TELEVISION / Home-grown moans
As the grim piety of the series and episode titles hinted, American success in selling television programmes abroad was treated here as if it represented a nasty blend of the foreign policies of the Third Reich and the 19th-century opium trade. The word 'resistance' occurred frequently, sometimes applied to Zimbabwean producers struggling to produce domestic soap-operas on tiny budgets, at other times to a successful French director like Bertrand Tavernier, who is lobbying the French government to introduce a quota for European productions on domestic television.
The subject is a rich one - the United States exports around 20,000 hours of film and television annually, most of which provides foreign stations with a discount way to fill their schedules. The growth of global networks like CNN is equally fascinating. Unfortunately 'Distress Channels' substituted received opinion for original thought. To illustrate the spread of American television, for example, it showed a Zimbabwean bus on which the video was playing Dallas to the weary passengers, noting, with the leaden irony that passes for satire in these circles, that none of them owned 'ranches or oil- companies'.
The offensive condescension of that remark can be weighed by imagining it applied to the audience in any European country. You can't, because you would take for granted a Western audience's ability to tell fantasy from reality and are less ethnologically sentimental about the 'culture' that is supposedly being squeezed out.
It was typical of the sloppy dogmatism of the programme that it should remember the strength of home-grown drama when it wanted to praise local culture (Ziva Kawakaba, or 'Know Your Roots', is made for peanuts but is a big hit in Zimbabwe) and conveniently forget it when it came time to utter despairing predictions about the homogenisation of global television.
The best TV shows and films coming to the servicetv
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
- 2 This restaurant has misunderstood the concept of 'cheese and biscuits'
- 3 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
- 4 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 5 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
Broadchurch series 3: David Tennant and Olivia Colman to return for third season, ITV confirms
Game of Thrones season 5 spoilers: What we can expect according to George RR Martin's books
Spectre: Director Sam Mendes teases clips from upcoming James Bond movie
Indian Summers recommissioned: Channel 4 confirm a second series of British Empire drama
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut