Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Tickling the Global Village Funny Bone

In this, the final week of our media class, we’re talking about global media.

I wish we spent more time on the topic, although some aspects of the global media system have been included when we covered individual media earlier in the semester.

Still, today our discussion was on what unites and divides media. One point I made is that the “net neutrality” issue is important in both the U.S. and other countries, too. By the way, all of the images below are from

Students, here are two important videos to view: 

 Indian comedy group talks about the issue in India. We didn't watch all 9 minutes in class (and didn't watch Jon Oliver at all.)  With a final exam coming, I would suggest the half hour to watch both and ruminate on their main points would be time well spent. Hint, hint, nudge, nudge, wink, wink (apologies to Monty Python, but another global media example).

Anyway, students, the other links below are mostly for entertainment, although you might want to watch at least one in case I ask you to comment on another video of your choice. But I'm not neutral on watching the net neutrality ones!
One of the things that unites media is that much global content is prepared, or reasons of historic accident and to accommodate trade, in English. Another is that comedy, which is sometimes very culturally specific (Jerry Lewis is a comedic genius—in France) can also sometimes resonate in different cultures, especially when the topic concerns global communication patterns.

For example, although a particular slang term used in this video is British, Australian comedian Tim Minchin plays off of a common derogatory racial term used in the U.S. and elsewhere.

 Tim Minchin on “prejudice.”

And then there is Ylvis—Norwegian talk show hosts who lit up the internet with their “What Does the Fox Say” video. But they’ve done much more, some of it in Norwegian, some of it in English. One thing we talked about in class is how English is used globally not just to try to appeal to an American market, but because it’s a convenient language that many educated people would speak in any place that’s divided along linguistic lines. Note that the Indian video talking about net neutrality was for an Indian audience, but is mostly in English. And in Western Europe, English is often a second language for exchanging information across cultures that speak different native languages.

Ylvis plays a lot with ideas in English. For example:

A video that mocks several conventions in popular music, obvious the dub step, but also Broadway-style love ballads in general.

And a video that plays off of Norwegian politics in a global sense.

We also watched this multi-linguistic comedy routine, which I told the students I expect to see on American TV soon.

And, just for fun, we also viewed another classicYlvis comedy videos. Most students had seen “What Does the Fox Say” but had not experienced other Ylvis videos, although we did watch this one was by special request of a student who had seen it before.
The Internet, of course, can be used for purposes good and bad. It may promote cross-cultural understanding, where we can laugh at ideas that are also funny in Oslo. But it serves to divide, or to united dark forces, too. Much of the concern with ISIS is the way in which the group can use the ‘net to radicalize youth in western countries.

Global media is not synonymous with the internet. We talked about how innovations in content or technology have long been rapidly used across many media systems, for example. But it was fun today to finish the system on a light note, courtesy of some Norwegian TV stars.

And, just because we did not have time Monday when the topic was British media, a classic Monty Python routine.

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