Autoethnography and Gojira (1954)

Autoethnography is a qualitative research practice that forms from analytically looking at experience. It is the way we study the formation of ourselves, as it requires self-reflection and writing to explore personal ideas and realizations that occur, and are made possible due to being part of a culture and/or from possessing a specific cultural identity.

As Ellis states, Autoethnography

“acknowledges and accommodates subjectivity, emotionality, and the researcher’s influence on research, rather than hiding from these matters or assuming they don’t exist.”

gojira-790x569(Gojira: The Japanese Original)

The concept of Autoethnography relates to Digital Asia as I reflect and write on the similarities and differences that occur between cultures, specifically in the industry of film. Watching the film Gojira (1954) explored a whole different side of film which was a new experience for me. I found it extremely interesting and thought provoking once I got past reading the subtitles at the commencement of the film.

Here are some thoughts I had in the duration of the what felt like three-hour film:

  • If it wasn’t for this subject I’d probably never take it upon myself to watch a foreign film, especially not action films in Japanese – is this because I’m like a typical white-girl?
  • The lack of dialogue and music made it difficult to focus although the storyline appeared fairly easy to follow, and not to mention that I’ve never sat through an entire black and white movie before
  • I was impressed by the miniature sets that were used to creatively film highly detailed objects to portray scenes of gigantic monsters in cityscapes even though they were mostly destroyed – how could you do that?!
  • The fast pacing and the ‘wipe’ scene transition is used to represent the chaotic state of mind in the country of Japan at the time
  • The framing element used in the Japanese map caught my attention – in the scene the island nation was pictured on a ninety-degrees angle. I began question if it was an accident or on purpose (was it to play with my mind like it did, or was it some sort of political message?)
  • The storyline is similar to many modern-day monster films. I began questioning if the success of this film provided the beginning of an Eastern step towards Western film through the theme of destruction
  • The portrayal of emotion is a bit dramatic – specifically in the death of the fish scene
  • Displays of affection was not only alluded to, but in this 1950 film it is so unlike what you would expect to see now – for example the scene the shows shoulder grabbing as affectionate. I don’t think this is something you would expect (or at least I wouldn’t) in modern film
  • I began getting frustrated by how little was going on, and how slow-paced it was

By taking an autoethnographic approach to this film, I think it outlined how “forms of representation deepen our capacity to empathize with people who are different from us” by reflecting on personal experience and cultural knowledge. Therefore, through the product and process of autoethnography research is treated “as a political, socially-just and socially-conscious act” which I hope to further investigate across the duration of this course.

References:

Ellis C, Adams T.E., & Bochner A.P. 2011. Autoethnography: An Overview, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1., available from http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095

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2 comments

  1. This response to a film is very interesting. You are both focusing on this film from a Western perspective, highlighted by the fact you titled it a foreign film and were following along by subtitles. And then you look at it from a contemporary film goer standpoint as well, having not seen a B&W film either, frustrated by the slow burn of it and the mixed cultural norms between 1950 and today. This was very eye opening for me, keep it up!

    Like

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