Television Lost In Translation

What makes a television show funny? In the case Kath and Kim, the reason why that show is so hilariously funny to us Aussies is because in some way or another we can all relate. Kath and Kim underneath all the exaggeration and vulgar stereo typing, actually gives a pretty accurate depiction of the typical, suburban, middle to lower class, Aussie Bogan lifestyle. While you yourself may be nothing like the characters on the show, I am sure that you know someone who is. Come on quit denying it.

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So if the reason for the shows success here in Australia is because it is a satire of our own culture that allows us to laugh at ourselves,why did some genius out there think for one minute that the show would work well in America? Yeah that’s right I am talking about that abomination of a show that was the US version of Kath and Kim. That show was an instant flop and it is no surprise. The thing with comedy is that it differs from region to region and often can be lost in translation. Which was exactly the case with Kath and Kim. The reason for the shows failure was simply because it was putting humor shaped from an Australian context into an American environment. Americans had no relation connecting them  to characters and therefore did not understand the irony. For America their Kath and Kim needed to be more like Earl and Randy of My Name Is Earl because that is a satirical look into Southern Redneck America that US audiences can identify with.

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A similar sort of thing happened with The Office. This was originally a popular British television show that, although was a major success in America, needed to be completely overhauled in order to do so. The dark self depreciating humor that is British black comedy would not have been popular in America. The show needed to change, It needed to be less realistic, more light hearted, more silly and not to mention more aesthetically pleasing (Sorry Rickey Gervais).

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One thing that never ceases to amaze and frustrate me is the western need to alter Anime and target it to children. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve been sitting in my room watching a Japanese Anime when my parents would suddenly burst in and say “Stop watching cartoons you are an adult”, at which point my reply is always “They are not cartoons they are Anime”. In Asian countries Anime is not made for children; it is for adults but for some reason when it is transferred into western culture it is always interpreted to be for children and is adjusted so accordingly.

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This is another way television is lost in Translation. In order for shows like One Piece to be successful in America and Australia they have to be changed dramatically. First of all they have to be dubbed, this is horrible because by simply changing voice actors from serious actors to children’s cartoon actors you instantly loose the quality of the show. There is no real in depth emotion just silly, patronizing, child catering, shrieks and yells. Secondly the entire show has to be watered down, That’s right no gore, no violence, no accurate looking weapons and worst all no innuendos of any kind. In One Piece Sanji’s trademark  cigarette is changed into lollipop. To me it does not make sense for a mighty pirate to carry around a lollipop everywhere he goes and I think it is just insulting to the seriousness of the show.

WHAT IS THAT EVEN SUPPOSED TO BE

WHAT IS THAT EVEN SUPPOSED TO BE

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I Still Call Australia Home?

When someone asks where are you from, do you instinctively say the place you grew up in or do you say the place you live in now? perhaps you talk about your heritage or nationality or even the place you associate with the most.

When someone asks me this question my answer would have to be Australia because it is the only place I have ever lived but recently I have been thinking about what it means to be Australian and I have come to the conclusion that I don’t really know.

There are some aspects of Australia that are considered to be a part of our culture but the truth is I don’t really associate with these things at all. I don’t like football or cricket, I’m not that fond of barbeques or the beach, I almost never wear thongs, I’ve never lived out in the bush and I am in no way Aboriginal. So does this make me less Australian? Perhaps I should say I am Italian because that is my heritage, but then I’d still feel the same because I’m not really connected to Italian Culture either. If it’s the place you associate  with the most that determines where you come from than I would gladly say I am Japanese because nothing makes me feel more at home than eating Ramen, drinking some sake and watching an anime or reading a Manga. But how could I say that when I am not even from Japan?

Australia is a prime example of a ‘global village’ in the sense that it’s a culture made up of many different cultures. When I stop and think about my everyday Australian life from the things I eat to the clothes I wear, from the movies I watch to the music I listen to, all of it is either influenced by or entirely imported from other cultures all over the world. This leads me to the question has all this cross cultural integration led to a destruction of culture itself?  What it means to be Australian is a difficult question to answer when Australia is so multicultural that is ceases to have its own identity.

At the same time though while I know Australia is very diverse and multicultural, I sometimes wonder just how globalized it really is. It is still a western dominate culture and the existence of cultural Imperialism is clearly evident. As Todd Gitlin states” If there is a global village it speaks American“, take film and television here in Australia for example. About 80 percent of movies released here are American Hollywood blockbusters and the television shows we import are primarily American as well. There are so many great Australian Movies out there but when I think about how many I have seen personally, It would probably be less than forty and when I think about how many American or British Movies I’ve seen it would be in the hundreds (yeah I watch A LOT of movies). The truth is there just isn’t that many foreign films available in Australia. Even look at the magazines we read, What are we reading about each week? American celebrates and American pop stars. You can’t even enter a town in Australia without finding a McDonald’s or two and everyone here has an iPod. So yes it can be noted that Australia in some ways is heavily dominated by western culture particularly American however in other in ways it is a very diverse and multicultural nation. The hard part is determining where global influences end and Australian culture begins.