How Different Countries are Represented in Entertainment: US, Costa Rica, and Kenya
Entertainment is often granted a license to bend or manipulate the real world in the pursuit of evoking the emotions that it seeks to from its audience. It's why so many Hollywood war movies can get away with skipping around realism to the point of propaganda, and why stereotypes or tropes pertaining to certain countries persist – both know the reaction that audiences will give when hitting the same notes.
In the modern media landscape, the depiction of certain locations, places in time, and people come under intense scrutiny, but that likely won't stop creatives from drawing on familiar representations. Here, we're looking at how three distinctly different countries are represented in entertainment, selecting Kenya, Costa Rica, and the US.
Kenya: A wildlife sanctuary
Kenya is home to the Great Africa Rift Valley, an incredible diversity of people, a history of rebellion, and tremendous landscapes filled with iconic animals of the continent. Of course, in entertainment media, what's primarily focussed on are the sights to be seen. With stunning coral reefs, large mammals and reptiles, extinct volcanoes, and Mt Kenya, it's easy to see why a lot of content represents Kenya as a lush wild nation. While Kenya is much more than a nature reserve, modern entertainment at least focuses on these more positive aspects. As detailed in this Al Jazeera English piece, even one of the west's most famous and seemingly progressive new brands, The New York Times, falls for problematic stereotypes regarding Kenya. Naturally, one of the largest drivers of tourism to Kenya is its national parks and game reserves, with Safari Bookings Kenya listing Amboseli National Park as the best of the bunch. Some movies like The Constant Gardener and The First Grader (about freedom fighter Tony Njoroge) place Kenya as central to the story. Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life utilized the scenery and cast members of The Pokot Tribe to play the mysterious tribe discovered in the movie.
Costa Rica: Accessible tropical wilderness
If there's one thing that everyone who's been to Costa Rica knows, as we detail on the Infolific Costa Rica page, it's either the wet season or the less wet season. It's this that certainly helps to lend the landlocked Central American nation to depictions of jungles, harsh conditions, and survival themes. One of the most famous users of Costa Rica is the Jurassic Park franchise. After the director of photography for the first movie said that the country was selected as the story takes place on an island, The Tico Times decided to see how accurately Costa Rica was represented in the 1990 novel from which the movies are based. It found that it correctly relayed Costa Ricans as being friendly, having a superb health system, and strict rules for protecting its wild reserves, but did fall short on drawing on local superstitions. In the films and books, the troubles take place on fictitious islands Isla Nubla and Isla Sorna off of the coast of Costa Rica, but Hawaii, per Islands, was used for the filming of these lush tropical locations. This was most likely to reflect the summery, sunny weather needed for the bright outlooks of the park early on, as well as utilize the kinds of tropical wilderness that Costa Rica may not allow a Land Rover to trawl through.
United States: Outlaws and sin
One of the most utilized themes spanning from the US is that of the Wild West. There are still many remnants of the days of outlaws, settlers, and those seeking their fortune across the western states, such as with Utah's Cove Fort. Of course, the modern embodiment of the thrills of the Wild West is Las Vegas, with Cheap Sin City rooms and flights leading to its latest surge of visitors. Once one of the very few places that people across the highly-religious country could engage in gambling and other activities of the night, Sin City earned its name in the US. So, naturally, it lends itself to thrill-seeking entertainment mediums and those that offer a similar range of content. At Betway Casino Online, there are the common tables of The Strip, like live blackjack, roulette, and poker, as well as slots in-theme. There's Wild Wild West: The Great Train Heist, Cowboys Gold, ad Slot Vegas Fully Loaded Megaquads which all draw from the days of the Old West and Nevada's beacon of light in the desert. The theme of seeking one's fortune, even if it means becoming an outlaw, has continued into more modern takes, too, with the crime genre being one of the US' biggest exports in media. As detailed in the Vulture Crime Shows examination, there's an obsession with the theme across time periods. As the US exports so much of its media, it becomes a staple representation of the country. In the increasingly popular realm of video gaming, none other than Rockstar Games perpetuates this outlaw-like representation of the US, ranging from western games like Red Dead Redemption II to the present-day set Grand Theft Auto franchise.
They may not be one-hundred percent correct or reflective of the best and most progressive parts of each country, but these tropes and themes have become the familiar representations of the likes of Kenya, Costa Rica, and the US.