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Daily Show report on (and parody of) Globalization/Localization Information Transfers

September 30, 2009

Check out this humorous and subversive spin on the hegemonic notions of technological/technical relationship(s) between India and the U.S.⇒”Deep Space Naan” (aired on 9/29/09). “Aasif Mandvi is proud to report that India discovered water on the moon, while America provided the tech support”: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-september-29-2009/deep-space-naan

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3 comments

  1. Hehehe!

    I’m almost distracted from the satire here by the hilarity of Jon Stewart’s visible rhetoric (re his facial expressions), but not quite.

    This piece points out the glaring oddities in the way the U.S. media report such news. For example, did anyone reading this story on CNN doubt for so much as a moment that NASA was behind the discovery? And is that assumption the fault of CNN, for not clearing it up, or the fault of us, the readers?

    As a former member of the media, I’m inclined to place more guilt with CNN. Why? Because, through their use of technology, they know their audience. They monitor clicks, which determines the placement of headlines on their home page. They use cookies and other technogical trappings to see which ads readers click on and which other sites they visit. Basically, they compile demographic profiles of their readers. They know their audience, and they ought to be aware of the assumptions that will be made by their audience(s). (In the defense of reporters, these demographics often are used for advertising purposes and not shared with the newsroom.)

    But does that absolve the reader of guilt? Certainly not. That would minimize our own agency. We have the ability to make value judgments and to see when we’re not getting the whole story. That’s why satire like this–“We provided tech support for you?,” “Omigod we’re India,” and “What’s the deal with all the American cab drivers in New Delhi”–works. We know the stereotypes, and we know they’re not always true.

    If we have the ability to grasp the subversive bent of The Daily Show, we ought to harbor enough skepticism that we don’t make assumptions like thinking NASA is the only agency out there that could possible discover something about the moon.

    But this isn’t often the case. (I certainly would have been guilty of thinking NASA was behind the discovery if someone had asked me after I read the story but before I attended the class where we talked about this.) And that provides all the more reason why those who have the opportunity to be at the university, whether we’re teaching or not, should do their best to promote critical perspectives in ourselves as well as others.


    • I couldn’t say no to watching this either Erin! Hilarious! But I wonder if the viewer is at fault as much here compared to CNN. If I saw a headline in the Pantagraph that the president had been shot, I would assume that an American media source was referring to the American president. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we as the viewing public aren’t responsible on a different level.

      This “oversight” will and probably has already passed by without having CNN held responsible for it. I think we are seeing the media networks attempt to appeal to a strong sense of nationalism held by Americans, and holding that sense of nationalism, we were all too ready to believe that a great accomplishment had to take place in the U.S.A. Luckily all India found was water. (Joking. That satire still has me feeling bubbly.)

      How do we perceive the space programs of other nations? South Park fans may remember an episode when the boys (for a reason I won’t explain) need to send a killer whale to the moon. They approach the space programs of world superpowers before soliciting the Mexican Space Program. http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/155142
      Check out the clip. It is satire, like the Stewart clip, but how do we conceive our neighbor to the south would conduct a space program? (For the record Mexico started a space program with a modest budget in 2006). A space program at all is no easy task. Why are some technology movements applauded while others are brushed off like Indias or ridiculed like Mexico?


  2. I’m not one to laugh at things like that out loud. At best, I’ll grin but the concept of tech support for India made me bark, especially the imitation of what “localized” tech support from the U.S. would sound like had me rolling.

    Why was I laughing? Because of the indelible truth of what was being pointed out by the parody. I will freely admit I did not know there was a Indian space program. I thought I was all up on the technology of India, I guess I am not.

    This speaks of how U.S. news and science outlets construct our view of the world and of how slanted that generated world view is. We, Americans, have what would be essentially an isolationist stance remnant from pre World War II that goes beyond the term often applied to is: nationalism. A question I’ll have to keep in mind now is how deep this “nationalism” actually goes.

    I know we do not get the same news presentation as the rest of the world which is why I have a couple of BBC RSS feeds and an Australian RSS feed I somewhat watch. Yeas these feeds are very western in orientation. If I could read Japanese I would watch an non-translated Japanese feed as well. the question of “why not read a translated Japanese feed?”; because I simply would not trust the translation. Why would I not trust the translation? Because the translation may be done by an American representative or it may be so geared towards American readers it could have a semblance of the “truth” they would expect a nationalist American audience to desire.

    The irony is I question the accuracy of an attempt of localization by another culture. This raises interesting questions for me. How much of a cultural identity needs to be incorporated in localization? How little of address directly to that culture’s is tolerable by that culture? How much source-culture authenticity is expected, if any at all. What kind of ego do other cultures have to deal with in localizing for America? My guess is we are a nightmare!



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