Transnational film is just a melting pot of questions, one that is prevalent is the question of whether film or culture can or should be owned by one group?
Transnational film is the developing concept of the globalisation of cultural and economic aspects in film. The meshing of cultures on a global viewing scale conjures up some interesting, thought provoking discussion on cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation is the adoption of someone else’s cultural aspects, generally being a culture that is a part of systematically oppressed groups, and exploited and used by a dominant culture without the history of trauma and oppression. This can be seen in popular culture and the media with examples such as Victoria Secret models using Native American headpieces as statements, Katy Perry’s blatant appropriation of Asian culture at the 2013 VMAs, Johnny Depp (White man… In case you forget) cast as a traditional Native American and Kylie Jenner’s cornrows and inability to apologise when confronted by a Woman of Colour about her appropriation[1, 2, 3, 4].
The argument of whether cultural appropriation is honouring culture, or cultural theft is down to social commentary and the ability to apologise and change. Unfortunately cultural appropriation is the commodification of cultural theft. In situations where a culture has been appropriated by a person in a position of power, such as a celebrity, they create a ‘cool’ influence to something that People of Colour have been criticised and oppressed by through history.
Cornrows in the 90s made an emergence, which being my generation I watched as countless celebrities made it their fashion choice to decorate their hair in a appropriation of black culture. So when you think of how far cultural awareness of appropriation has come nowadays in realising that this is an unfair and insulting practice by a white person, it is shocking to see someone blatantly wear them and have to be called out by a black woman. In a transnational cultural world, it is wrong to take something from a culture without realising the ramifications of doing so or understanding the background of their choice.
Transnational film has its problems with cultural appropriation, especially with countries taking it upon themselves to create films about other countries and their history. An example is Kung-Fu Panda, an American film about Chinese cultural heritage performed and voiced by americans, bastardising Chinese culture. The movie was encouraged by Chinese artist Zhao Bandi be boycotted for the exploitation of Chinese culture for American monetary benefit. It is one of the problems of transnational film development.
Are they in themselves a form of cultural appropriation? Many films take cultural elements and make them into something else, generally by cultures that have no part in the idea. Many ‘Australian’ films these days are byproducts of other nations cultural ideas, and the Australian film industry is flooded by people producing, starring and directing from other countries. Are they just exploiting the name of ‘Australian films’ to gain access to niche markets that produce and consume those types of ‘cultural’ films?