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Hollywood Planet: Global Media and the Competitive Advantage of Narrative Transparency (Routledge Communication Series) [Hardcover]

by Scott Robert Olson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

June 1, 1999 0805832297 978-0805832297
The popularity of American television programs and feature films in the international marketplace is widely recognized but scarcely understood. Existing studies have not sufficiently explained the global power of the American media nor its actual effects. In this volume, Scott Robert Olson tackles the issue head on, establishing his thesis that the United States' competitive advantage in the creation and global distribution of popular taste is due to a unique mix of cultural conditions that are conducive to the creation of "transparent" texts--narratives whose inherent polysemy encourage diverse populations to read them as though they are indigenous. Olson posits that these narratives have meaning to so many different cultures because they allow viewers in those cultures to project their own values, archetypes, and tropes into the movie or television program in a way that texts imported from other cultures do not, thus enabling the import to function as though it were an indigenous product.

As an innovative volume combining postcolonial and postmodern theory with global management strategic theory, Hollywood Planet is one of the first studies that attempts to account theoretically for numerous recent ethnographic studies that suggest different interpretations of television programs and film by a variety of international audiences. Relevant to studies in media theory and other areas of the communication discipline, as well as anthropology, sociology, and related fields, Hollywood Planet contains a powerful and original argument to explain the dominance of American media in the global entertainment market.

Editorial Reviews


Debates about the cultural impacts of global media have ranged for 2 decades without resolution exercising media scholars, anthropologists, and sociologists. Most acknowledge the dominance of the U.S. in global entertainment, particularly film, but a key divide has been whether explanations should prioritize 'political economy' or 'cultural' factors. Scott Robert Olson's Hollywood Rlanet is a welcome attempt to examine what the contents of global media might contribute to that domination.
Journal of Communication

A thought-provoking, rigorously handled discourse on the competitive advantage that Hollywood has in influencing the creation and distribution of popular taste on a global scale.
Cornelius B. Pratt
Michigan State University

[Hollywood Planet] represents a long-overdue effort to provide a theoretical basis for pulling together a number of closely interrelated concerns relating to the role and impact of mass media, especially as far as international issues are concerned.
Fred L. Casmir
Pepperdine University

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Series: Routledge Communication Series
  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (June 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805832297
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805832297
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,118,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Transparency" is Redefined By Scott Robert Olson September 6, 2000
America produces more than its fair share of internationally popular television programs and feature films, a phenomenon that has not been understood until now. Scott Robert Olson explains the power of American media and its effect clearly in this volume by redefining the term transparent: "Transparency is the capability of certain texts to seem familiar regardless of their origin, to seem a part of one's own culture, even though they have been crafted elsewhere." One prime example cited is the presentation scene in Disney's "The Lion King." Mufasa smears his infant son's forehead with dirt and melon juice then lifts him high for the cheering animals to view. The polysemy of this ritual leaves plenty of room for many cultures to mentally adapt it to their own infant initiations: baptism, bris, shahada, circumcision. "The presentation of Simba is none of these rituals and all of them," Olson writes. Written in an academic style that is heftier than the title might indicate, Olson's well thought out and documented thesis is an original one to which Hollywood producers will pay close attention if they want a formula for being internationally successful. Olson's new application of the term "transparent" will be run up the flagpole and saluted by communication experts trying to explain why American television and films command global audiences.
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