Nov 4 reading “Global Nollywood” and “Convergence of culture in creative industries”

The first reading for this week IC class is a research paper title “Global Nollywood: The Nigerian movie industry and alternative global networks in production and distribution” by Jade Miller from Tulane University.

Through this reading, it opens door to Nollywood, Nigeria’s flourishing video industry which is largely separate from Hollywood’s global network of movie distribution.

As I read it through, I visualize the region’s unique environment to develop its own version of Hollywood based on local demand. Although the author explore the Nollywood’s production and distribution pattern, it does not recount the history and development of how Nollywood has become as it is now.

It is understandable that the region’s lacking of movie screening infrastructures like theaters led to home based movie watching practices and the growth of pirated movies on VCDs and DVD. Learning from previous readings, the rise of Hollywood’s movies industry is the results of establishment of major movie production studios in Los Angeles in 1950s. However, in Africa, with no possibility to make such massive investments from both government and private sector, it would led to SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) production of movies and the distribution targeted for local market only.

I think, the next phase of development for Nollywood is largely due to Nigeria’s large population.

As the largest black nation in the world, Nigeria’s entertainment industry would have largest collection of audiences within the national boundry and it would grew faster than that of other African countries. The same is happened in Mumbai, which has become center of movie industry of India that based on massive South Asian audience and also in Hong Kong, which has become the heart of Chinese entertainment industry.

In this reading, the most perplexing thing for me is why Nigeria or West Africa or even all of Africa is left out in Hollywood’s global distribution network. Africa is the not only second largest continent but also has the second populous continent. It should be definitely the focus for Hollywood’s movie producers, or even at least for Foreign policy makers of United States because even with little prospect for returning revenues Africa’s population should not be left out in US’s strategic communication policies.

Secondly, I am not clear what is the lingua franca of Nollywood movies since the author does not explore the language aspect of Nollywood movies. African countries are known for having diversity of tribal groups and myriad of local languages. We should not forget the unique African history that Africa’s national boundaries were drawn by their colonial masters rather than their ethnicities. In most African countries, lingua franca is the language of Colonial rulers such as English, French and Portuguese. I am curious how the Nollywood movies overcome the language barrier to attract the audiences from different countries, especially those of French and Portuguese speaking regions of Africa.

Next, in the second reading for this week, “Convergence of culture in creative industries” by Mark Deuze, it explore the emerging practices in Communication field to adapt the new global culture, which is, according to author, characterized by increasingly participatory media culture. The author point out examples in different branches of communication field, the “citizen journalism” bandwagon in news publication, two way symmetrical communication in public relation and upstream marketing in marketing and “interactive advertising” in advertising industry as examples of phenomena for converging trend. But, I think, the author underestimates the role of cultural forces that keep the people around the world apart. So my question here is: What is the role of culture in uniting the different communication industries as it is driven by profit making objectives?