Global Music: Hip-Hop

During my senior year in High School, I completed a major project that investigated Hip-Hop as a medium of social commentary for minority groups. If you’d like a deeper look into the contents of today’s blog, I highly recommend taking the time to read that article. This blog will act almost as a sequel to it and examine some of the latest examples of Hip-Hop’s power for social change across countries.

Hip-Hop began in the boroughs of New York during the 1970’s, enabling the African-American community to respond to the systemic silencing by institutional powers (Deshazier, 2017). Over time, Hip-Hop has become global and allowed individuals of different ethnicities and genders to provide a social commentary of important issues within their own environment. Here are three examples from the U.S, U.K and Australia that either occurred after my major project or I didn’t get a chance to discuss.

The most recent demonstration of Hip-Hop as a social commentary within America can be seen in the release of Rapsody’s third studio album. Eve discusses themes of African-American culture, femininity within Hip-Hop and the impact of many African-American women throughout history. From face value, the album pays homage with the 16 long track list being named after important African-American female figures including Sojourner Truth, Nina Simone, Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama.

Though its unclear whether Eve will have the same influence in Hip-Hop like Kendrick Lamar’s politically driven To Pimp A Butterfly, Eve has already received positive praises and crowned by many as the album of the year. Hip-Hop provided Rapsody a medium to deliver a strong social and political commentary in the form of a full-length project. With the globalisation of the genre, artists around the world have been given a platform that has allowed them to utilise other forms of media to compliment their message.

One of U.K.’s biggest rap stars Stormzy, performed “Blinded By Your Grace” and “Big For Your Boots” at the 2018 Brits. His performance alone says a lot about Hip-Hop’s global dominance, its acknowledgement from larger institutions and position into the mainstream, but the content of his lyrics provide insight into how minority groups perceive Hip-Hop as medium to incite social change. Similar to how artists like Rapsody discusses issues within her cultural proximity, Stormzy rapped about the Grenfell Tower fire and the image of Hip-Hop portrayed in unreliable media sources such as the Daily Mail. While it is a cultural appropriation of sorts, the essence of Hip-Hop thrives in the U.K. scene and is able to create a powerful social commentary on a huge visual platform such as televised award shows that further support the artist’s political and social messages (Vella, 2016).

The mainstream initially resisted the Australian Hip-Hop scene and dubbed the sub-genre ‘skiphop’. However, in recent years the scene has become as diverse as ever and the mainstream is become more and more accepting. Once again, artists have adapted Hip-Hop into their own culture and begun using it to create their own social commentary on the issues involving them and their country history. A.B Original and their song “January 26” spoke about the debate of changing of the Australia Day date. This social commentary was able to create social change with Triple J announcing the official moving of the Hottest 100 from January 26th. Additionally, the city of Fremantle shifted their Australia Day celebrations to January 28 in the same week that A.B. Original’s album Reclaim Australia was released.

Hip-Hop has stemmed many sub-genres that emerge from a “very specific set of local circumstances … and to speak to, and for, marginalised fractions of society” (Adams, 2019). Though beginning in an American setting, artists localise the genre creating new sounds such as Grime, and Hip-Hop has now become a global commodity with the power to provide a social commentary capable of creating social change.

Frank Tremain.


Deshazier J, 2017, ‘Hip-Hop, Job, and the Black Struggle for Being‘, On Being Project, October 23, viewed on August 30, <>.

Ruth Adams (2019) “Home sweet home, that’s where I come from,
where I got my knowledge of the road and the flow from”: Grime music as an expression
of identity in postcolonial London., Popular Music and Society, 42:4, 438-455, DOI:

Vella, R. 2016, ‘Music industry faces digitization challenges, but all is not lost’, ABC News, November 28, viewing on August 30, <>.


Global Movies: Oldboy

Between 2005-2017, an average of 53% of the top 100 US-grossing movies were adaptions. During the mid-2000’s, almost one in six top-grossing movies were re-imaginings (Follows, 2018). One of the biggest during this time was Spike Lee’s remake (2013) of Park Chan-wook’s classic, Oldboy (2003).

Oldboy is a South Korean neo-noir action thriller film based on the Japanese manga of the same name. The plot follows Oh Dae-su as he is imprisoned in a hotel room styled cell for 15 years without knowing his captor or their motives. When released, he’s invited to track down his captor and embark on a rampage of revenge and violence (IMDb, 2003).

The original film is regarded as a cult classic, with 8.4/10 ratings on IMDb and 81% on Rotten Tomatoes. While the artistic quality and uniqueness of the film can be attributed to its international success, the the emergence of movie piracy and broadband access at the time also played an important role. Discussion forums during 2003 were littered with recommendations to the film, along with other well-received Asian films such as Battle Royale, Akira and Princess Mononoke (Reddit, 2018).

The global success of Oldboy led its cultural hybridisation in Hollywood with the American director Spike Lee’s remake of the same name in 2013. At times the remake was incredibly faithful to the original, but when Spike Lee decides to include his own creative decisions, it either ignores the complete nature of the film or only serves to be more palatable to American audiences (Peterson, 2014). The remake turned the original story into another American action film with overused themes of hyper-masculinity and “save the girl” plot devices (Jung, 2010).

To focus on one particular scene, we can look at the iconic fight scene. In the original, the fight scene is a near perfectly crafted single shot scene that sees Dae-su outnumbered, fighting his way through a corridor. Dae-su’s male vulnerability is highlighted from their alienated situations (Jung, 2010). There are points where he is knocked down and out of breath, and as an audience you can feel the claustrophobia as he hangs onto to his anger and stubbornness to allow him to continue. Differently, the remake sees the American counterpart take on similar foes with almost absolute ease. He never seems outnumbered and is essentially invincible until he is stabbed in the back (AlternatingLine, 2014). The shot is not a one take and Spike Lee’s adaption misses the meaning of the original scene and in a way, culturally appropriates the scene. American audiences are used to seeing the protagonist be a Terminator like figure, and winning every fight, but what made the original Oldboy so appealing to me, is that a lot of the time it barely even felt like he was winning.

Action movie tropes within American films played a detrimental role in the cultural hybridisation of Oldboy. Though even the original was adapted from a Japanese manga, the nature of the story and characters remained, whereas, Spike Lee’s remake is stylistically indecisive and overly Americanised.

Frank Tremain.


AlternatingLine 2014, The Remaker: Oldboy (2003) vs. Oldboy (2013), online video, 24 March, AlternatingLine, viewed on 20 August 2019, <>.

Follows, S 2018, ‘The prevalence of sequels, remakes and original movies’, Stephen Follows, 30 April, viewed on 19 August 2019, <>.

IMDb 2003, ‘Oldboy’, viewed on 20 August 2019, <>.

Jung, S. 2010, Korean Masculinities and Transcultural Consumption, e-book, accessed 20 August 2019, <>.

Peterson, J 2014, ‘OLDBOY Is A Case Study in How Not to Do a Remake’, Film Inquiry, 24 March, viewed on 20 August 2019, <>.

Reddit 2018, ‘Why is Oldboy the most widely acclaimed and popular Korean film?’, viewed on 20 August 2019, <>.

Global Television: The Simpsons

Does the Simpsons have a purpose? According to the executive producer George Mayer, its purpose is “to get people to re-examine their world, and specifically the authority figures in their world.”

Beginning in 1987 as a series of short animations before airing on FOX as a full animated series in 1989, Matt Groening’s The Simpsons has become one of the worlds most dysfunctional and beloved television families. Despite the many jokes and references to American pop culture that flew well over my head, I still watched the now 30-year-old show every weekday at 6:00PM on Channel 10. The Simpsons is the longest-running scripted show in TV history, but what can be attributed for the global success (and now failure) of this cultural phenomenon?

The Simpsons was one of the first animated families to target the an older demographic and counter the traditional concept of functional sitcom families. The Simpsons are almost over the top dysfunctional, something that I think everyone can find comfort in and relate to. Perhaps not to the extent of having an evil twin brother living upstairs, but I know I can see glimmers of Homer’s goofy and out of touch personality in my own father.

Outside of the Simpson family, the show has a rich ensemble of support characters in Springfield. Though it may not be politically correct in some cases, The Simpsons had extreme stereotypical characters that global audiences could all recognise others or even themselves in. The over-friendly Ned Flanders, the overweight, pretentious Comic Book Guy or the representation of Indian culture through Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. The Simpsons grew to become a huge part of popular culture and influenced global relationships and politics, and with that came a great deal of global responsibility. Though it would be untrue to say these stereotypes didn’t help the success of the show, in the era of political correctness, it’s a large factor to the shows failure in the 2010’s.

The downfall of The Simpsons from magic to mediocrity is largely agreed to have begun in Season 9 where episodes like “The Principal and the Pauper” gives the back story of Armin Tamzarian who served in the army and met Seymour Skinner before resuming his identity after it was presumed he had died in the war. The episode paid no respect to the audience’s investment into the characters and their backstory, and seemed to be a clear indication of the show running out of original ideas and stories to tell.

While the episode is considered non-cannon, the bad taste it left in fans mouths remain along with the 21 other seasons to come after it. Backstories were reworked, jokes and plots were retold, and the show became lazy and continued to fall into unpopularity.

From what I like to remember from The Simpsons (Seasons 1-9), its relatability, satirical humour and social and cultural commentary allowed it to reach and resonate with a global audience. However, too much of a good thing slowly held truth with the show attempting to appeal to a newer audience by still hanging on to old stories and characters. Nevertheless, The Simpsons was one of the best television shows in the 20th century.

Frank Tremain.


Basile, N 2019, ‘How and When Did The Simpsons Begin’, liveaboutdotcom, 23 May, viewed 9 August 2019, <>.

Cartoon Curiosities 2016, ‘The Globalization of The Simpsons: A Study of Satire in International Media’, A Medium Corporation, viewed 8 August 2019, <>.

Entertain The Elk 2017, The Day The Simpsons Died, online video, 9 February, Entertain The Elk, viewed on 11 August 2019, <>.

Super Eyepatch Wolf 2017, The Fall of The Simpsons: How it Happened, online video, 12 August, Super Eyepatch Wolf, viewed on 11 August 2019, <>.

Sweatpants, C 2013, ‘The Simpsons In Australia: A Fan Remembers (& Rambles)’, Dead Homer Society, 25 July, viewed on 8 August 2019, <>.

The One True Geekology 2017, ‘The Day The Simpsons Died’, Geeks, viewed on 9 August 2019, <>.

Tribe Social Magazine 2016, ‘The Simpsons: 28 years of everlasting success’, viewed on 8 August 2019, <>.

How Global Are You?

For the first week of BCM111, we were asked to reintroduce ourselves with the question in mind of: How Global Are You? Though initially I considered myself as Australian as the next bloke, the more I thought about it and researched what it means to be global, the more I was wrong. Sure, I love an Indian curry and enjoy watching the occasional Studio Ghibli film but the idea of being global is much bigger than that, and can seem daunting at first.

In Ron Israel’s ‘What does it mean to be a global citizen?’, he believes a global citizen refers to someone who is a part of an “emerging world community and whose actions contribute to building this community’s values and practices.” Furthermore, he states that this growing global identity is made possible through modern information, communication and transportation technologies. With this in mind, I think we can all attest to being somewhat of a global citizen. Through transportation technologies, I’ve had the opportunities to travel to Fiji, England, Germany, France, Portugal and my mother’s home country, Holland. These travels have opened my eyes in appreciation as I’ve been exposed to a variety of amazing cultures, some of which like the Dutch have played an important role in my upbringing. While I don’t believe travelling is an essential part of being a global citizen, I think it enriches your empathy and understanding of the world around you.

With modern information and communication technologies, a large portion of my identity has been formed through my tastes in entertainment. In music, for example, my favourite genre being Hip-Hop originally started in New York during the 1960’s, and historically has been used for African-Americans to voice their struggles of oppression. So how could someone so far removed from these events be so shaped by the product that it’s created? In a video from Duke Students, students claimed that being global means being educated on global affairs and listening to others. Through forms of entertainment such as Hip-Hop, I’m actively listening and being educated on global affairs. The globalisation of such a genre has allowed other artists to actively listen and use this medium to voice their own stories, creating a back and forth conversation of global issues for an international community to hear.

In Martin Shaw’s ‘Global Society & International Relations: Sociological & Political Perspectives’, he discusses the necessity of global responsibility. This global responsibility calls upon all of us and requires a civil society to move forward as one. You might feel like an individual’s responsibility won’t influence the global responsibility but it will, and it does. Your efforts of awareness and acceptance will help create the ideal global community. In summary, we must all strive to be Mr. Worldwide.

Frank Tremain.


Duke Global 2017, Being Global Means…, Duke Global, viewed on 8 August 2019, <;.

Ron Israel 2013, What does it mean to be a global citizen?, openDemocracy, viewed on 8 August 2019, <;.

Shaw, M. 2000, Global Society and International Relations: Sociological Concepts and Political Perspectives, e-book, accessed 8 August 2019, <;.