Review Of Americanization Impact On Sport And Film Industry

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Hollywood’s global supremacy illustrates one of the main concerns of cultural globalisation. The increasing amalgamation and influence of global society poses a challenge to the unique identity of cultures. Banerjee states: “The USA has emerged as the most powerful player and dominates the world’s cultural industries (Crane, 2013). It’s been reported by Fu and Govindaraju that U.S films are increasingly being imported internationally (Crane, 2013). A trend that has emerged, is the frequent production of a cross-national styles of film, that translate to various cultures and groups around the world. This can include the filmmaking process including cast and crew. Batman Begins, Man of Steel and Marvels Spiderman, are examples of traditional U.S franchises having British actors playing lead iconic American characters. Christopher Nolan the director of the Dark Night trilogy is English, and the cast and crew of many Hollywood movies come from many countries, which can make it hard to determine what nationality or culture a film belongs to. With this increase in transnational film making, there have been increases in various motifs, violence, sex and fantasy have been major changes that are incorporated into Hollywood films (Crane, 2013).

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Due to this transnational style of filmmaking, American films that contain a unique cultural identity are becoming rarer. Despite political, economic and cultural differences, U.S films are successful overseas due to the transnational style. This has led to an increase in demand for more U.S films from Asian, European and Pacific countries. Because of this, a trend has emerged where European productions are increasingly co-producing with U.S productions to raise a global appeal, as well as gain access to the large distribution American films have worldwide. However, this can come at an expense to the integrity of the movie being made, as they often become Americanized, promoting the positive aspects of America or simply removing the negative aspects entirely. Ezra and Rowden state “the performance of Americanness is increasingly becoming a “universal” characteristic in world cinema” (Rizvi, 2014). The remake of Godzilla from the original Japanese ‘Gojira’ material is an example of Americanization of foreign source material. In the remake, the storyline of the U.S hydrogen bomb testing is brushed aside. Another trend emerging is the Chinafication of film. The Chinese market is viewed as an untapped gold mine for Hollywood, so a greater emphasis on success at the international box office plays into this. Movies cannot downplay Chinese culture, landmarks, or the government. Movies and their marketing campaigns get tailored to adjust to these Chinese regulations. This can all be linked back to globalization. The way the world is connected raises challenges but also sparks innovation in many industries. Sport is an industry that has been affected by globalization, but in the case of Australian Rules Football (AFL) – a uniquely Australian sport – there is a demand from within its governing body to grow the sport to reach a larger audience, essentially globalizing it. Like many film industries throughout the world, will Australian Rules Football be the next industry to experience Americanisation?

Globalisation has given Australians access to American culture in a more in-depth way than ever before. Hollywood has exported hundreds of thousands of films internationally that countries like Australia soak up. Like Hollywood, U.S sport is becoming far more prevalent in Australia. The NBA’s latest report reveals to Australia have the highest NBA League Pass subscriber numbers and revenue, outside of China and the U.S (Chua, 2019). U.S sport is becoming easier to access and therefore growing in popularity. The financial power of U.S sports and their strong connection with media has involuntarily made sports outside the U.S to adopt U.S strategies of commercialisation (Maguire, 2013). Certain experts believe that globalisation of sport is correlated with globalisation and American imperialism in this case (Maguire, 2013). Globalisation has led to heavy Americanization and McDonaldization in Australia which has brought with it, cultural imperialism. Now Australians have greater awareness, emotional investment and interest on events, trends and happenings on another continent across the globe.

The Australian Football League (AFL) has been transparent that it looks to the NFL and NBA as sources of inspiration and research on how to improve its brand. This was seen most recently in the 2019 AFL preseason where the league decided to introduce a new format called “AFLX”. This new format aimed to try reinvigorate the preseason matches whilst attracting new domestic and international audiences to the sport of AFL. This could be perceived as altering the traditional Australian Rules sport, to something more transnational and glocalized. The new format tweaked the rules of the traditional games, whilst also introducing new teams and logos which resembled American NBA and NFL teams in their cartoonish and dramatic appearance. Players were also encouraged to get dressed up and show themselves upon their arrival to the stadium on game day. ‘The initiative could see players wearing outlandish and/or suave looking outfits in an attempt to replicate their NBA and NFL counterparts”, Ben Guthrie wrote for AFL.com.au. This is the athlete equivalent of the Hollywood Star System, by which the actors/athletes are promoted and exploited for their public image and popularity to raise awareness for the new AFLX. The AFL did like China has done with their trend followings of Hollywood and spent large sums on marketing AFLX as well as introducing visual effects into the game. This attempted forced imposition of culture did not resonate well with Australian viewers and the AFLX format was deemed a failure and has not returned since.

Another example of AFL and Americanization would be the annual public debate as to whether to have the grand final spectacle which is traditionally played at 2:30 pm, played at night-time. A reason for this 124-year tradition-breaking idea is because it would add to the spectacle of the occasion, with broadcasters also set to benefit with a ratings boost. The hope is the event would provide a spectacle that is comparable to the Superbowl in the NFL, which is also played at night, has star performances at half time and is the most viewed program per year in America for 27 of the past 28 years (Statista, 2019). Commercially it makes sense for the AFL to break tradition and host a night Grand Final, but they are breaking traditional and a 124-year culture to do so. Money is the main reason for this change which again shows the effect Americanization has had on a uniquely Australian sport. Much like the European film industry, the AFL is slowly removing its own cultural identity and repositioning themselves in a transnational way to best attract and access the American sports market. This mimics the European and Hollywood film industry by which European films – particularly French – are co-producing with American production companies at the expense of their cultural identity to gain access to the supply chain, marketing power and influence that Hollywood has. 

16 December 2021

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