Hollywood Impact on Social Activities of Indian Youth

Dr. C.N. Archana*

Abstract

This paper analyses the influence of the Hollywood cinema on the perceptions of Indian youth towards socializing activities. The researcher adopted the survey method. The sample size is 400, comprising the age group of 15 to 25 years. The paper also tries to establish the gender difference in terms of associated perceptions. It has emerged from the ANOVA analysis of the study that the majority of youth, who comprised both the frequent and infrequent viewers, tend to believe that Hollywood is a good source to discover new hobbies and techno-ways of socializing. The frequent viewers, irrespective of gender, think that communicating in American accent or using western jargons is necessary to boost one’s personality.

Introduction

The association of youth with cinema is as old as cinema, and as contemporary as youth. As youth, scientifically proven to be a consumer majority with considerably impressionable and influential minds and thoughts, they are the all-time prime target group for cinema. Hollywood cinema continues to remain successful across the world in exploiting the youth market in its most inclusive form, providing a wide range of experiences by generating various themes, messages and symbols of the counter-culture. The reach and success of Hollywood across various nations is intriguing, especially the young generation, creating a new cultural way of life, an ‘occidental exoticism’. Blue jeans, sneakers, hamburgers and the Hollywood blockbuster are perceived as American cultural icons of today (Houella, 2008).

According to a report of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), international box office made up 69 per cent of the audience worldwide in 2012 with a profit of US$34.7 billion, an increase of 6 per cent over the total for 2011l. The largest growth (+15%) came from the Asia Pacific region. The young people (age groups 18-24 years and 25-39 years) represent the largest frequent moviegoers (MPAA, 2012). Transcending the physical borders, Hollywood cinema began tapping the Indian market in various possible ways. It entered India through vertically integrated distribution mechanisms in 1900s, and grew strong-rooted when the liberalized economic policies facilitated it to widen the market outlets.  Currently, India occupies the fifth position among the top 10 international box office markets for Hollywood cinema, reaping a profit of US$ 1.4 billion (MPAA, 2012).

Apart from transmitting youth-oriented messages and symbols, Grainge (2008) says that Hollywood succeeded in constructing a set of appeals from time to time based on artistic control, technical efficiency, and attractiveness to core youth audience and created value in life-like reproductions. The persuasion that it creates through its narrative styles and presentation of artistry, as well as through various means of accessibility, has allowed the viewer to make preferential choices to perceive, and thus illuminate attitudes, behaviours and consequences. The perceptions can take either negative or positive forms and lead to certain set of behaviours that tend to create an infringement in various indigenous cultural norms, a much debated topic.

Socializing

The term ‘socializing’ is referred to as being ready for companionship with others. In other words, learn to meet the expectations of the society (Andersen & Taylor, 2011). It is also a social act of assembling for some common purpose or adapt to the needs of the society. The socializing activities enable the individual to be equipped with the skills and habits necessary for participating within their own society or group, where an exclusive form of culture is developed through a plurality of shared norms, customs, values, traditions, social roles, symbols and languages. Socialization is thus ‘the means by which social and cultural continuity are attained’ (Clausen, 1968).

Through socialization or various means of socializing activities, people internalize cultural expectations, and then pass these expectations on to others. Internalization occurs when behaviours and assumptions are learned so thoroughly that people no longer question them, but accept them as correct. The lessons that are internalized can have powerful influences on perceptions, attitudes and behaviours, says Andersen and Taylor (2011). This context can be exemplified in terms of ‘language’, a crucial tool of socializing activity. According to Anderson and Taylor (2008), the language of any culture reflects and reinforces the attitudes that are characteristic of the culture and also assumptions in several ways like people’s perception of reality, the status of different social and political groups, distorting the actual group experience, shaping people’s perceptions of groups and events in society, and changing language as a way of asserting positive group identity.  Thus, if someone from India is communicating in American accent and using western dialect or jargon,  it involves a subtle way of adopting a set of symbols and rules of the cultural ‘others’ to convey the message, enabling a complex communication system.

In case of youngsters, socializing or mingling with peer group is the most acknowledge practice to learn new things, and seeking the peer group approval is highly important to gain identity or prove themselves as socially accepted. Youth’s engagement has taken a huge growth over the past few years.  They are experiencing diverse patterns by identifying vibrant activities to socialize and interact with peers, in a way to form an identical group. Be it the ‘language’ they speak, the ‘hobbies’ they adopt, the ‘leisureliness’ to relax, the engrossing ‘gatherings’, or the ‘online’ community they belong to, the youth always follow a  popular and dominant way to showcase their perceived ideologies. Fornas et al (1995), probing into the fanatical approach of youth’s socializing ways, argues that  the rituals of the youth in music, dance and parties, in sexual experimentation, in reckless car or motorcycle driving, are expressively celebrating sensual and bodily pleasures, as well as group solidarity.  At the other end, with the advent of new media and fostering social network sites, the youth’s interactivity became wide-spread to vocalize their goals, organize community groups, engage in discussions, create and reclaim identities.

Hollywood Cinema and Socialization

Many sociologists and theorists of culture have recognized the power of mass media as a socialization device that can palpably generate various perceptions associated with youth’s popular trends of social identity and interaction, leading to internalized adoption.  Hollywood cinema is one such popular device to engender various trends of socialization christened as ‘western’. According to Talmon (1999), the paradigmatic representations by the media, especially by the popular cinema, has extended the liminal territory of youth in their space and freedom, enabling the youth to gaze at and construct a transatlantic super group image. Patty (2007) in a study analyzes that American Hollywood films are socializing teens and adolescents today  by consistently exposing them to plots based on the social norms of party atmospheres, pub culture and lifestyles, revolving around coming of age, first love, rebellion, parental conflict, teen angst and alienation.

An analytical study carried by Synder (1995) on contemporary Hollywood cinema reveals that it often depicts a capitalist culture of high consumption lifestyle that is largely unattainable for most youth. The constant stimulations of visual experience and expectations gratified through up-tempo montages tend to coerce the youth to achieve them at any cost, either by unethical or amoral shortcut manners (Synder, 1995). Another content analytic study by Stern (2005) on image of teenagers in recent popular Hollywood films indicates that teenagers are characterized as self-absorbed, violent, disconnected from parents, and disengaged from civic life.

Regarding ‘smoking’, a very common sight in pub culture, findings from a number of studies indicate that it is highly prevalent in Hollywood films featuring popular lead roles (Hazan et al, 1994; Stockwell and Glantz, 1997; MacKinnon and Owen, 1999; Roberts et al, 1999) and has inherent high risk of influencing the young audience for whom movie stars serve as role models (Titus-Ernstoff et al, 2008; Hanewinkel et al, 2007; Sargent et al, 2005; Dalton et al, 2003; Sargent et al, 2001; Escamilla et al, 2000). A comprehensive literature review of 40 identified empirical studies performed by Charlesworth and Glantz (2005) on the nature and effect of smoking in the movies on adolescents (and others) indicates that smoking in movies increases adolescent smoking initiation. The study also revealed that images of smoking in Hollywood movies increased rapidly after the 1990s (Charlesworth and Glantz, 2005). Similarly, findings from interviews with 20 female adolescent smokers in a Canadian high school led them to argue that smoking scenes in films might stimulate youth smoking and that cigarettes are an important symbol in youth peer groups with explicit social meanings and functions (Jetté et al, 2007).

With regard to ‘alcohol use’, it is often depicted in American movies(Everett et al, 1998; Patty, 2007; EUCAM, 2010), even among films aimed at children which fail to convey the long term consequences of its use (Thompson & Yokota, 2001). Dal Cin et al, (2008) surveyed some 6522 US adolescents aged 10-14 years and found that they are exposed to depiction of hours of alcohol use and numerous brand appearances in movies. Another crucial study conducted by Hanewinkel et al, (2007) outside the US, in Germany, on early adolescent sample (N=5581) found a relationship between exposure to alcohol use in around 400 internationally distributed Hollywood movies and early onset of alcohol use without parental knowledge. This study also revealed a strong relationship with other associated risk behaviours like binge drinking, cigarette smoking, sensation seeking, rebellious propensity etc. A similar kind of study on relationship between exposure to alcohol use in Hollywood movies and onset drinking of US adolescents showed a strong statistical significance, even after controlling a number of covariates (Sargent et al, 2006).  Koordemon et al, (2011) conducted an experimental study to prove that a substantial exposure to alcohol consumption in movies can lead to higher alcohol consumption in young men watching the movie.

When it comes to the effect of the American language and accent in Hollywood cinema, there is a mixed bag of response. Williams (2009), researching on mono-lingual hegemony of the English language films, argues that the non re-presentation of the foreign-languages or spoken dialogues of foreign characters in Hollywood movies shows an ongoing insensitivity and cultural insularity to “other” voices.  The young spectators of the “other” regions are absorbing the same language, same music, sweeping the local cultures aside (Williams, 2009). Through a semiotic analysis and study of verbal interactions in a Hollywood film ‘The Bad News Bears’, Schneeweis (2005) decoding various values of American suburban life, carried to Romanian public, suggested a need for further consideration  on ‘US hegemony’. Actors and actresses in the Nigerian film industry are dressing, speaking and behaving more like Americans under the strong influence of black American representation in Hollywood (Arachie, 2010).

Educational levels and exposure to various sources of western media and accent has increased the ability of global audience to ease with Hollywood theme, plot comprehension, character recognition, cultural perceptions, language preferences and synchronization (Henrich, 2000). An empirical study conducted by Bernschütz (2010) on the attitude of youth with reference to subtitled English movies reveals that Hungarian young people watch subtitled movies mostly for learning foreign language easily, whereas Finnish respondents favour subtitling because they consider each foreign movie an entity, and therefore they do not ask for dubbing.

Most of these unwarranted behaviours associated with pub culture, western style of socializing activities and tech supported hobbies are treated as common aspect of youth social interaction in Hollywood cinema, leading to a ‘conformist’ behaviour among various social groups.  American accent and jargon, in a way, subtly and strongly crept into the minds of youth across the world for various other reasons.  Hence, the researcher felt it is apt to study the influence of Hollywood cinema on youth’s perception towards various socializing activities. The key objectives and hypotheses of the study are given below.

Objectives

  • To determine the influence of Hollywood cinema on the perceptions of youth towards socializing activities.
  • To establish gender differences if any, in terms of perceptions associated with Hollywood cinema.

Hypotheses

H 1:  Heavy viewers of Hollywood cinema tend to show interest in socializing activities to a higher degree than moderate and low viewers.

H 2:  Male heavy viewers tend to show interest in socializing activities of a higher degree than female heavy viewers.

Theoretical Framework

The current research is based on the Uses and Gratifications theory, reviewed by Rubin (2002), who gave a contemporary view of the uses paradigm grounded on five assumptions. First, audiences’ communication behaviour is goal-directed. Second, the audiences select and use the media to satisfy their needs and wants. Third, a set of social and psychological factors, including predispositions, the living environment, and interpersonal interactions mediate the communication behaviour. Fourth, the media compete with other forms of communication, like interpersonal interaction, for selection and attention. Finally, through processes after people initiate media selection, media may affect individual’s attitudes and perceptions, characteristics, or socio-political, cultural or economic structures of society and lead the people to rely on certain media programming.

Methodology

The survey method is adopted to study the perceptions of Hollywood cinema viewers. The survey includes 400 respondents of the ages of 15 to 25 years representing both the gender. The research is conducted in Hyderabad, the capital city of Andhra Pradesh. The two-stage random sampling technique has been used to select the colleges and the respondents. Care has been taken to give equal representation to male and female. The influence of Hollywood cinema was hypothetically tested on socializing activities, in terms of level of viewing and gender by using One-Way ANOVA, Student’s t-test and Duncan’s Multiple Range test  (DMRT) of SPSS-16. The sample had been classified into Heavy, Moderate and Low viewers on the basis of “number of Hollywood movies they watch in a week” and the “duration of the years” since they initiated the habit of viewing. To study the influence on socializing activities, 15 questions were posed to the respondents and were categorized into six groups as follows:

  1. Western type of socializing as a ‘learning tool’.
  2. Pub culture as a ‘leisure activity’.
  3. Acceptance of women’s role in pub culture.
  4. Practice of American accent / jargons.
  5. ‘Dine out’ culture as a new way of bonding.
  6. Hollywood cinema as a source to discover new hobbies

Results

  1. Demographic Details

The sample was fairly uniform in terms of percentage of male and female viewers (53% male and 47% female). The percentage of heavy viewers is comparatively higher than moderate and low viewers i.e., 53.75% are heavy viewers followed by moderate (30%, N=120) and low viewers (16.25%, N=65).  A significant percentage of respondents (66.3%) belong to the age group of 15- 20 years and 33.8% of respondents are between the ages of 20 and 25 years. The data on the ‘type of family’ revealed that a great majority of respondents are from a nuclear family (78.5%), and very few are from joint family (18.5%). The distribution of respondents on the basis of ‘status of living’ disclosed that a considerable number of respondents fall into the upper class category (44.5%), followed by middle class (30.3%) and upper middle class (25.2%). 

  1. Testing Hypotheses

H 1 – Heavy viewers of Hollywood cinema tend to show a higher degree of interest in socializing activities than moderate and low viewers

Table 1: Summary of One-way ANOVA – Influence of ‘Level of Viewing’ on dependent variables of ‘Socializing Activities’

table1

The ANOVA test’s total p-value in table-1 i.e., 0.077 states that the level of viewing doesn’t play a significant role in influencing the viewers to show higher interest towards socializing activities. However, it is also understood that the impact of the level of viewing is particularly visible in two variables i.e., Practice of American accent/jargon’ and ‘Discovering New Hobbies’. The p-value ‘0.000’ which is less than ‘0.005’ for the variable ‘Practice of American accent/ jargon’ reveals that there is a strong influence of the level of viewing on the same,  for which the heavy viewers with mean value 3.4651 is noticeably higher than moderate (M = 3.1000) and low viewers (M =3.2462). Also the ranks given with alphabetical letters for the group by means of Duncan’s Multiple Range Test (DMRT) i.e., low = a, moderate = a, heavy = b, indicates that heavy viewers are significantly differing from moderate and low viewers.  It implies that the heavy viewers of Hollywood cinema show interest towards the American accent/jargon.

Speaking in English is one of the most pervasive sources of challenges for youth in India, in all the spheres of their lives – education, employment, social interaction, immigration, even in entertainment and well-being etc. With regard to practice of American accent and western jargon, the current study proves that it is perceived as a distinct-style advantage in boosting one’s personality, creating impression, as well as to develop professionally. Hence, it is reasonable to conclude that Hollywood cinema is becoming a tool to pick up the American accent and popular jargon.

The p-value (0.020 < 0.05) of variable ‘Hollywood cinema as a source to discover new hobbies’, shows that there is an influence of level of viewing on the variable. However, the mean score (3.7615) for low viewers is more, followed by heavy (M= 3.7209) and moderate viewers (M=3.5000). Also from DMRT, it is understood that moderate viewers significantly differ from low and heavy viewers. Hence, it has been observed that low viewers and heavy viewers tend to believe that Hollywood cinema is a good source to discover new hobbies and techno-ways of socializing aspects, more than moderate viewers. Overall, the hypothesis is not statistically supported.

H 2 – Male heavy viewers tend to show a higher degree of interest in socializing activities than female heavy viewers.

The probability value 0.001 (which is lesser than 0.05) of independent sample t-test, as detailed in table-2 measures the strength of evidence that there is a significant difference between male heavy viewers and female heavy viewers of Hollywood cinema. And the total mean scores clearly imply that male heavy viewers (M = 3.5877) tend to show a higher degree of interest in socializing activities than female heavy viewers (M = 3.3336). Thus, the hypothesis is significantly approved. 

Table 2: Results of independent sample t-test to study significant difference between male heavy and female heavy viewers’ perceptions towards ‘Socializing Activities’

The ANOVA test’s total p-value in table-1 i.e., 0.077 states that the level of viewing doesn’t play a significant role in influencing the viewers to show higher interest towards socializing activities. However, it is also understood that the impact of the level of viewing is particularly visible in two variables i.e., Practice of American accent/jargon’ and ‘Discovering New Hobbies’. The p-value ‘0.000’ which is less than ‘0.005’ for the variable ‘Practice of American accent/ jargon’ reveals that there is a strong influence of the level of viewing on the same,  for which the heavy viewers with mean value 3.4651 is noticeably higher than moderate (M = 3.1000) and low viewers (M =3.2462). Also the ranks given with alphabetical letters for the group by means of Duncan’s Multiple Range Test (DMRT) i.e., low = a, moderate = a, heavy = b, indicates that heavy viewers are significantly differing from moderate and low viewers.  It implies that the heavy viewers of Hollywood cinema show interest towards the American accent/jargon.

Speaking in English is one of the most pervasive sources of challenges for youth in India, in all the spheres of their lives – education, employment, social interaction, immigration, even in entertainment and well-being etc. With regard to practice of American accent and western jargon, the current study proves that it is perceived as a distinct-style advantage in boosting one’s personality, creating impression, as well as to develop professionally. Hence, it is reasonable to conclude that Hollywood cinema is becoming a tool to pick up the American accent and popular jargon.

The p-value (0.020 < 0.05) of variable ‘Hollywood cinema as a source to discover new hobbies’, shows that there is an influence of level of viewing on the variable. However, the mean score (3.7615) for low viewers is more, followed by heavy (M= 3.7209) and moderate viewers (M=3.5000). Also from DMRT, it is understood that moderate viewers significantly differ from low and heavy viewers. Hence, it has been observed that low viewers and heavy viewers tend to believe that Hollywood cinema is a good source to discover new hobbies and techno-ways of socializing aspects, more than moderate viewers. Overall, the hypothesis is not statistically supported.

H 2 – Male heavy viewers tend to show a higher degree of interest in socializing activities than female heavy viewers.

The probability value 0.001 (which is lesser than 0.05) of independent sample t-test, as detailed in table-2 measures the strength of evidence that there is a significant difference between male heavy viewers and female heavy viewers of Hollywood cinema. And the total mean scores clearly imply that male heavy viewers (M = 3.5877) tend to show a higher degree of interest in socializing T-tests also clearly determines on which aspects young male heavy viewers differ significantly from young female viewers.  The perceived difference between the male heavy and female heavy viewers is found with respect to three dependent variables i.e., Western type of socializing as a learning tool, pub culture as a new leisure activity, and dine-out culture  as a new way of bonding. They are explained in detail.

For the variable ‘Western type of socializing as a learning tool’ three statements were grouped – western style of socializing is the best way to learn about others; western gestures like casual hugging, patting on back, holding hands, sitting close etc. with opposite sex is no more an embarrassing thing; Hollywood cinema is facilitating the youth to get familiarized with western type of socializing. The p-value (0.004 <0.005) and the mean scores (Male heavy = 3.6836, Female heavy = 3.3746) for this dependent variable noticeably suggests that male heavy viewers significantly differ from female heavy viewers. Generally, in the Indian society, women are increasingly sensitive to unintentional as well as overt gestures and western gestures like casual hugging, patting on back, holding hands, sitting close etc., with opposite sex could be still an immoderate approach. Thus, it has been statistically proved that female, though being heavy viewers of Hollywood cinema don’t perceive western type of socializing as a learning tool, as male heavy viewers does.

For the variable ‘Pub culture as a new leisure activity’ three statements were grouped – hanging out at night parties, discotheques, pubs is exciting; smoking and boozing is becoming a new leisure activity; Hollywood cinema stimulates the youngsters to try smoking and boozing. The p-value (0.002 <0.005) and the mean scores (Male heavy = 3.4972, Female heavy = 3.1684) for this dependent variable implies that male heavy viewers significantly differ and lead over female heavy viewers. A study conducted on ‘Alcoholic Beverage Consumption in India’ reveals concern over increasing evidence of drinking among the young people. Yet, the consumption rate among women was consistently low, and all the women consumers of alcohol who participated in the study identified as abstinent (Bennett et al.,1998).

The collective mindset associates women in Indian society who drink or smoke with either privilege or poverty, and the urban young woman’s asserting her individual right to drink becomes unacceptable. For instance, an incident at a pub in Mangalore has left many Indians shocked over what they call ‘moral policing’. On Jan 24, 2009, activists of a rightwing group attacked young women and men at the pub, saying the women were violating “traditional Indian values”. The ANOVA results (as specified in the table 5.3.3.2) and t-test results (as in Table 5.3.3.4) for the variable, Acceptance of women’s participation in pub culture ,also proves that there is no significant approval from all the levels of viewers i.e., heavy, moderate, low, either male or female.

Also, the t-test results evidently prove that male heavy viewers, more than female heavy viewers, tend to show higher degree of interestin practising  American accent/jargon (p-value 0.025 < 0.05, Male Mean score = 3.5805, Female Mean score = 3.3247), and regarding the ‘dine-out’ culture, male heavy viewers perceive it as a new way of bonding and visiting restaurants like McDonalds, KFC, Dominos is viewed as a ‘feel good’ approach that gives the satisfaction of participating in the hi-fi western food culture (p-value 0.015 < 0.05, Male Mean score = 3.5996, Female Mean score = 3.3402).

Bibliography:

  1. Andersen L., Margaret and Taylor, Howard Francis (2008), Sociology: understanding a diverse society (4th ed).  USA: Cengage Learning, Wadsworth.
  2. Andersen L., Margaret and Taylor, Howard Francis (2011), Sociology: The Essentials. (6th ed.), USA: Cengage Learning, Wadsworth.
  3. Arachie, O. Adaora (December, 2010), Crossing Over: The Influence of Black American Female Representation on Nigerian Films and Music Videos. Research Paper for Master Degree submitted to Southern Illinois University Carbondal. [http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/gs_rp/8].
  4. Bennett, Linda A., Campillo, carlos and Chandrashekar, M.D. (1998), Alcoholic Beverage Consumption in India, Mexico, and Nigeria: A Cross-Cultural Comparison. Alcohol Health & Research World, Vol. 22 (4):243-252.
  5. Bernschütz, Maria (2010), Empirical Study of Subtitled Movies. Translation Journal, January, Vol.14(1). [http://translationjournal.net/ journal/51subtitling.htm].
  6. Charlesworth, Annemarie and Glantz A. Stanton (2005), Smoking in the Movies Increases Adolescent Smoking: A Review. Pediatrics, Vol.116 (6): 1516 -1528. [http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/116/6/1516.full.html].
  7. Clausen, John A. (ed.) (1968), Socialization and Society, Boston: Little Brown and Company.
  8. Dal Cin S, Worth KA, Dalton MA, Sargent JD (2008), Youth exposure to alcohol use and brand appearances in popular contemporary movies. Addiction, December, Vol. 103(12):1925-32.
  9. EUCAM trend report (2010), Movies with a tick: Inventory of Alcohol Portrayal in Europe’s Most Popular Movies. [trendreport-alcohol-portrayal-in-popular-movies.pdf]
  10. Everett SA, Schnuth RL, and Tribble JL. (1998), Tobacco and alcohol use in top-grossing American films. Journal of Community Health, Harvard School of Public Health, USA, August, Vol. 23(4):317-24.
  11. Fornas et al., (1995), as quoted in Sue Ralph, Jo Langham Brown, Tim Lees (Eds.), “Youth and Global Media: Papers from the 29th University of Manchester Broadcasting Symposium, 1998, (pp.219)”. GB: University of Luton Press. 1999.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close