Mittell: Alas in television, the global flow is too unidirectional—American television functions nearly exclusively as an export product rather than import platform. The main exception is animation, where Japanese anime has made a significant impact both on viewers and creative influence. The prime reason for this stems from the technological nature of animation, where dubbing and re-editing is invisible and easier to accomplish. As for other genres, the U.S. still provides most of the world a great deal of television across a wide range of scripted genres, especially dramas.
Ruston: A small Irish film called I Went Down presents an interesting case study on this topic.
The film combines elements of the gangster film with the overall structure of a road movie, and was highly successful in Ireland and on the European festival circuit. Its box office performance in the US and reception by American entertainment media, however, was disappointing. The film incorporates recognizable (to American audiences) genres, but bears no resemblance to the accepted stereotype of an “Irish film”—one that has thatched roofed cottages, verdant green hills, and a charming attitude that would make the Irish Tourism Board proud. Thus, despite intent on the part of the filmmakers to create a globally accessible film by combining typical ‘Hollywood’ genres with local settings and social issues, the power of genre expectations thwarted transatlantic success. Had the film been marketed in the US, as “an independent gangster film” rather than “an Irish film,” audiences might not have judged it negatively for failing their expectations. Its box office success in Europe and Ireland, and its successful intertwining of contemporary social commentary, accessible generic structure and local cultural elements indicate how fluid genre and genre conventions are.
Shetley: With regard to the American film industry, one might question whether its “global orientation” is on the increase. Hollywood has always been happy to borrow talent from around the world; at the same time, American audiences today seem less and less interested in foreign films (particularly those with subtitles), and it has become increasingly difficult for foreign-language films to get US distribution.
Foreign markets remain important for Hollywood, a situation that has some problematic effects on production decisions. Films that depend on verbal humor and cultural nuance don’t translate well across national and linguistic borders, and thus comedies and certain kinds of films typically oriented around female protagonists are disadvantaged in the competition for production dollars vis-à-vis action films and horror.