Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Entertainment as cultural learning

Streaming video has become an important part of entertainment in the US and around the world.  As the demand for content increases and the production faces limitations an important cultural phenomenon is taking shape.

As viewers look for content on the now pervasive Netflix platform, Prime Video, and others, they discover that a very large proportion of the content they find comes from cultures other than their own.  That is not necessarily new in entertainment, but the sheer volume of culturally diverse content has dramatically increased. 

Series and movies from India, China, Korea, Argentina, Mexico, Spain, Germany, Denmark, England, Sweden, Norway, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc. are increasingly presented as choices.  This is not a criticism at all but a realization that inadvertently an increasing number of people around the world are becoming culturally informed.  Many times this cultural education is without the awareness of the viewer.

Many of these movies and series come with generic lip movements that can be synchronized to multiple languages.  So, for the unaware consumer it is difficult to discern that they are exposed to content from other cultures.  There is nothing inherently right or wrong with this.  Cultural learning is nevertheless taking place with or without the awareness of the viewer.

The implications of this new world of global content are many.  Multiculturalism may have a fast track in this new environment.  Tolerance of diverse points of view may increase and prejudice may give way to more understanding.  The taste for different looks and points of views may become diversified.  On the other hand some prejudices may be solidified as some viewers confirm their biases.  

I believe that paying attention to this trend towards culturally diverse content is important and worth studying.  Will children grow up more tolerant and accepting of differences?  Will viewers learn to appreciate content that diverges from the preconceived ideas of cultural norms?  

Content providers may benefit from monitoring and studying how content preferences in their audiences develop and change.  From my point of view this seems to be a promising phenomenon for the good of humanity.  

On the other hand, it is also possible that prejudices may be reinforced as some audience members avoid content that looks foreign or generic.  The look and feel of culturally diverse content is difficult to hide.  Generic lip movements can be detected and deemed as fake.  

Overall, as this trend of multinational content evolves, it is possible that it will create a more harmonious global understanding and a more tolerant society.  At least that is my hope.

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