Global Media and the Competitive Advantage of Narrative Transparency
Routledge – 1999 – 232 pages
Series: Routledge Communication Series
The popularity of American television programs and feature films in the international marketplace is widely recognized but scarcely understood. Existing studies have not sufficiently explained the global power of the American media nor its actual effects. In this volume, Scott Robert Olson tackles the issue head on, establishing his thesis that the United States' competitive advantage in the creation and global distribution of popular taste is due to a unique mix of cultural conditions that are conducive to the creation of "transparent" texts--narratives whose inherent polysemy encourage diverse populations to read them as though they are indigenous. Olson posits that these narratives have meaning to so many different cultures because they allow viewers in those cultures to project their own values, archetypes, and tropes into the movie or television program in a way that texts imported from other cultures do not, thus enabling the import to function as though it were an indigenous product.
As an innovative volume combining postcolonial and postmodern theory with global management strategic theory, Hollywood Planet is one of the first studies that attempts to account theoretically for numerous recent ethnographic studies that suggest different interpretations of television programs and film by a variety of international audiences. Relevant to studies in media theory and other areas of the communication discipline, as well as anthropology, sociology, and related fields, Hollywood Planet contains a powerful and original argument to explain the dominance of American media in the global entertainment market.
"Debates about the cultural impacts of global media have ranged for 2 decades without resolution exercising media scholars, anthropologists, and sociologists. Most acknowledge the dominance of the U.S. in global entertainment, particularly film, but a key divide has been whether explanations should prioritize 'political economy' or 'cultural' factors. Scott Robert Olson's Hollywood Rlanet is a welcome attempt to examine what the contents of global media might contribute to that domination."
—Journal of Communication
"A thought-provoking, rigorously handled discourse on the competitive advantage that Hollywood has in influencing the creation and distribution of popular taste on a global scale."
—Cornelius B. Pratt
Michigan State University
"[Hollywood Planet] represents a long-overdue effort to provide a theoretical basis for pulling together a number of closely interrelated concerns relating to the role and impact of mass media, especially as far as international issues are concerned."
—Fred L. Casmir
Contents: Introduction: Media and Cultures. Seeing Transparency. Modes of Reception in World Media Markets. Competitive Advantage and the Media. The Culture Factory. The Transparent Text. The Extensions of Media. The Transparent and the Opaque. Cultures and Anarchy.