Author: alecbennett95

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K-Pop/J-Pop vs Western Music

For my individual research project, I want to look at the phenomena of J-Pop and K-Pop and try and gain a better understanding of the popular music culture. I am someone who has never personally been interested in K-Pop or J-Pop but I have been exposed to it on a regular basis. I remember the first time I listened to K-Pop was a song called Gee by Girls Generation that I’m pretty sure was something I got sent to me via Bluetooth on my Nokia, however it was sent to me as more of a joke than me actually wanting to listen to the song. However, it was super catchy and I would be lying if I said I didn’t like the song. Otherwise my next major run in with K-Pop was again with Girls Generation when somehow the song “The Boys” was shown to me somewhere which then led to me listening to the song, I actually found it pretty catchy, mainly due to the English chorus and the beat itself was pretty “western” in my opinion for its time. Obviously the song was released in two versions one English and one Korean.

Since my early experiences with K-Pop in 2009 and 2011 I didn’t really listen to it again until my younger brother started becoming obsessed with Asian culture 3 or 4 years ago, where he started to learn Chinese as a language and also began listening to K-Pop and then eventually began listening to J-pop also. This has slightly had a negative effect on me as over the last 3-4 years I have been forced to listen to all of this different K-Pop and J-Pop music around my house as he is constantly listening to it on his speakers around the house.

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For my autoethnographic digital artefact I’ve decided to film my brother and I reacting to various K-Pop and J-Pop music videos and also discussing the videos afterwards. One thing I want to focus on is the comparison between western music videos and Japanese and Korean music videos. I want to see how influences the Japanese and Korean market is by Western culture. The reason being that I have read and watched news articles about why Koreans have a desire to look more western going to such lengths as having eye surgery, which is extremely common now in Korea to look more “beautiful.” I have seen some Korean music videos in the past and they all have a similar vibe with rehearsed dance routines, bright colours, crazy outfits and usually involve groups rather than solo performers.

After doing some research its no coincidence that some of the Korean and Japanese pop music I have heard has been incorporating popular American music styles into their music such as rap, dance, techno and even heavy metal using the example of the group ‘Baby Metal.’ There has also been a lot of criticism given to Korean and Japanese music for ripping or sampling American music. A song my younger brother songs is ‘Spending all my time – Perfume’ which I have always said sounds like Wynter Gordon’s number 1 hit Dirty Talk. 

So the process of filming my digital artefact will involve me setting up a tripod in front of my computer screen pointing at my brother and I. We will then watch a few K-Pop videos and film our reactions to each. I then plan on having a short discussion at the end of each video about the Westernized or Western influences sections of the video, if there is any at all. Due to the fact I have a lot of negative feelings towards K-Pop and J-Pop due to the fact I’ve been forced to live in the room next to a die-hard intense fan of the music I will hopefully be able to view the music videos from a less biased and negative perspective in order to understand the culture surrounding the music better.

The above video is similiar in style to the video that I aim to make and then upload onto my Youtube channel. In terms of equipment I will use my Canon 60D Dslr to film and probably also for audio. I will try and use natural lighting as I don’t own or have access to other lighting equipment. I will film it at home and edit it using Final Cut Pro X. In the final product I hope to display the actual K-pop/J-pop video while My brother and I watch it and react.

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My dislike of gaming

For my second blog I honestly was a bit confused on how I was supposed to evaluate the early assumptions I made about the film State of Play, like not heaps has changed in terms of my shock, confusion and intrigue about the film. However for the sake of the blog I tried to be more critical of my first reaction. I’m still trying to understand this whole autoethnographer approach to viewing another culture through a film. For most of my degree and even dating back to school I remember was being told to not write my opinion but instead analyse something from an unbiased view. We were taught to not state how a book or film made us feel but instead write what the director or author was causing us to feel through techniques. Now suddenly I’m being told that in order to research an Asian culture I need to analyse my reaction to a film about South Korean gamers. It all feels a bit odd to me, if Im being honest with you all.

In Ellis’ reading I learned that an autoethnogrpaher recognises the ways that personal experience influences the research process. The method for autoethnogrpahy combines autobiography and ethnography where the author/person retroactively and selectively writes about previous experiences. He states “When researchers do autoethnography, they retrospectively and selectively write about epiphanies that stem from, or are made possible by, being part of a culture and/or by possessing a particular cultural identity. However, in addition to telling about experiences, autoethnographers often are required by social science publishing conventions to analyze these experiences.”

The epiphanies that I had while watching the film and also documented in my first blog included me linking my own personal experience with gaming to the professionals in the film. I was never at all a gamer, and don’t ever plan on becoming one, I don’t think I’m above it or anything I just honestly see it as a waste of complete time. I’m a busy 21 year old and throwing gaming into my life would make it all the crazier. I believe it is because of my lack of care for gaming that I critically analysed the film and also had particularly fascinating experiences while watching the film as I constantly was thinking “how can people get paid to do this.” Like I understand people being paid to actually perform a talent, but personally I did not understand how gaming is a talent? Then again all professions are simply those that are the best at something that not everyone else can do.

My first reaction and blog came from a place where gaming to me was something that only teenagers do, as well as people that clearly have nothing better to do. The documentary did in one point help further my thoughts about this when people began to retire at such a young age, it was like they learnt and trained to be these awesome gamers so that they could retire at the age of 25 because someone younger and better came along. I could easily relate this to professional sport and how often people retire at such young ages because the next “hot shot” came along to take their place. Overall I feel like my initial reaction was pretty negative and that stems from my past feeling or experiences tied to the idea of gaming.

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I didn’t Know Professional Gaming Was A Thing

According to Ellis et al, Autoethnography is an approach we take to writing where we describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand a cultural experience. Our task is to use autoethnography and experience of an Asian culture.

To be an autoethnographer we need to recognise the multiple ways that personal experience influences our research process. For example when watching State of Play, a documentary film about South Korean eSports specifically centred around the game StarCraft and the top professional players that base their lives around playing the game. The film looks at the journey of becoming a pro-gamer as I would reference it and shows the hysteria around the gaming industry, the fans, the training, the huge tournaments, the money, the culture, the family background and the next generation of gamers.

My experience of the film began with confusion as I tried to understand not only the fact a film was made about these young men, but the fact that these actual people existed. I had heard of professional gamers before and have a friend or two or were really into gaming, but in Australian culture, especially by the older generations, gaming is completely frowned upon. Its seen as time wasting, bad for your eyes, procrastination and encourages violence etc. In this film the gamers were viewed as minor celebrities? There are television programs dedicated to watching people play games, while people actually commentate. I have never been a gamer, I enjoyed playing games every so often growing up with friends, but I don’t enjoy playing games by myself so the fact that these people turned something I considered boring and slightly insignificant into their entire life, including source of income was overwhelmingly strange to me.

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The South Korean culture was very different to Australian culture, these gamers literally had fangirls, who had merchandise and fan shrines. It was a little crazy to me. I found myself a little bored honestly watching the film, although yes the movie was supposed to be exciting but the only parts I found that captivated me were the parts with emotional attachment, like when we saw the teams lose and then how upset they were, or how they had to rethink their lives because they lost a video game. I can’t believe they get paid to do this? The only cultural similarity I saw displayed in the film was the older generations confusion or disapproval with the idea of video games, seen when they visit their family temple.

Overall I found myself fascinated by the film, not for its entertainment value but more due to my shock of the fact that it was a documentary and actual people were living their adult lives as professional gamers. I found myself frustrated, bored, intrigued, confused and a little overwhelmed by the film. It was such a strange experience but I’m trying to not limit my understanding of South Korea purely from a film about gaming but would love to learn and understand more about the culture of the country.