In my last blog post I began my autoethnographic research journey, engaging with the Chinese television show If You Are The One and recording a narrative of my personal experience in viewing an episode. After this initial phase of the autoethnographic methodology it is now imperative to analyse my own experience and selectively write about the epiphanies present in my initial account (Elis et al, 2011). The overall aim of this research is to utilise this personal experience to outline aspects of cultural experience, making characteristics of a culture familiar for insiders and outsiders (Elis, et al, 2011). It is clear from first post, that I experienced several epiphanies surrounding the show, and the culture, both in China and Australia.
I decided to focus on the Chinese reality dating show, If You Are the One for my autoethnographic research. I accessed the latest available episode (Season 8, episode 92) in Australia via the SBS on demand website, as I missed the live one on TV. I’ve seen the show a few times before, but having not watched it for some time, I thought it would be a great idea to do so. For me, If You Are the One is a hilarious reality dating show that applies game show aspects to finding a partner. The first thing I notice as I watch this episode is the music, the intro I thought was very corny, and “gameshowy”, especially with an audience, clapping along the intro. The male contestants are dropped down very dramatically on a platform to the most hilarious song “Can You Feel It”, whenever I think of the show I think of this song. The contestant introduces themselves followed by several videos about themselves, while in-between the female contestants ask questions. Again, hilarious. The videos are broken up into different categories: basic info, love experience and friend’s comments; with the corresponding sections of the show: first impressions, judgement call and final decision. The love experience section would have to be a favourite of mine, as it seems no matter the contestant they have some kind of eventful relationship history, the shots of the male contestant staring longingly into the distant is a definite highlight here. Another favourite aspect of this show I found is the concept of the lights on/ lights off (each of the female contestants stand at a podium, beginning with their light on, then whenever they like they can turn it off, symbolising they don’t like the guy), this is accompanied by a dramatic sound, I always find this really funny.
Throughout the episode, I found some of the comments the male contestants make to be sort of sexist and ‘traditional’, like: “girls should be reserved”, this is parallel with more traditional values on relationships, compared to what I’m used to seeing especially on TV. All of the contestants speak very dramatically and poetically when they speak of their feelings: “it was my first love, it died a tragic death”, I wonder if this is a cultural thing or a translation thing. Same goes with many of the funny comments they all make, like: “my impression was that she was healthy”, do I find it funny just because of the translation? While watching I began thinking about the concept of the show, are they paid to go on? Are they in it for their five minutes of fame? Are they in it for the Maldives holiday prize at the end? Or are they really looking for ‘love’?
In this episode, there are 3 different male contestants, two of the three were successful in finding a girl. While watching, I found it quite difficult to stay focussed watching the show and write notes at the same time, though I was able to pause the show as need be. I did initially think about live tweeting while watching, but I thought it might be pointless considering its not actually ‘live’. So instead I decided to take detailed notes. I also noticed while watching that an advert popped up at the bottom telling viewers to get involved on twitter through the hashtag #ifyouaretheone, something I would have like to do had I been watching live. The comments and banter of the hosts is hilarious. Another thing I found interesting was how the male contestants have to give a lot of details and information about themselves, whereas the female contestants are almost there based on their looks, as apart from a few questions, they don’t get that much of an opportunity to talk. Interesting aspect of gender roles. I also wonder what the show would be like if the roles were reversed here? At this point I realise this particular episode features only Japanese male contenders, I wonder if this is very different from other nationalities in other episodes. The host jokes about how all the Japanese men speak in the same monotone voice, different to contestants from other countries, including Australia. I wasn’t aware prior to watching that Australians even went on If You Are the One!
Towards the end of each male contestants turn on the show they get final choice of which girls have stayed for them. I found the final part very entertaining when the guy asked the girls to name which male body parts they found sexiest. Some of the women say nose?!? Different ideas of what’s typically sexy in Asia perhaps? I also noted that in the final credits the email addresses of each male contestant are displayed on screen, just in case you want to get in touch…
Overall, I really enjoyed my experience watching If You Are the One. I find it highly entertaining and think that it raises several cultural points, that will be really interesting to research more on for the next blog post.
SBS (2017). If You Are the One – Season 8 Episode 92. Available at: https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/1018640963904/if-you-are-the-one [Accessed Aug. 2017].
Ellis explains autoethnography as a research methodology combining autobiography and ethnography as a way to research culture based on personal experience. Having done research subjects in the past I have been exposed to examples of this type of research before, though I never really thought too much about it and the importance it has to the history and future of research as a new way of examining a culture from a participant perspective instead of an outsider looking in approach.
My understanding of autoethnography was greatly helped by Ellis’ explanation of autoethnography “…as an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno)” (Ellis et al, 2011). This breakdown of the actual word helped me understand it better and to see it in front of me instead of attempting to imagine what it might look like.
After reading Autoethnography: An Overview, it became clear to me that autoethnographic methods have been evident in a lot of my schooling, often being taught elements of this methodology, though not knowing it existed as ‘autoethnography’. This idea of personal experience is evident in my everyday life and I have previously drawn on parts of this for research, however when I think about undertaking some more serious research I can see that I need to be able to be more analytical of my own experiences in order to truly try to understand something more closely.
Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095
Upon learning that I would be viewing the original 1954 film Gojira (or Godzilla) as a part of digital Asia, I immediately thought of my own understanding of Asian media and inherent “Asianness” and Asian representations in media. As an Australian our exposure to media other than our own is often Westernised and Americanised. Some of my own examples of this from my youth include Saturday morning Pokémon viewing with corn flakes cereal and the early 90’s series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (pitctured below) and its representation of an oriental “Asianness”. As a child, I wasn’t aware exactly who the ‘other’ was, only understanding through the show that they were different. While in my time I have seen these Asian tropes and stereotypical views quite a lot throughout popular culture and film, coming from a multicultural family, we were encouraged to consume alternative media especially as we got older, with SBS documentaries and foreign films on high rotation, subtitles included.
The dramatic cinematics and overall production of Gojira reminds me of many Chinese Kung Fu movies I’ve seen, namely one of my favourite Shaolin Soccer a dramatic comedy. While these effects are somewhat dated compared to today’s highly edited CGI versions, they add to the overall experience of the film, allowing a modern audience to imagine themselves as the original 1954 audience and imagining the different experience in viewing it then. These dramatized features in Gojira are synonymous with the Japanese film genre Kaiju, that typically feature a monster character inflicting havoc on humankind. Kaiju translates to strange beast, a fantasy creature often taking the role of force of nature. Here we can see the intentional parallels between Godzilla terrorising Japan and the reality in Japan of the devastation and nuclear destruction that is Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We see in the movie that Godzilla is a literal product of nuclear testing, in 1954, and still today, this metaphor places Gojira into the genre of horror. Godzilla is a representation of the consequences of human interference with the environment. This is still relevant today with the growing concern of global warming as a product of human impacts.
Another dramatic aspect of Gojira that I liked was the love triangle at the centre of the film. For me, it’s comparable to old romantic black and white movie favourites of mine, like the classic Sabrina, with Audrey Hepburn. She too was caught in a bit of a love triangle. Both films use music to fuel the drama and create emotions in the viewer. In the case of Gojira, sometimes it is the lack of sound that creates this. I found the long silences in between scenes and speaking rather strange in comparison to films that I’m used to, though it kept me watching as just by listening I couldn’t always understand what was happening on-screen.
Having only ever seen pop culture references to Godzilla and the 2014 Hollywood version, it was interesting to the original 1954 film. I enjoyed it, though in general it’s not something I would typically watch, I can appreciate the early cinematic techniques and the moral to the story.