Flew, Ryan and Su's study of The Rap of China invites us to consider how the surprising success of this reality talent show reflects core debates concerning global media, cultural imperialism and popular culture's capacity to foster resistance. This article elaborates on the authors' assertion that communication and culture have historically provided conflicting perspectives on the local impact of global media forms. Flew Ryan and Su mention Raymond Williams' definition of culture as a key conceptual moment in this history. Significantly, Williams' definition was criticized for its ‘communication’ overtones. In particular, Williams was upbraided for paying too little attention to the role of conflict in culture. This article explores these criticisms of Williams, as a means of engaging critically with Flew, Ryan and Su's exploration of resistance, as it applies to The Rap of China.