Starting off the semester with a lovely portmanteau, autoethnography would allow our studious minds to describe and analyse our experiences of digital Asia while including our personal context. This methodology acknowledges that people see things differently and therefore provides an insight from an outsider looking in. With our modern day access to international media whether it’s a game show from Japan or a Bollywood film from India, autoethnography shows how our own cultural bias can change our understanding of a medium while also providing a way to increase that understanding simply through describing and analysing our experiences. Ever watched Eurovision? That is one roller-coaster ride of a cultural study.
Godzilla seems to be one of those movies which stands the test of time; maybe not on a special effects level, but definitely in pop culture. Although many people, myself included, would have to admit that they’ve never seen the film (until now anyway), most would still be able to understand the reference in an everyday context. So when I found out that we would be experiencing this classic in-class, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued. Personally, I have some experience in Japanese culture having studied the language for two semesters as well as having consumed a range of media from Japan including music, anime, and TV shows. I feel that my knowledge of Japanese culture, albeit limited, still helped with my understanding of the film. Here are some of the thoughts while watching Godzilla:
- Why is the direction of Japan on the map sideways? Not sure whether it was on purpose to display a political message, an accident by the movie’s creators or maybe it was purposefully done just to mess with the audience.
- I expected to see Godzilla much later in the film, I feel that Hollywood prefers to create tension by keeping the audience guessing on what/who the villain is. For example, Jaws and Cloverfield both waited until the climax of the film before revealing the enemy completely.
- Big emphasis on the H-bomb and the devastation it caused in the past. Feel like Japan is more remorseful towards their actions in WWII while, in comparison, America tends to glorify their past. History is written by the winners I suppose.
- Hydrogen bomb testing was a terrible idea, clearly.
- A love triangle, never seen that before in Japanese anime or film… (she says in her head sarcastically)
- What did she see?! Points for acting skills.
- No one ever listens to the scientists in movies! But, in fairness, a 50m beast is destroying your country and there doesn’t seem to be a way to capture him, let alone hold him captive for a lengthy period of time. Sorry Dr. Yamane, but I have to agree with the masses on this one, kill the monster!
- It seems that both America and Japan enjoy destroying national landmarks in their apocalypse movies; goodbye Tokyo Tower!
- Self-sacrifice is also a popular trope it seems; I’m actually having a harder time remembering a film where there isn’t at least one person willing to die for the greater good.
- A final political message before the credits roll.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie as a one time watch and felt it was easy enough to understand for a foreigner. Of course, the more cultural knowledge of Japan you have, the more you would get out of the film especially if you were to do an in-depth analysis on Godzilla. I’m curious to go back and research the themes of the film to find out if there were any important messages I missed.