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Halloo! When I found out I could go to med school with a Humanities degree with an Ethnomusicology emphasis, I almost peed myself. Here's to me holding it in.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Matrix (of Influence)

Thanks, rem, whoever you are, for inspiring this blog post. At the beginning of this blogging adventure, I kind of jumped in and started picking apart some specifics of the Tibetan cultural issue without giving a more general framework. It's-a time for the framework.

Taking Diehl's cue, we'll do this spatially, assigning different cultural influences to each of the cardinal directions. We'll start with south and west. To the south (taking Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, as center), we have:

Bollywood! And all the other -ollywoods!
Shahrukh Khan, my freakin' hero. Ladies, there are much better pictures of his muscles online, but I'm keeping this strictly BYU-rated (really though, I just don't want to make all the guys jealous of Shahrukh's raging pectorals).
The beautiful and graceful Aishwarya Rai. If you want to try and find pictures of her pectorals, be my guest, but Bollywood queens are, as of 2012, quite a bit more modest than their Hollywood counterparts. This is, sadly, changing, but for now we can enjoy good ol' family friendly entertainment from most of India's silver screens.
My wife and I have gotten into Bollywood films over the last few months, and I'm starting to feel that if a movie isn't three hours long with at least one redirection of plot and an incredibly dramatic hug at the end, then I've wasted my time and money. The millennia old Indian penchant for dramatic storytelling - the Ramayana has been popular in India for literally thousands of years - has translated easily into film, and is taking the world by storm. Netflix just recently added a sizable Bollywood catalog to their on-demand playlist, including classics as well as brand new offerings.

There are -ollywoods from all over India, each of them having their distinctive style. I don't know much about these other cultural centers, but I will make a point of researching them so I will know their influence if and when I see it in Bylakuppe.

Now to the West:

Hollywood and MTV!
(Though I'm not sure how relevant MTV is anymore - does anybody out there know?)
Katherine Heigl - Lori and I just saw this, and we think she rocks.
Jay-Z and Alicia Keys - two of my favorite and, I think, two of the most honest-to-goodness talented people in the biz today
  The movie and music industries of the West, of the US particularly, are without question the biggest influences on pop culture worldwide. K'Naan grew up in Somalia listening to Tupac and Biggie, gamelan kids in Bali wear Metallica T-shirts, and Disney is ubiquitous worldwide. The internet has made the whole library of western media available anywhere with a connection, and cheap pirated copies of CDs and DVDs are available in most countries. The flash, glitz, and freedom of western expression is particularly attractive, especially to traditionally "repressed" people. Musicians and actors in the US do whatever the hell they want - so it seems and so it is. Rock and roll, particularly, represents for many cultures what it represented when it first came to the scene in the US - raw expression, freedom, sexuality, and rebellion. Tibetan rock, from my little knowledge of it, represents a bit of a counterculture - not against HH or the Tibetan mainstream, but against Chinese oppression and domination. It's rebel music, as much as Bob Marley's was.

Note the leather jacket and shades! James Dean, Elvis Presley anyone?!

So, there you go. More to come in the next exciting episode.

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