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Pet Sins September 2006

Do the Chinese outdo the Americans as consumers of foreign film?

America prides itself on being 'diverse', 'multicultural', home to people and languages from all over the world, so when I moved here from China, I was surprised to find that the average American TV viewer/movie goer has far less access to foreign movies than the average Chinese TV viewer/movie goer. When I was living in China, I saw movies and TV serials from many different countries - India, Brazil, Singapore, Russia and other former Communist countries, to name some - in addition to domestic Chinese programming. Many of these foreign TV serials were dubbed in Chinese. When I moved to the US, there was typically no foreign programming except on channels targeted at specialized audiences.

America may have many ethnic groups living within its borders, but the average American doesn't seem to look outside the nation's borders, or indeed, even beyond his/her own neighborhood in some cases. Film can be a window into other cultures and other countries. Sometimes they give us a chance to see that other people are not too different from ourselves. It is a pity that foreign TV serials have not been able to penetrate mainstream America's TV set, and somehow I don't see it happening anytime soon.