Culture Matters

Spherex's weekly insights into the globalization of entertainment.

Understanding international cultural trends and narratives is critical to the media and entertainment industry’s ability to adapt, evolve and innovate.


Why Local-Language Adaptations Are the Next Round of Remakes

Despite a recently announced wave of U.S. remakes of foreign films, the "much larger business" is in creating local-language adaptations as streamers court international subscribers. [Global]


US appetite for Japanese movies and TV grows during lockdown

After more than a year of binge-watching their way through the coronavirus pandemic, American audiences still cannot get enough of Japanese shows and movies. That is according to a recent report by Parrot Analytics and media consultancy Global Connects, which shows Japanese-language content outperforming all other non-English offerings. [Japan]


Online poll sexualising female religious teachers in breach of Internet regulations: IMDA

An online poll sexualising female Muslim religious teachers has been assessed to have breached Singapore's Internet regulations, said the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) on Friday (May 28). The poll ranking female asatizah (religious teachers), which was posted on the MeWe social media platform, "promotes sexual violence or sexual activity involving coercion or non-consent", said IMDA in a statement. [Singapore]


Censors question union on June Fourth film screenings

The Hospital Authority Employees Alliance said on Thursday night that it has been warned by film censors over its screening of two movies related to the June 4, 1989, crackdown in Beijing. In a social media post, the union said staff from the Office for Film, Newspaper and Article Administration (OFNAA) visited its office without prior notice in the evening, demanding more details of its plans to screen the film "Conjugation" on Saturday. The officials also asked whether it had sought approval to show the documentary "I Have Graduated" to its members on May 22, the union said. 'Conjugation", which is banned on the mainland, featured the fictional stories of a few young people who escaped the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989. "I have graduated", meanwhile, documented the lives of several mainland university graduates who had experienced the June Fourth democracy movement. [Hong Kong]


Friends: The Reunion faces censorship in China, airs edited special without Lady Gaga, BTS, Justin Bieber

Friends: The Reunion finally dropped on HBO Max, ZEE5 (in India) and other streaming services on Thursday, 27 May worldwide. As fans watched the show with much cheer and smile all over the world, the Chinese version of the reunion episode was a little different from the original. Three of China’s biggest streaming platforms Youku, iQIYI and Tencent Video are streaming the special. But, the platforms have entirely edited out scenes starring American pop singers Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, and the famous South Korean boy band BTS, reports Variety. [China]


Lockdown drives streaming sites to add niche, foreign language cinema

Video streaming platforms are increasingly banking on niche, foreign language cinema, including those in Korean, Danish, French, Dutch, and Spanish to draw audiences in India. The covid-19 pandemic, which has forced people to stay at home, has exposed viewers in the country to more global content as they become comfortable with subtitles as well as stories that resonate with them. [India]


Patriarchate gives support to blocking ‘Russophobic’ foreign media

A spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church, backing moves by Russia to control foreign media, has called for “Russophobic content” online to be screened out by a firewall. “The security of our people lies not just with tanks and missiles, but also in the information space, when the main goal of modern warfare is to destroy self-consciousness,” the deputy chairman of the Church’s Synodal Department for Society and Media, Alexander Shchipkov, said.“Today’s main battleground is the internet, whose Russian segment is almost entirely dependent on foreign IT giants. There’s a huge stream of lies on social networks — about our state, history, and Church — as global elites censor our territory with an informational occupation.” [Russia]


Mary Poppins and messy conversations: TikTok prepares for looming regulation

TikTok’s child safety chief insists the entertainment app is learning from past mistakes of tech pioneers, Facebook and YouTube amid new laws on social media companies being drafted in the UK. Alexandra Evans, TikTok’s head of child safety public policy in Europe, told the IAB’s Digital Trust Seminar that “safety first” is the Chinese company’s approach, while admitting that “messy” conversations - in which people open-up about difficult issues such as eating disorders - lie within grey areas of policy. [United Kingdom]


Netflix's new influencer reality show Byron Baes sparks more controversy as it begins filming without consulting local Indigenous groups

Netflix's upcoming reality show Byron Baes has sparked more controversy, this time for not consulting local Indigenous groups or the Byron Council before filming.  According to independent newspaper Echo, the Byron Council 'passed an urgency motion' that would require producers to get permission before any further filming. Speaking to the paper, independent Councillor Cate Coorey said: 'We need to stand up for our community.'…Not mincing words, Deputy Mayor Sarah Ndiaye said: 'This corporation, Netflix, has basically come in and s**t on us.' [Australia]


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