A Call for Endogenous Saudi Animations: Stop Cultural Imperialism! Ohud Rashid Alharbi
PhD Student at De Montfort University, Leicester
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senior Lecturer, School of Design
Faculty of Art, Design & Humanities, De Montfort University
Animation industry is one of the emerging industry that developed countries have dominated and reaping benefits from the investment in this creative industry (Screen Digest,2009). One of these benefits is that animation films represented the national cultural identity to others nations. However, these benefits can have a negative effects on the receiver culture if they absorbed massive dose from foreign cultures (UNESCO,1980). Therefore, developing countries started to develop their own animation that can protect their heritages and convey their cultural identity to the world. In light of the above, this paper focuses on the role of animation industry in representing cultural identity by using contents analysis as a methodology to understand the misrepresentation of stereotype that embodied in animation films. Moreover, this paper spots light the landscape of Saudi Animation to find what is the current state of the animation industry in Saudi Arabia.
The animation industry is one of the creative industry tributaries that contribute to protect cultural identity and convey the national cultural identity to other nations. Moreover, animations can form invisible cultural domination if the receiver nation receives a massive dose of foreign animation films. Besides this, cultural imperialism can occur through media such as television, of which animation is one of its basic pillars. In light of the above, the animation industry in Saudi Arabia is still in its infancy, because of the late entrance of Saudi Arabia to this industry. Since the first Saudi animation film was produced in1988 by Saudi studio located in Turkey (Aljazeera Net,2009). Consequently of the nature of Saudi context which is ruled by ancient traditions and ethics derived from religion and Arabic morals, the demand of producing animations that depict Saudi identity has increased. Therefore, this paper focuses on highlighting the role of animation films in cultivating culture and spreading stereotypes and examines animation contents to exemplify stereotypes. Moreover, it specifically focuses on the landscape of the animation industry in Saudi Arabia.
As a result of the media revolution, the phenomena of homogenisation culture occurred (Barnet and Cavanagh,1997). This has affected national culture in different ways. According to the MacBride Report (1980), it is evident that there is imbalance in the exchanging of media between developed and developing countries. Hence, the developed countries imperialise the culture of a number of developing countries through exporting media such as television and the press. As a result of this unequal media broadcast, several negative effects arose in the developing countries, including threats to the receiver’s cultural identity and alienating nations from their culture (UNESCO, 1980). In terms of the side effects of cultural imperialism, animation has great potential as a cultural conduit that passes specific culture to an audience. Saudi Arabia is one of the countries which imports 50% of its television programs from outsourcing (Basfar, 2007). Moreover, it is the largest developing country to import video cassettes (Boyd and Straubhaar, 1985). In light of the above, a study by the international league of Islamic literature in 2006 (Adabislami,2006), showed that 96% of Saudi preschool children used animation cartoons as a cultural source, whilst 70% of animation cartoons were...
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