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Michael Curtin: “The Burdens of Official Aspiration: National Policy in the Age of Global Media”
Thursday, January 30, 2014 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm EST
Since the 1990s, market liberalization and new technologies have accelerated the transnational flow of media imagery, much to the delight of Western conglomerates that have expanded their operations and exports around the globe. This has, of course, raised anxieties in countries that find themselves ever more vulnerable to a flood of foreign movies and television programming. Yet Hollywood is no longer the only major exporter of audiovisual media, having been joined by thriving competitors, such as Mumbai, Lagos, and Miami. Animated by the commercial logic of “media capital,” these cities are now challenging prior geographies of creativity and cultural influence, fostering tensions about the relative roles that cities and states play in local, regional, and global cultural economies.
As these transnational media capitals have prospered, some states have fought back with policies aimed at controlling imports and fostering the creative capacity of national media institutions. This remarkable turn in media policy over the past decade is largely premised on official suppositions that popular media have become elements of political and cultural leadership both at home and abroad. Yet the question remains: Can such policies produce truly popular cultural products or will they forever bear the burdens of official aspiration? This presentation explores the implications of national cultural policy within the broader context of media globalization, providing a framework for understanding the logics of media capital and the challenges confronting national governments. It furthermore compares media industries around the world, reflecting more generally on future prospects for creativity and cultural diversity in popular film and television.
Michael Curtin is the Duncan and Suzanne Mellichamp Professor of Global Studies in the Department of Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is also Director and co-founder of the Media Industries Project at the Carsey-Wolf Center. His books include Playing to the World’s Biggest Audience: The Globalization of Chinese Film and TV and Reorienting Global Communication: Indian and Chinese Media Beyond Borders. Curtin is currently at work on Media Capital: The Cultural Geography of Globalization and is co-editor of the Chinese Journal of Communication and the International Screen Industries book series of the British Film Institute.