Thursday, April 15, 2010

Blog #9 [S03]

I found the clip from Blade Runner that Matt showed us on Wednesday to be particularly relevant to the Appadurai, Liang and Yoon articles that we read this week, insofar that it portrayed a sort of globalized cultural convergence that threatens national identity while emphasizing the individual in unprecedented ways. Yoon’s article highlights the desire of non-Western nations to “catch up materially with the west” and “overcome their own inferiority complexes,” while simultaneously reconciling these desires with the urge to maintain local and national culture and identity (119). Lawrence Liang, similarly, claims that the trends of piracy emerging in Asia are also efforts to catch up to the West: “ways through which people ordinarily left out of the imagination of modernity, technology, and the global economy [insert] themselves into these networks” (12). In a time of such rapid globalization, made possible in large part through technology and new media, there seems to be an almost universal struggle to locate oneself in what Jameson calls totality.

Appadurai claims that technology, capital, media, ideology and ethnicity “flow” globally in ways never before seen, connecting nations and peoples who stay “open” to the “forces of media, technology, and travel” (14). In a world so transcendentally globalized, it becomes incredibly difficult to firmly locate oneself within totality. It is interesting to place the problematics discussed in Yoon’s article in the context of Appadurai’s, to take into account the rapid deterritorialization which Appadurai astutely notes. The issue of “catching up” technologically with America becomes somewhat moot for, say, the Korean who moves to the United States and subsequently has access to its technologies. But new problems arise. The diaspora of any given nation or people must reconcile the ideologies, mediascapes, and financescapes of their new and native homes once they become a part of the ethnoscape and even if they can embrace the technoscapes. Just as, so Yoon claims, Western technoscapes often invade other nations and bring with them the rest of the -scapes, so too do those in the global ethnoscape (“tourists, immigrants, refugees, exiles,” etc.) bring their own -scapes to the table in an age of deterritorialization.

It seems to me, then, that the globalization of our world’s culture, technology, ideology and the like could, at its peak, result in a certain hybridity or convergence while still being, as Appadurai claims, “disjunctive.” The Korean immigrant carries with him American cell phones and laptops upon moving to the US, but will also bring with him Korean ideoscapes, mediascapes, and more. I grew up in Dallas, where there is a fairly significant Korean population, and throughout town were scattered a variety of Korean Christian churches – I find this to be exceptionally relevant to this idea of convergence and hybridity. Christianity has a huge presence in Korea, despite being a traditionally Western religion; not only has a Western tradition invaded an Eastern nation, but the East has brought their Western faith with them – back to the West – as part of the ethnoscape. Indeed, there is a definite convergence of Christianity in this example, only possible in a world as globalized as ours. [Of course, the churches are specified as Korean Christian, which I suppose challenges the notion of true hybridity or convergence (true hybridity, in theory, only being achieved if Caucasians, African-Americans, Asians, etc. practice their faith in the same place), but it does speak to the increasingly convergent tendencies of our contemporary globalized world.]

I think Blade Runner very astutely represents these problems, despite coming at a time before the Internet or cell phones. The Los Angeles depicted in the film has a million different ethnoscapes (the language barrier between Harrison Ford and Edward James Olmos, who is Hispanic but speaking an Asian language); technoscapes (electronic billboards, flying cars, etc. – technologies contributed to from all over the earth, presumably); and so on. Ridley Scott brilliantly portrays the multiculturalism of this future world in a single wide shot of Los Angeles, presenting a world so hybrid and convergent that it might seem unreal to us, though in fact the film might be somewhat prophetic in this regard.

No comments: