Friday, October 30, 2009
'Jai Ho (You are my destiny)' performed by Pussycat Dolls. Music video by A.R. Rahman.
A.R. Rahman is one of India's most successful composer/performers. He syncretizes Western classical with Hindustani and Carnatic music to invent new styles for film scores. A.R. Rahman wrote the song 'Jai Ho' for the film Slumdog Millionaire (2008). It became a huge hit and won an Academy Award in 2009 for Best original song.
"Jai Ho" is a Hindi word that means 'May you be victorious.' The song was given a new interpretation when it was given English lyrics and released by the Pussycat Dolls on February 23, 2009. This version was titled Jai Ho (You are my destiny). It occupied number one on the Australian ARIA Singles Chart from April 27 - May 10, 2009. The music video was shot at a tramway Museum in Vienna, Austria and is directed by Thomas Kloss. It is inspired by the final scene from Slumdog Millionaire.
The fan activity with this music video has been extensive and varied. From cultural dance performances....
Alternative film with superimposed lyrics,
to VJ Remixes
and DJ Remixes.
Matt Hills argues that the 'use-value' and 'exchange value' of an object can never be fully separated from one another. Even though fans appear to find new uses for a text that appear to depart from commercial value; these new forms can always be converted back to an item of exchange value.(35)
Many fans seem to be aware of this possibility. Many of the videos above are an advertisement for the fan's services - as a DJ, VJ, Choreographer, Dancer or Fitness Instructor. Some of them even display the fan's email address. This means that fan activity cannot be classified as a binary of commercial or utopian. It is fluid and can move between the two at any time.
It's also interesting to note that Jai Ho (You are my destiny) is an appropriation of the original song by A.R. Rahman. The fan activity further emphasizes the simulacrum effect. The issue of copyright infringement regarding fan activity was discussed in Tuesdays tutorial. The abovementioned videos illustrate one of the questions that arose from this discussion "Where is the boundary of copyright infringement?"
Matt Hills, "Fan Cultures Between Consumerism and 'Resistance'," in Fan Cultures. London: Routledge, 2002, pp.27-45.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Jon Swartz (USA Today online) reports on the rising popularity of game applications on social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace and Bebo. Farmville created by Zynga has 56 million monthly users. Social gaming is a fast growing market and appears to be successful because people like to be social while playing games.
Games generate profit by selling virtual goods to upgrade the players experience. They also make money by selling advertising space. Zynga's most recent game Cafeworld attracted 10 million users in a week.
Virginia Nightingale argues that the internet is becoming increasingly popular as a place to socialise and form identity (303). People used to get together in their homes or a public place to play games. Now an individual can play a game for 5-10 minutes anytime, anywhere. I find it reassuring that even with the rise of networked individualism people still like to be social.
Reference: New Media Worlds. Ed. Virginia Nightingale and Tim Dwyer. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2007.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
China was in political turmoil from approx 200-600 C.E. consequently many local kings embraced Buddhism hoping it would increase their power. Many of them preferred it because it was a new, foreign religion. The kings built monasteries and paid scholars to translate Buddhist texts from Sanskrit to Chinese. By 400C.E. the amount of Buddhist texts in China had vastly increased (Hansen 153-170).
Buddhism had been entwined with trade from its commencement. In India Buddha (ca. 500 B.C.E) relied on donations from Merchants to help Buddhism thrive. Monasteries and Buddhist missionaries received funds from rich businessmen who expected protection and merit in return. China’s superior quality of silk led to a lot of trade with India via the silk route. India offered semi-precious gems and glass in return. Trade from the silk road supported Buddhist clergy therefore lay people were encouraged to give silk, gems, glass and semi precious stones to the Buddha. (Hansen 155-175).
Sculptures and paintings were an important way of communicating the meaning of Buddhist texts to people who couldn’t read. Lay people were also encouraged to print multiple images and texts of the Buddha or Guanyin in order to have their prayers answered by these deities. In turn this media helped to shape and reinforce new myths. Quite often people would claim to have seen a vision of the bodhisattva Guanyin and the vision they described would be similar to images being produced at that time. Wealthy men or kings would claim to have seen Guanyin in a dream or vision. They would then fund a temple to be built. Lay people would tell tales of miracles that happened at the site. The influence of Guanyin would grow. The temple would become a pilgrimage centre and attract even more pilgrims (Chun-fang Yu 171).
The bodhisattva Avalokitesvara underwent many changes in myth and iconography as part of the process of becoming admitted into Chinese culture. The most striking transformation was change of gender. White-robed Guanyin was a local Chinese adaptation of the bodhisattva who grew in popularity during the Song dynasty (960-1279). She was seen as a fertility goddess and had many indigenous texts written about her power to give children or an heir to childless couples. Guanyin in white robes began to be seen on the island of Putuo, off the coast of Zhejiang from the twelfth century onwards. Tales had grown about her being sighted on the island since 1080. Putuo was perceived to be the Chinese equivalent of the scriptural version of the home of Avalokitesvara, an island south of India named Potalaka. This version of Guanyin became known as ‘Guanyin of the South Sea’. The different versions of Guanyin didn’t create any problems and instead served to reinforce each other (Chun-fang Yu 156-172).
Paintings featuring Guanyin with water and moon were increasingly made by Chan artists after the Song dynasty. The moon and water are Buddhist symbols for the intangibility of the material world. However there is no connection between Guanyin and these symbols in any Buddhist scripture. Chun-fang Yu argues that Chinese artists created this concept and made it popular through widespread copying of paintings in the 8th and 9th centuries. (156-157).
In summary Buddhism has gone through a long and varied process of sinicisation as part of being accepted into China. Buddhist artefacts are able to contribute a great deal of knowledge about the social and religious practices that were part of this process. Representations of the Buddha and Guanyin varied greatly over this time due to adaption and translation of Buddhist texts. Wealthy men or kings helped with the establishment of Buddhism and also influenced the versions of Buddha and Guanyin that were represented. Buddhism adapted to China successfully.
Avalokiteshvara, (17th century-18th century) Tibeto Chinese, National Gallery of Victoria.
Guanyin, Jin dynasty 1115-1234, Chinese, National Gallery of Victoria.
White robed Guanyin in a landscape, (early 14th century), Chinese, National Gallery of Victoria.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Bran is a blog by Brandon Muir, a young Canadian electrician who makes digital pop-art and music in his spare time. His band is called The Lou Diamond Philharmonic. His digital art is interesting because it combines different stars, political figures and other symbols to make ironic and funny statements. Its a great way of playing with semiotics. Newspaper and magazine collage was made by the Dada artists in 1920s Germany to make political statements.
Mark Paterson describes the consumer paradox of innovation and trend setting as more evident in youth subcultures.(57) The Bran blog could be an example of this idea. It is not reliant on the purchase of branded goods and commodities to form an identity. Alternatively it is commenting on mass production and mass consumption of media.
Reference: Paterson, Mark. "Consumption and Identity: Manufacturing Choice." Consumption and Everyday Life. New York and London: Routledge, 2006. pp. 36-57
Monday, October 12, 2009
Guyana Eco Resort.
While reading The Age newspaper online today 11/10/09 I noticed an ad in the lifestyle section for a competition to win a holiday in
There was a tiny photo of each resort accompanied by a short description highlighting their best features, overwater villas, views of Mt Kinabalu, marine ecology research centre, virgin jungle, coral reef, hilltop spa etc.
I clicked onto their respective websites which looked attractive with beautiful photographs of the island and interior shots of the villas that looked like 5 star hotel rooms. I looked at the underwater photos of fish that you could see on the diving activities. It looked like paradise, a fantasy world of luxury and relaxation. I decided to do some research into these resorts and the island they inhabit named ‘Palau Gaya’.
After much searching I could not identify which company owns these resorts. The two resorts are both members of ‘Preferred Boutique Hotel Group’ which is a
The internet has helped tourism become one of the worlds largest export services and e-tourism is a fast growing niche market. Many tourists want to stay in a resort that isn’t harming the environment. However I would also like to know that these resorts are contributing to the development of the local economy. Are hotel staff being paid decently or low wages? Are most of a hotels profits being siphoned out of the country?
Palau Gaya Immigrant Dwellings. source:Wikipedia
They also report that the Gayana resort “feels strangely abandoned…..considering the few guests who visit.”
A comment in the Kinabalu Blog by Murphy (online 2008) complains about the steep hike in fares to access the island.
In year 2006, I did a jungle trekking on
Ok, last month I wanted to do the same thing again. They forced me to buy a RM50 lunch package otherwise they wouldn’t allow me. If include the RM20 ferry ticket, I have to pay RM70++ just to walk in the jungle! And the
It is such a rip off, not only to me, but to the locals as well. I was so angry that I even thought of removing my “promotion” blog for Gayana. Well, how many more I should remove? Many good tourism spots are controlled by private companies who only care about making $. Without doubt, if SSL can make
So the lifestyle being advertised for these resorts is a lifestyle that is only available to a select group – wealthy people. Poor and working class local people and travellers are excluded from using the island. Both Resorts don’t appear to be putting any profits toward local philanthropy that benefit people in need. Gayana Eco Resort claim they do active restoration of coral reef and fish species. This marketing reflects a growing trend away from what Celia Lury calls ‘Greed is good’ selfish consumerism of the 1980s towards ‘green politics’ (1996).
However I’d like to see a more holistic approach from e-tourism, shifting the focus from nature to include more actions of social responsibility to humanity at the local level.
Lury, Celia. “Consumer Culture, Identity and Politics.” Consumer Culture.