Archive for the ‘DVDs’ Category

American Media and Culture Go Global; Even As America’s Image Sours

December 1, 2008

Shortly after the attacks on 9/11, a delegation of high-level media executives, including the heads of every major studio, met several times with White House officials, including at least once with President Bush’s former top strategist, Karl Rove, to discuss ways that the entertainment industry could play a part in improving the image of the United States overseas.

By Tim Arango
The New York Times
One of the central ideas was using “soft power” by spreading American television and movies to foreign audiences, especially in the Muslim world, to help sway public opinion.

There were few tangible results from the meetings — lesser ways of supporting the war on terrorism like public service announcements and packages of free DVDs sent to American soldiers.

But since then, the media companies have gotten what they wanted, even if the White House has not. In the last eight years, American pop culture, already popular, has boomed around the globe while opinions of America itself have soured.

The television program “CSI” is now more popular in France than in the United States. Hollywood movies routinely sell far more tickets overseas than at home. A Russian remake of the TV show “Married With Children” has been so popular that Sony, the producer of the show, has hired back the original writers to produce new scripts for Russia. Even in the Muslim world, American pop culture has spread.

But so far, cultural popularity has not translated into new friends. The latest data from the Pew Global Attitudes Project, released in June, shows that the image of the United States remained negative in the 24 countries in which Pew conducted surveys (although in 10 of those the favorability rating of the United States edged up slightly).

Joseph S. Nye Jr., the Harvard professor who coined the phrase “soft power” in 1989 to refer to the ways beyond military muscle that America influences the world, said that “what’s interesting about the last eight years is that polls show a decline in American attractiveness.”

He added: “But then you ask the follow-up questions and you see that American culture remains attractive, that American values remain attractive. Which is the opposite of what the president has said — that they hate us for who we are and what we believe in.”

Jeffrey Schlesinger, the head of international television at Warner Brothers, had a simpler explanation for the popularity of American entertainment.

“Batman is Batman, regardless….

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Shanghai: Not Lost in Translation

October 21, 2007

Shanghai – By Les Lothringer

There is nothing special about the street I live in, here in Shanghai. Once you move off the glitzy streets like HuaiHai Road or NanJing Road, Shanghai resembles most other “modern” Chinese cities with their concrete block buildings ?endless, featureless and overbuilt.

My small street is a typical Chinese street. Not too far from the police complex and police cars and motorbikes sometimes patrol it. Here few people speak any English. There are no other Westerners. We have some cheap sidewalk cafes, three hairdressers [legitimate], three fruit stalls, a few traders in copy DVD’s [mostly from Russia], one legitimate massage salon and seven brothels. As I said, it is a typical Chinese street.

I’m alone at a small table by one sidewalk cafe eating. A mid-20’s Chinese girl with pretensions about her sits down opposite avoiding face contact. I think – now why don’t you just go and sit inside. You do learn to pick them.

Many Chinese come to this sidewalk cafe, including young girl students from the high school near by, all so chatty. This one is different. She has that irritable, bitchy, condescending air about her that you do see here – girls with issues. In two minds about it, I eventually say in Mandarin, do you speak English? She indicates no with minimum effort.

Some time later her friend comes along and sits down, next to me. The table is so typically quite small and we are seated very close to each other. She acts far more pleasantly. She does speak some English. So we chat. She works in a bank. When my English gets too hard for her, she checks with her friend, who speaks better English! Now she is talking too and there is no stopping her.

The issues one asks me which hotel I live in. I said I lived right here. She repeats the question. Eventually she gets it. Other questions follow about how long I’ve been in China.

Miss Issues seems intent on educating me now. I am already far too over-educated for my own good. She will have to try hard and I am quite keen. I established that both girls are aged 25 and work in the same Chinese bank nearby. She says some very interesting things.

Chinese people are very complex. VERY COMPLEX! OK ?got it. She adds- they are very difficult to understand. Got that too. I say they are not so complex, in fact, quite easy to understand. I think – whenever I hear that a group of people are “complex”, I imagine how neurotic they well could be. No point trying to explain that concept.

She says that foreigners are unable to understand Chinese. This is a telling point from one so basically naive and “young”. I said you are right; most do not. But I do understand Chinese, as I live amongst them and have made an effort to understand them. She is none too keen to accept this.

She raises the conversation stakes. She says that when a Chinese compliments a Westerner, at the bottom of their heart, right at the very bottom, they think the opposite. I say I know this [even though not strictly true of everyone] and what’s more, this means that you are saying that all Chinese are liars. Silence ensues.

It looks like my education lesson is over. A while after she asks me if I could explain to her what a treasury note is. The question comes as no surprise, but then I did say Chinese are not complex.

Both these women live with their parents [= enmeshed, controlling families who infantilize their daughters and more]. They expect to remain there until they marry. They have no boyfriends and never had. I appreciate being instructed by unworldly virgins. She must have read my face. My instructor starts the lesson again. Miss Issues tells me that this is how Chinese live. I point out that this is how some Chinese live and that it is changing. Just last Sunday, a young unmarried couple was sitting with me here at the same table and they were quite open about living together, even though it is strictly illegal. She grudgingly admits that, yes, things are changing in Shanghai.

I just couldn’t resist it. I say ?You know, you two girls must both move out of home, shack up with some Western guys [ideally weight trained alpha-males], learn how to live, stand up to your parents [who will turn on one of their well practiced and most definitely biggest tantrums] and stop them interfering in your lives. Lost in translation.

PS: The chances of these two girls attracting any guys like that are, well, frankly zero.   

Shanghai Exploding With Development, Wealth

China says pirated DVD production lines smuggled in

July 25, 2007

BEIJING (Reuters) – Most of the production lines for pirated DVDs are smuggled into China, and once in the country are hard to find as the factories are carefully hidden from prying eyes, state media said on Wednesday.

China’s failure to protect intellectual property rights for everything from movies to handbags and car parts has been a major irritant in Sino-U.S. and Sino-European relations despite Beijing‘s pledges to crack down.

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