After reading Iwabuchi's piece on "Japanization" I'm starting to see how the forces at work in the mediasphere have evolved over time. We started with nascent national industries, media as bastions of national culture and identity. Then came globalization with Western-dominated media flows spreading out around the world. This raised concerns about cultural imperialism, positing media as potentially threatening to national culture and identity. In this context then, "glocalization", which Iwabuchi to some extent frames as Japan's answer to America's consumerist dominance, is a clear response to cultural imperialism, aiming to work with national cultures, rather than define them. The glory of glocalization, from a corporate standpoint, is that it still allows companies to pursue global dominance and capitalize on economies of scale in international markets, yet it also maintains consumer interest by not offending nationalist sensibilities.
I wrote earlier about the two-sided nature of glocalization. On the one hand, by softening the foreign origins of a product, it furthers transnational corporate interests, thereby supporting media conglomeration and power in the hands of the few. Media conglomeration becomes less transparent to the ordinary consumer, and its hidden nature, couched in local adaptations, takes on an insidious quality. On the other hand, the fact that media companies are recognizing and catering to consumption patterns unique to each audience, and the realization that globalization does not ipso facto lead to a single global culture seems like something to be lauded. Recognizing that audiences prefer homegrown entertainment that speaks more closely to their own experiences, and then accommodating those preferences within a larger scale media production process should be a win for the consumers.
As you can see, I'm still struggling with whether I think glocalization is a good thing, a moral thing, if you will. Does it empower the consumer, and allow for a more cosmopolitan reading of media texts? Or does it saliently reinforce nationalistic tendencies while covertly supporting a global oligopoly?