Month: September 2014

Internationalising education

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Both the Marginson (2012) and the Kell & Vogel (2007) readings regarding the internationalisation of education said similar things about the attitudes of international students towards Australians – a lot of them want to get to know “us” (read: local students) but do not get a chance to. Local students don’t seem to have the same desire to get friendly with international students, even though there is a lot to be taught and shared culturally between these two groups of students.

I have no qualms in saying that I personally believe Australia to be a very strained “tolerant” society. Note that I used the word tolerant, meaning “allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one does not necessarily like or agree with) without interference”. (Google Dictionary) I believe that if you scratch the surface of Australia’s multiculturalism, you will quickly find a more racist society, as we have seen before in Australia, and continue to see with our large dislike of “boat people”. Especially when we consider that a 10 year long study, concluding in 2011, found that almost 50% of Australians are anti-Muslim.

Despite this, I believe at a University level, students are more likely to be less racist than the general Australian public, partly due to education, socio-economic standing or age demographic. So why is it that we still have an inability to make friends with International students? In my two years of University, it’s become pretty clear to me that most of the time, International students make friends with and hang out with other International students. There is very little mingling between local and international students. I very much hope that for most students, this comes down solely to a language barrier, which is mentioned in the Kell & Vogel (2007) reading that the Australian use of colloquialisms can be very hard for non-English speaking students to follow. If Australian’s are considered to be some of the friendliest people in the world, why can’t we be more friendly to those visiting?

So maybe it should just come down to testing the water, and trying to break down some barriers and meet some new people.

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REFERENCES

ABC (2011), ‘Nearly half of Australians are anti-Muslim: study’, ABC News, 23 February, viewed 17 September 2014 < http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-02-23/nearly-half-of-australians-are-anti-muslim-study/1954194?section=justin >

Kell, P. and Vogl, G. (2007). ‘International students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes’, Everyday Multiculturalism Conference.

Marginson, S (2012) ‘International education as self-formation: Morphing a profit-making business into an intercultural experience’ Lecture delivered at the University of Wollongong, 21 February 2012, available online at http://focusonteaching.uow.edu.au/content/groups/public/@web/@cedir/documents/doc/uow119828.pdf

Shad (2012), ‘Australia’s unhealthy fear of boat people’, The Guardian, 8 May, viewed 17 September 2014 <http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/may/08/australia-fear-boat-people-asylum-seekers&gt;

Bollywoodisation, is it a good thing?

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Bollywood is one of the fastest growing film industries, mixing Western culture and Eastern culture and blurring the boundaries between local culture and national culture. Schaefer and Karan (2010) point out that Bollywood stands “the best chance of challenging Hollywood’s hegemony in the movie making world” (Bose 2006), however it is not clear what impacts that has on our cultural views. In my opinion, with the rise of Hollywood attempting Bollywood movies has also come a rise in stereotyping and oversimplification of culture. Looking at an ad that aired in 2012 where Ashton Kutcher dressed in “brownface” and used a stereotypical Indian accent to try and sell crisps, we can see that Hollywood does not take their overseas counterpart very seriously. So when is the blurring the lines between the two cultures hybridisation, and when is it plain mockery?

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While Bollywood has done well in mixing Asian culture and content into Western movies to entice non-Asian audiences, I still feel that there is an element of “so bad it’s good” and “laughing at it, not with it” when it comes to Bollywood. Perhaps it is just the cynical Australian in me focusing on the Australian vibe of “taking the piss”, but I really feel that with the hybridisation of Hollywood and Bollywood, we have been left with a bit of an empty, shallow offering. Like the class clown, Hollywood has stolen the cultural elements of Hindu cinema and turned them into a mockery.


REFERENCES

Huiqun, L. (2010). ‘Opportunities and challenges of globalization for the Chinese film industry’. Global Media and Communication, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 323-328.

iFeudalism and Disney

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Disney was founded in 1923, and has grown to be the second largest broadcasting company in the world, pulling in a gross revenue of over 40 million US dollars in 2013. If any company in the world can show you how iFeudalism works, its Disney. The brutal reality is that sometimes the happiest place in the world isn’t all that happy. As Ted said, four of the key terms of this feudalism is as follows:
– You cannot leave the land without permission.
– You cannot sell the land without permission.
– Your feudal lord decides how you use the land.
– You must pay rent to your feudal lord for using the land.

Disney made it’s fortune off making animated movies. These movies were a lot of the time based on fairytales or Brother Grimms stories, and they were able to take these and adapt them, because those stories and characters were in the public domain. Disney made the character Mickey Mouse, who is arguably one of the most wellknown animated characters in the world. So well known that Disney attempted to block copyright of a mouse helmet worn by musician Deadmau5, as the similarities are too much.

Image Sourced - mediabistro.com
Image Sourced – mediabistro.com

So why is it that a company that made so much money off, as Lessig words it, “ripping creativity from the culture around him”, attempts to block other people from doing the same? Short answer – copyright.

In 1998, the US passed a law to extend copyright to the life of the author, plus 70 years. This law is sometimes mockingly referred to as the Mickey Mouse Protection Act. The Walt Disney company were vocal supporters of this act, ensuring other people cannot use any original characters belonging to Disney for a longer period of time. Since the invention of copyright, length of copyright laws have only ever increased.

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Lessig states:

Free cultures are cultures that leave a great deal open for others to build upon; unfree, or permission, cultures leave much less. Ours was a free culture. It is becoming much less so.

When a company that made their money off “borrowing” other’s characters lobbies so that no one can “borrow” theirs, what kind of a creative, free society do we live in? More and more we find capitalism trumping creativity, and greed trumping goodwill

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“How can we make money doing this?”

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And as Shirky says – most of us can’t.

But sometimes all the stars align, and people make money out of making internet content.

And the way a lot of weblog producers do this is completely backward to how publishing has been in the past.

Traditional publishing is to write a book, approach an editor, approach a publishing company, convince them to take a risk on you if you’re an unpublished writer, publish the hardcopy of a book, ship it out to stores and hope it sells. Its a lot of money and risk up front.

Weblogs are completely different. Anyone can make a blog on any number of blogging sites (WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, Livejournal) in about a minute. From then on, you’re publishing. If no one reads it, at least you tried. The internet has made it possible for anyone with an internet connection to be a content producer and publisher. To be overly Aussie about it, the internet allows for everyone to have a fair go when it comes to publishing their thoughts.

But some blogs profit. One day, you realise your view stats are up. So you put some ads on your blog, and you now have a (very small trickle) stream of income. You can even start a shop, and sell shirts and prints from home, using your Mum to coordinate all your orders (When Matthew Inman, author of The Oatmeal first started a shop to go with his webcomic, his mum ran it).

And then, when you’ve done all the (surprisingly simple) groundwork, you might be able to get a publishing deal. There’s no shortage of people who have started with a wordpress, a tumblr or an instagram account and ended up publishing books from it. Liz Climo, The Oatmeal, Cyanide and Happiness, the amazing photos of instagram account CandiceAndChamp, renamed ThatGoldenDog, to coincide with their upcoming book. As well as a photographer named Theron who published a book made up of photos of his dog Maddie standing on things. Aptly named “Maddie on Things”. He has traveled all 50 states of America, with Maddie, and he promotes animal rescue.

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I think Theron’s blog name sums it right up. “This Wild Idea”. The wild idea that we can publish the things we love doing online, risk free, and have people actually like it. And have people actually wanting to look at it, wanting to buy your shirts, prints and books and wanting to support you. The wild idea that “how can we make money doing this?” turns into some people actually making money doing this.