Globalization has allowed for a tremendous rise in cultural hybridization (where cultural elements blend between different cultures, without one culture being destroyed) and contraflow (the shifting of cultures across regions/borders). While we may see the world as becoming totally uniform “through a technological, commercial and cultural synchronization emanating from the west” (Pieterse, J 1995), this is not totally the case. In fact, so many cultures are merely just blending western antics with their own.
Some might argue that Hybridization is a “loss of purity, wholeness and authenticity” (Pieterse, J 1995). However, Nollywood shows us how hybridization can create something authentic and powerfully unique.
Nollywood is a genre of film made in Nigeria (Hence: N[igerian H]ollywood). It is the second largest film industry in the world, right bellow Bollywood, and above Hollywood, producing around 1000 films per year.
Nollywood stories “are told using African idioms, proverbs, costumes, artefacts, and the imagery of Africa and cultural displays” (Onuzulike, U 2009), however, to create relatability and engagement many Nigerian films will use an American ‘pop-culture’ and/or powerful character.
In 2016, Buzzfeed released an article showing 16 Nollywood films that use powerful American pop-culture figures in their films, to tell a Nigerian story (AKA 16 Nollywood Films that Have No Chill). Characters and figures used include Beyoncé and Rihanna, 2Pac, Lady Gaga, Obama and even Kim K’s daughter North West!
Nollywood is such a strong example of hybridization because of the way they blend American culture with their own, to tell a uniquely Nigerian story.
Nollywood isn’t the only cultural entertainment industry gaining popularity and exampling hybridization.
“Hallyu” or, “Korean Wave” refers to the popularity of Korean media culture across East and Southeast Asia (Shim, 2006).
Shim (2006) states that “although popular entertainment forms such as film and television are a Western invention, Koreans have provided their own twists to these media by blending indigenous characteristics and adding their unique flourishes in often innovative ways”.
One of the most popular Korean things I can think of is the catchy Psy song Gangnam Style which has hit nearly 3 billion views on youtube!
In an interview for the CNN Sung Tae-Ho (a senior manager in the Korean Broadcasting System’s content business) stated that “based upon that cultural background, we exchange our emotions, what we think and what we feel. There is a low cultural barrier to crossover with our content. It is kind of a syndrome. Asian people love to enjoy Korean stuff.” Korean Wave is so popular throughout other parts of Asia, simply because Asians are able to relate to it and the style of Korean entertainment more so than Western media.
Nollywood and the Korean Wave challenge the argument of hybridisation and globalisation as a loss of pure culture and authenticity. They combine parts of other cultures with their own in their entertainment productions for relatability and sale value, and quite frankly, its working for them!
Pieterse, J. (1995). Globalization as Hybridization, Global Modernities.
Onuzulike, U. (2009). Nollywood: Nigerian Videofilms as a Cultural and Technological Hybridity. [online] Ohio. Available at: http://web.uri.edu/iaics/files/12-uchenna-Onuzulike.pdf [Accessed 20 Aug. 2017].
Shim, D. (2006). Hybridity and the rise of Korean popular culture in Asia. Media, Culture & Society, 28(1), pp.25-44.