi Films” – Anna Morcom

  • Introduction
    • Morcom will focus on coding practices of foreign music (mostly Western orchestral compositions) in the context of Hindi films, and the cultural consequences of such representations in Bollywood
  • Hollywood-Style Music in Hindi Films: Some Examples
    • ex) “Mother India” (1957) –> coda section reflects scene of heightened drama in the movie, w/ orchestra
    • ex) “Mughal-e-Azam (1960) –> shift from traditional sitar music to full symphony during dramatic scene
    • ex) “Raja Hindustani” (1996) –> dissonance, accented chords, syncopation used to reflect film tension
  • Musical Universals?

    • “there is a degree of crossover in the use of Hollywood-style music in Hindi and Hollywood films, which is particularly evident in scenes of disturbance, discomfort, trauma, fear and evil” (69)
    • **Now there is also much more crossover to reflect modernity/younger generations with hiphop blends involving “Western” composition as well as Indian instruments
    • some melodies/methods are simply copied from Hollywood conventions (i.e. the saxophone representing the sexualized vamp female figure)
    • “the use of a large ensemble like the symphony orchestra and choruses for epic feeling, grandeur and augmentation of effect my be based on an iconic association between a large ensemble and economic power and hence grandeur” (70)
      • what’s important here is that the grandeur of the orchestra transcends any one cultural context
    • a good part of traditional Indian rhythmic conventions are based on the vocal raga chants, yet recently many alternate tempo/rhythm formulas have been introduced into film music, based on Western techniques
    • p71-72 = highly technical explanation of raga rhythmic/tonal composition
    • by diverging from raga melodic tendencies, the film hints to audiences that there is foreboding dissonance/conflict in the plot…YET with recent global spreading of Bollywood, the industry has been forced to expand its melodic palette to appear relevant to a more diverse audience (and more musically-savvy, especially with more music distribution technology)
    • other examples of new techniques taken up by Hindi films in the past half century: tremolos, ostinatos
    • “In the Indian context, either these techniques are recognized as dissonances within the raga system or they generate discomfort by being outside the raga system or other forms of Indian melody altogether, thereby constituting an antithesis of Indian music” (75)
  • The Coding of Indian Music and Raga
    • Morcom points out that possible initial reason for including non-India  (therefore non-raga) music was to highlight the dissonance in the plot; to make the audience aware of an upcoming change/conflict
    • just an interesting side note: “In the context of Hindi films, songs and melodies (in the background score or song sequences) tend to accompany romantic scenes, or victorious scenes, where good is winning or fighting back, as well as the same devotional, life-cycle ritual and festival contexts as folk music” (80)
  • Conclusions
    • much importance on how various Hollywood techniques are played/performed in relation to the classical Indian ragas & melodies
    • “the use of Western music is not consistent in any straightforward way with the moral coding of the West in its meaning, and it involves many more factors than there has been space to explore here” (81)
      • I’m sure this has stayed true at least partially with recent Bollywood films, but now moral coding must be a little more tied to the Americanized version of modernity and how India approaches that topic
    • “The use of Western music in Hindi films is not just a factor of global fashions and Western or Hollywood cultural hegemony…[and] the musical style of Hindi film songs and background scores, including the level and style of Western music used, is profoundly shaped by the cinematic and dramatic context” (82)

Article: “Desperately Seeking an Identity” (Moorti)

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“Desperately Seeking an Identity: Diasporic Cinema and the Articulation of Transnational Kinship” – Sujata Moorti

  • “The transnational circuits of popular culture permit immigrants to construct a community of sentiment that is articulated in the domestic idiom, one that emphasizes kinship and affective relations based on shared affiliations and identifications” (356)
    • visual culture (like films, other forms of media) allow for migrated communities to feel a link to the homeland based on shared customs/beliefs
  • diasporic films often allow for a more comprehensive/in-depth look at how individuals negotiate between various aspects of their identity (in relation to their surroundings)
  • Moorti provides a nice definition for diaspora: “the term refers to a historically-specific matrix of economic, political, and cultural relationships that helps constitute transnational communities  –  imagined and encountered” (357)
  • Moorti aims to show how visual culture demonstrates the complexity of various links/bonds that the South Asian diaspora in N America feels with itself and with India
  • “Technologies of seeing crosscut and intersect with technologies of gender to help constitute a feminine diasporic mode of enunciation that not only visualizes India differently, but also the transnational female subject as one that straddles multiple cultural and national borders” (358)
    • gender as one “lens” through which diasporic affiliations with the homeland are created and negotiated
  • Diasporic Optic
    • **although Moorti is focusing in this article on the films produced/directed by the South Asian diaspora in N America, I think that a lot of her ideas on the translation of various images/themes in Bollywood films by a diasporic audience still pertain**
    • “If the community imagined by the diaspora is transnational in scope and produces a subject position that lays claim to and negotiates between multiple affiliations, the diasporic optic seeks to reveal this desire for multiple homes through specific representational strategies” (359)
      • this same “diasporic optic” is probably used more often by Bollywood directors/producers in recent years to boost how global audiences (esp NRIs, etc) relate to the film’s content and characters
    • recently there has been less of a present then past chronology of nostalgia and more of a simultaneous relation between the two different facets of experience and identity
  • Rewriting Home
    • here Moorti summarizes “New View, New Eyes” and “Desperately Seeking Helen” as two films made by Indo-Canadian filmmakers
  • Politics of the Gaze
    • Moorti stresses that diaspora/native aspects of identity don’t function as a binary either/or, but rather a blend of many elements
    • “autoethnographic texts” as being a counter to ethnographic texts: the former is a representation by “the Other” of themselves to a European audience (based on colonial discourses)
  • Visualizing Identity
    • continuing process of adjusting various facets of identity to fit with sometimes clashing surroundings
    • “The affective communities that the diaspora re-imagines are not unanchored in locality, but rather are powerfully shaped by the transnational circuits of media, capital, and politics” (368)
  • Masala Remix
    • “the transnational circulation of cultural products not only produces an endless feedback loop, but…also the visuality of film makes possible an alternative articulation of community” (369)
      • this pertains to how film as a visual medium lets viewers actually create a new definition of imagined community, in addition to continuing to spread ideas of culture among the various native and diasporic groups
    • “Rather than assert the need for one particular set of affiliations, the shared language of media cultures permits the films to effect an unstable reconciliation across differences” (371)
      • media like Bollywood films today deliberately leave the final message ambiguous as to allow for diverse audiences to relate to whichever elements they feel closest to
  • Bridging Cultures
    • Bollywood films more and more often aim to “reveal the multiple ways in which global is embedded in the local” (372)
    • Moorti reiterates how the “diasporic optic” allows for a more complex illustration of simultaneous elements of identity vacillating between self/other on a daily basis; more autobiographical/individualized demonstration of experiences heightens the intimacy of this difference

Article: “Indian Films and Nigerian Lovers: Media and the Creation of Parallel Modernities” (Larkin)

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**the significance of this article/study is to show an example of another reception study involving Bollywood’s globalization in a part of the world where there has been an overall welcoming attitude towards these films despite a lack of Indian diaspora in the population**

  • Bollywood films as providing a platform for the Hausa ( to explore a possible world very different from their own
  • “Indian films offer Hausa viewers a way of imaginatively engaging with forms of tradition different from their own at the same time as conceiving of a modernity that comes without the political and ideological significance of that of the West” (407)
    • like many of the motivations of other Bollywood studies, Larkin’s is based on the causes behind this interaction of cultures that circumvents Western involvement
  • Parallel Modernities
    • Larkin defines this as: “the coexistence in space and time of multiple economic, religious, and cultural flows that are often subsumed within the term ‘modernity'” (407)
    • differs from Appadurai’s idea of “alternative modernities” in that the former does not necessarily assume a dislocated population as being a crucial factor in the creation of such a modernity
    • the binary frameworks used historically to analyze post-colonial culture are obsolete now; needs to be a more multifaceted system of analysis –> even this word “post-colonial” suggests (WRONGLY) that there was a defining closed period of colonialism that all other time periods relate back to in some way
    • Larkin bases much of his analysis by pointing to Appadurai’s ideas of how media influences various audience’s interpretations of their own realities; adding imaginary aspects to the observable actuality
    • “The popularity of Indian films rests on this delicate balance of being situated between Nigerian ‘tradition’ and Western ‘modernity,’ offering a mediating space for postcolonial Hausa viewers from which they may reflect on and consider the nature of contemporary social change” (410)
  • Indian Films and Hausa Viewers
    • lack of much data relating to Bollywood film distribution in Nigeria has contributed to many scholars ignoring this interplay until recent times
    • different reception of “masala” in Bollywood films by Western audiences vs. Nigerian audiences: the latter is much less likely to condemn the genre as a failure to live up to Western filmic standards/approaches
    • the format that many Bollywood films use (with constant allusions to mythical/religious tropes) has allowed for its growing popularity in Nigeria, despite linguistic/cultural differences
    • Nandy argues, in terms as relevant for Nigerians as they are for Indians, that Indian films are successful with Indian masses because despite their spectacle and rich settings they are based in a moral universe of action that is grounded in a traditional world view” (413)
    • mid 1970s shift of Indian filmic style/music to reflect more cosmopolitanism and Westernization was paralleled with Nigerian industrial shifts related to oil production; time of struggle in relation to how Nigerian viewers identified with Bollywood
  • Imagination, Narrative, and Social Change
    • especially in relation to the institution of marriage, Indian films have provided an escape/fantasy for Hausa, who have similar wedding traditions; film allows people to grapple with real issues in an acceptable form
  • Youth and Marriage in Contemporary Kano
    • industrial shifts in Nigeria have led to a growing resistance among Hausa youth involving customs of marriage
    • Hausa books (soyayya) and Bollywood films have long explored the possibility of romantic fantasies
    • “Indian films [succeeded] only by engaging with issues that were meaningful to Hausa viewers yet at the same time providing enough of a difference for alternative resolutions to be possible…[revealing] the intertextual presence of Indian films” (418)
  • Market Literature in the Vernacular: The Rise of SOYAYYA Books
    • littatafan soyayya = love stories; first came about from Kano, a cultural center in northern Nigeria; mostly target youth with content and themes of love
    • seen as a social movement to counter many existing restrictions involving marriage, especially as enforced on young Hausa women
    • Larkin mentions “the complicated ways in which transnational media flows become incorporated into individual experience and affect larger social constructions such as gender” (423-424)
    • quick summary of two soyayya books (p425); many soyayya books serve to put a rebellious spin on existing Hausa traditions/attitudes; very melodramatic/sensational; they often show intergenerational conflicts revolving around ideas of modernity and tradition (very similar to Bollywood tropes)
    • “the mass culture of soyayya books and Indian films develops the process of ambiguity by presenting various resolutions of similar predicaments in thousands of narratives extending over many years” (429)
  • Soyayya Books, Youth, and Social Change: The Controversy
    • these books have led to an evolution in the way that Hausa (mainly young women) approach situations of romance; these cultural productions have led to real social change in gender relations
  • Conclusion
    • important point by Larkin: “For Hausa viewers, Indian films have been situated in cultural space that sands outside the binary distinctions between tradition and modernity, Africa and the West, resistance and domination. The images of modernity they offer are mediated through a concern for maintaining traditional social relations and so they run parallel to, similar yet different from, the modernity offered by Westernization” (433)
    • yet reductionism by many scholars historically has led to a lack of acknowledgment of this significant cultural interplay between India and Nigeria
    • “Indian films are popular because they provide a parallel modernity, a way of imaginatively engaging with the changing social basis of contemporary life that is an alternative to the pervasive influence of a secular West” (434)

Article: “Media Capital: Towards the Study of Spatial Flows” (Curtin)

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  • scholars must restructure the network of media flows to a more multidirectional & multifaceted format
  • as the nation-state’s autonomy becomes secondary to the rise of interdependence of nations, a new framework must be used: “contemporary television is transcending frontiers & disrupting conventional structures of domination” (203)
  • “media capitals” as being central hubs in global webs of information flow
  • **Saskia Sassen’s idea of global cities –> is this something I should look into?**
    • especially in the context of historical/economic processes behind this attainment by some and not others
  • being a media capital does NOT imply total domination, but rather more like a well-known platform where cultural interactions & exchanges take place
  • Chicago and Hollywood
    • competition between the two to be seen as media capital of US
    • geographical roles of each; Chicago as more plugged into the eastern US network while Hollywood was a center for film talent
    • yet in 1950s there was a shift to Hollywood (centralization) as hub for virtually all media operations
  • Neo-Network Hollywood
    • nowadays, ntwks slowly starting to consider overseas audience (mvmt beyond “national” configurations)
    • shift from monopolistic set-up to a bigger variety of channels/paths
    • Hollywood as more of meeting point for many places/players rather than the source of all production
  • Hong Kong Television
    • broadcast arrived in 1967; as British colonial power waned, Hong Kong grew stronger as nexus for Cantonese/Chinese media production
    • **consider how India’s post-independence period influenced media infrastructural growth**
  • Neo-Network Hong Kong
    • as tech advancements occur, a more diverse pattern of distribution becomes feasible
    • ** Samuel Huntington (1993) and Joseph Straubhaar (1997): their work related to geopolitics in post-Cold War era & transnational media flow**
  • Conclusion
    • “The study of media capital directs our attention to complex interactions among a range of flows (economical, demographical, technological, cultural, ideological) that operate at a variety of levels (local, national, regional, global)” (222)

M@L, Ch 2: Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy

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  • today’s interactions are much more protean than before (no longer restricted to big groups w/ financial backing)
  • “the forces of cultural gravity seemed always to pull away from the formation of large-scale ecumenes, whether religious, commercial, or political, toward smaller-scale accretions of intimacy and interest” (28) –> significance of the decentralization of cultural exchange!
  • Marshall McLuhan’s “global village” assumes a certain closeness/kinship that doesn’t exist today, despite tech potential for closeness
  • “one of the central ironies of the politics of global cultural flows, especially in the arena of entertainment and leisure [is that] it plays havoc with the hegemony of Eurochronology” (30)
    • instead of one dominant perspective of history, there are now many more origins for stories/experiences/chronologies to start…therefore the chance for many more conversations to occur without the Euro-supervision that was assumed in the past (i.e. India w/ Hungary creating its own dialogue & historical dev)
  • shift away from linear history towards a more fluid network/map; even the way that culture is formed (type of “uprooted” identity = flexibility of construction of reality w/ circulation of images)
  • Homogenization and Heterogenization
    • “What these arguments (referring to the claim of globalization = Americanization) fail to consider is that at least as rapidly as forces from various metropolises are brought into new societies they tend to become indigenized in one or another way” (32)
      • this reminds me of glocalization (not sure which person/group came up with that term)
    • the older models of info flows are obsolete now; imagined communities are now woven into existing infra/pol systems
    • **What does A mean by “disjunctures between economy, culture, & politics” (33) –>I think this is answered partially below in the explanation of the different “scapes”, but: the fact that there are so many possibilities of exchange points means that there are a lot more disconnections/etc
    • 5 dimensions of cultural flows: ethnoscapes, mediascapes, technoscapes, financescapes, ideoscapes
    • Ethnoscape: “the landscape of persons who constitute the shifting world in which we live” (33)
    • Technoscape: “the global configuration, also ever fluid, of technology and the fact that technology, both high and low, both mechanical and informational, now moves at high speeds across various kinds of previously impervious boundaries” (34)
      • remember, technology is ALWAYS linked somehow to the mvmt/circulation of money
    • Financescape: “the disposition of global capital is now a more mysterious, rapid, and difficult landscape to follow than ever before” (34)
    • Mediascape: “both…the distribution of the electronic capabilities to produce and disseminate information (newspapers, magazines, television stations, and film-production studios), which are now available to a growing number of private and public interests throughout the world, and to the images of the world created by by these media” (35)
      • complex experiences being captured in symbols/pictures that are easily transferable and “recreated”…but at what cost to the originals?
    • Ideoscape: “concatenations of images [related to] the ideologies of states and the counterideologies of movements explicitly oriented to capturing state power or a piece of it” (36)
    • “the fluidity of ideoscapes is complicated in particular by the growing diasporas”  (37): I can tie this to the shifting codes of Indian film songs and the idea of interpretation
    • A also mentions deterritorialization as one symptom of this disjuncture
    • weakening nation-state means more countermvmts (more disconnections)
    • flows of commodities also following new paths
  • The Work of Reproduction in an Age of Mechanical Art
    • the  “transgenerational stability of knowledge” (43)  from the past no longer exists; constant negotiation of inter-relations (as dislocation increases)
    • cultural reproduction within new global context = very sporadic, always changing
  • Shape and Process in Global Cultural Formations
    • A asserts that the models of analysis must change to be relevant w/ these disjunctures
    • we must remember that cultural forms are converging (can no longer see them as separate/isolated/autonomous)
    • the chaotic mvmt of ppls will only increase; such interactions are “context-dependent” (47)

Article: “Theorizing Cyberspace” (Mitra/Watts)

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“Theorizing Cyberspace: The Idea of Voice Applied to Internet Discourse” – Ananda Mitra & Eric Watts

-found in GB Ch 14

**need to read/summarize/analyze**

Article: “Characteristics of the WWW Text” (Mitra)

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“Characteristics of the WWW Text: Tracing Discursive Strategies” – Ananda Mitra

-found in GB Ch 15

**need to read/summarize/analyze**

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