Reimagined memories of Africa in 21st Century: An exploration of a Reality TV program

Joe Anyanwu

    Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


    Mix a bag of political enslavement of African regions with two cans of Hollywood movies, sprinkle a little media sensationalism, add a bit of humanitarian aid to soften the bones, cook under heated debates for two centuries, serve on a plate of economic dependency with a bottle of chilled technological backwardness, eat in a hazy moonlit jungle hut and you will havethe most romantic dinner for Western voyeur. Opening a magazine or book, turning on the television set, watching a film, or looking at photographs in public spaces, we are most likely to see images of black people that reinforce and reinscribe white supremacy (bell hooks 1992:1) Africa has been constructed on two myopic principles: the principle of the exotic and the principle of dominance. While the first is derived from anthropological reports and promoted by tourism, the latter is derived from colonisation and promoted by the media (Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness). Western media seem insatiate with these anthropological gaze of Africa (Bomba the Jungle Boy, Jungle Jim, The Legend of Tarzan, Outbreak, Independence Day, Congo etc).In Australia, a new reality TV program has started its second season. It is located in an African jungle with Australia celebrities vying for survival in thus hostile landscape. I am a celebrity get me out of here (ICGMH), seems to extend such romanticised western imagination by situating its programs in the African jungle led by a celebrity Bondi Vet, Dr Chris, who dresses like a 21st century Tarzan and comes with medical knowledge powerful enough to tame any jungle predator.This paper discusses ICGMOH as an extension of cultural imperialism, (Said, 1993) which dominates African cultural identity and appropriates its subjectivity (Said, 1985) (Polan, 1994); (Robbins, Pratt, Arac, Radhakrishnan, & Said, 1994), or what Lyons (1994) refers to as presence and absence. Using Said’s cultural theory and Castells (2009) theory of Identity and power the paper explores the historical positioning of Africa through western media lens and how suchreconstruction in today’s hypermedia environment affects global harmony. It argues that while negative stereotyping of Africa image has endeared through cinematic representations, contemporary reality TV series such as I am a Celebrity get me out of here, is an extension of western hegemony.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2016
    EventIAMCR 2016 - University of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom
    Duration: 26 Jul 201630 Jul 2016


    ConferenceIAMCR 2016
    Abbreviated titleMemory, Commemoration and Communication: Looking Back, Looking Forward
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    Internet address


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