Free Essay Sample «Impact of Globalization on African Film Society»

«Impact of Globalization on African Film Society»

The African film industry has been greatly affected by globalization. This phenomenon brought both negative effects and positives impacts in almost every sphere of life. The major improvements were performed in such areas as communication, transport, and technology, however globalization has negatively affected Africa in terms of culture. It is important to note that one of the most impacted industries in Africa is the African Film Industry. It has lost more than it has gained from the impacts of globalization. The widespread use of televisions to reach out the African markets has contributed to the continued erosion of the African culture, making African films appear irrelevant, perceived as low quality and not entertaining. Globalization has affected African film society in terms of language usage, film content, technology, marketing networks, stereotyping, structure, and standards.

Language Usage

Because of globalization, English has been spread all over the world, making the African languages irrelevant. Consequently, Africans themselves have been made to believe that there is low quality in African films as they are mostly made in the African languages (Anao). As a result, while the African film makers try to address their audience in a language they can easily connect, globalization forces African film makers to shift from their language to the “internationally accepted one,” thus making the African films fail to reach their intended viewers. For example, this has been seen in many Nigerian films, where actresses and actors try to mix their native languages and English just to appeal to some of their viewers. Further, because of the growing gap between generations, the issue of language becomes more important, as majority of Africans abandon their local dialect to embrace foreign languages. This, to a great extent, leaves African films with less percentage of the market, meaning that the gains would not match the costs of production (Anao).

Film Content

Another factor that has affected local films is the content difference between western movies and local films. While African films represent daily life in the local setting, western films provide more adulterated view, thus changing the perception of African viewers on African films (Daramola and Oyinade). There is also a tendency to make African films embrace the same obscene content and non-African dress codes in the attempt to match the western counterparts. Due to lack in censor control, obscene films enter and infiltrate the local African markets, hence diverting the attention of African viewers from local content. It is also evident that local production has its own challenges and western countries knew this and took advantage of the situation (Daramola and Oyinade). They first reduced the world into a global village and since they gained a competitive advantage in the sector, where they could produce quality content that captured the target audience’s attention entirely. In addition, because of lack in proper skills and technology, it is possible that investors who flock the African countries would take over the production of African films and this means that they would control, what is produced (Daramola and Oyinade). Consequently, this totally gives them the opportunity to mess up the African film industry.

Technological Differences

Globalization is synonymous with technological advancement. Western countries have more greatly advanced in technology than Africa. The equipment they use to produce their films cannot be easily acquired by financially unstable local film producers in Africa (Dominique). Therefore, this has also contributed to the downfall of local film industries in Africa. As mentioned earlier, once the audience is provided with great quality films from developed states and low quality films from local producers, it may make up their mind on what type of film they have to watch in future. Evidently, a person would not pick a low quality film over a high quality one and it explains, why the African film industry has been stalling. It follows therefore, that because of technological backwardness in Africa, western film powerhouses would easily penetrate the African markets due to advancement in production technology and means of transport and communication (Dominique). In addition, because of technological differences between African and western countries, the latter would have an upper hand when it comes to advertisements and marketing, which is a major factor, when it comes to commanding a specific market. It is true because Africans always depend on most of the strategies learnt from the westerners.

Marketing Networks

Globalization is a western concept aimed at expanding their own ideologies beyond their boarders. Therefore, they created new markets through the imposition of the notion of globalization, and established their own networks. It was easily performed, because they had all the resources they needed to achieve their aim. They also have media powerhouses that reach to the farthest existing countries and have acquired local labor, which helps in communication with the audience. In addition, establishment of marketing networks makes it impossible for African films to compete with the western one (Dominique). Western countries have distribution channels that have existed since the early nineteenth century, thus with globalization, they can easily supply anything they want, for instance, their films. They have established agencies that are either privately owned or belonging to their governments and therefore, the environment they create becomes unfavorable for the marketing of African films.

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Globalization and Stereotyping of Africans

Globalization opened Africa to the whole world. As such, it brought a new culture and mentality into Africa, with which it could not compete. It can be seen in the movie “Mountains of the Moon,” when Burton cannot believe that his counterpart could not discover the source of Nile without any sophisticated equipment (Rafelson 115). This is the main reason, why Africans were forced to change their policies on almost every sector to reflect the thoughts of the westerners. Those, who are skeptical about Africa’s future, have always believed that Africa will never progress either economically, politically, or even democratically and therefore, made the assumption that Africans cannot produce their own films (Anao). Even in films that Africans have managed to feature, they were depicted as very minor characters, such slaves, beggars, the homeless, because the films were directed by western bosses. It can be clearly seen in the movie “The Kitchen Toto” (Hook 334). Consequently, it becomes an uphill task to confidently sell films made by African societies to locals and outside world in general (Daramola and Oyinade).

Western Imperialism

Colonization was thought to be the showcasing of western countries’ ability to control Africans. However, when this form of imperialism was met by African resistance, there had to be another means of maintaining their dictatorship on African affairs (Daramola and Oyinade). As such, through the excuse of globalization, westerners have managed to force new things on Africans. They have imposed on Africans what they consider a safe culture, what constitutes best economic strategies, what makes up acceptable forms of entertainment among other standards that they think everyone ought to embrace regardless of their origin and beliefs. In that process, they have infiltrated African film industry with conditions, on which are present for standard films, standard quality, best language, and setting (Bakari). Since they have resources to implement their plans, they easily manage to control, what is produced, not knowing that Africans also had their own choices and preferences. This has resulted in the acceptance of western culture, as opposed to what globalization ought to be doing - promotion and embracement of diversity.

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Forced Structural Adjustments

Most African governments, as highlighted in the above paragraphs, have experienced numerous problems, especially in the film industry. Such ideas as privatization have infiltrated African economies forcing reduction in, for instance, movie theatres (Cham). Further, western policies being forced down the throats of African government have resulted in excess concentration by African governments on other sectors leaving the film industry with low attention. The resulting effects of neglect by government are that there would be fewer resources set aside for film industries. Because of failure to see the importance of film industry, most facilities created for purposes of entertainment end up being sold to business authorities, who convert them into other profitable establishments, the majority of which are probably distributed or dealt in goods from foreign countries (Muyale-Manenji).

Blind Embracement of Free Trade Concepts

Because western countries have lost direct control of business activities in Africa, they embarked on deceiving Africans to buy the concepts of free trade. Blindly, African countries bought the idea and opened African markets to western goods. While this may not be a bad idea at the beginning, it becomes a big mistake, when the African countries open up their markets to numerous foreign products and having limited access to foreign markets. The result of this unfair trade is that more foreign films would end up cheaply into African markets with no chance for the African products going beyond national borders. In essence, Africa becomes a good place for dumping of cheap foreign movies at the expense of the own culturally sensitive films. In addition, instead of basing their content on African sources, westerners, who have taken advantage of freedom of doing business, bring their own scripts of what they think Africa looks like. Thus, the produced films are a reflection of the desires of Western producers only. A good example of this issue is when Bruce Baresford brings his own novel and produces it in African context by titling “The Making of a Good Man in Africa” (Yates 49). The film does not represent the African reality and just provides the stereotyped vision for the western consumers.

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Global Film Standards and Overdependence on Foreign Funding

Because of the desire to control everything, global movie powerhouses manage to manipulate the industry by setting standards that must be met by all film makers. In most cases, African film makers are at a disadvantageous position as they lack the financial capability to meet the high requirements imposed by western film makers. Consequently, African film makers are forced to seek funding to confirm to these standards. Most of these standards have very minimal relation to the African cultures. They demand that African films should meet the principles, which are more familiar to westerners rather than the Africans (Cham 2000). As a consequence, African films end up marketing western cultures than their own ones. Matters of dress code, the setting of the film, the content, the choice of language among others become more about western countries than African countries as Hook (334) presents his movie to depict the suffering of Britons in the hands of Mau resistance movement. Even characters are made to represent western superiority rather than showing African conservatism.

Conclusion

Therefore, the film industry in Africa has been negatively impacted by globalization. This phenomenon has firstly opened up African markets for easy access by western film makers. Secondly, through globalization, there has been an uncontrolled erosion of African cultural values and principles by foreign film makers to the advantage of the latter. Thirdly, because of globalization, western countries managed to establish strong film marketing and distribution networks that work towards exporting films into Africa than giving African content access to foreign markets. Fourthly, because of their inability to accept and embrace diversity, western forces have ended up forcing the African governments to make structural reforms, most of which have resulted into over concentration on other industries and less attention was paid to film production in Africa. Fifthly, western film makers show that Africa is still behind, hence adversely affecting the progress of the African film industry. Lastly, by setting high standards, notably “global standards,” which is under the concept of globalization, western countries have made it difficult for African film makers to get funding and access western markets.

 

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