Mainstream-On Global War on Culture: A Review

Why do we eat popcorn in cinemas? Why do some countries translate foreign movies? How did Miami become the capital of the Latin American entertainment? These are just some of the questions answered by the French journalist and researcher, Frédéric Martel, in Mainstream- On Global War on Culture (2010).

The book is the result of a 5 year project with over 1200 interviews in 150 cities around the world unmasking the strategies behind mainstream entertainment.

The book is divided into two parts; the first one is about the American entertainment, which we all know is a huge influence in the world.

Martel explores everything from the cinema culture to the origins of pop music and how American universities prepare the future brains of Hollywood.

The interviews give the reader an insight behind the scene of how the entertainment business really works. It is all a giant business focusing on the big numbers aiming towards a global market and America´s aim is clearly to entertain the world.

As we live now in a globalised world, America now has competition, and that is where the second part of the book comes in, the cultural world war.

This is where it gets interesting because Martel visited every place imagined where mainstream entertainment is created, from India’s Bollywood to Qatar’s Al Jazeera.

However, as interesting as I found the book to be, I did find it repetitive at some points, especially on the emerging economy of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). However I do see why Martel would mention it in order to justify certain points and also the majority of the people he interviewed, especially in India and Brazil, did comment on their economy as a reason for cultural success and investments from foreign companies.

As a future journalist receiving this book at Christmas from my cousin I was super excited just by skimming through it, but I only took time to read it properly this summer. Being a fairly new book, the information is relevant for today, making it in my opinion even more interesting to read.

What Martel did was to go behind the scenes of the entertainment and media business that we are exposed to daily and when reading this book we are put on the other side with a lot of surprises and information to be had.

I do recommend this book for future journalists and for anyone interested in media and the entertainment business.

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