Multicultural analysis of the impact of increasingly globalized
November 15, 2001
Introduction to Media,
Sex, Violence, and Drugs in the Global Village by Yahya Kamalipour
and Kuldip R. Rampal (2001, Rowman & Littlefield)
Long before Marshall McLuhan
had proclaimed the impending emergence of the "Global Village"
as a result of the development of modern communication technologies, controversial
American author Herbert Schiller was already warning about the social implications
of the expanding Western culture through Hollywood movies and American television
programming. Writing in Mass Communication and American Empire in 1969,
Schiller quoted Wilson P. Dizard, a former United States Information Agency,
as saying that "American TV products, for better or worse, are setting
the tone for television programming throughout the world... The United States
now leads all other countries combined twice over as a program exporter."
Dizard, noting that American movies and television programming were being
widely exported around the world, said that the prime time programming schedule
of a typical Australian television station is "virtually indistinguishable
from that of a station in Iowa or New Jersey." In Mexico, for example,
"programming is a carbon copy of the United States network fare...
U.S. shows dominate Mexican prime time, right through the evening."
The U.S. program suppliers, said Schiller, "are willing to distribute
their wares at lower than production costs (sometimes at only a tiny fraction
of cost) because the foreign sales are bonus revenues, profits made from
programs which have already more than covered their production costs."
Such a "dumping" of American programming overseas, said Schiller,
"further discourages domestic program production in all but the richest
Schiller noted that the implications of the cultural influences brought
about by American programming were far-reaching, especially for developing
peoples of the world. "Everywhere local culture is facing submersion
from the mass-produced outpourings of commercial broadcasting in the United
States," he said, adding, "To foster consumerism in the poor world
[through American entertainment programming] sets the stage for frustration
on a massive scale." Schiller graphically outlined the nature of frustration
facing youth in poor countries as a result of "uncontrolled exposure
to Western culture." He noted:
Young people have at their disposition leisure occupations designed
for the youth of capitalist countries: detective novels, penny-in-the-slot
machines, sexy photographs, pornographic literature, films banned to those
under sixteen, and above all alcohol. In the West, the family circle, the
effects of education and the relatively high standard of living of the
working classes provide a more or less efficient protection against the
harmful action of these pastimes. But in an African country, where mental
development is uneven, where the violent collision of two worlds has considerably
shaken old traditions and thrown the universe of the perceptions out of
focus, the impressionability and sensibility of the young Africans are
at the mercy of the various assaults made upon them by the very nature
of Western culture. His family very often proves itself incapable of showing
stability and homogeneity when faced with such attacks.
On the eve of the dawn of a new century, the global village is a reality
made possible by the communication revolution -- satellite and cable television,
multinational media conglomerates such as those of Rupert Murdock and TIME-Warner
communications, and, increasingly, the Internet. The editors of this proposed
book project, having traveled to many countries on at least five continents,
have seen first-hand the reality of the pervasiveness of the American culture
through movies and television programming. American television is practically
everywhere and young people are tuning it in at a viewing scale unparalleled
in the ratings levels of indigenous programming. When the Singapore Broadcasting
Corporation, for example, canceled MTV for contractual reasons in 1994,
young Singaporeans spoke out in frustration and rejected an alternative
local music video program as "unexciting." MTV has not only been
a vehicle for the globalization of American music but has attracted a young
audience throughout the world, including in such countries as Saudi Arabia,
Iran, Kenya, Chile, and so on.
And in India, as a result of the government's "open skies"
policy since the introduction of economic liberalization in 1991 Australian
media mogul Rupert Murdock's STAR-TV, based in Hong Kong, has become readily
available through hundreds of unregulated cable operations all over urban
India. Practically overnight, millions of Indian television viewers, long
used to the government-run TV stations' staid educational programming and
dramas based on tiresome Indian mythology, found themselves tuning in to
the likes of "Baywatch," "Dallas" and "Dynasty."
In a land where kissing has never been allowed in Indian movies or television
programming, TV viewers could now experience the "sex and violence"
culture long decried even in the West. Further globalization of television
has brought scores of additional channels to Indian viewers, especially
since Indian laws do not bar people from setting up their own satellite
dishes. Even in countries where satellite receiving dishes are illegal (e.g.,
Iran and Saudi Arabia), millions of people disguise their satellite receiving
dishes so that they can view Western and non-Western satellite television
channels, including STAR TV, Z-TV, MTV, CNN, SKY-TV, and others.
Although Indians of all ages have been fascinated with Western television,
a variety of articles and ratings surveys indicate that the youth of India
are particularly enamored with Western television and cultural values that
it projects. According to the International Communication Bulletin, MTV
and VH-1 are the most popular channels among teenagers in India followed
by channels carrying dramas and movies. Programming that typically carries
advisories for parents in the United States so as to protect their children
is routinely available from Western channels in India without any such advisories.
Crabtree and Malhotra, writing in the Fall 1966 issue of the International
Communication Bulletin, say that "early indications suggest that the
presence of Western programming via satellite has had some influence on
the social discourse of middle class Indian youth."
One such indication, which seems to confirm Schiller's concerns about
the harmful effects of Western television on youth in developing countries,
comes from a Reuters news story in 1995. The story said that frustrated
with the increasingly promiscuous ways of their teenage children exposed
to Western television, residents of a high-rise apartment building in Bombay
dumped their television sets in tandem out of their windows. A Washington
Post story on June 19, 1998, reported from India that the state government
in Maharashtra, with Bombay as its capital, has "empowered its culture
minister to police sexually suggestive lyrics in movies and music video
This book will examine the implications of the pervasiveness of the Western
culture, especially American culture, in several countries around the world.
This topic will be explored within the framework of the often unique political
and media policy factors present in different countries. For example, does
India's democratic political system, which by nature points to an open skies
and liberal media policy, exacerbate the negative effects of the often permissive
offerings of Western television and movies? At the same time, for example,
does Singapore's authoritarian political system and the resulting protective
media policy lessen the negative influences of the Hollywood fare?
More specifically, this volume is intended to achieve the following objectives:
1) To present a multicultural analysis of the impact of increasingly
globalized Western media in the areas of sex, violence and drugs around
2) To discuss whether the adverse effects of "cultural imperialism"
projected by media scholars decades ago are becoming evident in diverse
cultures in this age of media globalization.
3) To discuss whether the political ideology factor exacerbates or mitigates
the effect of media in the global village in the areas of sex, violence
and drugs around the world.
4) To discuss the implications of the effects of media globalization
for media policy makers around the word.
This book should be of interest to general readers, particularly students,
teachers, and researchers in a variey of disciplines, including mass communication,
international communication, intercultural communication, international
relations, cultural studies, and journalism.
Dr. Yahya R. Kamalipour is professor and head of the Department of
Communication & Creative Arts at Purdue University Calumet, Hammond,
Indiana. For more information, please visit his web site at kamalipour.com.