Hollywood Influence on Global Culture
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1. Most aspects of foreign culture, like language, religion, gender roles, and problem-solving strategies, are hard for the casual observer to understand. In what ways do Hollywood movies affect national culture outside the United States? What aspects of U.S. culture do Hollywood films promote around the world? Can you observe any positive effects of Hollywood movies on world cultures? 2. Culture plays a key role in business. In what ways have movies influenced managerial tasks, company activities, and other ways of doing business around the world? Can watching foreign films be an effective way of learning how to do business abroad? Justify your answer. 3. Hollywood movies are very popular abroad, but foreign films are little viewed in the United States.
What factors determine the high demand for Hollywood films? Why are they so popular in Europe, Japan, Latin America, and elsewhere? Why are foreign films so little demanded in the United States? What can foreign filmmakers do to increase demand for their movies in the United States? 4. Worldwide, protectionism of most goods is declining. Do movies constitute a separate category, or should they be treated like any other good? Given the nature of movies, should a country shield and support its own film industry via protectionism? Are there better ways to maintain and enhance a homegrown film industry? Justify your answer.
1. Hollywood films promote all aspects of culture. Everything depicted in the iceberg model below has at one time or another been the subject of a Hollywood film. For example, Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality was a satire on conceptions of beauty; Daniel Day Lewis and Madeline Stowe in Last of the Mohicans, depicted rites of passage, as does Kevin Costner in Dances With Wolves. James Caviezel and Guy Pearce in The Count of Monte Cristo highlight the struggle between cooperation vs. competition. Toby Maguire in Seabiscuit incorporates eye behavior and superior/subordinate relationships; Sarah Jessica Parker in The Family Stone revolves around family relationships. Whether the impact is lasting, is really the question.
*Hollywood movies impact foreign cultural values, i.e. the ‘Americanization’ of global values and beliefs. If they did not, then French officials would not have labeled Jurassic Park a threat to their national identity; Japanese would not have been upset with the mockery in Lost in Translation; Apocalypse Now would not have depicted the Vietnamese as evil, but rather the war itself as the evil thing; and Malaysia would not have banned The Passion of Christ as inappropriate for its Muslim population, only to later permit Christians to view the film.
*Culture refers to learned, shared, and enduring orientations of a society that are expressed in the values, ideas, attitudes, behaviors, and other meaningful symbols and artifacts. Hollywood films affect their audience, both inside and outside of the U.S. The cultural distance may be greater for those outside, thus implying greater change in cultural values. For example, one of the underlying themes of Tom Cruise in the Last Samurai, is competition vs. cooperation; or individualism vs. collectivism. While we may look for validation that our system is superior, the possibility exists that we will also question society’s values.
*Conversational patterns and high/low context environments: Helen Hunt in This Is As Good As It Gets and Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson in Something’s Gotta Give – both of these films ebb and flow between explicit and implicit communication, illustrating the value of clarity. Both the high and low context cultures could assess their own communication styles, and decide to change.
*The Godfather and Pearl Harbor illustrate decision-making patterns. Cultures outside of the U.S. would most likely be impacted by mafia and U.S. military decision-making practices. The list of Hollywood films and their impact outside the U.S. is endless. Any movie that you have seen can be linked to cultural value impact, but the effect may not linger.
*The Lord of the Rings, by J&R Tolkien, is essentially about the struggle between good and evil. However, due to recent global developments, it has been interpreted by many as the war between Christians and Muslims, even though there is no such reference made in either the book or movie.
*There are certain dimensions of culture, like the sense of style or aesthetics that might be influenced by movies, and realize a longer impact.
*Some sensitive dimensions of culture will backfire if attacked, and may beseech strong criticism, i.e. “religion and belief systems”, “social institutions”, or “values and attitudes”.
*Films may affect some cultural aspects, however the deeply ingrained values will not be changed, and thus the impact is minimal at best: Fashion- yes, religion-no.
*More importantly, cultures are not right or wrong, just different. Thus, advocating that Hollywood movies are forcing the Americanization of global values and beliefs, and that this is somehow negative, does not make sense. The choice is left with the audience.
*Hollywood is not as “American” as it once was. The Passion of Christ, funded by its Australian director and filmed in Italy, is a prime example of the Technicolor that globalization has given to an issue that was once black and white.
2.Socialization: The process of learning the rules and behavioral patterns appropriate to one’s given society. This cultural learning is facilitated through film.
Employees are socialized into three overlapping cultures; national culture, professional culture, and corporate culture.
*The influence of professional and corporate culture tends to grow as people are socialized into a profession and workplace.
*Corporate and professional cultures are embedded in national cultures.
*Movies are both dependent and independent variables when it comes to national, professional and corporate cultures. Films both influence and are a result of these three overlapping cultures. As culture permeates business on several levels, invariably, managerial tasks, company activities and worldwide business transactions are mirrored in films, and vice versa, movies capture worldwide business activities and other ways of doing business around the world.
*We emulate role models, whether they perform in films or in corporations. Indeed, we can learn about different cultures and languages recognizing that what is significant in one culture may not be commensurately important in another culture.
*Watching foreign films can be an effective way of learning about:
-Interpersonal exchanges- greeting and parting rituals
-How far apart to stand, what to say, and whether to touch or smile.
-Ceremonies that may vary as a function of the age, gender, and status of the greeter
-Value-chain operations such as product and service design, marketing, and sales
– which must consider the cultural context- Example- red may be beautiful to the Russians; it symbolizes mourning in South Africa.
-Gift-giving rituals- Chrysanthemums are associated with funerals; handkerchiefs suggest sadness; inappropriate items such as knives or scissors imply cutting off the relationship or other negative sentiments.
*Culture matters in international business in areas such as developing products and services; interaction with foreign business partners; selecting foreign distributors; business negotiations; dealing with customers; preparing for trade fairs; and preparing promotional materials.
*Cross-cultural differences complicate workplace issues such as teamwork, employment, pay for performance systems, organizational structures, union-management relationships, and attitudes toward ambiguity. *Movies can serve to clarify international business complexities, and educate the viewer about cross-cultural idiosyncrasies, such as deal-oriented vs. relationship-oriented cultures; monochromic vs. polychromic cultures; high-context vs. low context cultures; individualistic vs. collectivist societies, etc. Managers need to develop proficiencies in dealing with other cultures, and viewing films is one way to accomplish that.
3. *Americans like Hollywood movies because they are made the right way, i.e. the American way. Europeans tend to make more thought-provoking movies. Americans just want their special effects, violence, and sometimes romance. We just want to be entertained, we don’t want to have to ‘think’ during a film (this is not everyone, just the majority). World markets also like such big-budget, entertaining films with the right stuff.
*If you consider how much Americans generally know about other countries and cultures- very little compared to how much the rest of the world knows about the U.S. and other countries! This may also generalize to films. Somehow, Americans seem less curious and knowledgeable of others, than others around the world seem to be of the U.S. Perhaps this is true of films as well.
4. *As former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell remarked, “movies are culture incarnate. It is mistake to view culture as commodities…Cultural industries, aside from their economic impact, create products that are fundamental to the survival of Canada as a society.” This view highlights why governments often engage in “cultural protectionism,” that is, the application of trade barriers that aim to prevent local film industries from being swamped by U.S. imports. *Filmmakers have the right to deliver their ideas and understanding to others. With freedom, also comes responsibility. Freedom means respecting the rights of others. *Protectionism jeopardizes freedom of speech.
It fosters host-country film-makers while reducing individual freedom of choice in terms of the population of films to choose from. *Regulation acts in opposition to the free market. Why not let the invisible hand of the market dictate which films, or other cultural industries should be profitable? Regulation only leads to inefficiencies and away from market economies, a direction not commensurate with global political/economic forces. *One way to mitigate the tension between Hollywood and Europe, might be to form a Film Consortium, which might consist of government authorities, known movie critics, and filmmakers from different European/American perspectives.
This consortium would be charged with identifying whether or not attacks/negative stereotypes were present, and label the movie as potential for cultural conflicts. In this way, those who may be culturally offended have been duly warned. *Better way to sustain and enhance home-grown film industries: Compete under a free-market scenario where competitive advantage is internally-derived with quality films, rather than externally-subsidized through artificial and necessarily temporary measures. Sustainability demands that advantage is earned and not gifted.