Western Influence on Ethiopian Media as Reflected in Amharic Movies: Content Analysis of Films Produced From 2001 to 2005 Ec by Ethiopian Filmmakers Living and Producing in Addis Ababa

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Addis Ababa University


Thi s thes is entitled Wes tern Influen ce on Ethiopian Media as Reflect ed in A mh ali c Mov ies: Content A nalys is of. Films Produ ced from 2001 to 2 005 by Ethiopian Filmmakers Li ving and Producing in Addi s Ababa w as done by Marse ma Tari ku as a th es is for th e Addi s Ababa Un ives it y, June 201 4 . Its purpose wa s to explore via conte nt anal ys is, th e ex ist ence of westerni zat ion influe nce in Amhari c featur e film s released in Addi s Ababa ove r the la st 5 years (2001 to 2005 EC). In fa c t, w ith the u se of qu antit ati ve content analys is and qualitati ve in-depth interv iews, th e existence o f thi s influe nce and it s mani fes tati o n modaliti es as re fl ec ted in th e 15 fil ms' tota l v iewin g and th e 12 in-d epth interviews w ith several peo pl e within th e di ffe re nt wa lks of t he fi eld were examined. Though c in ema is at its earl y days in Ethiopi a in gene ral , and in Addi s Ababa in p alti cul a r, we have reac hed a ti me whe n an ave rage o f 5 film s are reported to be launched ever y week in A ddi s A baba, showing a ve ry fas t nu merological growth . Mo reover, th e numb er o f film wa tchers h as also increased remarkab ly. Since ci ne ma has a stro ng powe r to in fl ue nce yo un gs ters and eve n e ld ers a lot, a sc hola ri ly stu dy is necessary to id emify, und e rs tand and try to influcnce the k ind o f messages and pote nti al in fl uen ces th at are at p lay in these Amharic fi lms, w ith a p arti cu lar interest to the co nn otati ons . In deed , the con tent of th e film s were ana lysed w ith a p articula r focus on th e occuren ce o r ab sence, fr eq uen ce or rari ty o f celtai n se lec ted att r ibu tes dee med to d ep ic t westem influ ence. These a ttributes we re th e setting, th e eve nt , th e charac teri za tion, th e costumes, th e ha ir styles and c ol o rs, th e s ound tra cks a s used to show asp ec ts o f life s tyle and langu age as seen throu gh th e u se o f Engli sh in th e dial ogue, th e subtitl es or th e castin g li sts. Findin gs co nfi rm t he ex istence o f an influ e nce, but o f rathe r Ameri ca n nature, m o re than w es tern . Mo reover, th e fi ndin gs suggest that th e Am eri canization mo st ly is d epi cted tlu·ough covert ways o f th inkin g, in stead of th e overt o nes th at account for costum es (84%), sound trac ks (59% ), eve nt s (52 %) and ha ir s tyles by men an d wo me n combin ed (5 0%). Th ese Ame ri ca n influ e nces were de emed influ ence and yet no t influe n ces re fl ected and imposed by the film s p er se, as the y s how th e ways life is currentl y un fo ld in g in the c it y of Add is Ababa , th ere fo re influ enc ing rat her the film makers , rathe r th a n filmm ake rs generatin g th e influ ence.Results further indi cate that the influence has 3 kinds of characteristcs as to the influence 's potential consequence on the audience. Accordingly, the different types of influences were classified in terms of their perce ived result as beneficial , harmful and neutral. The conclusion here being no influence is bad just becaus," it is an influence so long as it contributes positively towards the social development somehow. Some imperfections were thus found tolerable in this sector while others not, as they threaten the local content and national ways and beings. On another finding thoug ht, influence per se, regardless of its being positive or negative, was found to likely threaten creativity and originality as the Amharic fi lms were said to have many copy and past from story lines, values, or life styles of Hollywood films and from one another. Addi tionall y, it was found out, that cUITentl y, the cinema sector does not have any responsible body trying to coach it, aside from the individual filmmakers, struggling randomly in trial and error, also prioritizing the income aspect over the quest for al1istic creativity. Through the in-depth interviews, the inj ~c lin g of Ethiopian clcments and ways into the fi lms was one outstanding solution presented to fight the American influence that is threatening to swamp about anything on its way as imposed by the Ethiopian filmmakers themselves upon themselves.



Ethiopian Media as Reflected in Amharic Movies