Clash of Culture with Foreign Music
In the beginning, cultures were isolated and interacted little with one another. Because of the isolation of cultures and lack of interaction, they were unique and very endogenous, which provide these cultures a separate and distinct identity. As the empires started to grow and different cultures started to interact and amalgamate, new cultures came into existence, which had their own distinct characteristics.
When we study different cultures and societies, of the world, we study them in their historical context, and do not ignore their evolution and the elements, which facilitated this evolution. The study of these different cultures makes it apparent that all these cultures, worldwide, have similarities and distinctions, which make them exclusive. The study also suggests that some cultures rigid, while others very receptive. This is because of the evolution of culture, which determines its rigidity.
For instance, the Mesopotamian cultures were receptive and they were never hostile to foreign ideas, rituals, notions cultural and traditional norms. Similarly, Indus valley civilization, which was commerce based civilization, with its own distinct norms and traditions, was highly receptive or open to foreign ideas, perceptions, percepts and culture. On the contrary, the civilizations, which had emerged in Arabian Peninsula and on the foothills of Hindu Kush, were more rigid, strongly believed in preserving their norms and cultural values. This is why we see that on cultural issues, despite of the fact that cultures of the world are amalgamating and world is becoming a global village, these societies react very strongly, as they are sensitive about their culture and tradition.
The era of expansionism and multiculturalism
When we study and scrutinize history, it becomes apparent ton us, through the available evidence, that interaction, of various cultures, started 5000 years ago, when monarchies started to expand into empires and consisted of various societies, which had their own culture, religion, traditions and language. However, the second watershed, in this context, started when the means of communication enhance.
First, it was television and such other mediums, which brought foreign cultures to our TV lounge. Through art, drama-music-movies, we tried to broaden our understanding, regarding different cultures and through that medium we learned, which notions, percepts, perceptions and values prevailed in a certain culture. It was through media and television, West, in general, and US, in particular, had attempted to project and influence other cultures.
American dream, which is one of the manifestations, of American Culture, was sold to different societies and cultures around the world and it had influenced many cultures, which yielded mixed results. One of the obvious influences was on eating habits. The Mcdonaldization, in different countries, apparently suggests that American fast-food culture has been adopted by different societies. In addition, jeans and other western clothes are wore, even in Asiatic, African and Middle Eastern societies, which also implies that not only cultures are amalgamating, but strong or well projected cultures are subverting other cultures, by using their instrument.
This not only true for Asiatic, African and Middle Easter societies, but also western societies as well. In recent decades, Asian and Middle Eastern cultures have also strongly invaded western culture, through art, music and food. The imprint, on the contemporary western civilization, of this cultural invasion, is very evident, which clearly depicts that cultural exchange is taking place, in cultural domination. Therefore, multiculturalism is emerging in West, which is re-inventing and redefining Western Civilization, which was actually traditional, originally.
Art and Music
Music and art are the manifestation, of a certain culture. They represent a culture and they reveal how they developed over the years and what other cultures influences their development. In all cultures, art and music exist, in one form or another. There are many cultures, which are considered orals cultures, which have preserved their history in folk songs and other forms of art. The example is of ancient culture of Kalash, which has preserved its 6000 years old history in folk songs and folk tales. Most of verbal cultures were not good at documenting events, used art and music to preserve their history.
As the societies evolved, art and music also progressed. The evolution of art and music, also depicts the evolution of a civilization; its culture and society. In the contemporary times, music and art has been opted as instrument to promote not only culture, but also to generate revenue. Therefore, in a capitalist global world, art and music are being exploited for various reasons. The most obvious reason is profit and other reason is the promotion and projection of culture, which has social benefits.
Through internet and conventional television, many entertainment channels have penetrated different cultures and societies. These channels use art, drama and music, to attract audience and to increase consumer-base. It is all commercial and the content reflects the modern stage, of civilization. Nevertheless, it is mean to not only generate profit, but also subtly influence other culture and alter it gradually. This we have witnessed in India, an amalgamation of various ancient cultures, which is gradually westernizing, and the imprint of western civilization, on that culture, is obvious.
The American-based music channel emerged on August 1, 1981. This single purpose, of music entertainment channel, was to play music videos to generate a consumer base. With time, quality and standard, of MTV music channel, increased and it did not only outmuscle its rivals in US, but it penetrated different cultures and societies, as the technology enhanced.
Many studies and researches, were conducted on it origin and progress, which revealed that not MTV music channel was corporate success, but also it proved to be an instrument, which effectively projected western notions, percept and culture, to different societies and cultures. The cultural information, which was provided by MTV, was provided in an entertaining manner, it was very well received, by most of the cultures.
However, there were cultures, which strongly reacted to the content, provided or projected by MTV. This was because these contents carried such material, which contrary to notions and percepts, which prevailed in other cultures.
Saudi Arabia, which is also called home of Islam, as Islam originated from this small Arabian peninsula. It is an orthodox society, which strongly believes in traditions and extremely sensitive about its values. There are various factors, which shape and define Saudi Arabian culture and society. It is apparent that many cultures and norms, of Bedouin, are still professed by most of the Saudi Society. These cultural norms are thousands of years old, and they subtly shape Saudi Arabian culture. The other most important factor, feature or element, which re-invented and re-defined its culture, is Islam. The monotheistic religion, which is considered a complete code of life, by Muslims, guide Saudi Arabian society, influence its culture and provide them laws, of course which are interpretation of scared text, Qur’an and Hadith. It is to be understood that different Islamic or Muslim societies interpret Quranic text differently; therefore, it influence different cultures in different ways.
As conservative society and culture are very rigid; therefore, they are strongly attached to their values and culture, which is also considered sacred, as according to Orthodox societies, it manifest their ancient customs or traditions and to an extent that represents religion and history.
- Why it is significant to be cultural sensitive for a corporate, especially operating in an orthodox society?
MTV controversy and Saudi Arabia
MTV and Saudi Arabia are poles apart. They represent completely different civilizations; different notions, different perceptions and perspectives. Therefore, when in Saudi Arabia, MTV aired its content, it raised several questions and it provoked a reaction, from the orientalists. The rationale for the reaction was simple and understandable; what MTV was airing did not correspond with the cultural values, which were prevalent in Saudi Arabia.
There is also a need to understand that Saudi society is a very male-dominated society and it subtly it repel every foreign idea, notion or percept. In last 5000 years, Saudi Arabian society has only witnessed one revolution, Islamic Revolution, which is also considered divine revolution, by Muslims, under the leadership of Prophet Muhammad PBUH. This makes easy to deduce that any foreign content, which would not be in accordance with Saudi culture and their interpretation of Islam, would be rejected.
MTV, which is a very liberal Music channel, do not subvert an expression; which causes a serious problem, within an orthodox society, which believes in filtering thoughts so that they become acceptable for society. In addition, nudity is a big issue in Saudi Arabia. However, for MTV it is not an issue, but rather a form of expression.
Saudis retaliated strongly, when; MTV continued to play such music, which had nude content, which surely provoked Saudis, in every sense of the word. MTV, like all corporate, should have been sensitive about a foreign culture, before projecting or airing such controversial material, which was not only against Saudi culture, but also against Islamic doctrine.
The reaction of the media, which is though state controlled, but to an extent reflect prevailing sentiments in society, was also very strong that can be understood from this piece.
MTV has a penchant for airing controversial material and making a mockery of convention. And of course, it’s an American brand… The challenge, therefore, is transforming a notoriously risqué channel into a Middle Eastern-friendly platform for music and creativity without stripping MTV of its edge. It isn’t without some irony that a channel known for angering religious, political, and conservative communities is operating in and catering to a region renowned for reacting (and sometimes overreacting) negatively to controversial content.”
Because of the strong reaction, from Saudi and Middle Eastern Media-state-public, the MTV management had to react and it had to clear its position, on airing such content, pertaining to music and entertainment, on MTV Arabia, which was controversial and which was not acceptable.
The original strategy, for Middle Eastern Audience, by MTV management was very rational and very natural. This was the strategy, which adopted by all corporate, when they enter a new economy.
In these words, MTV management described its strategy for Middle East
“In many ways (MTV Arabia) is the epitome of our localization strategy. It’s a different audience (in the Middle East) but this is what we do –we reflect culture and we respect culture. The programming mix on this one is going to be a little more local than normal.”
It is very evident that MTV’s original strategy was logical but still it was very sensitive about Middle Eastern Culture, which includes Saudi Arabia. Because of its insensitivity, it aired such material, which was not acceptable and while provoked a reaction.
MTV must re-study Middle East and deduce what sort of content is socially acceptable, as only socially acceptable content can increase viewership, which means that revenue would only generate when more viewers will watch.
Middle East is a vast region, which can generate immense revenue for MTV; however, for that a better strategy is needed, which can ascertain that revenue is being generated without airing any controversial material.
Every Culture. (2015). Introduction to the Middle East. Retrieved December 4, 2015, from http://www.everyculture.com/Africa-Middle-East/Introduction-to-the-Middle-East.html
Kannan, S. (2014). How McDonald’s conquered India. Retrieved December 4, 2015, from BBC: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30115555
Kwint Essential. (2015). Cultural Sensitivity in Business. Retrieved December 4, 2015, from Kwint Essential : http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/cultural-services/articles/cultural-sensitivity.html
Purkayastha, D. (2008). IBS Center for Management Research, 1-14