“Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation” William Gibson’s Neuromancer
What we watch on TV will vary for each individual. Someone in another country will likely be watching different content from what we watch, simply due to what their country considers as ‘trending’.
Simply due to how that country’s political and social state exists, the humour will be catered to it.
Simply due to where that country’s beliefs and views are set, the purpose will be shaped around it.
Simply due to when that country’s technological presence has peaked, the quality will be manipulated for it.
When attempting to understand the certain success of particular television content, I have found to turn to Straubhaars (2003) ‘cultural proximity’ theory. This theory outlines a view on media consumption and why certain television shows thrive or decline in another country’s setting. Straubhaar (2003) demonstrates in his chapter how cultural proximity, being the similarity and appeal of particular actors, settings, themes, appearances and more, will equate to why television is successful or not in a country outside the origin of the show.
The Office is an example of how an original, the UK version, is successful in some different backgrounds yet could be reinforced with a hybrid, the American retake, as a similar yet truly different set of content. Griffin (2008) effectively compares the two shows in their uncanny likelihood yet completely different atmosphere.The UK original of The Office is much ‘darker’ than its American counterpart – which reflects the seriousness of contextual issues that an audience may feel towards their workplace routine.
The characters are extremely similar in their goals, purposes, dislikes and career position yet different in the way each modified outtake of the characters would shape their humour, habits, lifestyle and views. This has a large part to do with what that country’s cultural appeals are. The US version of the office has taken a much more satirical approach to the original UK, as sitcoms were thriving in the televised world and therefore the content is taken, adapted and hybridised to create a show which will thrive in their particular audience (Jeffery 2008). This method of taking the original and conforming it to the social norms, trends and humour that a foreign audience is more familiar with causes the success of The Office in more than its origin audience.
The reason behind The Offices success in mainly due to how each television show survived in not only their own cultural background but how cultural proximity played a part in its globalisation. The UK office was popular to audiences whom understood and appreciated the British humour it so successfully embellishes. However, the US office was understood to larger extent as the americanised humour and background to the show is a much more common trait amongst the time period it was made; sitcoms being so popular (Jeffery 2008). The homogenisation of the offices characters, scenario, style and purposes gave way for it to mimic the original phenomenon, while hybridisation took part in the routine, personalities and comedic flare of the remake to adapt it to the modern audience. This was why both television shows were seen as a success, but also why the US version seemed to be a more broadly seen television show as it thrived in the right global flow of trends.
I believe the world we live in has made the reconceptualisation and reinterpretation of content a necessary process in creating something ‘new’, as I feel there is no more purely new ideas. The next TV show that is seen as the newest and hottest thing out there isn’t an original, but inspired by something long forgotten. It is just the same as how you can create almost any song with any four chords, material is no longer produced but rinsed, recycled and reused.
- Gibson, W. “Neuromancer” (ch. 3 pg 94)
- Jeffery G (2008) The Americanisation of The Office: A Comparison of the Offbeat NBC Sitcom and its British Predecessor Journal of Popular Film and Television pg 154-163 https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/mod/url/view.php?id=1310785 [5th August 2019]
- Straubhaar, J D (2003) Choosing National TV: Cultural Capital, language and Cultural Proximity in Brazil in The Impact of Global Television: A Paradigm Shift deities by M G. Elasmar, Routledge Pg 77-110 https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/lib/uow/reader.action?docID=356324&ppg=5 [5th August 2019]