Reverse Westernisation – The Wave of Global Cinema

The American film industry, Hollywood, is a household name no matter where you live.  It is simply a fact of life that everyone knows what Hollywood is, what it does, and who is involved in it.  But it is in no way the only film industry out there, nor does it make the most films, or employ the largest number of staff.  When you put Hollywood on a global media map, it is merely one of many, many other industries.

South Korea, Nigeria and India each have booming film and media industries, which are having large influences on the regions around them.  Nollywood, Nigeria’s film industry, stands out in particular as it is the largest in Africa and employs more people than any other African organisation (with the exception of the government).  With more than 50 full-length films being produced every week, the growth of Nollywood has become almost alarming, with countries such as Ghana condemning the “Nigerianisation” of Africa.

Sound familiar?  It’s the same process that saw “Westernisation” flood the cultures of the world.  However, there is a global shift occurring as more Western countries look towards and are influenced by the Global South.  It’s a phenomenon known as a “contra-flow”; that is, the reversal of the flow of Westernisation.

Further examples of this contra-flow can be seen in the media industries of other countries in the Global South.  Indian film industry Bollywood is much larger than Hollywood in regards to the number of films made: in 2015 alone it produced 1602 films compared to Hollywood’s 476.  It focuses on traditional Indian values of family, religion, music and dance, and is gaining traction in the Western world.

South Korea’s growing influence over not only cinema, but also fashion, cosmetics and music, is being referred to as “the Korean Wave”.  It’s a reversal of past Asian trends, which were heavily influenced by American media.  Nowadays, many Asian films are being remade for American audiences, and Korean music is growing in popularity.

It’s a testament to the two-way street that is globalisation.  Contrary to popular belief, globalisation is not just the Western influence on the rest of the world; it also encompasses what it discovers in return.

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