United States global dominance in entertainment
The entertainment industry is dominated by Western conglomerates, which allow Western values, politics and ideas to dominate lesser-developed countries. I believe that the United States uses their dominance in global media as a conduit to promote their political and social values on other countries. This dominance of Western values, politics and ideas is also known as “electronic imperialism” Electronic imperialism “holds that less developed countries (LDCs) will increase in prosperity as they absorb Western products and culture, although at the expense of their domestic economies and cultures,” (Fagan & Munck, 2009, p. 271).
The United States dominates the motion picture and TV show production across the globe. They generate between 50 to 60 percent of their revenues outside of the United States (McChesney, 2010). The music industry has even more of an influence, with 70 percent of their revenues outside of the United States. The top media conglomerates, Time Warner, Disney and News Corporation, not only have economic influence, but political influence as well. McChesney (2010) says, “The rise to dominance of the global commercial media system is more than an economic matter; it also has clear implications for media content, politics and culture,” (p. 188).
We can see this American influence in individuals who are not from the United States. Take for example, the successful entertainer, Trevor Noah. Trevor, a comedian from South Africa, states that many African youth learn about American culture through American television shows (Noah, 2013). He speaks about how he learned about sports, politics and American culture through music and television, such as Snoop Dogg and Different Strokes. Dr. Patrick Mendis also speaks about he was influenced by American media, including Reader’s Digest, “Voice of America” and Sputnik, (2007). McChesney (2010) provided an example of the global influence of the media with the image of the young woman from Timbuktu wearing a hat from Disney’s Anaheim Mighty Ducks team. This demonstrates that American media has an influence on other countries, but how does America promote their political and economic values through this media?
This political bias in the media can be seen through the content in television programming and movie content. McChesney (2010) believes that the global media system plays a role in neoliberal democracy. Neoliberal democracy is the practice in which the private interests of the elite wealthy are permitted to dominate, even though the political system is based on the right to vote. Thus wealthy investors and the top corporations have the power over political and economic interests to maximize their personal profit.
McChesney (2010) argues that the reason for the drop in voters in Chile, from 95 percent of the adult population to only 41 percent in the most recent election is due to neoliberal democracy. He says that neoliberal democracy is underscored with cynicism and apathy. He attributes this to the U.S. dominated media.
However, I believe that there are both positive and negative attributes to the dominance of American media in the global marketplace. First, I don’t agree that the drop in voters and increased apathy among Chilean voters is due to a global media prescence. McChesney’s correlation between these two factors is weak.
Additionaly, there is an economic benefit to a global media presence. The landscape of American exports has changed over the years. The U.S. is the world’s third largest exporter. In 2013, only 10 percent of US goods exported were automobiles and only nine percent of goods exported were food and beverages (Amadeo, 2014). This demonstrates that the U.S. is not exporting goods, but rather services. The biggest export from the U.S. is entertainment, including movies, television programs, music and books (Farhi & Rosenfeld, 1998). In 2013, U.S. exports for Royalties and license fees equated to $130 billion. The United States should continue to expand in global media, as it is one of the most successful exports.
Neoliberal democracy, with its notion of the market uber alles, takes dead aim at this sector. Instead of citizens, it produces consumers. Instead of communities, it produces shopping malls. The net result is an atomized society of disengaged individuals who feel demoralized and socially powerless
The three most important media firms are
McChesney (2010) says that there is a close connection between the rise of the global media system and the global political economy.
Amadeo, K. (2014, April 21). U.S. imports and exports components. About News. Retrieved from http://useconomy.about.com/od/tradepolicy/p/Imports-Exports-Components.htm
Fagan, G.H. and Munck, R. (2009). Globalization and Security. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, LLC.
Farhi, P. and Rosenfeld, M. (1998, October 25). American pop penetrates worldwide. Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/inatl/longterm/mia/part1.htm.
McChesney, R. (2010). The media system goes global. In D. K. Thussu (Ed.), International Communication: A Reader (pp. 89-104). London: Routledge.