Adventures in Asian Popular Culture

Asian civilization features various aspects of cultural heritage and diversity and it is characterized by areas of North, South, West, Southeast, Central and East Asia (Hen & Sueng, 2002). The Asian popular culture is where there is a blend of art, music and literature which are broadly categorized and analyzed in several approaches such as culture and identity, sex and gender and finally globalizing Asia.

Social and Ethical Philosophy of the East Asian

The East Asia popular Culture in terms of culture and identity is truly worth analyzing as it consists of major players in the entire Asian continent. It is comprised of China, South and North Korea and finally Japan (Timothy, 2002). However, the most dominant of these countries in terms of historical culture (Hen & Sueng, 2002) is China though a lot has occurred leading to a different shift in direction of dominance in current times. To start with these countries share the Chinese-derived speech and language together with a shared religious belief which include Buddhism and Taoism (Chua & Beng, 2003). The East Asian popular culture also shares a social and an ethical philosophy that is deduced from Chinese form of Confucianism (Gossman & Hillary, 2002).

The oldest writing system in the entire world is the Chinese script and it has been a unifying factor in East Asia being used in the expanse. In modern times other writing systems have developed in the other countries like Han-gul which is a supplementary and flexible criterion used to write Korean (Yao & Souchou, 2002). Latin alphabets have also been introduced in the region in putting down characters as well as the Japanese style of Kana (Ang & Len, 2001). This according to Sun & Wanning (2002) is not all the East Asian culture is made of, it has a mix of Buddhism, Confucianism, Cuisines, national costumes and art wear, languages and finally traditional music and modern art forms of entertainment. East Asian culture is the home of various forms of entertainment which has dominated the media industry from time immemorial (Chua & Beng, 2003).

The entertainment media in East Asian popular culture is characterized by cinema and television in the region. Cinema particularly started to be on a large extent in the entertainment industry in the year 1894 where it commenced with the first commercial exposition of film. Later in the year 1987 the first films with specified narratives started being distributed all around the world (Sun & Wanning, 2002).

East Asia is a giant when it comes to the entertainment industry. The cinemas and television are all created as a result of the shared popular culture of the region. This is particularly evident in countries such as Japan, South Korea and China which are the powerhouses in the entertainment industry (Stronach & Bruce, 1989). This cinemas and televisions (Chua & Beng, 2003) are enjoying huge broadcast and subscription all over the world due to the huge population of East Asians that is present in foreign countries and their influence is large especially as their shared culture is quite exquisite.

The Culture of Buddhism Religion in the East Asian Flm Industry

As Timothy (2002) outlines, East Asia cinema and television industry is commonly referred as Far eastern or Asian cinemas and in other parts it is called Bollywood like in India. India is on the Far East and it has become extremely famous due to its films as it mainly dwells on the cultures of Buddhism religion and the shared culture of the East Asian countries. According to Timothy (2002) Taiwan, Singapore and even Vietnam have all signed up for these films and their production houses all hold a similar plot in terms of the Buddhism religion and the common East Asian culture of Language and their knowledge of martial arts (Timothy, 2002).

This drives us to examine the huge capacity of East Asian cinemas and television programs as they hold a wide variety of styles and genres in fields like: the martial arts which comprises of action cinema in Hong Kong with eras of Kung-fu and other comedy action cinemas which are very symbolic of the East Asians cultural way of life (Ang & Len, 2001). Samurai films on television are also very popular and in Japanese they are referred to as Jidaigeiki (Gossman & Hillary, 2002).

Horror films are also popular in Japan and Korea and they all symbolized the different periods of the East Asian belief in dragons and horrifying events that were carried out in the name of black magic which was very common in these two countries. In modern times the cinema and television industry has evolved and there are animation films where animals are created as puppets and given human qualities such as speech and life in general. It has started in Japan and it is fast spreading to other countries in East Asia. Crime has also been addressed by these films especially by the Hong Kong department as it has one of the best police stations in the world.

Science fiction has also enveloped due to the introduction of the internet all over the world but they still have a sense of incorporation of monsters which were very common in the traditional era of dragons or the Tokusatsu (Gossman & Hillary, 2002). In general all these films from East Asia have that taste of Heroic bloodshed either from a setting of the past or when it comes to the modern art (Chua & Beng, 2003). East Asian culture and identity dwelt on heroism and people were taught to uphold culture while dedicating all their lives in ensuring their livelihood and identity was respected irrespective of background or social status.

According to Yao and Souchou (2002) the era between 1890 and 1950s saw the East Asian film industry being wholly dominated by the locals and it was very different from the films and television industries in Europe and America which had a mix of ownership. They were absolutely different from Hollywood films. When they later started having foreign film makers as players in the industry the foreigners did not dominate the East Asian films as actors. Hollywood films which were created in East Asia did not have the huge audience as required as they did not address the cultural aspect that the natives expected.

After 1950 East Asian films started gaining international influence and they won several nominations to the Oscars which is a prize that the best film makers and actors are awarded for work well done in their several categories. At the commencement of this decade The Samurai Trilogy by Hiroshi Inagaki won an Oscar while its later outcome of Seven Samurai became a blockbuster gaining wide recognition all over the world (Gossman & Hillary, 2002). The Japanese film industry had started gaining global acceptance and this was maintained due to its cultural isolation.

Other films that were produced included: Rashomono by one Akira Kurosawa and Ugetsu produced by Kenji Mizoguchi (Timothy, 2002). These two films won at the Venice Film awards and they were accompanied by the more Americanized film called Gates of hell by Teinosuke Kinugasa (Chua & Beng, 2003). These films were just a show of the mighty film content that was present in the entertainment media industry of the East Asian region.  It also was a show of dominance of the East Asian culture.

However, in the period between1960s and 1970s Japanese television and cinema production was affected by the disintegration of the studio system (Timothy, 2002). Japanese cinema industry faced a period of low audience as compared to its later years but this gave room for another player in East Asia to enter the limelight (Chua & Beng, 2003). Hong Kong cinema started gaining recognition and with time success had raided another state in East Asia. There were major actors who emerged from Hong Kong and they included: King Hu in the year 1966 who starred in the movie Come Drink with Me. Afterwards there was the emergence of Bruce Lee in the Hong Kong cinema who was a popular American born actor in the entire world (Chua & Beng, 2003).

Chinese filmmakers also started occupying the market as the new revolution of East Asian entertainment media gained momentum. It paved the way for Taiwan to start its own cinema industry dubbed the Taiwanese New Wave (Ang & Len, 2001).

Countries in East Asia like Singapore enjoy facilities such as the Fly Academy which is Singapore’s first certified performing school with all the facilities that have enabled East Asia to progress in its entertainment and media industry world wide (Yao & Souchou, 2002). This has been enhanced due to the popular culture in East Asia that is widely known in the entertainment industry.

Popularization of the Asian Media Market

East Asia Popular culture has enveloped American origins and in the entertainment scene Asian film industry is likened to Hollywood in America. Japanese popular culture has been incorporated into the Hong Kong popular culture, Taiwan and South Korean media entertainment industry. However, this intra-Asian cultural trade in items such as films in the Entertainment industry has led to uneven power exhibition in the region and display of legacy which brings uncompetitive rivalry (Sun & Wanning, 2002).

For a country such as Japan, its popular culture connects with other Asian countries in a way that surpasses other countries making it dominant country in terms of cultural growth. It capitalizes on the fact that its media industry is notwithstanding in its bid to enter the Asian market.

Popularization of the Asian market was due to the competition imposed from the localization approach that was applied to be shared by most global media industries in the world (Stronach & Bruce, 1989). The East Asian markets also became popular due to their low priced Television programs which it was airing as compared to other markets in the foreign countries. These low prices increased its fame and they became widely known in the entertainment industry.

The localization of Japanese cultural industries for instance in the Asian media markets and from this impact they can be compared the West or the American markets in several ways. Since the occurrence of the Second World War East Asia particularly Japanese popular culture was greatly influenced by the West mostly the American media (Tsai & Eva, 2003). Japan restricted these impacts and influences by copying the original (Aihwa, 2007) for example the Japanese Television primarily relied on the imports that it received from Hollywood.

According to Redding (1990) other East Asian countries like China imported only 5% of all the programs in the early years of 1980 and Japan followed suit. This was a quick indigenization of American Hollywood so as to improve the media industry of East Asia and to say the truth this concept worked until Japan and other strongholds were able to be on their feet in terms of development.

In general the Japanese media and entertainment industry have a strong belief that the greatest aspect that attracts the Asian market is the high form of indigenization or domestication of the western media culture and basic trends in the entertainment industry as far as cinema and television was concerned (Aihwa, 2007). This was also a result of combination of two different popular cultures so as to come up with a superior culture that was literally acceptable to the Asian people.

As Chow (1995) outlines, there are specific influences that have been evidenced in specific areas that have led to the high growth of Television and film industry in East and other parts of Southeast Asia. The definite increase in economic power and the growth had enabled the Asians to consume cultural products like magazines, tickets to movie theatres, compact disks and tapes (Chua & Beng, 2003). In general films from countries such as Hong Kong and Singapore exported their products through the wave of fashion that they literally created with their lifestyles. Asian celebrities had a different fashion style which they promoted in their films in terms of hairstyles, cloth fashion and a unique attitude that was not expressed anywhere else or on any other film (Chow & Rey, 1995). People were thus able to identify themselves with the artists and the movie stars.

In this sense that Japan and other bigger states in East Asia are able to create mature markets outside where they are able to export their music causing an increase in the integration of both the Japanese popular culture and the rest of East Asian countries like Taiwan (Chin & Leo, 2000). Their television programs attract many young people in countries like Taiwan than those that are locally produced in that country.

This is made similar to the fact that Japan and Taiwan have considerable similarity when it comes to culture and this is different when it comes to viewing dramas from countries like America where they have no semblance. More similarity is viewed when it comes to skin color as well as physical appearance (Chen & Xiaoming, 2003).

On conclusion, it is worth acknowledging that East Asia and the rest of Asia in particular have intra regional dynamics issues which they handle in a serious fashion in their quest for globalization of culture without having to interact with the media from the west and the popular culture.

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