The popular culture cuts across all regions and ethnic groups, acquiring a global face; however, it maintains a very strict and distinct cultural face in every nation or region. The popular culture, as evident in movies, music, and the mass media, has many elements of the global culture. The global culture means the things acceptable all over the world or preferable to all people regardless of their cultural background or nationality. Such elements include the worldwide acceptance of technological innovations. The popular culture depicts as many cultural elements as the global one. This statement may seem contradictory since the global culture in most cases overshadows the other cultures. Nevertheless, the pop culture creates an incredible balance between the two. That way, the pop culture is unique to every country or nation, and at the same time, it remains global. Films from different regions, such as those from Hollywood and Bollywood, clearly depict this form of the dual characteristic of the pop culture. Globalization and the resistance of people to the cultural assimilation are possible explanations of the two faces of popular culture. This essay will analyze the dual characteristic of the pop culture as apparent in films, examine how globalization contributes to the global pop culture, and will see how the pop culture manages to maintain a cultural touch in the times of globalization.
The popular culture is a global ideology born from globalization. The popular culture, which is evident in all aspects of human beings, mostly entertainment, reflects the current trends in the world. As the result of globalization, people living in Europe and America as well as those living in Asia and Africa share a global culture. In other words, there are standard trends in the human development common to people across the world regardless of their race or nationality. For example, women empowerment and feminism are ideas that quickly gain ground across the world (Brown 112). The extent of women empowerment differs from nation to nation and even among ethnic groups. Nevertheless, in the many small ways that some ethnic groups and nations empower women and in the dominant ways that the Western countries do the same, feminism and women empowerment become a common denominator. The acceptance of feminism and women empowerment is, in a way, the popular culture. Hence, films from across the world carry these themes, although with different emphasizes and degree of importance. In fact, films are indicators of the extent, to which nations and ethnicities embrace certain popular culture ideologies. For example, Hollywood movies depict many independent female heroes who do not work alongside male heroes (Brown 186). This portrayal of women as independent entities, who can stand alone and fight winning battles without the help of men, is a reflection of the western degree of women empowerment. On the same note, Indian films increasingly portray female heroes but not as independent entities. Rather, a female hero in Indian films succeeds with the help of the male hero as the backbone of her strength. Such a portrayal represents the Indian extent of women empowerment or belief in feminism (Brown 219). In the two cases, women empowerment is evident, proving that the popular culture has a global face, which is undeniable. The themes and ideologies dominant in the popular culture traverse ethnic and nationality boundaries, and globalization has made this possible.
On the other hand, the popular culture is a cultural element of individual nationalities and/or ethnicities. The popular culture of different nations, and at times, of different ethnicities is unique to the respective nation or ethnicity. As much as people have adopted the global culture, they retain their identity that comes from their culture. Every ethnicity and nation has unique cultural practices and beliefs that distinguish it from others. The popular culture always brings out such identities and beliefs held by the ethnicities. For example, some of the Western icons of pop culture are seen as abominations in the Asia, mostly in India and the Middle East (Hanan and Koesasi 54). Therefore, the pop culture portrayal in movies from India will be the ridicule of some pop icons of the West. For example, as much as sexuality is the most dominant item of the pop culture, it is presented as immoral and unacceptable in Indian films.
On the contrary, sexuality is emphasized in Hollywood movies, where the most elegant women are almost completely sexualized. The conservative depiction of sexuality in Bollywood movies is a form of pop culture item for Indians, as the public prefers properly dressed women. Sexualization implies that the women are characterless. However, the issue of character is negligible for Hollywood films, and women’s sexualization is the industry’s icon. Furthermore, the Western popular outfits are entirely different from the Asian ones. In America and Europe, the popular way of dressing is mostly official code or casual without the emphasis on color (Hanan and Koesasi 71). On the other hand, in Asia, the dressing code has high regard for color, and casual wear emphasizes different colors rather highly. In both Hollywood and Bollywood films, this sharp contrast in casual wear is apparent. Lastly, people from the West do not attach great importance to the traditional celebrations or holidays as those in India, for example. More so, even if those in the West celebrate holidays, they do so in a personalized manner. Indians have high regard for their festivals, and they celebrate them as a community, not as individuals. The festivals celebrations are an icon of the global pop culture, and yet, they differentiate the pop culture of different ethnicities. The way different nationalities appreciate different issues in life that form their popular culture is undeniable and outstanding.
The face of pop culture as a cultural element governs the global face of the same, bringing forth various portrayals of pop culture in different regions. That is not to mean that the popular culture is solely a cultural element; rather, the cultural face molds the pop culture to be a region-, nationality-, and ethnic-sensitive. The pop culture of individual communities emerges at the point where the global pop culture meets the cultural practices of the community (Gries et al. 13).
Conclusively, the pop culture is a dual element; it has a cultural face as well as a global one. Globalization spreads global ideologies, injecting them into the systems of different ethnicities. As the result of globalization, the different world ethnicities develop an appreciation for the majority of global ideologies and become a part of the global pop culture. At the same time, all ethnicities strive to retain their identity. Thus, they hold some values and virtues as well as practices that are unique and that do not easily disintegrate under globalization. These cultural practices and beliefs construct the individual pop culture of different ethnicities. In some cases, the pop icons of different ethnicities are contradictory and parallel. Such differences create the distinction between the ethnic pop cultures. There is no distinct line between the cultural pop culture and the global pop culture. Interestingly, as immiscible as the two are, they form the ethnic pop cultures. In other words, the pop culture of every region is a hybrid of the global pop culture and the cultural pop culture. The popular culture is not uniform globally. There is a considerable resemblance to the pop culture in the world, but a close look at different people’s depiction of their pop culture shows the differences. The films are one medium, through which the differences and similarities of the pop culture of different ethnicities are apparent.