Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Orifice

      In order to have a comedic text translate from one culture to another, certain changes must occur. Some audiences may accept the text in its original form, but for it to be popular among the masses, the comedy needs to be recognizable by the new culture.
The British The Office is a show that found massive popularity in Britain; its recognition caused it to get picked up in America, and eventually the US made its own version of The Office.
            This crossover is an important example of exportation and importation of a culturally specific text, in that the makers of the US' The Office were successfully able to take the same basic setting of The Office and add in culturally specific elements from the US and produce an extremely popular product.
            Although some audiences liked the British The Office before the switch over, much of the humor was inaccessible to US audiences. The British The Office had specific references to popular culture that would fly over US audiences' heads. More importantly, the humor itself was in a structure not normally found in the US. For one, much of the humor in The Office revolves around class structure, which is not as hot of a topic for Americans. In translating to the US, appropriate adaptations were made to make the show more accessible. All of the British popular culture references were replaced with American ones, and the episodes that based the struggle on class were replaced with issues of sex and race. The ways in which the characters interact became different as well. In the US version, all the characters aside from Michael have a sense of unity that is not found in the British The Office.
            Although many changes occurred in order to translate the text, the show did not completely lose its "britishness." Before The Office, most of the characters in US sitcoms are made to be laughed with by the audiences, compared to the british sitcoms, which often produce characters that are made to be laughed at. This element from the British The Office was maintained to a large degree in its translation to the US. Both David and Michael are a source of much hilarity in their flaws as bosses and as people. As the US' The Office both kept elements of the British show as well as created new ones, evidence of globalization and cosmopolitanism exist together in this text.

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