Synergy and the CI Paradigm

Tanner Mirrlees defines cultural imperialism as a “paradigm in global media studies” that “focuses on communication and media entertainment as an instrument of one nation-state’s economic, geopolitical, and cultural power over others” (Mirrlees 21). He also gives examples of cultural imperialism: Wal-Marts in Mexico, Starbucks in Taiwan, etc.

Mirrlees defines neo-colonialism as well, as “a new US-led form of de-territorialized economic rule through formally sovereign postcolonial states” (23).

The CI (cultural imperialism) paradigm has many claims associated with it, regarding the globalization of media. To summarize:

The CI paradigm says that…

  1. Cultural imperialism is part of imperialism, and a product of imperialism.
  2. The USA is a strong media center, and every other country is a weak, dominated border.
  3. The audio-visual trade market between rich and poor countries is one-sided, and favors the US as the central source of all media worldwide.
  4. For the US media industry to expand globally, it relies on the capitalist media model becoming universal, and publicly owned media systems being abolished.
  5. “The universalization of the commercial media model, and the growth of media corporations are structurally functional to the spread of, and the ideological legitimization of, capitalism” (27).
  6. The US government supports the dominance, expansion, and flow of US media corporations
  7. The content of US corporate produced entertainment represents American nationalist and/or consumerist-capitalist ideologies.
  8. Entertainment media allows the companies controlling that media to influence and change the local cultures of other weaker states.
  9. US entertainment media has negative effects upon local audiences
  10. The CI paradigm is postcolonial.

Next, I was surprised at how many companies Disney actually owns that don’t necessarily have “Disney” in the title. Touchstone Pictures being one of them, produced the new Spielberg movie, Bridge of Spies, Good Morning Vietnam, and the first three Step Up movies. Disney also owns ESPN, the Lifetime channel, the History channel, the E! channel, and 27% of Hulu. (See Box 2.1)

I also enjoyed the Harry Potter blurb in Box 2.2. Mirrlees dubs the Harry Potter franchise as one of the most commercially successful synergistic entertainment products in the world. As most people know, the books have been translated into at least 68 different languages. He goes on to list all the clothing, toy, and food companies that are able to make money off of the Harry Potter image. I myself have tried Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, and their counterpart game, Beanboozled. My friend and I went through about 25 mystery booger-OR-juicy-pear-flavored jelly beans, and didn’t get A SINGLE pear-flavored one. The soap, toothpaste, grass, and pencil shavings flavors weren’t half as bad though. As Mirrlees puts it, “Horizontal and vertical integration enabled Time Warner to design (the beloved book series which was doing perfectly well before the movies, but the movies are still awesome) Harry Potter as a synergistic entertainment franchise” (87).

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