The Media and Political Change in Southeast Asia

The Media and Political Change in Southeast Asia

Karaoke Culture and the Evolution of Personality Politics

Jonathan Woodier

Jonathan Woodier’s latest work considers what impact the media has upon the democratization process in Southeast Asia. Has the media had a liberalizing effect or become subject to elite control in Southeast Asia and, if so, why? What role does the global media play in this process, particularly given its conglomerization and commoditization? By examining the communications media and its relationship to political change in Southeast Asia, this fascinating study will endeavour to provide both a regional comparative analysis and a more balanced interpretation of the mass communication media in the wake of September 11, 2001. The book also investigates the durability of authoritarian regimes and the enduring capacity of the media-controlled state alongside the growing sophistication of political communications – particularly the use of PR consultants.

Chapter 5: From Propaganda to Pop Culture: The Philippines and the Rise of the Southeast Asia Media Stars

Jonathan Woodier

Subjects: politics and public policy, international relations


INTRODUCTION Southeast Asia’s changing political landscape and the technological developments that have come hand-in-hand with globalization, have led to a sea change in mass media and communications in the region. No longer merely a tool of national government, the media in much of Southeast Asia is enjoying a period of burgeoning growth, emerging self confidence and gathering power. Even before 9/11 and the Bali bombs of October 2002, these developments were not lost on the elites in the region. They contest and claim the media space, with a resulting boom in the public relations industry, and celebrity status for increasingly influential media faces. It is this celebrity status that, as the domains of politics and entertainment converge and the citizen becomes political consumer, is being turned into votes, as name recall by the public becomes a major key to electoral office. This chapter examines these changes with a particular focus on the Philippines, and what they might mean for democratic pluralism in Southeast Asia more generally. Asia is in thrall to celebrity. Across the region, from Bollywood to Canton, from The Ginza to Ramsey Street, there is an obsession with the image that revels in an escape from the humdrum drudgery of modern urban existence. Caught up in the world’s embrace of mass media and entertainment, screens and their images are now the places where we not only access aspects of the real world, but also escape and ignore it. In Asia’s entertainment economies, celebrity is the...

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