Garnham

Nicholas Garnham is the author of the article Contribution to a Political Economy of Mass-Communication. Basically, he talks about mental and material production throughout most of the article and how this phenomenon provides the for industrialization of culture. In his article, he presents many ideas but I would like to look into only one of those which is his idea of mental and material production. First of all, mental production is a term not too familiar to many so basically what Garnham means by this is the production of ideas and traditions that already do, or will end up becoming, a part of a nation's culture. He claims that mental production is often taken as just plain ideas but according to Garnham, all of these mental products have corresponding material and historical context from which these mental products arise from.

I'd like to use some of the things I learned from my psych101 class this semester in trying to get the message across because I was able to learn more about cultures through this class as well. On the chapter on social psychology in Dr. Saundra Ciccarelli's textbook entitled Understanding Psychology, she talks about different techniques through which certain people, especially advertisers, get people to make commitments into purchasing certain products of theirs. Advertisers are not the only culprits, but pretty much anyone uses these techniques to get people to do favors for them. It also says in the chapter that culture plays an important role in how these techniques work, whether they are more or less effective or even effective at all. She goes on to mention that some techniques work better on certain Western countries, and this is because their cultures are said to be more individualistic as supposed to Asian countries such as Japan and Thailand that are more familiar with groups rather that being individualistic.

The confusing for us Filipinos though, is that we have a somewhat hybrid culture, or mixed culture because of our three colonizers in the past, the Spanish, the Americans and the Japanese for a while. So if we take a look at the statement in the second paragraph regarding differences in eastern and western culture, where do we actually belong? This is important in seeing Garnham's work in a Philippine Context so we can first look at the American culture as a good way to maybe pave the way for the discussion about the Philippines in Garnham's eyes.

As mentioned earlier, the Americans of course have a Western Culture and according to Dr. Ciccarelli, Western Cultures tend to be more individualistic in nature. I find this very true, and this individualistic culture can be seen in many game shows and reality tv shows that originate from the United States.

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One of example of how culture is industrialized and where we can see that mental production only takes place with the basis of a material product is the popular game show in the United States called The Weakest Link. In this game show, there is a group of contestants participating in a quiz show and as every round goes by, the contestants also vote for someone to be eliminated from the game and they are called the Weakest Link for that round. And included in the mechanics of the quiz is that the group will get smaller and smaller until there are only two contestants left which shall call for a face off or one on one quiz. But we ask ourselves? Is the person in the group that gets eliminated after every round really the weakest link? The answer is no. The group will not always vote out whoever is not answering the questions properly, instead they choose to eliminate those who are the biggest threat to their chances of winning and in effect, the best players are usually the ones who get eliminated. This shows the individualistic culture of the west and people get entertained by the mechanics of the show just as much as the trivia entertains them, and true enough, because of the influence that the United States has on the Philippines we soon adapted the quiz show into our local television which was also called the Weakest Link and was hosted by Edu Manzano. Here, we see that the individualistic character of the Americans was produced based on the material that is the game show so the individualism in Americans no longer remains immaterial but now represented by a material which allows the mental product to be paid for as well as the material.survivor_logo.png
We can also see the same kind of industrialization in some reality shows, one example of which is the reality show "Survivor". This is not a game or quiz show but it exhibits the same kinda of individualistic characteristics that are supposedly part of Western and American culture. In Survivor, as everyone should already know, there are 30 castaways onto a deserted island and they have to find means to live there because all they bring with them are the clothes on their back. So basically, they have to survive for 30 days without all the luxuries and everything they were used to having or doing during their everyday lives. The elimination system is the same as the one in the Weakest Link, the castaways engage in a tribal council or a meeting where in they vote for who should leave the island and lose his/her chance at the prize. But, another facet of the game shows individualism as well and this is the concept of immunity from being voted out. This brings out the competitive spirit as well as individualism because you're all in a group but the only reason why one tries to win is so that they can stay in the island and have a chance to still win the big cash prize. In this show, we see plots to eliminate some members who most of the contestants cannot get along with but at the same time, some of the contestants look to vote out the strong competitors because they lessen the chances of others who are not as capable of winning.

The Philippine entertainment sector also decided to adapt this show from the United States and therefore coming up with Survivor Philippines. I am not exactly sure of the details of the show, like the location and other things. But the mechanics are the same as Mark Burnett's version and so the same concepts and culture is industrialized through the Philippines' adaptation of this famous reality show. Therefore, in the Philippines we chose to industrialize western culture even if we are not completely like all the western countries. Maybe we have still failed to recognize what is truly Filipino culture and I think because of this, it will be hard for the Filipinos to come up with mental production regarding our society and will make it difficult to have it coincide with material products in our industries today. Here is a video of a tribal council session in the reality tv show, Survivor.

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