If you think you’re watching Breaking Bad instead of X Factor in an attempt to define who you are and not succumb to what TV bosses tell you to watch, then you’re wrong.
The live action 101 Dalmatians would have you believe that racoons and skunks are prominent wild animals in England. Anyone with half a brain knows this is false, unless of course they escaped from a nearby zoo (the skunks, not the people that believe they’re native to England). So why oh why are there wild racoons and skunks in a film set in London? Because America, audience and film industry alike, is innately selfish. The reason behind the skunks and racoons in a film set in London? So American kids didn’t get confused trying to figure out what a badger is. Oh puh-lease! What about all the British kids watching a film set in their capital city wondering what on Earth those funny black and white cats with hands are? Better a false representation of London to confuse us Brits than a true representation that might confuse the dainty, uneducated minds of American children, right?
Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, a film I watched recently and reviewed this morning, is what made this article pop into my mind. A remake of a Japanese film named Hachi-kō about a loyal dog who’s adopted by a university professor when found wandering alone on a train station in Tokyo. Like a lot of American remakes of foreign films, Hachi: A Dog’s Tale is a Westernised version of the true story. Weirdly though the canine star of the film is an Akita, which stays true to the original story but begs the question if American audiences can get their head around a breed of dog native to Japan, why would they struggle with badgers? You’d think they’d have swapped the Akita for a golden retriever called Ben. Is the audience really as stupid as the media lets on or is this desire to Westernise, and more importantly Americanise everything, stripping true stories of their cultural roots, just another form of selfish domination? Yes and no.
The media controls what the audience does and doesn’t watch. If you think you’re watching Breaking Bad instead of X Factor in an attempt to define who you are and not succumb to what TV bosses tell you to watch, then you’re wrong. Everything we like, everything we watch and everything we use to define ourselves is mediated, forced upon us by the big producers who decide what does and does not reach our screens. If there’s a current trend in film, you can say goodbye to anything that attempts to be different. Those scripts will just get thrown in the bin, and even if they do get made eventually it’ll be on a tiny, independent budget and will probably never reach mainstream audiences. America makes up the largest portion of the film industry and the biggest amount of mainstream film releases, be it cinema or DVD, if they want to mediate what we watch and make everything Americanised then they can and they will. The point is, the American audience isn’t too stupid to know what a badger is, nor would they be incapable of watching and understanding a Japanese true story set in Japan. What the media does is dictate what we do and don’t watch by hand picking what gets shown on TV, what films make it to the cinema and
indeed what films even get made full stop. Their idea of what the audience wants is just that; their idea. When people say TV shows like The X Factor and other mainstream trash that takes over the entire TV for the few weeks it’s on each year, are what the masses want, what they really mean is that’s what the masses have been told they want. Ask most people whether or not they fit in with the mainstream masses and they’ll probably say something like ‘no, I don’t like The X Factor, I just watch it because there’s nothing else on’, and that’s my point proven; our likes and dislikes don’t actually fit with what the media believes the masses want, the media makes what they want, rams it down our throats and then when several million viewers tune in because there’s naff all else on they assume that it’s because we like that kind of shit.
That’s quite a long winded explanation, I don’t blame you if you nodded off halfway through, but in a nutshell my point is films like 101 Dalmatians get Americanised and we’re led to believe it’s because the audience is as thick as two short planks when they’re not. It’s not because the American audience wouldn’t know what a badger was, it’s because the media has decided for them that it would be too much for them to comprehend despite not giving them the chance to even give it a go. Talk about condescending! It’s a prime example of how the media is duping us into believing we’re making conscious choices about what we watch and what films and TV shows define us as a person; we get what we’re given, and granted there’s a lot of options so to an extent we do have control over what media we consume, but it’s all still hand picked by the big wigs at the top, for every five new TV shows that start up there’ll probably be ten or more that got turned down. The 101 Dalmatians example just shows how the media makes decisions on the audiences behalf about what they should and shouldn’t be exposed to without giving the audience a chance to see it and respond with their own opinion.
Don’t even get me started on We Bought a Zoo, I’ve been to the zoo they filmed that in multiple times (it’s in Dartmoor, which is near where I live in Devon) and the true story is British. Why they cast Matt Damon, changed the name of the zoo and pretended it was set in America (filming half of it at the zoo here in the UK and the rest back in the US) is beyond me. America needs to realise that life actually exists outside of America, and that life is equally important. It’s that typical ‘if it doesn’t happen in my country it doesn’t happen full stop’ attitude. If there aren’t badgers in America then clearly, they do not exist at all.