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[MEDIA] Global Entertainment,and Popular Culture (Gareth CC Chang)

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  • madchinaman
    Global Entertainment and Popular Culture Special Guest Lecture by Gareth Chang, with Professor Toby Miller, UC Riverside By Richard Gunde
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 20 1:54 AM
      Global Entertainment and Popular Culture
      Special Guest Lecture by Gareth Chang,
      with Professor Toby Miller, UC Riverside
      By Richard Gunde

      Gareth C.C. Chang, Managing Partner of GC3 & Associates
      International and former CEO of Star TV, in a lecture delivered in
      the International Institute's Global Studies 1 class on May 5,
      analyzed the interplay of technology, the globalization of the
      media, and cultural identity from a perspective students are rarely--
      if ever--exposed to: an extraterrestrial's eye view, looking at the
      planet earth from deep in space.

      What Chang meant to suggest by this perspective is that to
      understand where global entertainment and popular culture are
      headed, one should begin by looking afresh at the starting point:
      the fundamental cultural, political, and economic landscape of the
      earth as it stands today.

      An Extraterrestrial Eye's View
      To Chang's visitor from space, the earth today basically looks like

      It still is haunted by terrorism, border conflicts, and nuclear

      Power, in the wake of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet
      Union, is being fundamentally "rebalanced," with rising nodes of
      regional strength in China, Russia, and the European Union.
      Economies are increasingly becoming borderless and wealth is being
      redistributed. "The haves and the have-nots are going to average
      out," Chang argued.

      Huge new markets -- notably China and India -- are emerging and are
      providing vigorous competition to traditional producers.
      New "human skill sets"-- with less emphasis on specialization and
      more on wide-ranging knowledge and adaptability ("the new
      renaissance man") -- are required in today's "very complex and
      multicultural world."

      Competition for scare natural resources, especially energy, is going
      to reach crisis proportions.

      In this sort of world, Chang continued, globalization is
      increasingly going to take the form of "clusters or concentrations
      of exchanges."

      Globalization: City-Regions, Economics, and Cultures

      Physically speaking, the "clusters" of which Chang spoke will
      consist of enormous conurbations, or city-regions, each with a
      population exceeding 20 million. By the year 2010, the ten largest
      of these city-regions will all be outside the United States -- some
      in Asia, some in Latin America. What will be the consequences of
      this? "The cultural merging of the front edge of intellectual
      trends," Chang declared, "will be outside the United States. . . .
      The people of the city-regions will be driving the leading edge
      of . . . policy and economics."

      These city-regions will be at the forefront of increasing cultural,
      technical, and social integration. But at the same time, there will
      be a widening of the gap of "wealth and social standing" between
      them and the rural areas of the world. In other words, in the years
      to come, we can expect a growing economic and cultural divide
      between the advanced, urban areas of the world, and the less
      advanced rural areas.

      Globalization: Media and Content
      The growth of global cultural, technological, and social integration
      will involve far-reaching changes in the character of the media and
      in the content it carries, Chang continued.

      First, ours is now a "very wired world," and will become even more
      so. The amount of information in circulation and the speed of its
      flow is undergoing tremendous growth. Significantly, the areas of
      greatest growth are India and China.

      Second, although this "very wired world" is very much characterized
      by mass media, advertising is actually becoming very targeted.
      However, "today, content [of entertainment programming] is still
      predominately Western."

      Third, ownership of media empires can be expected to fall
      increasingly into the hands of entrepreneurs in world's city-
      regions, which raises the issue of potential foreign censorship of
      what Americans see and read.

      Fourth, all this will contribute to "identity crisis" in non-Western
      areas around the world.

      Globalization: Media Empires
      In the years to come, Chang said, the traditional media empires,
      such as Disney, Viacom, Time Warner/AOL, Universal, Vivendi, and so
      on, will yield to companies like Sony, Matsushita, Samsung, GE,
      Philips, and Siemens, "equipment manufacturers that are moving into
      content." But the real stars, Chang declared, "are companies like
      Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google. The three of them together have a far
      higher market track than the traditional media empires and the
      equipment manufacturers put together."

      Moreover, "purely working on their ability to control software . . .
      and give you the information you want when you want it, is [what
      will make these firms into] the future media empires." Some of what
      are usually thought of as "computer companies" are rapidly
      transforming themselves into media service providers. Chang
      mentioned, for example, Apple, which is "no longer really a computer
      company" (it now controls only 2 percent of the market), will soon
      be marketing things like i-Video, or i-Phone, which will include
      entertainment delivery along with telephony.

      Globalization: Future Trends in Technology & Media
      Chang described an attractive, even exciting, future for the media,
      one where content-rich information will be available at one's
      fingertips 24/7. Product innovation and competition to meet
      individual enterprise and consumer demand will be fierce. The result
      for the consumer will be instantly available information "tailor-
      made to each taste and interest." The demand for "breadth, localized
      and in-depth content" will increase the pace of development of "non-
      Westernized programming." The result will make the twenty-first
      century a truly "multi-cultural world."

      Implications: "What's in it for me?"
      "The convergence of technology and media," Chang argued, "will open
      up unlimited career [pathways] and life adventures for the young and
      the old." Opportunities will abound "to learn and expand one's
      understanding of the world." In this environment, "the undergraduate
      degree is not as important as it used to be. The very education,
      however, is crucially important. You could be a trained technical
      person and a [college] graduate and move in almost any direction or
      you could be [for instance] a sociology major and also move in
      almost any direction. Today we are talking about overlap. . .
      Because the amount of information that is available to you is so
      vast and deep, you can adapt very quickly if you are willing to

      In addition, opportunities for entrepreneurship will expand
      exponentially. Chang contended that today to launch a media venture
      requires so little capital that "start-up cost is no longer a major

      In short, Chang concluded, the twenty-first century will be the
      century of the "renaissance person."

      Some Caveats
      Toby Miller (professor of English, Sociology, and Women's Studies at
      UC Riverside), who commented on Gareth Chang's talk, balanced
      Chang's extraterrestrial eye's view, which emphasized broad trends,
      with an almost microscopic examination of some of the seamy aspects
      of globalization. Miller's object was not merely to point out that
      globalization has its downside, but to argue that globalization is
      not necessarily a foreordained, automatic process. Rather,
      globalization happens through human mediation.

      Miller asked the class to consider, for example, what happens to our
      computers once they reach the end of their useful life, a useful
      life that nowadays is very short indeed. Discarded computers are
      mostly sent back to their country of origin: China.

      This is in large part because computers are horribly polluting, and
      the very strict environmental-protection laws of most Western
      countries make recycling them very expensive. Hence, they are
      shipped back to China.

      There, the computers are broken down and stripped by child labor,
      wearing no protective gear at all. The safe, useful parts of the
      computer are recycled; the useless parts -- full of pollution -- are
      dumped, thus contaminating the air and soil. Of course, in the
      process the child workers are exposed to huge doses of harmful

      Or, Miller continued, consider the spread across the globe of
      Hollywood films. This is not simply the result of consumer
      preference -- of the "fact" that Hollywood produces movies and TV
      programs people like, and therefore sell well. Or, to put it another
      way, consumer preference is not the complete picture behind the
      success of Hollywood.

      In Miller's words, some people believe Hollywood produces films that
      are popular "because it has an unfettered, free-enterprise hand,
      unlike national broadcasters like the BBC or CBC, or national
      cinemas, like the Mexican national cinema. [Hollywood is free of ]
      government purse strings or government control. Thus there is [in
      this view] a magical operation the market such that the hopes,
      desires, and dreams that consumers have get reflected in the stories
      that are told, most effectively and efficiently by Hollywood."

      However, Miller continued, "there is another side to the
      story. . . . It is a side that suggests this notion of the private
      sector simply responding to consumer demand . . . is a little bit
      simple. In fact, the federal government, state governments, and city
      governments throughout the United States are crucial players in the
      success of Hollywood. This is not a laissez-faire system, and never
      has been."

      For example, Miller pointed out that after World War I, the United
      States banned the import of movies as well as celluloid from the
      defeated Central Powers (mainly Germany and Austria). Up to that
      point, the United States had imported movie-making technology from
      these and other European countries.

      Now, through the intervention of the U.S. government, the roles were
      reversed. "In the 1920s, the U.S. government paid for Hollywood
      movies to go all over the world, in order to advertise the U.S.
      style of life.

      In the 1940s, when Walt Disney was going bust . . . , the federal
      government gave him a massive subsidy and paid him to make anti-Nazi
      films for screening in Latin America. In the 1950s, many front
      organizations for the CIA and the FBI were paid money to buy various
      properties -- books, plays, and so on -- and have them made into
      movies that told a story that suited the United States."

      * * *

      Gareth Chang was formerly chairman and chief executive of STAR TV
      Group, a multichannel satellite television network that reaches more
      than 300 million viewers across Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and
      the Middle East.

      Before that, he was corporate senior vice president of Hughes
      Electronics and president of Hughes International, responsible for
      worldwide operations in Europe, Canada, Middle East, Latin America
      and Asia/Pacific.

      In addition, Chang was president of DirecTV International, executive
      chairman of DirecTV Japan and chairman of Hughes-JVC Technology.
      Prior to joining Hughes in 1993, Chang held the positions of
      corporate vice president of McDonnell Douglas and president of
      McDonnell Douglas Pacific and Asia.

      He also served as the founding executive chairman of the Joint
      McDonnell Douglas-Shanghai Aviation Executive Board for the
      production and sales of commercial jets; senior vice president of
      McDonnell Douglas Information Systems Company; divisional vice
      president of engineering and director of design and technology for
      McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Company.

      He is also a member of the Committee of 100, Pacific Council,
      Atlantic Council, and the Council on Foreign Relations. A strong
      patron and supporter of the arts, Chang is also on the Council of
      Governors of the East West Players.

      Toby Miller, Professor in the Departments of English, Sociology, and
      Women's Studies at UC Riverside and director of the UC Riverside
      Program in Film and Visual Culture, studies the media, sport, labor,
      gender, race, citizenship, politics, and cultural policy via
      political economy, textual analysis, archival research, and

      He is the editor of Television & New Media and editor and coeditor
      of the book series Popular Culture and Everyday Life (Lang) and
      Sport and Culture (Minnesota), he was also chair of the
      International Communication Association Philosophy of Communication
      Division, editor of the Journal of Sport & Social Issues, and
      coeditor of Social Text, the Blackwell Cultural Theory Resource
      Centre, and the book series Film Guidebooks (Routledge) and Cultural
      Politics (Minnesota).

      He has recently become the coeditor of Social Identities. After
      working in broadcasting, banking, and civil service, Miller became
      an academic in the late 1980s, when cultural studies was starting
      its boom, and was able to parlay a combination of his work
      experience, theoretical interests, and political commitments into a
      new career, since which time he has taught media and cultural
      studies across the humanities and social sciences.
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