Navigating Webtoons 2 Part Podcast Series

Podcast One

Henry Jenkins Convergence of Culture

Webtoons on Naver

The ease of the app:

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Other blogs

Podcast Two

Translation On Webtoons

LINE Webtoon – Women in Digital Comics at SXSW ’16

Contextual Essay

This digital artifact (DA) is a two-part podcast series on Webtoons. I broke my arm and had time away from classes, thus was given a two-part assignment rather than one group and one individual assignment. This assessment structure challenged me to extend my research and brainstorm ideas that were larger than ‘what is Webtoons’. Chris challenged me to think differently and helped me push my limits beyond what I thought I was capable of. This inspired me to consider potential and future research options.

Part One of the podcast series that I created involved the navigation of Webtoons. I broke it down, so it was really simple for listeners. The idea of this podcast is to provide an instructional platform that listeners could follow along to. I want listeners to be able to follow along while I explain how to navigate and use the Webtoons website. I used a very explanatory approach for this podcast because I wanted listeners to be interested – not overwhelmed with the content. By stepping them through what they needed to know, I feel that I can instill confidence into listeners when they use Webtoons for the first time. When creating the podcast, I was thinking about the audience because I originally had feelings of being overwhelmed when looking at Webtoons for the first time as there are so many genres and series to consider. The purpose is to inform listeners and encourage them to engage in the world of Webtoons.
I approached Podcast One by taking an analytical approach to the autoethnography experience. Leon Anderson (2006, p. 378) recognises that an analytical autoethnography evokes emotion and is a reflexive process. I have been able to reflect on my own experiences of using Webtoons and created a podcast that supports these experiences by helping others.

Part Two of the podcast series was a more indepth investigation of the culture of Webtoons rather than how to use it. By looking at translation, women in Webtoons and censorship, I was able to delve into an unknown world that challenged me to think differently and be considerate and accepting of other cultures. The idea of the podcast was to encourage listeners to become more involved via creation or translation of content noting the simplicity, as well as taking an educational and political approach to understanding the culture of Webtoons and Korea. Personally, I found exploring these topics hard because there is not a lot of research completed on Webtoons as it is a new market and platform within the last 10 years. This is where talking to Chris Moore and Brian Yecies, University lecturers, helped because they were able to guide me in a direction and provide me with some insightful information. The simplicity of brainstorming in multiple consultations with Chris gave me the understanding and passion to research further into these topics.
Creating Podcast Two allowed me to take an alternative approach to an analytical autoethnography. A political approach was taken to create Podcast Two. Denzin (2003, p. 258) recognises that a political autoethnography involves the motion of reflexivity, as well as having a moral and political understanding.

Creation of the podcast was quite easy for me as I have worked for a radio station before, so I am used to pre-recording, although I have never created a podcast before. I had to really practice my articulation and record and re-record sections of the podcast because I would start to slur and stumble after a while. Editing was quite easy on the Movavi program that I downloaded. After listening to other podcasts, I was able to put creative twists into the podcasts to break up the seriousness of the content. With podcast two, I realised that the end result is less conversational than podcast one. I read more from the script that I had pre-written because it was much more content heavy and dense compared to podcast one. In podcast two, I was also able to pose more questions to the audience and learnt that I can question the content without having an answer.

Key epiphanies that I had throughout creating this DA were:

  • Genres are the same as western cultures but are more twisted
  • The Webtoons app was much easier to use
  • Within the translation community, I assumed top translation languages would have been English, but that was not the case.
  • Translation into English was not always exact

These key epiphanies allowed me to have an appreciation for the Webtoons world. I have been able to research and have a more thorough understanding of the Korean culture. Genres in the Asian culture seemed to be more twisted and darker compared to what I was used to. It was shocking, but it was a refreshing change to what I was used to. For example, I normally like Rom-Coms, but in Asian Romance, there is a more twisted, controlling, stalker-ish vibe in a few of the Webtoon series.
Comparing the app to the website, the app was considerably easier to use which was a relief after spending hours playing online and getting lost. With the recommended personalised readings as well as the step by step instructions when you first download it, it contributed to the experience being completely different.
The biggest shock for me when I was researching the world of Webtoons, was that English was not the dominant translated language. I was naïve and thought that English was a language spoken by most people around the world. I discovered that languages such as Portuguese, Indonesian, and Mandarin were the most popular. This made me feel quite silly and the bubble that I was living in popped as I remembered that there are many languages other than English that dominate the world.
I spent some time reading Webtoons series to embed myself into the experience and I noticed that translation had significantly different meanings. For example, calling someone your brother in Asian culture means your boyfriend, whereas here in Australia, brother means sibling or a good friend. This was quite confusing until I got to know the characters more and understood the storyline and translation.

As stated in blog post one, I was drawn to the idea of Webtoons when Brian Yecies, University lecturer, lectured on the Webtoons world and the Korean phenomenon. It took some time for me to get excited about this topic and get started, but after plenty of research and a shuffle around of assignments, I soon found an interest in the topic. Brainstorming and consultations with Chris helped immensely to guide me and keep me motivated.

Overall, the two podcasts allowed me to use a structured approach when talking to the audience, helped me identify key epiphanies and has allowed me to think more broadly about the possibility of further research. Before completing this Digital Asia subject, I had no intentions to visit Asian countries but now that I have a more thorough understanding and respect for the culture, I would be more inclined to travel to Asia.

References

Acuna, K 2016, Millions in Korea are obsessed with these revolutionary comics – now they’re going global, Business Insider, last viewed 01 October 2018, <https://www.businessinsider.com.au/what-is-webtoons-2016-2?r=US&IR=T

https://www.quora.com/How-are-South-Korean-webtoons-any-different-from-the-usual-webcomics>.

Anderson, L 2006, Analytical Autoethnography, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Vol. 35, pp. 373 – 395.

Crowd Sourcing Week, 2018, What is Crowd Sourcing, Crowd Sourcing Week, last viewed 11 October 2018, <https://crowdsourcingweek.com/what-is-crowdsourcing/>.

Denzin, K 2003, Performing [Auto]Ethnography Politically, The Review of Education, Pedagogy and Culture Studies, vol. 25, pp. 257 – 278.

Gagging on Sexism, 2014, Captured by Cheese in the Trap, Gagging on Sexism, last viewed 11 October 2018, <https://gaggingonsexism.wordpress.com/2014/01/18/captured-by-cheese-in-the-trap/>.

Jenkins, H 2006, Welcome to Convergence Culture, Henry Jenkins, last viewed 01 October 2018, <http://henryjenkins.org/blog/2006/06/welcome_to_convergence_culture.html>.

Johnson, R 2016, 42% Of LINE Webtoon’s Comic Creators Are Female – And Half Are Read By Women, Bleeding Cool, last view 12 October 2018, <https://www.bleedingcool.com/2016/02/29/42-of-line-webtoons-comic-creators-are-female-and-half-are-read-by-women/>.

Krush, A 2018, Google vs. Naver: Why can’t Google Dominate Search in Korea?, Link-Assistant.com, last viewed 01 October 2018, <https://www.link-assistant.com/blog/google-vs-naver-why-cant-google-dominate-search-in-korea/>.

Naver, 2018, Naver Search Engine, Naver, last viewed 01 October 2018, <https://www.naver.com/>.

LINE Webtoons, 2014, LINE Webtoon Launches Challenge League, a New Discovery Feature for Webcomic Creators and Aspiring Artists, Cision, last viewed 01 October 2018, <https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/line-webtoon-launches-challenge-league-a-new-discovery-feature-for-webcomic-creators-and-aspiring-artists-283316621.html>.

LINE Webtoons, 2016, LINE Webtoon – Women in Digital Comics at SXSW ’16, last viewed 18 October 2018, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7agHWASUzNw>.

Webtoons, 2017, Webtoon’s New Patreon pledge program, Webtoons, last viewed 11 October 2018, <https://www.webtoons.com/en/notice/detail?noticeNo=576>.

Webtoons, 2018, Webtoons: Become a Contributor, Webtoons, last viewed 11 October 2018, <https://translate.webtoons.com/guide>.

Webtoons, 2018, Webtoon’s Pledge to Discover x Patreon Creators for January, Webtoons, last viewed 11 October 2018, <https://www.webtoons.com/en/notice/detail?noticeNo=671&page=2>.

Wikipedia, 2018, Gender and Webcomics, Wikipedia, last view 12 October 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_and_webcomics>.

Word Finder, 2018, ‘Webtoon’, Word Finder.com, last viewed 01 October 2018, <https://findwords.info/term/webtoon>.

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The methodology of my Webtoons Discovery

Autoethnography: The approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural (ethno) (Ellis, 2011). We have all become quite familiar with the term autoethnography, but now its time to break it down and understand the methodology to the experience. There are multiple authors that take different approaches to the process of creating an autoethnography. For example; Ellis (2011), discusses that his methodology is based on experiences, epiphanies and sharing the analysed lived experiences that one undergoes. Denzen (2003), on the other hand, takes a more political approach to autoethnographies recognising that there is ‘elements of freedom, critical imagination and reflexivity’. Anderson (2006), an analytical autoethnographer states that to write successful autoethnographies you must ‘engage in reflexive social analysis and self-analysis and that it requires the researcher to be visible, active and reflexively engaged in the experience’.

Each author’s methods are different and are in no way wrong. It depends on how you want to approach creating your autoethnography. If you want to critically analyse your situation then Anderson’s methodology would be for you, but if you want to take a more creative approach to your experience then Ellis’ methodology is useful. Politically analysing situations and understanding why things are shaped the way they are in a culture means that Denzen’s approach to autoethnographies would be appropriate.

Since I recently broke my arm and had to have a few weeks off from classes, I am now completing a two-part autoethnography instead of one group and one individual assignment. I will be exploring the world of Webtoons more in-depth than originally planned and breaking down the structure through Ellis’ methodology concept and looking into further research through Denzen and Anderson’s methodologies (still yet to be decided as to which research avenue I will be taking).

Screenshot (123).png

To understand Webtoons, I will be creating a two-part podcast series. The first podcast will delve deep into the unknown world of Webtoons. I will break down Webtoons bit by bit so those who are new to Webtoons can fully immerse themselves without becoming overwhelmed with the amount of content that is available. The first podcast will give you all the tips and tricks to navigate through the Webtoons rabbit hole that I was once lost in. The second podcast will explore a more in-depth concept of Webtoons and how the content in the industry has become what it is today – this will take a more political and analytical approach to understand Webtoons.

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Topics that are of interest already involve; South Korean culture and laws, censorship, the sexuality and representation of women in webtoons and growing trends of webtoons and crowdsourcing translation.

Research shows that women in South Korean are meant to be submissive and to maintain harmony (K4E Editor, 2015), but throughout reading different episodes of Webtoons, women are often represented as the ones with power and are seen as the heroes. Song (2016), says that media across the world is “frozen in a time-warp of obsolete and damaging representations” (p. 9). Women have also been heavily sexualised in some Webtoon series and while it is not accepted in South Korea on a national level, especially among K-Pop bands, sexualisation is accepted on an international level. This means that the Webtoons that I view here, in Australia, in my bedroom, on my laptop, may not be the same as those who live in South Korea.

There are also growing trends in the popularity of Webtoon series across the world, not just in South Korea. I briefly touched on this in my last post and will be discussing this topic further with Brian Yecies, a University of Wollongong lecturer. In my discussion, I hope will uncover more on the growing trends of Webtoons across the world and the concept of crowdsourcing translation.

References

Anderson, L 2006, Analytical Autoethnography, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, vol. 35, pp. 373 – 392.

Denzen, N.K 2003, Performing [Auto] Ethnography Politically, The Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, vol. 25, pp. 257–278.

Ellis, C Adams, T.E Bochner, A.P, 2011, Autoethnography: an Overview, Forum: Qualitative Social Reseach, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 1-12.

K4E Editor, 2015, Traditional Role for Women, Korean 4 Expats, last viewed 4 October 2018, <https://www.korea4expats.com/article-traditional-role-of-women-korea.html>.

Song, B 2016, Seeing is Believing: Content Analysis of Sexual Content in Korean Music Videos, Southern Utah University, pp. 1-60.

The new era: Webtoons

Independent Autoethnographies is something that I have experienced in another class – Communication across Cultures (ELL230). Although I have completed an autoethnography before, the Digital Asia approach seems much different as I have learned that there are analytical and creative approaches to writing an autoethnography. Previously, I have written an analytical autoethnography which relied heavily on other research and the reflection of my experiences in a standard essay format. With different ways to approach the Digital Asia autoethnography, I will be able to explore more options and platforms to share my research and experiences.

Sitting in my Global Media Interventions class, Monday morning of week 6 and our lecture is on Webtoons, transformation into the global space and the new era of platformisation. Webtoons history was introduced and I learnt that they were created in South Korea in the 2000’s where comics became digital and online (Yecies, B 2018). It’s the practice of using a mobile scrolling device with the flow of imagery to make a story. The lecturer Brian Yecies (2018), has completed studies on the popularity of Webtoons across countries. Statistics show that Webtoons has a large fan base in Japan and China and it is increasingly growing in Indonesia, Malaysia and even in the United States (Yecies, B 2018).

In my own research time, I googled “Webtoons” and I clicked on the first link. It was in another language and before clicking translate, I had a quick look around to see what I could discover without the English language at the forefront. I didn’t get very far until I was rummaging around in a rabbit hole with like Alice in Wonderland. I translated the page and found that what I was looking at was a gold mine for comic lovers – so many genres, types, and artists! With multiple genres in the Webtoons comic series, it made choosing a comic series hard. There are so many different types of comics within each genre all with a large number of likes and views making my decision difficult. Normally, I am a sucker for romance, action and drama but considering autoethnographies are about experiencing “new and abundant opportunities” (Ellis, C et al. 2011) exploring a new genre was on the cards. I decided to have a quick browse through the Fantasy genre to see what I could find.

With my brief research and viewing of Webtoons and the Fantasy genre, I can see that translation is not always correct which highlights the significance of the imagery used. This was a major epiphany as translations and meaning of words may have a different significance in different cultures and you can often get lost in translation without the images. Thus, making sure that I fully immerse myself into the Webtoons culture to have a better understanding of the comics that are produced. I will have to make sure that I read the text bubbles as well as taking in the imagery of the comics as images are a crucial part of Webtoons and comics. Translation can be defined as “a message that is transferred from one language to another and the tropes of border and bridge work powerfully” (Gambier, Y 2016). Translators for Webtoons, do not need a degree in translation nor do they get paid for their efforts. They are all volunteer which is a crowdsourcing initiative to create a more socially inclusive platform for all.

This initial experience of exploring the Webtoons online community has gotten me excited to explore Webtoons and for further research that I will be conducting throughout the process of this autoethnography.

 

References:

Gambier, Y 2016, Rapid and Radical Changes in Translation and Translation Studies, International Journal of Communication, vol. 10, pp. 887 – 906.

Jenkins, H 2008, Convergent Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, New York University Press, Chapter 3: Searching for the Origami Unicorn: The Matrix and Transmedia Storytelling, pp. 93 – 130.

Johnston, R 2016, 42% of LINE Webtoon Comics Creators are female and half are read by women, Bleeding Cool, last viewed 28 August 2018, <https://www.bleedingcool.com/2016/02/29/42-of-line-webtoons-comic-creators-are-female-and-half-are-read-by-women/>.

Shin, M 2013, How Webtoons are Democratizing the Korean Contents Industry, Atelier, last viewed 28 August 2018, <https://atelier.bnpparibas/en/prospective/article/webtoons-democratizing-korean-contents-industry>.

Sui, 2014, Tower of God: Season 2, Ep. 108, Webtoons, last viewed 28 August 2018, <https://www.webtoons.com/en/fantasy/tower-of-god/season-2-ep-108/viewer?title_no=95&episode_no=188>.

Wass, J 2009, Manga Guide to Statistics: Statistics with heart-pounding excitement (well maybe), R&D Mag, last viewed 28 August 2018, <https://www.rdmag.com/article/2009/05/manga-guide-statistics-statistics-heart-pounding-excitement-well-maybe>.

Yecies, B 2018, Transcreation Intermediaries in South Korea’s Digital Webtoon Platform Ecosystem, BCM322 Global Media Interventions, University of Wollongong.

 

Reflexive experience – Akira

Akira, my first Anime experience and it was an experience to talk about. I was lucky to watch this film in English, I think it would have been a much more difficult experience otherwise. Adding live tweeting into the mix made it more difficult as I missed a lot of the film. I have noticed that throughout the weeks of live tweeting it is becoming easier and I am getting the hang of it.

Image result for akira

Throughout the film, I experienced a range of emotions – fear, confusion, surprise, sadness and I also experiences flashbacks causing me to look away. Live tweeting helped me deal with these emotions as those that were experiencing the same emotions tweeted similarly and I felt like I was not alone. Following the #BCM320 feed, I was able to get a good laugh out of some of the tweets that were coming through which helped distract me from the confusion, putting puzzle pieces together.

Ellis et al. (2011) say that autoethnography’s “introduce unique ways of thinking and feeling, and help people make sense of themselves and others” (p. 1). Reflecting on my experience of watching anime for the first time, I was able to make sense of the Japanese culture and their history a little more while making sense of my own feelings and thoughts throughout watching the film. Ellis et al (2011), draws on the fact that autoethnography’s should be a reflexive experience while you try to understand cultures other than your own through race, gender, age, sexuality, class, ability, religion and education (p. 2). Since watching and experiencing Akira and live tweeting I have a new perspective on anime films and Japanese culture. My perspective was originally closed off to the idea of watching and experiencing anime and Asian cultured films, but I now have become more open to the idea of anime. I feel that this may be a good experience for me to reflect on in my final project.

Live tweeting throughout Akira allowed me to share my experience, thoughts and emotions while watching the film which Ellis et al (2011) states to be an important factor to an autoethnography as it “brings readers to the scene” (p.3). While I am not able to experience Akira or any other cultured film from Asia in its true sense of being emerged fully into the culture as critiqued by Ellis et al. (2011), I will be able to compose a value piece that will allow me to step out of my comfort zone and into something I would have never imagined.

 

A Godzilla Task

Live tweeting while watching a foreign film in black and white while having to read subtitles was a mammoth task for 8:30am. It was hard to keep up with the storyline while commenting through twitter. The experience itself was great, I don’t think I ever would have watched the original Godzilla film if it wasn’t for this class. While I struggled at first and I wasn’t able to keep up with the storyline, but I then started to shift my way of watching and enabled myself to tweet and tune in and out to the movie putting the puzzle pieces together myself. At times I would be distracted by others posting on twitter, but some of the information others were tweeting were interesting reads and facts to know about the movie. For example, how they made Godzilla’s roar and how Godzilla was a metaphor for the Nuclear bombings a few years before the film was made.

At first, I thought that the graphics was cringe-worthy, but when I reminded myself that this movie was made in 1954, I readjusted my opinion and stepped back, appreciating how they made the movie. It got me interested in the ‘behind the scenes’ of the film, so I looked at a YouTube clip of photos that shows behind the scenes images. This gave me a better understanding and appreciation of the film. You can see through my twitter feed that my attitude shifted, and I had more of an understanding of production worked back then.

Another thing I appreciated about the film was the cultural differences from my own. After completing ELL230 last semester, I was opened to cultural differences and understandings of cultural practices. Knowing what I know how from last semester on cultures, I was able to appreciate Japanese culture and understand the cultural norms that I would have not known otherwise. I loved the fact that women were standing up to the men though. You wouldn’t see that much nowadays. I was able to live tweet about this which got most of my engagement.

While it was hard to keep up with the film, and I did miss a lot of the film, live tweeting made it feel as though I didn’t actually miss much. Students were posting frequently enough for me to feel like I was watching the movie through Twitter. I am conscious of how much I tweet though because I don’t want my professional followers to think it is annoying an unfollow me. Overall, I am glad that I have kept an open mind overall and I look forward to live tweeting and engaging through other platforms.

Live Twitter feed shots below:

Screenshot (94)Screenshot (93)

Is it time to say goodbye?

It’s time to rethink how Australians are creating content. The funding from the Australian Government is not sufficient; not enough money is put into the marketing of films. Creating less Australian content and more genre films and finding new ways to distribute films are all necessary to reach Australian audiences that “have turned their back on them [Australian Media Industry]” (Roach, 2014). These are aspects that were discussed as Australia’s Box Office returns were poor. By improving on these elements it suggests, the Australian Film Industry will be able to reconnect with audiences and produce an ‘industrial transition into a niche market’ (Verhoeven D et al. 2015).

The industry has struggled to keep up with the constant changes in technology and the shifts in media consumption. De Roeper and Luckman (2009), suggest that the industry has responded to changes in four ways – denial, panic, embrace and co-create. De Roeper and Luckman (2009) propose that rather than denying the past and panicking about the future, the film industry should embrace opportunities and co-create in the ‘shareable world’ (p. 12). Co-creation has seen emerging patterns of media consumption and digital storytelling become an ever-expanding feature in the film industry. With the expansion of Netflix, Stan and other streaming websites as well as illegal downloads, the Australian Film Industry has not been able to embrace the changes to the way that people are viewing content online. This has become a problem for the film industry because the Australian audience has kept up with the technological changes and have chosen to continuously watch content online. Australian content has lagged in securing spots online and on streaming services.

In 2017, the Australian government released a parliamentary inquiry discussing how to grow the media industry and balance international and national productions in a way to benefit the Australian Media Industry. More specifically the parliamentary inquiry recognised that the technological advances within the industry have significantly changed the way that audiences are viewing and accessing content through digital platforms instead of cinema experiences. Therefore, these digital changes are shifting release patterns and audience behaviours. For example, ‘streaming online via Netflix, Amazon, Hulu (and Stan in Australia) have impacted these behaviours as most films are not making the cinema screens and are going straight online for a wider range audience’ (Commonwealth of Australia, 2017, Chapter 2). Chapter 2 concluded that the 40% offset is not enough because producers ‘simply do not have the budget to release their productions in a cinema and cannot make money if they do’ (Commonwealth of Australia, 2017, Chapter 2).

Chapter 4 in the parliamentary inquiry discusses the international aspect and co-production of the media industry. Significantly, they note that the competition to gain funding from Screen Australia is extremely hard. This suggests, going offshore is the way to go for emerging talent for more opportunities. Treaties are welcomed by the government as Verhoeven et al. (2015) suggests that it “promotes improved international relations between nations”. Australia already has treaties with 12 countries which is an “important source of finance and training and opportunities… making cultural connections both domestically and internationally” (Commonwealth of Australia, 2017, Chapter 4). While barriers, such as language and cultural differences, can prove a challenge for productions, co-productions are highly regarded and considered beneficial to the future of the Australian film industry. Productions may also be considered as “‘footloose productions’, productions that are not made in their country of origin, bring considerable economic benefit” (Commonwealth of Australia, 2017, Chapter 4).

The Australian Film Industry is just as successful as any other film industry although the quality of the films lags, compared to Hollywood films. With the provided funding given to producers specifically for “Significant Australian Content”, producers don’t have much of a chance to bring out their creative skills, market effectively and distribute the films efficiently reaching a wider audience.

References:

Commonwealth of Australia, 2017, Report on the inquiry into the Australian film and television industry, Chapters 1, 2, and 4, Last viewed 31 January 2018, <https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Communications/AustralianfilmandTV/Report>.

De Roeper, J Luckman, S 2009, Future audiences for Australian stories: industry responses in a post-web 2.0 world, Media International Australia, no. 130, pp. 5-16.

Quinn, K 2017, More for TV, less for film, foreign actors OK: Inquiry recommends sweeping changes, The Sydney Morning Herald, December 2017, last viewed 31 January 2018, <http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/more-for-tv-less-for-film-foreign-actors-ok-inquiry-recommends-sweeping-changes-20171208-h01bl0.html>.

Roach, V 2014, Local audiences snub Australian filmmakers yet Hollywood loves them, News.com, September 2014, last viewed 31 January 2018, <http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/movies/box-office/local-audiences-snub-australian-filmmakers-yet-hollywood-loves-them/news-story/95338f7d82412c0ea02688fc8952d0d0>.

Verhoeven, D Davidson, A Coate, B 2015, Australian films at large: expanding the evidence about Australian cinema performance, Studies in Australasian Cinema, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 7-20.

Global Culture over Australian content

The way that Australian film content is distributed has changed to new digital distribution methods, which means that Australian audiences are more easily able to access content from around the globe. This exposes them to a diversity of global cultures which entice viewers to continue watching non-Australian films. It can be argued that the Fair Trade Agreement has an element of protectionism on one side or an offer of free flow content on the other. The impact of distribution and the digital age has a huge impact on how Australians are viewing global films that have cultural diversity, rather than Australian content films.

The Fair Trade Agreement aims to “remove constraints on the free flow of trade between the US and Australia by advocating free market integration as the best means to enhance social and economic development” (Breen M, 2010). The Fair Trade Agreement impacts the flow of cultural products directly which enhanced the information and communications technology between Australia and the US, leading to the creation of ‘digital determinism’ (Breen 2010). The emergence of the digital power is considered a problem by some as they believe that ‘the world dreams itself to be American’ which is related to the media dominance that American has. Digital determinism is largely influenced by technology because of the ‘unequal degrees of power as well as unequal powers of awareness’ (political power) (Breen, 2010). It’s also known as a digital divide and is evident in the Deloitte ‘Media Consumer Survey’ report (2015) and Screen Australia’s ‘Australian Audiences are watching online’ (2015) infographic. Studies show that Australia’s preferred entertainment source and way of watching content is through the internet and the television on any device. Screen Australia (2015) states that 50% of internet users are watching movies and TV online. “The culture and its delivery system are impacted unequally at the level at which everyday life is lived” (Breen, 2010). When Hollywood boomed, the Australian media industry lagged which created the influences we have today within the industry in terms of the power structure. The issue with digital determination is that the power differentiates Australia from America although globalisation should have synced together to gain equal trade agreements. Due to the misfortune of being the lesser power to America, Australian audiences have become problematic to target as they are so immersed in foreign cultures’ that they have forgotten about their own film industry.

Rip Tide Film 2017
Image: Riptide

Watching Australian content has become a thing of the past as the strength of distribution in the film and television industry is weak and almost invisible. If “distributors do not market Australian films effectively [they] therefore fail to maximise their commercial potential” (Aveyard, 2011). Distribution plays a key factor when films are trying to make it into the Australian market and if they are not marketed appropriately, Australians will not know about the content created. The ‘impact of internationalisation on locally made films’ has been more successful for Australian films due to other countries having a cultural interest in Australian content (Aveyard, 2011). For example; Riptide (2017) a film made in Kiama, Australia had more success in the United States (US) than here in Australia. Having Debby Ryan, the Disney star from Hollywood feature in the film helped with its success in the US but was only distributed in minimal cinemas across Australia. Australians have disconnected from the Australian market with limited resources and knowledge. This impacts the ‘strategies for connecting to the market’ (Aveyard, 2011). Online distribution has played a big part in Australian audiences, engaging with more global content and a significant increase in technological advances. It is “undoubtedly a more successful option” (Van Hermert and Ellison, 2015).

The value of cinema has changed and streaming services such as Netflix and Stan have become increasingly popular as Video on Demand (VOD). VOD and online streaming has allowed for easy access to globally distributed content. It has heavily impacted Australian’s viewing habits of homemade content. The Fair Trade Agreement has impacted global/co-productions as Australia is the weaker player in the contract with America.

 

References:

Alcorn, N Harding, C Johnston, S 2015, Media Consumer Survey 2015, 4th Ed., Deloitte, Last viewed 18 January 2018, <https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/au/Documents/technology-media-telecommunications/deloitte-au-tmt-media-consumer-survey-2015-100815.pdf>.

Aveyard, K 2011, Australian films at the cinema: rethinking the role of distribution and exhibition, Media International Australia, 138, pp. 36 – 45.

Breen, M 2010, Digital determinism: culture industries in the USA-Australia Free Trade Agreement, New media society, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 657 – 676.

Hemert, T Ellison, E 2015, Queensland’s film culture: the challenges of local film distribution and festival exhibition, Studies in Australasian Cinema, 9:1, pp. 39 – 51.

Screen Australia, 2015, Australian audiences are watching online, last viewed 19 January 2018, <https://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/fact-finders/infographics/australian-audiences-are-watching-online>.