Globalisation is defined as “the ways in which technologies can overcome global distances, so that some people live in a world that seems borderless” (Khorana, 2014). Through the advancements of technology, we have watched globalisation in the media develop and flourish to the extent of television escorting children across the world before they are allowed to even cross the street (Meyrowitz, 1985: 238). Globalisation in the media has drawn great attention to community and culture, as such it shows us ways in which our own culture is informed and shaped by other cultures.
A notable example of globalisation and the media informing and shaping cultures is Chris Lilley’s new show “Jonah From Tonga” aired on ABC. Chris Lilley, notorious for pushing boundaries when it comes to racial stereotypes, sexist jokes and just general childish humour that most would deem inappropriate, seems to always get away with it through his clever costume and portrayal antics. Until now.
Lilley acts as a 14-year-old wayward Tongan boy by the name of Jonah, living in Australia, depicting the daily life at home with his family and at school with the rest of his “FOB” (read: ‘Fresh Off the Boat’) friends. Besides the racist humour in the show, the main reason this show has recently come under fire is that the show demonstrates bad attitudes and behaviour of ‘Pacific youth’ in a comical way, rendering it as ‘cool’ to the younger Tongan viewers, thus creating an inaccurate stereotype.
Mr Latu, a Tongan community worker in Australia, told Australia Network News that he is concerned for the Tongan children in Australian schools who will either think that is the way Tongans behave or have a hard time convincing other people that the show is not a true depiction of what they as a people and culture are about. “It seems to normalise something that’s a really minute percentage of the community. Once you start to normalise that… people pick up on that,” Mr Latu explained. “[Tongan children] will then start mimicking all these roles at school and think it’s okay to do what Jonah from Tonga has done on TV.”
Globalisation and the media, while making the world feel ‘smaller’ and in ways more connected and informed due to the technological advancements, can evidently still have a reverse effect creating space between the media sphere and the actual public sphere; wedging a gap between reality, what’s on the telly and people’s affiliation or estrangement with their own and other cultures.