Recent Comments

Fan Yang
Fan Yang

Wow, thanks so much, Lisa, for sharing these fascinating clips! I’m so glad you raised the issue of class. As I mentioned in my response to Monika, Sohu was drawn to Netflix’s branding of the show as a product of “high culture,” one that could help to boost the company’s streaming profile, targeting the urban (and often English-speaking) middle class. Whether or not Netflix has direct access to the nation (e.g. India or China), it is the transnational “managerial class” subject position that is privileged here, which is also indicative of the cultural forces of neoliberal globalization.

Hotstar Originals:  On Air With AIB
Jülide Etem

Thank you for this wonderful post, Monika! It is really interesting to think about originals, like On Air with AIB, as production brands that change streaming platform. Does this show highlight local problems in India? If it does, how do the public and government react to its local coverage?

Jülide Etem

This is a great post, Lisa! Thank you for bringing attention to dubbing of popular shows on Netflix. I also found the comments very useful to think about global streaming services in the contexts of both subtitling and fansubbing.

For a long time international television and film have had the power to travel the world because of dubbing, subtitling and fansubbing. This is not a new phenomena. However, Lisa’s post suggests that the use of algorithms by Netflix is the game changer in translation practices.

Global streaming services, like Netflix, also collect data from pirate sites for determining popular shows and moving globally. Please see: https://torrentfreak.com/netflix-uses-pirate-sites-to-determine-what-shows-to-buy-130914/

This post makes me further reflect on the ethics and laws about data collection practices by Netflix-like platforms. As media scholars, how do we frame and address legal and ethical issues that global streaming services create?

Fan Yang
Fan Yang

Thanks, Monika, for the great questions! Indeed, a neoliberal script seems like an apt way to describe how Netflix appeals to Chinese audiences/industry.

In 2013, Sohu wanted to upgrade its online streaming profile to compete with other Chinese sites like Youku and iQiyi. The “high quality” image of House of Cards, cultivated as part of Netflix’s production branding (as you mentioned in your post on Hotstar), attracted the CEO Charles Zhang. Even so, Ma Ke, the senior executive of audio-visual copyrights acquisition at Sohu, first thought the show was “too high-end” for the market. Members of the senior staff at Sohu reportedly said that “although they loved watching it themselves, their wives couldn’t stand it.” But Ma soon noticed the show had generated waves of discussion on Sina Weibo (one of the largest social media sites in China), even prompting the voluntary distribution of fansubbing groups. This *popular* demand led quickly to Sohu’s purchasing decision. One may say that Sohu has followed Netflix in “tracking” audience preferences.

Monika Mehta

I think would be important think further about the role of language learning in generating or sedimenting fandom For example, DramaFever now supplies paratexts so you can learn favorite K-drama phrases or sentences. This is done to increase engagement, and affinity.

Monika Mehta
Fan Yang

Fan, Thanks for a wonderful post! Do you see the viewers and the Chinese industry reading HOC as a (neoliberal) script to follow? Could you say more about Sohu and its relationship with Netflix?

Monika

Lisa Patti
Fan Yang

Thanks for raising these interesting questions about the circulation of HoC in China and the different frameworks for theorizing its popularity there. Your analysis draws our attention to the ways that our assumptions about global television distribution and reception in China may lead us to misread the show’s value to Chinese viewers. Given the public fixation by Netflix executives on China’s inaccessibility as a market, an awareness of how HoC has circulated through Sohu allows us to grasp the complexity of global distribution agreements.

Reading your post I was struck by the relevance of the promotional videos for Netflix India that feature HoC. This video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MG8KmQhtpA ) functions as trailer and recap, promoting both the show and Netflix. Your reading of HoC’s “wholly depoliticized version of politics” via Conway is echoed in the video where the rapid summary of the political machinations depicted in the show is instantly reimagined in relation to more mundane office politics. The setting and the language in the video point to the class position of the imagined audience for Netflix India, and the use of local film stars allows the viewer to imagine a transnational remake of the show (without the cost!) (See also this video released as part of the same campaign: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBuuioY5OFk).

Jasmine Mitchell

Thank you for this engaging post Lisa. This post illuminates global, local, and national repositioning of television. I was struck by the politics of dubbing and subtitles and I had a number of questions stemming from the post. The choosing of which dialects to represent languages and whole regions, such as “Latin American Spanish” seems potentially to open up regional asymmetries based on the predominance of particular national media industries. For example, is Mexican Spanish or Argentine Spanish pushed to the forefront and how do these generic dubbing choices instead of nationally specific ones influence the understanding of the media text? How important might accent be to the media text and to the sense of belonging to a media community? Furthermore, how are identity backgrounds transmitted and circulated, especially identities that are often marginalized in particular locales? Both linguistic and vocal performances potentially obscure or exaggerate these identities. Another key component is the viewer reception to these dubbing techniques.

Fan Yang
Re:

Thanks, Monika, for sharing this! As far as I know, language learning is also part of what motivates fansubbing in the Chinese context. In shows like House of Cards, there is also the aspect of transnational/English-speaking Chinese displaying their knowledge of American politics as a kind of cultural capital vis-à-vis domestic Chinese audiences. I’ve been curious for a while now whether this kind of practice calls for a more nuanced analysis beyond the “free labor” v. “creative resistance” dyad. Hope to hear more!

Monika Mehta

Fan, your comment about the impact of these practices on fan communities is an important one. Lisa and I have researched fan subbing practices on Viki. Here, subbing in a key way of engaging and creating (tiered) fan communities. For example,fan-subbers have access to shows prior to other fans. Viki also allows them to go beyond the boundaries set by geo-blocking so they can subtitle shows. In this case, fans do a lot of labor in circulating this shows. There is no monetary compensation for this labor besides getting ‘free’ access to shows. For both, Viki and DramaFever (which publicizes its ‘Professional Subtitles’), subbing also promotes their language pedagogy initiatives.

Monika