The Public Space

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The Public space as we know it, almost always involve a form of media broadcast. When we are sitting awkwardly in a medical centre waiting room, there is a television playing a morning breakfast show or infomercial or it’s a news program. This screen that we are all watching is an element that we are all familiar and have freedom with in the private space. So when we start bringing these technologies into the public space what rules and ethics and codes of practice are expected when sharing this space. I found myself asking the same question the other day when I was in the gym. The gym a place of health and fitness, a place where we turn to for our well- being is also a public space that is having a hard time balancing the ethics and privacy that we expect.  I first go on the cycle’s machine and while I look around, the gym is relatively busy most of the people on the cycles are glancing at the television screens on the wall in front of. Channel 9 is playing on one screen and channel 7 is playing on the other, both with closed captions on as there is music playing over the gym speakers. The music is more stimulating than the boring networks breakfast shows however it begs the question the need for these screens. I find myself also watching the TV’s on the wall, struggling to understand what is actually happening, though it almost has a hypnotising effect on me. As described in the lecture for this week, the TV is an ambient object in this environment.

The TV is not the only screen culprit I witnessed. People using their mobile phones in public spaces have become an ordeal for many. I look around and see people watching YouTube videos while running on the treadmills, people texting and people taking selfies in the gym mirror (probably to post about their current whereabouts). This is a cultural trend that we all now seem to take part in, which is taking selfies and feeling the need to document and broadcast every single moment in our lives on social media.

As I’m taking conducting my ethnography in this public space, I must be aware of ethics. Ethics are important in a public space as the privacy and identity of my subjects must be kept safe.  The type of ethnography I’m conducting is participant observation; this is a type of qualitative research. So when taking photographs I must be careful not to breach the privacy of my subjects.

http://www.theherald.com.au/story/2353028/opinion-candid-photos-ethical-dilemma-in-internet-age/

Some top ethics in public space photography include:

  • Don’t harass or make people feel uncomfortable when trying to photograph.
  • If someone asks not be photographed, this MUST be respected.
  • Do not use somebody’s photograph to publish or exploit in any way.

Interesting fact, when a photo of you is uploaded to social media, like Facebook, you can claim ownership over that photo; however Facebook has the copyright of that photo.

Lost in Translation

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The Australian ABC TV show Kath and Kim was an Australian Cultural phenomenon. One of Australia’s most successful comedy shows. It was filmed as a single camera, a fly on the wall style show following the lives of a mother and daughter in suburban Melbourne. The show dealing with middle aged relationships, children, friendships and the day to day interactions of typical Australian people.

It’s not quite a sitcom and not quite a mocumentary, though its use of voice overs, real locations, attention to detail and deadpan humour make it a classic Australian comedy that audiences, not only here in Australia yet around the world fell in love with.

So in 2008, the Aussie series was transformed and renamed into an all American series, with the original creators, Jane Turner and Gina Riley respectively who both played original Kath and Kim serving as producers. The show was thought to be a hit in the United States.

However this was not the case. The show was destroyed by critics and eventually cancelled after one season. Though why did this remake not work?

The show was just going off the success of other U.S remakes of TV shows such as The Office from UK and Ugly Betty from Colombia. These remakes used the same format as their counterparts, just with Americanised backgrounds and culture.

What didn’t translate with American Kath and Kim?

It was basically the whole concept of the show. Kath and Kim doesn’t have significant plotlines or drama, it relies on its character developments, Its Australian slang and hidden idioms used in dialogue.

Phrases like

“Give it a bone”
“I’ve got a feeling in my waters”

and “Clutching at spanners”

Many of these phrases are understood by Australian viewers, and add to the shows character.

What sets Kath and Kim apart is it emphasises the difference in American and Australian cultures even though the use of many elements such as celebrity gossip and shopping centres, commercial products and brand are quite culturally American.

Much like other iconic Australian productions such as the films ‘The Castle’ and ‘Muriel’s wedding’, it is the Australian cultural elements that make it work so well. This is what Kath & Kim also holds. It represents the Australian lifestyle in a parody style that it is extremely difficult for people of other cultures to understand. The Cultural elements of Kath and Kim cannot be succumbed by cultural homogenisation.

Cultural Homogenisation being the aspect of culture being globalised and less diversified so that it fits across many countries.

So in hindsight, it is extremely difficult to capture and translate a narrative that has such cultural roots to another country and remove its elements to satisfy a new audience. Sometimes its best to leave these shows to their authenticity.

Welcome to Nollywood

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No this isn’t Hollywood nor is it Bollywood, but it is Nollywood. Nollywood is the film industry of Nigeria. It is also the second largest film industry in the world, in terms of yearly distribution of films, just behind Bollywood and ahead of Hollywood since 2009. Nollywood was a 3 Billion dollar industry in 2014.

For such a big industry it has probably been around for a long time right?
No not exactly.

Nollywood film making began in the early 1990’s when a Nigerian salesman shot a straight to video film ‘Living on Bondage’, on a budget of just $12,000 went on to sell over a million copies. This launched the Nollywood film industry today at its production of straight to video films.

Not a single Nollywood film has been to the theatres.

How is this so?

In the late 1980’s to early 90’s Nigeria’s Capital, Lagos and other African cities became highly dangerous areas of crime and as a result, people wouldn’t leave their houses at night, thus forcing entertainment venues such as movie theatres to close down. People were watching films at home. Films imported from Western cultures or India. Now there are up to 1000 Nollywood films being churned out each year.

The most important aspect of Nollywood is that its films have strong narratives of Nigerian culture.

Nollywood films often reflect on economic, political and cultural transformation in Nigeria. This helps gives Nigerians a sense of cultural identity.  The highest grossing Nigerian film ‘Osuofia in London’ made in 2003 displays the current trend in Nollywood of ‘hybridisation’ of culture. It follows the adventure of Osuofia a poor rural hunter and his travels to London to collect his dead brother’s inheritance. The film displays many themes of clash of Nigerian and British cultures, especially in a scene where Osuofia is trying to order food at a fast food outlet. Osuofia plays a young, childlike character, a simple Nigerian rural worker, who is now being seduced by the wealth and glamour of London.

wgirl1A culturally significant scene in this film takes place, when Osuofia is walking down the street and notices a young woman wearing a skirt sitting on the steps with her legs slightly open, he walks up to her and closes her legs. She is taken off guard and shouts at him. Osuofia explains he is offended with how she was sitting and offended with her reaction towards his assistance. This scene is an emphasis of cultural misunderstanding and shows how his Nigerian background and morals are very different in Western culture.

The constant contrast of cultures also displays the cultural imperialism effect that the western culture has on Nigerian culture. Though is this a common theme in Nollywood films, the aspirations of a ‘better life’ usually in another world, which London is depicted to be.

Photo 1: http://www.arogundade.com/Resources/nollywood-nigeri.jpeg

Photo 2: http://africa.wisc.edu/hybrid/2009/07/07/nollywood-osuofia-in-london/#more-203