Mainstream media often maps the journeys of individuals and their experiences within their community. There is no doubt though, that the journeys often represented are not usually those of minority groups, or ‘migrant’ communities. The representation of different cultures within the one community however is becoming increasingly important – to recognise that we live in a multicultural country, and to ensure the correct images of different cultures are represented.
I discussed the important role media place is the representation of different cultures in a previous post, highlighting the implications that incorrect representations of cultures have of society’s perceptions. The media and politics is central to this, in that the images and opinions these entities represent, reinforce the views of the wider community, who rely on these sources for first hand information.
The lack of access to media means migrants in Australia face difficult struggles in the communities where they live, where language and cultural barriers are just the tip of the iceberg (Salazar,). Often the perceptions people have of migrant communities are skewed by the negativity in the media, particularly when it comes to asylum seekers. It is thus important then to realise the significant impact self-representation in the media can have on the experiences of migrant communities (Salazar,)
Diasporic media can help displace the stereotypes and negative views mainstream media often reinforces, enabling migrant and other marginalised communities to socialise within their environment, as well as maintain their cultural heritage. As Sharma (2011) describes:
Individuals who trace their heritage to a specific region or nation increasingly have had to negotiate a sense of belonging and cultural tenure that takes into account the locations of their ethnic backgrounds as well as their daily lives
Films such as Bend it Like Beckham (2002) are an avenue for mapping the experiences of migrant cultures, and exploring themes of contrast and commonality that can facilitate a positive social discourse (Sharma, 2011). This can develop an individual’s sense of identity within their community, as well as bring different cultures together by identifying common threads in their experience.
In Bend it Like Beckham (2002), the main character Jess (short for Jesminder) grapples with the experiences of being a teenager, including love interests, sexuality, and being part of a team. At the same time, she is also battling with cultural expectations that make it difficult for her to participate in sport, and encounters racism from other players due to her ethnicity. In the end, she is able to overcome the conflicts with her family, and pursue her dreams, with the support of her friends. The film articulates the importance of balancing cultural expectations whilst moving forward in a globalised world, and the positive outcomes that can come from openly communicating with family and friends.
Ultimately, as globalisation continues to blur cultural boundaries, diasporic media has an important role to play in communicating the journeys of communities and individuals that are not given equal or truthful representation in mainstream media.
Salazar, J F 2012, ‘Digital Stories and emerging citizens’ media practices by migrant youth in Western Sydney’. 3CMedia: Journal of Community, Citizen’s and Third Sector Media and Communication, no. 7.
Sharma, R 2011, ‘Desi Films: Articulating Images of South Asian Identity in a Global Communication Environment’, Global Media Journal – Canadian Edition, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 127-143.