WHAT MAKES AN IPHONE LAUNCH SUCH A BIG DRAW

The article originally appeared on DailyO.

The next iPhone launch date is finally out. It is going to be September 7. The press invite and the Apple website say so. We cannot say it will be named iPhone 7 because the iPhone rumour mill has thrown iPhone 6SE as well as the next in the series.

With this announcement, the public and the media frenzy that begins months before the next iPhone is launched in September will see its deafening levels that will see its culmination on September 7, the launch day.

This year it is expected to be even more varied and louder a chatter as iPhone just saw its first decline in its quarterly sales figures since its first launch and so there are speculations that iPhone would come with something blockbuster – like its form, thickness, interface, an all glass body, even its audio jack, and so on. iPhone is still the undisputed smartphone leader globally but that tag may come under threat unless it doesn’t offer something that is gamechanger, that iPhone was when it was first lunched or iPad or iPod, and not the incremental stuff that most of the iPhone launches have been.

The Apple profit basket shrunk, for the first time in Apple’s last 13 years, after 2003, in the quarterly financial results announced in April 2016. It was driven by a massive drop in iPhone sales – the first time ever in the iPhone history. And it was massive – 10 million units – from 61 to 51 million units a year ago. The Apple story since 2007 is the iPhone story – the smartphone that took the world by storm – registering stupendous growth year-over-year – from 3.7 million units in 2007 to 231 million units in 2015 – that is staggering over 600%. In fact the world’s biggest listed company is solely dependent on iPhone for two thirds of its revenue. iPhone has made Apple the biggest corporation on Earth.

So, there are much higher stakes involved this time and accordingly would be the chatter. We can gauge this from even the intense speculation level on the launch date. Media outlets, Apple watchers, bloggers, consultants and experts burnt their midnight oil in speculating (with assertion) that September 9 would see the next iPhone launch like the last year; someone said it would be September 16; someone else said the next big Apple launch event will be held on September 29. Forbes said as latest as on August 26 that the next iPhone was going to launch on September 9 while Fortune had confirmed September 16 as the launch date as early as in July.

APPLE IS DIFFERENT AND STEVE JOBS WAS DIFFERENT

No communication professional can ignore the massive global appeal that each iPhone launch generates. The extent of coverage that it gets is beyond the organizing capacity of any public relations agency or groups of marketing communication professionals. What Steve Jobs gave to the world is a must case study for every communication expert to deliberate on ‘how iPhone became a global brand with its single brand revenue surpassing overall turnovers of tech companies like Microsoft or IBM’.

Globally or nationally (even here in India), the Apple event to launch the next iPhone is expected to be the top trend of September 7, 2016 and the intervening one week will see intense activity on chatter platforms. Going by the precedent, the event is likely to figure in the top trends on many social media sites. What Steve Jobs gave to this world, a product that was elegant in its beauty, smart in its operations, blockbuster in its innovations and premium in brand visibility – took the world by storm.

Apple is different and Steve Jobs was different – for the way they both created a visible brand perception around the world – something that we can sum up as an ultimate realization of beauty and brain – something unheard of before Apple brings its products – yes that has been the unique hallmark of Apple making its products since Macintosh in 1984 stand out in the market – creating a cult following – that reached to phenomenal levels since the iPhone launch in 2007. What added to it was the personal touch given to the product and its launch event by Steve Jobs.

Apple knows that it has such a strong brand cult that people like to identify with every product because they believe if it is Apple, it will be a quality product that would define the category. It gives Apple executives, first Steve Jobs and now Tim Cook, opportunity to focus solely on the human interface, on telling how the next iPhone is going to be even more user friendly while launching every next iPhone at it favourite arena – the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. It has been the highlight of every iPhone launch event that it is people centric and not product centric. Apple shuts down its online store before the launch event to keep people across the world glued to the event only.

Result! Millions of iPhone are pre-ordered within 24 hours after booking is opened. Some 4.5 million iPhone 6S and 6S Plus units were pre-ordered in the first 24 hours and the first week shipment figures zoomed past 10 million units mark. The pre-order figure for 2014 launch stood at around 4 million units and the other launched have followed the suit.

IPHONE7EVENT

Next iPhone Launch Event Invite as Displayed on Apple’s Website

BRAND POWER – THE INTENSE BUZZ

The iPhone launch event is top ranked trend on every social media platform across the globe. The September 9, 2015 launch event to introduce iPhone 6 and 6S Plus was a top Twitter trend globally that shows how intense it becomes when it comes to final hours of iPhone launch event. News channels go live with the event in the most of the countries.

Twitter and Facebook generate an intense buzz of opinions/voices. Twitter has now become the global storehouse of #hashtags (of news and opinion) on any ongoing breaking development. Globally, in worldwide trends, the event with hashtag #AppleEvent was on top. The top 10 list had two other ‘iPhone tags’– iOS 9 and iPhone. It was on top and in top 10 in almost every major market from across the world – the US, the UK, Dubai, Germany, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. The hashtag #AppleEvent was on top even in India where Apple has a dismal market share of around 2 percent only. Almost similar trends were visible on Twitter pages for trending events in different countries.

iPhone, in fact, has become one of the most suitable example of our times on ‘how brands can affect campaigns/public relations exercises around them’. And when the world says that iPhone alone earns more in revenue than overall turnout of its nearest competitor, it sums up the central point about the brand in one word – perfect.

iPhone is the perfect brand to weave any communication package around it and like any ‘perfect’ brand, Apple doesn’t put much effort on the ‘promotion front’. Though its ad spend was around US$ 1.8 billion last year, nothing much is known about its public relations/corporate communications expenditure because most of it is self generated – by the world outside the company – the world inhabited by media outlets, analysts, enthusiasts and sophomores of the virtual/online world and people across the world. When Apple launches an iPhone the world talks about it. Apple telecasts the event live and whole world catches every bit of it – the world inhabited, again, by iPhone enthusiasts, media outlets and analysts.

In fact, the word around the next iphone starts doing rounds just few months after the launch event and reaches to the deafening levels as the traditional annual launch date in September nears. The fever built up the aura, like it always happens. And it generates tons of good words, volumes of media spaces and millions worth in PR and marketing exercises. Companies, big or small, always vie for some good, solid public relations visibility that enhances the soft appeal of a brand. News carriers and people talking every bit associated with a product is a dream that every brand aspires to have. With Apple, it is the other way round. Big and small, every media outlet is always ready to catch any buzzword related to Apple launch events, especially when it is iPhone.

©SantoshChaubey

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INDIA’S HANDLING OF CHINESE DISSIDENTS’ VISA ISSUE: A BOTCHED-UP AFFAIR!

India has denied visa to three Chinese rights activists who were coming to India to participate in a conference that started yesterday in Dharamsala, the seat of the exiled Tibetan government in India.

The four-day conference, ‘Strengthening Our Alliance to Advance the Peoples’ Dream: Freedom, Justice, Equality and Peace’, has been organized by a US based pro-democracy outfit, ‘Citizen Power for China’, led by exiled Chinese rights activist Yang Jianli, and is being attended by some 100 delegates from around the world.

After the row over the visa denial issue and its global media coverage and a widespread outrage, the organizers of the conference have decided to say no to any sort of media coverage. Media has not been allowed to the venue. Participants would not talk to media about the conference. And there would be no press releases.

So, in a way, nothing would come out.

And that is, again a bad publicity for India, after the visa U-turn issue.

Because, as reports say, the conference is being attended by many Chinese dissidents whom China would go to any extent to see behind bars or execute, i.e., Tibetans, Uighurs, Falun Gong members and Taiwanese. The same was confirmed by Dolkun Isa, a Germany based Uighur dissident from China, with whom this whole visa U-turn row began.

An open media interface of the conference could have told the world that India was indeed right when it decided to cancel visa of Dolkun Isa, Lu Jinghua and Ray Wong on technical grounds and it was not under the Chinese pressure, as the message has gone, in India, and globally. Democracy is long dead in China and human rights are as flimsy as Chinese leaders’ promises for political reforms. A discussion on it in Dharamsala and its open media coverage would have helped dispel the notions that India bowed under Chinese pressure and cancelled visas. After all, it is not that no Chinese dissident is participating in the Dharamsala conference.

The coverage in international media, first on India granting visa to Dolkun Isa, against whom aC China influenced Interpol Red Corner Notice is out, and then withdrawing it in the 11th hour, is a testimony to that.

National and international media, which was praising India for issuing visa to Dolkun, drawing parallels with the Chinese veto in the United Nations on declaring Masood Azhar a terrorist, started mocking India when India cancelled Dolkun’s visa.

Though, on its part, India said it was on technical grounds, as Isa had applied for a tourist electronic visa whereas he was coming to attend a conference that requires additional clearance from the Home Ministry, and that India had taken this decision unilaterally and there was no Chinese hand in it, the same day, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement that said China indeed had approached India with its reservations on visa to Dolkun Isa.

To continue..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

WHY AMITABH BACHCHAN SHOULD NOT BE INCREDIBLE INDIA BRAND AMBASSADOR. WHY SALMAN KHAN SHOULD NOT BE RIO OLYMPICS BRAND AMBASSADOR.

VIP or celebrity brand endorsement is a sensitive issue. And now it is being realized the world over to the extent of enacting legislations. Countries from America to Europe, even China are coming with stringent norms of who can endorse a brand. Even India is moving ahead in this direction positively.

The thrust behind such moves is to safeguard the consumer from misleading advertisements and thus products. On a larger canvas, it is about breach of trust because a consumer decides to buy a product a celebrity endorses based on his trust on the person that he believes reflects in everything associated with him.

That is the underlying common sense wisdom – the commonsense wisdom, that forces global brands to dissociate with brand ambassadors of global fame if something ‘not as per the norms’ happens – be it Tiger Woods or Lance Armstrong or Oscar Pistorius or even Amitabh Bachchan back home.

They all had negatives happening in their lives when sponsors shunned them – because it would portray their brand in negative hue.

This commonsense wisdom applies on every branding exercise – especially when you are speaking for communities, societies, places or countries – in social spheres – in cultural spheres – in political spheres.

So, when India chooses an Amitabh Bachchan (though Bachchan has denied it now) or a Salman Khan to represent the country (and not some tangible brand) globally, you can only rue about it.

No doubt, Amitabh Bachchan are larger than life film stars in India and they have a sizeable following overseas, even if limited to the Diaspora Indians.

But they have their fair share of controversies.

If Amitabh Bachchan has had controversies like episodes of his political career and Bofors row, his claim to be a farmer to get farming land to tax evasion allegations against him and his name coming up as director in companies in tax havens, as the leaked Panama Papers suggest – Salman Khan is deeply entangled in court cases – ranging from hit and run killing and maiming people to kill animals to rowdy behaviour on display many times in personal and public life.

And that makes them imperfect for any branding exercise to represent India internationally. It is true that for Indian film industry, there will be no Amitabh Bachchan and Salman Khan and that is uniqueness of their respective brand appeals. But this appeal is restricted to commercial products only.

When it comes to representing India globally through an advertising campaign like the Incredible India, Aamir Khan should come first and not Amitabh Bachchan. Aamir Khan, the previous Incredible India brand ambassador who didn’t charge for the campaign, so far has had an impeccable personal and professional life and he is known as a socially conscious fellow.

The denial that has come from Amitabh Bachchan now, after the Panama Papers controversy, should have come earlier, when his names started doing rounds for the next brand ambassador of the Incredible India campaign. That would have enhanced his credibility. But he chosen to remain silent then, for reasons, though we can gauge, only he can clarify.

When it comes to representing India at the Rio Olympics this year, any sporting legend like PT Usha should be considered and not Salman Khan. Appeals like Salman Khan would compensate for popular appeal and youth connect do not hold any ground. Salman Khan was chosen as AIFF (Football) brand ambassador in 2009 but we know nothing has moved on the ground as far as Football’s popularity in India is concerned.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

MASALA FILMS: SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS WHILE WATCHING KARMA

(While watching Karma  – a Hindi blockbuster movie by Subhash Ghai, starring Dilip Kumar, Nutan, Anil Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah, Jackie Shroff, Anupam Kher, Sridevi and Poonam Dhillon)

Some of the Hindi blockbuster movies made by some of the biggest names in the industry – the A-league directors – and starring some of the biggest actors – contradict the ‘fact’ that cinema is a serious communication tool – though indeed it is.

It is, in fact, the most serious communication tool for ‘soft power’ projections, exploited exceedingly well by the United States of America.

We may not know what is Scotland Yard or RAW but we certainly know what is FBI or what is CIA. Even Israel has done well on that front. People the world over know what is Mossad. We may not know ISRO or ESA but we certainly know what is NASA.

Anyway, ‘masala’ is a tried and tasted genre of filmmaking in India – a melodrama of action, comedy and romance. Here, with this genre, that is an unspoken norm in films across India, filmmakers aim for an entertainment product that can give them handsome return. In doing so, they try to stuff every ‘hit’ formula in products (films), irrespective of the elements of logic, to pull the cinema-goers.

A big production house, a famed director, the ivy-league actors, a good music and now a days, an efficient marketing – any of these elements or a combination of these elements can ensure handsome return for a ‘masala’ movie – even if the elements of logic are largely or completely ignored.

A holistic treatment for a ‘masala’ movie, something that we see in the cult Hindi hit Sholay, is not found in most of the films. And that is the case with this movie also.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

INTERNATIONAL YOGA DAY: CLAIMING THE LEGACY

It’s a new beginning for India – in its new pursuit of promoting a confident identity – using its age-old culture that has assimilated different incoming shades and has survived for centuries and is still going strong.

Yoga is a gift from India to the world. It is an art, a science, and a transcendental philosophy to realize our spiritual quotient. And in India, if we leave politics aside, its acceptability goes beyond religions.

And the annual International Day of Yoga (IDY), beginning this year today, on June 21, the Summer Solstice day that brings to us the longest day of the year (Summer Solstice day can fall on any day between June 20 to 22 but June 21 is common), should be seen in this context. There will be debates on why ‘Narendra Modi’ proposed June 21. Reasons range from scientific like the Summer Solstice to sociological like celebrations associated with the day to mythological like Lord Shiva taking note of the seven people in meditation for 84 years to seek him as their ‘Yoga Guru’ (as Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev writes) to political like June 21 being the birth anniversary of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar but let’s not go into that.

Yes, Yoga is a healing and wellness gift to the world from India – from ancient times. And it has continued to be so, spreading throughout the world, through travelers coming to India, through Indian texts and religions in other civilizations, like Buddhism spreading in many parts of the world, through cultural exports like art, sculpture and tradition and through linguistic influences, like influence of Sanskrit can be found in languages and scriptures of countries which shared historical trade routes with India, like Swami Vivekananda found during his voyage to the United States of America in the last decade of the 19th Century. It was Swami Vivekananda who introduced Yoga to the Western world in an organized way. He gave shape to an un-thought process that had started with European colonization of India.

Yoga has been there since ages. And its spread throughout the world has taken place gradually, in every age, based on its merits, more so in 19th and 20th Centuries. And it is continued even today with India being the leading light for gurus and teachers of Yoga worldwide.

Sages and ascetics developed the art in India and so naturally, the spiritual elements of Yoga have religious texts of Hinduism of the day or whatever we want to call (the religion). It was natural when the ascetics meditated enchanting names of deities (we follow them; we find in our religious texts) and taught their followers to do so. Doing so was practical and not religious. If religion had anything to do with it, it was about the God, the common link between ascetics, sages and other people. God was the central and common point of concentration of all. And it has remained so.

And that pragmatism is applicable across religions – in India, and outside India.

Yoga is an art that scientifically improves the mind-body balance of a person and, if willing, takes him to the higher realms of spirituality. Practicing it is not a must but a lifestyle with Yoga as its inseparable element brings qualitative changes in practitioners. And a large-scale adoption has potential to create healthier societies. Obviously, thinking that Yoga alone can do it will be daydreaming and more so in a society like India where multiple problems like poverty, quality illiteracy and poor civic amenities still beset societies across the country. To address the issue here, we need a political willpower to work on all these issues holistically.

But it doesn’t belittle on the factual benefits of Yoga – physical, meditational and spiritual – something that has taken it to beyond India – in every part of the world.

What Narendra Modi did should have been done by the political dispensation of India much earlier. It had to claim to be the origin-place of a legacy that was already global in appeal and outreach. But every political dispensation in India had failed to do so, so far. We cannot say if they even thought about it.

And Narendra Modi did it. He realized the potential of projecting soft power globally by claiming this legacy.

We may debate the quality and outcome of the governance so far by the government of Narendra Modi but we need to give him the credit for IDY.

India is the world’s largest democracy. It is the fastest growing economy of the world. It is the third biggest economy of the world in terms ‘purchasing power parity (PPP)’. Harvard University study report says India’s middle class will be the largest one in the world by 2030. The country is among the top military powers of the world with many firsts to its space programme.

If politically handled well, the country is slated to go up in the world order on human parameters as well. That requires efficient governance not just on core issue but on other important issues as well – like projecting cultural strength of India and using soft power as a policy tool to further the nation’s interests.

An international day for Yoga established by the United Nations and endorsed by its member countries including the Muslim ones on a proposal moved by Narendra Modi is a positive step towards that. Narendra Modi proposed IDY in September 2014. The United National General Assembly declared it in December 2014. And we are celebrating the first IDY today – all in a span of nine months.

The US has been using ‘soft power’ projections for decades and is quite successful there. If America is seen the world over as the right place for democratic values in a free and just society, we need to give due credit to its soft power projections as well. We all see that theme in Hollywood films – an industry with global export scale – even to the countries where dictators run amok. Russia was a natural villain in many big productions during the Cold-War years. In recent times, North Korea and China (though to a lesser extent) have also taken that place.

And China is trying its hands on projecting its soft power too though it has not much to talk about as the country is one of most repressive societies where one is free as long as one toes the government line there. That leaves China to promote its culture as the selling point, sans any political element. Projections of Chinese martial art, Chinese culture in ancient, medieval and modern times and China’s resilience during its occupation by Japan have been the main elements of this soft power projection.

India fares much better than China in having acceptable elements of soft power and the country should use such elements as a policy tools to enhance its global image like it has done with IDY. Yes, there will be controversies and criticisms and some loopholes in the execution of the developments associated with the projections, but sending the larger message will subside all that.

The world celebrated this global day today – from India to America – from many European countries to Latin American countries – from Asia to Africa – from predominantly Muslim countries to the democracies having predominantly Christian population.

And India led the show, led the way. The day was celebrated on a wide scale in India and abroad. Government wings including its forces and foreign missions were preparing for the day. Ministers and teachers were sent in many countries to organize events there. Spiritual and religious guru Sri Sri Ravishankar and Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj led the event at the United Nations in Washington. And in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi culminated his ‘daily Yoga tutorial through videos’ with a grand event at Rajpath in Delhi where more that 35000 people participated. Guinness says two world records were made today – 35,985 people made the world’s largest Yoga class in Delhi – and they were of record 84 nationalities.

And the right images from India met with the right images from the world over. Many in the global media covered IDY naming India as the country behind the move.

June 21 is also the birth anniversary of Jean-Paul Sartre, the French philosopher Existentialism is synonymous with. Individual existence is central to Existentialism and social developments are seen from the perspectives of human subjects. Hope policymakers in India also work on the core issues related to the human subjects – alleviating poverty, improving education and healthcare, ensuring Constitutional rights and removing corruption – in addition to the successful public relations exercises like the International Yoga Day.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

MAY DAY OR NO MAYDAY: RAHUL IS MAKING NEWS FOR GOOD REASONS THESE DAYS

“Today we pay tribute to the millions of workers whose hard work, sweat and tears have gone into building our nation. No country can aspire to greatness without ensuring that the people who build the nation are partners in its prosperity and success. That those who work in our factories, in our fields, at our construction sites, in our mines and in enterprises big and small across our country are assured dignity of labour and a decent quality of life. That their children too have opportunities to choose the life they want to live, and a chance to excel and prosper. Let us renew our resolve today to strive for an India in which every citizen rich or poor, farmer and labourer, irrespective of the circumstance of their birth can hold their head high and live and work with dignity and honour.”

Rahul Gandhi said this today, on May Day, on Labour’s Day, or on International Workers’ Day. And while saying so, he extended the revival plank of his party, the Indian National Congress, of being pro-poor and fighting for the cause of the farmer.

He is on an India tour these days, protesting the land bill ordinance. In his meetings and outreach programmes, he alleges the Narendra Modi’s government of being anti-poor and anti-farmer. He is alleging that the Narendra Modi’s government is pro-corporate interests and is working to usurp the rights and land of farmers and the poor of this country. He is saying that the ordinance route was taken as the government was not sure of its chances in the Parliament.

Yesterday, he was in Vidarbha, the place of Kalavati and Shashikala and countless others; the place where Rahul ate at Kalavati’s house in May 2008 (in Yavatmal’s Jalka village) and mentioned her later in his famous speech in the Indian Parliament during the trust-vote Manmohan Singh’s government.

He trekked 15 Kms of it. He is there to reach out to farmers and poor. Unseasonal rains have destroyed crops in around 2 lakh hectares, as the government data show. The real figure is expected to be higher, like the farmer suicides, over 1000 this year, in affected regions across 14 states. Some states like Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh have seen many farm suicides in these months.

And the National Democratic Alliance’s government has already re-promulgated a land ordinance that is vociferously opposed by the political opposition as well as some allied within the government.

A changed Rahul sees an opportunity here – of Congress’ revival – and of taking on Bhartiya Janata Party.

Yes, a changed Rahul Gandhi.

Post his latest sabbatical, Rahul looks politically active and more aggressive. And the BJP is taking it seriously, hitting back. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s response in the Indian Parliament yesterday can be seen this way. Firstpost quoted him saying – “Yeh sujh-bujh ki sarkar hai, isme koi galat fahmi nahi rahe (this is a government of solutions, there should be no misconception about this). Booted hona better hai. Booted out hona khatarnak hai (It is better to be booted. Getting booted out is very dangerous). Yesterday there was criticism (by Rahul) against the Prime Minister that he spends time abroad. At least we know where he is. Is India taller in the community of nations today than it was a few years ago or not? I was surprised when I read over the last few days that compared to the developed world, whether it was Iraq or it was Yemen or Nepal today, it is India which is now being considered as a global leader even in areas where we could not manage our own affairs earlier – disaster management. The Congress Party would realize when the Prime Minister of India goes abroad even for two days or three days, he performs a national duty. There is a difference between performing a national duty and disappearing for a jaunt. Therefore, you must realize the difference between the two. What is the kind of commitment to politics that you suddenly disappear for months together and then you come back and say that I will pick up an issue every day merely because it will make my presence felt.”

So, Rahul Gandhi, after his leave of absence, is more certain of his future than ever it seems. Probably, he has introspected and meditated about it.

Hope, the changed streak is there to stay – and words of his May Day speech, that are clearly backed by a pro-poor approach, should be backed by an intent that is natural.

And yes, he has to find the solution to the ‘Robert Vadra riddle’ and convince the countrymen about it. It should happen soon. There is indeed a mayday like situation there.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

NATIONALISM OF TRANSNATIONAL CINEMA

Some random thoughts, while flipping thought the movie channels, on nationalism of the Transnational Cinema, independent of what the definitions, the theories, the proponents say.

South Indian movies have taken over the Hindi movie channels. Flip through the channels and chances are you will come across 8 out of 10 Hindi movie channels showing a dubbed South Indian movie.

• But, poor dubbing! And who suggests such outrageously innovative names. Now, I am not going to name them here. Do some channel shuffling please.

• Dubbed South Indian movies for Hindi movie channels = Dubbed Chinese movies for English movie channels.

• Languages, movies and cultural assimilations: a global cocktail of inevitability.

• Transnational Cinema in Cultural Context: assimilation or subjugation or synthesis?

• Transnational Cinema: bundled entertainment or packaged communication or artistic expression?

• English Cinema and the spread of English across the globe = Hindi Cinema and the spread of Hindi across India.

Thoughts (or questions) on the subtle cultural effects of movies that reach nationally, in case of regional cinema of a country, or globally, in case of the international cinema originating in different countries.

Thoughts (or questions) that come naturally to the fore while flipping through the movie channels – Hindi and English, in this case, in a Hindi-speaking North Indian family – and finding the content of the Hindi and English movie channels populated well with dubbed South Indian movies (on Hindi movie channels) and with dubbed Chinese movies (on English movie channels, though to a lesser extent).

Thoughts (or questions) that come to the mind while flipping through an ever increasing number of English movie channels, giving us the best, the regular and the worst of the Hollywood Cinema.

Yes, if we go by the definition of the term ‘transnational’ (extending or operating across national boundaries-Google) and its literary interpretation, we can say the US Cinema or the Hollywood export is the only dominating Transnational Cinema. No other Cinema reaches to the nations across the globe as the US Cinema, the Hollywood products.

The discourses, the theorizing define ‘Transnational Cinema’ in terms of its production aspects, the elements of filmmaking, liberation from boundaries, the involvement of people, places and concepts belonging to different countries that come together to give us a final product that very much remains a product of that country which is its major funder.

The discourses, the theorizing discuss thematic elements of communication practices like media monopoly, media hegemony and counter-hegemony, consumerism, post-colonialism, World Cinema Vs Transnational Cinema and the cultural influences and their geographical spread, and so on.

Still an evolving concept, some books written, a journal that I came across, some theories proposed, but the literature on Transnational Cinema is still mostly auteur; is still in the realm of the vaguely defined and, thus, is open to interpretations like any concept in the age of the post-modernism should be.

Thoughts (or questions) that come to the fore not on the transnational production elements but on the transnational cultural elements and their imagery, their capacity to draw the mileage from the soft power they possess.

And Uncle Sam being the tallest one with the widest reach (and singular global outreach), enjoys the cross-country runs of huge commercial benefits with embedded elements of cultural and social outreach.

The Transnational Cinema that is reaching to the most of the countries of the world is predominantly the US Cinema, the Hollywood export, in its cultural values.

The nationalism of the ‘Transnational Cinema’ from the US, the sleek Hollywood productions that the global audiences love to cherish, remains American at core.

Like most of the other commodities traded globally, the Hollywood exports, too, have Americanism in-built, giving us the reasons to believe in the ‘American dream’; saving the world, saving the mankind acting as the big brother among the nations; giving us best of technologies, best of production values, at least on screen.

And like any cultural export, it has its acceptable and unacceptable elements (and not good and bad, that is a misplaced way to look at it).

Irrespective of the debates on ‘good or bad’ of such cinema, if the transnationalism of the US Cinema makes us accept the US values, nothing wrong in that. Yes, but that should never allow us to undermine ours.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

THE AMERICAN SUPERHEROES

They are doing roaring business with their Box Office collections running in billions of US$. And more than half of the collection for these global blockbusters comes from the markets (countries) outside the US.

Apart from the sheer value of entertainment, these superheroes have also been the tools of the soft branding efforts of the US administration and its industries, to project the US dominance and supremacy in a positive, more approachable and humanitarian way.

And the bombardment, the messaging, has been consistent.

But like always, like with every such exercise, they, the American superheroes, raise some valid questions (to enrich the General Knowledge base; to understand what is yet to be addressed): 🙂

• How many times has the US saved the Earth?

• Who is the most powerful of the superheroes – one ‘manned’ with a prefix or one without it?

To say, like from among the likes of Superman or Ironman or Batman or Spider-Man or from The Hulk or G.I. Joe or Captain America or Fantastic Four or X-Men or ‘so on’.

• How does the nationality of a superhero affect his ‘superhero’ness?

Have you come across a superhero of global fame having a nationality other than American?

• How come almost of the superheroes of global or universal fame have native or permanent or mutual connect with the US only?

They are born American or they have grown American or they come to the Earth from the Outer Space with an American interface as their primary (and only) connect with the people of the Earth?

• What are the differences between the American superheroes and the superheroes of other nations?

• Difference(s) between the superheroes of the developed and the developing countries? Can underdeveloped countries afford a superhero?

Yes, other nations, too, have their own superheroes, but they are restricted to the country of their origin only and are easily overpowered by the American Superheroes in most of the Box Office duels.

• So few of them – how deep is the gender bias among the members of the exclusive group of elite superheroes?

• So few of them – why don’t we have good enough presence of female superheroes, or the more politically correct term ‘superheroines’? Studies?

The gender activists, the women voices, the feminists, have they carried out studies on this blatant gender-gap on a platform that packages content and messages reaching out to the global audiences? Have there been such studies? Please share.

• A superheroine/super-heroine (female superhero) of global or universal outreach – name please?

• Evolution of superheroes and Evolution of women’s rights – what are the parallels (and skews) to be drawn?

And dear folks, the list here is not exhaustive. Much more can be added. It depends on how curious you get to know how much you can dig while watching an American superhero movie or while reading about it or even while watching its phenomenally-larger-than-life promos.

But one thing is for sure, they come with brilliantly packaged bouts of entertainment for the masses spread across the countries.

It’s just yet another, subtle, American way to say ‘we are here and we are everywhere’.

🙂

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

US SUPERHEROES SAVING THE WORLD SO CONSISTENTLY!

Which one of these is more common on TV screens?

— American superheroes saving the world almost every few months!

— American scientists saving the world almost every year!

— American elite, like the President of the United States of America, taking the charge of the operations, saving the mankind, with an increasingly direct intervention!

— American musclemen saving the world from alien invasions dangerous enough to wipe out the humanity at regular intervals!

— American commoners saving the mankind at regular intervals by emerging as larger than life heroes sacrificing their lives!

— American cops acting overtime overshooting their human capabilities, stretching their limits beyond the limit to save the mankind from an imminent threat of annihilation!

— The US Defence establishment leading the global forces, with the global partners mentioned just in passing references, to save the Earth from a devastating alien invasion!

— The US commoners, elite, superheroes, musclemen, even the henchmen, working together to save the Earth from some alien invasion or some apocalyptic threat from nature!

The United States of America being the ground zero of every such activity, an alien invasion, an apocalypse of nature’s fury, a global mayhem of a failed scientific experiment, or devastating nuclear weapons in rogue hands, thus being the savior of the world by containing the threat in the very beginning, with the minimum possible destruction!

An imager exported to the global community, at regular intervals!

Nothing wrong it that.

If films are primarily to entertain the majority of the audience, the flicks with the above mentioned themes with massive global outreach, do entertain their audience, spread across continents, including many of the die-hard America-bashers, satisfying the urge in them to find a role model to look up.

But, irrespective of the debates on US hegemony and domination, what we need to appreciate is the outreach of the ‘soft power’, not sponsored by the state (American), but created and cultivated by an independent industry (Hollywood), to spread the values of ‘Americanism’, again irrespective of the debates on its perceived and real-time effects.

The brilliance, here is about the imagery.

The world accepts the US is the only global superpower today, irrespective of the discourse on China story.

The larger-than-life hero movies from the Hollywood may or may not be intended to support this identity of the US but the roaring business of such movies in overseas territories only strengthen this notion.

Nothing wrong in that because they do so without imposing the imagery, an imagery that amply entertains the audience!

The United States of America is the only global superpower irrespective of the China story discourse – can we deny it?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/