A Tortoise? Whats That?

The year is 2065. You’re standing in your one bedroom apartment, gazing out the window. The city skyline below, barely visible through the smog that darkens the city. Its 10am and its time to go to work. See, you work for a company that specialises in the making of robots. As you’re walking to work, you look up at the buildings, where large screens are placed, sorta similar to Times Square in New York. Except theres something different. All around you are advertisements written in a different language. The people in the ads are Asian, and thats when you realise where you are. You’re in Los Angeles.

Well if you have seen Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic “Blade Runner”, then this makes a little more sense. Although the most of the focus in the film is about a robot catching detective, an unnoticed contribution to the ‘dystopian’ setting globalisation and its impact on this futuristic society.

According to Michael O’Shaughnessy and Jane Stadler [1] , globalisation ‘could lead to the homogenisation of world cultures, or to hybridisation and multiculturalism.’ This definition supports a ‘utopian’ view on globalisation, but I wanna focus more on the ‘dystopian’ views presented by Manuel Castells.

While the media have become indeed globally interconnected, and programs and messages circulate in the global network, we are not living in a global village, but in customised cottages globally produced and locally distributed  (Castells, 2000, p.370)

Castells quote brings the negative connotations of globalisation to fruition, in which O’Shaughnessy and Stadler explore further with relevant examples. The ‘dark side’ of globalisation, such as the 2005 United Nations Human Development Report, sparked the creation of the anti-globalisation movement. The movement targets those corporations such as McDonald’s and Nike that gain larger economic benefits than smaller companies, in order to abridge the gap between the rich and poor.

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 8.03.06 pm

If we compare the globalisation between 1982 and today, we can see the impact of ‘cultural imperialism’ has had on society as well as which country is apart of the imperialism. Ridley Scott believes that in the year 2019, that Asia, specifically China, has used ‘cultural imperialism’ to become the dominant culture due to its economic success. However, today in 2015, the world of globalisation is still Americanised. People watch Hollywood blockbusters, eat American fast food, wear American clothing brands and use American technology.

“The globalisation of communicayion has been driven by the pursuit of the commercial interests of large US-based transnational corporations, often acting collaboration with Western (predominantly American) political and military interests; and this process has resulted in a new form of dependency in which the traditional cultures are destroyed through the intrusion of Western values” (Thompson 1995, p. 165)

With overriding control of media, such as television and radio, society may not have access to a diverse range of content, including perspectives on a range of critical and political view. We may think we have freedom in some aspects, when in fact we don’t, and that doesn’t really sound like a feature of a ‘utopian’ society does it?

References

[1] – O’Shaughnessy M, & Stadler J, 2012, Media and Society, 5th edn, Oxford University Press, Northwestern University

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