by Jeremy Tunstall ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 1, 1977
. . . and the causes which this BBC-affiliated sociologist finds are as fascinating and implicative as the effects. For instance, ""the American competitive commercial presence [represented in situ by the multinational ad agencies] usually brings. . . a preference for the electronic media"": ""Few governments are likely to be worried by such a tendency since governments typically find their electronic media more amenable, in the areas which most interest governments, than their domestic press."" Is this, then, cultural imperialism? Tunstall, who appears to have read every relevant work and considered every possible viewpoint, is thoroughly aware of the issues; but he bears down on the Media Imperialism thesis--and its leading spokesman, Herbert Schiller (Mass Communications and American Empire, 1969)--from various angles. The media exports--starting with films--predate the general American economic presence overseas; it is unrealistic to expect a return to traditional cultures ""which although authentic are also dead""; the only way out of the American-built box--literally a box, in the case of TV--""is to construct a new box, and this, with the possible exception of the Chinese, no nation seems keen to do."" (Else why not giant-screen TV for communal viewing?) Tunstall is not a blamer or an excuser, however; his concerns are broadly--and explicitly--the development of the US media and the reasons for their spread, including the advantages of English as the world media language (wide usage apart--its ""brevity, terseness, pace and precision"" suit it to ""comic strips, headlines, riveting first sentences, photo captions, dubbing, sub-titling, pop songs,"" etc., etc.); the American media conquest, 1945-53, area by area; and the unsuccessful--chiefly Arab and French--challenges to it. There are, nonetheless, some alternatives to the international (US dominated) and local (traditional) media: hybrids ""on the pattern of the Indian, Hong-Kong, Egyptian, or Mexican film industries. . . and the Zambian or Thai versions of 'country and western' or the Brazilian or Argentinian telenovella."" Sound unfamiliar? Every paragraph of Tunstall's work is packed with new information or insights, whether he's talking about New York's immigrant Jewish film pioneers who found it as natural to export to Europe as to the Middle West, or writing off the French media as ""always fundamentally about something else"": French culture. He advises a selective reading--but you'll be back for more.
Pub Date: July 1, 1977
Page Count: -
Publisher: Columbia Univ. Press
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1977
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