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autoethnography1-2

The Art of Autoethnography: Part IV

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Below is a table detailing the assumptions I made of the assumptions I had after my first autoethnographic encounter and what was learnt through further literature research. While not all my assumptions were completely wrong I definitely still had a lot to learn.

What I am also finding is that the more involved I become in this autoethnographic study, the more interested I become in the cultural significance and background of the Bollywood film industry. this has unintentionally caused some of my research to go off in a tangent to some extent, relating less to language acquisition and more to the cultural language study of the Bollywood genre. I am finding that I either need to shift to topic of my auto ethnographic study or attempt to refocus.

Assumptions Reflection
The assumption that was made was in relation to the parameters od the autoethnographic research. Initially I set out that I would use multiple media texts in my methodology to obtain personal experience. I believe that this assumption was a little presumptuous. Even though I knew it would be difficult to learn some aspects of the language I did not realize how difficult it would be. I can to the realisation that little would be gain from this experience if I was to continue in the same fashion viewing multiple types of texts to acquire even the most basic level of language acquisition when starting from scratch. In reflection I believe that the greatest personal experience will come from focusing on one individual text and to absorb this text on a number of occasions and then focus my research around this. A number of factors play a part in the change of the parameters of my methodology. The first is the time period over which this research was conducted and the hours that could be dedicated to it. The most important factor was though the lack of a foundation of understanding of the Hindu language. Due to this I have now watched the same Bollywood film three times and each time I find myself picking up on some new words even if only for a moment and reaffirming the ones I have previously picked up. I also become more aware of different aspects of other communication aspects present in the film.
In my first notes I stated that the Bollywood movie Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani was produced using the Hindi language and that because it is a contemporary media text it would provide a context for the language that included slang and colloquial language. ‘Bollywood productions are today acknowledged as the generator of and vehicle for contemporary popular culture in India.’ (Goethe Institute, 2016). My assumption while correct was also limited and basic. The language used in Bollywood films is much complex then simply Hindi. English was used in the film not only when on location in an English speaking country but also the occasional modern words which are the same in both English and Hindi, for example the word internet. According to the Goethe Institute (2016) The language used in Bollywood films has a distinctive supra-regional integrative quality. ‘The code switches between sociolects, standard languages and distinct Persian and distinct Persian or Sanscrit features, jargons with regional variants right through to other Indian national languages such as Panjabi, Marathi, Gurarati and not least English’ This is throughout films in the Bollywood genre.
While this assumption is not related to language acquisition I thought it was important to note that when I first watched this Bollywood film something about the premise of this music seemed strange and stupid to me. Upon critical analysis of this observation I was able to gain a better understanding of why they premise of this musical seemed so foreign to me. I am used to watching musicals that are either produced on Broadway or in Hollywood. Musicals made in Hollywood and on Broadway tend to focus around entertainers because they are focused on making the musical aspect of the story seem as realistic as possible. Though according to research ‘Bollywood is not encumbered with adherence to realism’ (The Bollywood Ticket, 2016). This knowledge to make a better understanding as to why this this musical seemed so strange to me. Unconsciously I felt disconnected from the storyline because it lacked that realism that I am used to in musicals.
Never did I have the assumption that I would be able to gain a complete understanding of the Hindi language simply through studying media text produced in this language. Though I did assume that when were hear of people acquiring a language through media that it is all they have used. It is evident through the research conducted that while media texts provide a great tool in the acquisition of a language, it is simply a part of the process and other learning is needed this can take place through classes in a more formal context, though in a less formal one it could simply be researching on the internet. Aiping et. al. (2016) in the article Exploring learner factors in second language (L2) incidental vocabulary acquisition through reading, states that ‘second language incidental vocabulary acquisition through reading usually involves the process of through reading usually involves the process of learners noticing an unknown word, searching for its meaning, and elaborating upon the form meaning connection’. Learning a language through listening in this case is quite similar, it is all part of a process and in most cases further research is conducted to obtain a complete understanding of the language.

 

Resource List

Aiping, Z, Ying, G, Biales, C, & Olszewski, A 2016, ‘Exploring learner factors in second language (L2) incidental vocabulary acquisition through reading’, Reading In A Foreign Language, 28, 2, pp. 224-245, Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 29 October 2016.

Goethe Institute (2016). Multilingualism – Languages Without Borders – Projects – Goethe-Institut. [online] Available at: http://www.goethe.de/ges/spa/prj/sog/ver/en5356222.htm [Accessed 12 Oct. 2016].

Thebollywoodticket.com. (2016). Introduction to Bollywood – The Bollywood Ticket. [online] Available at: http://www.thebollywoodticket.com/bollywood/beginner.html [Accessed 11 Oct. 2016].

autoethnography1-2

The Art of Autoethnography: Part III

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Studying languages comes easily for some and is a curse for others. I am one of the latter. I have friends that can speak multiple languages fluently and yet I can’t seem to get any further than my native tongue. I am somebody who has attempted to study several languages and not succeeded, even with the help of classes, tutors and so on. Because of this I find it fascinating that people could simply use a TV Show or a game to learn a foreign language. Whether is be stories of migrant learning a language through a TV Show or kids picking up a language through their favourite card game, the evidence for the success of the use of media as a tool for language acquisition is overwhelming.

These observations and stories of language acquisition success have brought me to form a topic for autoethnographic study in this area. Looking language acquisition through Asian language media texts. The answers that I am seeking to discover are not just simply can I learn any aspects of the language but also what can I learn about the culture of that language in the process.

Autoethnography is an approach to research that combines methodological tools and literature with personal experience to obtain a greater understanding of culture. (Ellis, Adams & Bochner, 2011)

To complete the methodology in this autoethnographic study I will combine literature research relating to the study of languages and testimonials/news stories regarding people who have learnt languages using media texts. This will be combined with the personal experience of using Asian language media texts in order to learn aspects and vocabulary of various Asian languages.

When looking online the extent of language learning resources and tips for learning languages can be overwhelming. To obtain some ideas about the types of media texts to use for this research I chose to collate some of the suggestions from a simple google search and the following table summarises what I found.

Brave Learning –       Listen to foreign language radio stations

–       Foreign language poems

–       Podcasts

–       Surf the web in a different language

–       Foreign language TV channels

–       Read a foreign language book

–       Write a foreign language blog post

–       Play games in a different language

Fluent U –       Browse reddit (thematically-orientated to one specific region)

–       Use region specific social media

–       Play online video games (use Twitch, language specific)

–       Date in the language (try tinder etc.)

Pick the Brain –       Television (Taiwanese dramas: Sugoideas.com, Korean, Japanese, Chinese Mandarin: Dramafever.com, Japanese anime: Crunchyroll.com)

–       Foreign film movies and trailers

–       Listening to music in your target language

Franglish –       Listen to music in your chosen language

–       Read foreign language comic books

This research gave me some great ideas for a starting point. I chose to not focus on the choice of language as a driving factor for choosing the texts but to simply find texts which interest me not matter the language which the text was done in. this research will not in no means result in me being fluent in a language but I hoped what I would gain from this research is some vocabulary in a language be it only a couple of words and no more. But what I also hope to gain from this experience is a better understanding of language in the context of these various texts.

What I needed to be careful of was as stated by Anderson (2006) not to allow this research to devolve into self-absorption and that would result in the loss of its sociological promise.

Autoethnography allows for creativity in regards to its presentation, going beyond traditional methods of writing. While my research will be writing it will take the shape of journal entries documenting my progress and research through blog posts on my personal blog these posts will simply provide a home for the Snapchat videos documenting my personal experiences throughout this autoethnographic study and allow me to expand and reflect upon my findings.

To start off this autoethnographic research I will include a brief account of my first autoethnographic encounter, learning a language through a Bollywood film. I choose a Bollywood film for three reasons.

  1. It was easy to obtain
  2. I have watched Bollywood movies before and quite enjoy them
  3. And finally, as this was the first emersion into this research I thought I would ease myself in with the language through something that I was familiar with.

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My progress of language acquisition and the Snapchat videos detailing my personal experience will have to wait till my next post but a few things that I did note are;

  • Subtitles don’t always make sense
  • The pause and rewind button got a work out.
  • It was a lot easier to keep up with the dialogue then the songs due to the pace.
  • Attempting to learn aspects of the language and document it at the same time meant that I did not become involved in the storyline of the text at all and watching the movie took twice as long therefore I didn’t finish it because Bollywood movies are already two hours long.
  • The key words I found myself picking up are the ones which sparked my interest, random words which either stood out or were part of the sentences which had unusual sounding subtitles.
  • This approach to learning a language may help with understanding slang or colloquial phrases in a foreign language but it still only provides you with snippets of the language as a whole
  • It does not at all permit the acquisition of written language.

 

Reference List

Anderson, Leon 2006, Analytic Autoethnography, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Vol. 35, No. 4, pp. 373-393.

Ellis, C., Adams, T. and Bochner, A. (2011). Autoethnography: An Overview. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, [online] 12(1). Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095 [Accessed 30 Jul. 2016].

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. (2013). [film] Johar, K. & Johar, H.

 

King Of Chair

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Abbey, John, Kate & Naomi autoethnographic investigation of the Japanese gameshow ‘King Of Chair’


As evident by a sheer number of articles and videos on the Internet, Westernised countries have interpreted Japanese game shows as “crazy” and “weird”. This is commonly due to the audience recognising the producer forcing the contestants to do strange things for the benefit of the audience. Before first-hand participating in watching a Japanese game show many of us would have agreed that this stereotype is an accurate depiction of Japanese culture.

Generally speaking Westernised game shows consist of contestants testing their knowledge, skill and ability with rewards being prizes of currency and various objects, and whilst this is true in Japanese game shows, they often add a comedic element to the shows, whilst still focusing on the ability of the contestants as they undertake various tasks that are usually painful or painfully funny for the audience.

Game shows were first broadcasted in Japan in the 1950s before becoming well-known as strange, off-the-wall, and at times a bit brutal, but always hilarious and entertaining.”

‘King of Chairs’ was first broadcasted in July 2010 on the TBS network. Its motif is a twist on the classical children’s game, musical chairs. In each episode, ten comedians/idols are released into a large environment where 1000 chairs are scattered and hidden throughout with the King of Chair logo. Out of these, there is only 3 winning chairs, with dozens of traps and surprises that are difficult to avoid as the contestants can only find out if the chair is a winner by sitting on it for 3 seconds. If the sensor on the chair sets off a winning bell, they win one of three spots in the episode’s finale.

The similarities of the Australian children’s game ‘musical chairs’ are present as players compete over chairs. However, it differentiates itself from this as it commonly takes place at parities where players compete for a decreasing number of chairs, with losers in successive rounds being those unable to find a chair to sit on when the music stops.

From what can only be described as a strange remake of the children’s game ‘musical chairs’, King of Chair seemed like a good place to start our groups authethnographical research of a Japanese game show. We started off by watching the video together and recording our initial reactions through a range of social media platforms. With the typical stereotype of Japanese game shows being strange and weird and consisting of the contestants doing odd things for the audiences benefits, we didn’t know what to expect! Yet to our surprise, this show was rather tame, it was only weird because none of us fully understood what was going on.

We were able to pick up the main theme of the show, several people competing for winning chairs and having strange and scary things happening to them as a result of sitting on an incorrect chair. The theme of the show was an easy one and little interpretation was needed to understand what was going on, further making it a good choice for us to watch. This has helped to open our view and perceptions into asian game show culture and prove that not all games are gross, weird and strange.

At the beginning of ‘King of Chairs’ we noticed the girl wearing a sailor costume and automatically began comparing it to a previous cultural experience of encountering Japanese anime at a young age stating, “Sailor Moon – is that you?” and “I like the dress ups. One is wearing rafting gear and the other is Sailor Moon”. However, when further researching into this contestants of the game all appear in uniform. The men are required to wear a school-like uniform or blazer and the women are required to wear sailor-like attire of a blazer, with a helmet. When we look at this from the perspective of Australian culture, we are able to recognise that many game shows do not have a dress code and contestant tend to dress more for comfort.

The main thing that really stood out to us through this collaborative autoethnographic investigation was the large part language plays in one’s comprehension of what is going on in one’s environment. Without dubs or subs, it was really tricky to get the gist of exactly what was going on. It took the entire 45 minute episode for the group to really get a grasp on what exactly it was we were watching, which was really interesting. I We also thought that the use of dubs and subs could further change the way we interpret the show, in a negative way. These translations are never quite perfect, so having this added into the show, would have changed our experience immensely.

For example after watching the show, we took to Reddit and found out what people were saying around the King of Chair. We found out that the participants in the show were actually celebrities in Japan, comedians in , models, actorJapans etc.. So because we missed all of what the participants were actually saying I am sure we all missed a large portion of the humour behind the show. The trap chairs were funny for us to watch visually, however we really missed out on a significant element to the show due to not knowing Japanese.

Another general comment in regards to the autoethnographic process, is that I noticed how critical we  was were when we are looking at something with fresh eyes. Perhaps the autoethnographic process just makes you notice something that is always happening naturally, but we did  I am automatically comparing it to something else, like an experience I have already had within the context of my culture.  Perhaps that was the autoethnographic process shining through??

I was having a good experience on a gameshow called “The King of Chair”. Other group mates were having different experiences because of subs or dubs. The video does not have any English subs which is challenging for them, and also provides a different environment within a language barrier. I personally study Japanese now so I partly understand the structure and the flow of the game, which I have a different experience from the gameshow.

To me, the rules of the game is quite tricky and different from the original game. Those contestants, who are mixed with comedians, idols, actors/actresses, and even athletes, are chasing for what they called “real chair” to win the game out of 1000 chairs. It just blown my mind that how creative Japanese people are and how they make the show become intense and exciting by using different items or shenanigans to trick players, and using pop-out Japanese wording to show the excitement or anger when players do not find the real chair.

Somehow, I found some of the players were overreacting. I don’t know if they did that purposely or for humour, when they fell down from a fake chair, they just kept yelled “Itai,itai, itai”, which means it hurts. The facial expression of different players are different. Seems like comedians were trying to be “Funny”, even they know the chair is shenanigan, they just sit down and get tricked. The characters of Japanese people are quite obvious, such idols need to be like an “idol”, pretty, lovely image, while actor and actress try to gain more fame by being brave in the show. The industry of tv show in Japan seems to be “Funny or Brave to win”.

From Sand to Skin

Talkin' About Technology, yet not restricted to.

Following on from my blog posts about the Buddhist Sand Mandala I bring a Prezi that encompasses the thought process and transition from researching the Buddhist Sand Mandala to having a Mandala tattooed on me. Enjoy.

https://prezi.com/s2dppoxhxji0/from-sand-to-skin-mandala-tattoo/

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An introduction to my individual project investigating Bitcoin in China

Hi everyone!

My digital artifact is a Prezi which provides an overview and introduction to my individual research project investigating the Bitcoin phenomenon in China.

You can check it out here:

https://prezi.com/gvzhhgpzuoze/digc330-assessment-2-an-introduction-to-my-project-investigating-bitcoin-in-china/

Reflecting on Hindi TV as an Autoethnographer: Mahabharat and Hindu Epics

Watching the first episode of the 1988 Hindi TV-series Mahabharat and accounting for my experience by live-tweeting my thoughts and opinions on the show has left me with a lot of questions. Is television anywhere near as popular in India as a pastime as it is in Australia? What was the real message behind the show? Why on earth was Ganga killing all her children?

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Ganga and King Santanu (Image Source)

With these questions and my cultural assumptions in mind, — which can be found in my first post here — reflecting on my autoethnographic accounts of a cultural phenomenon can be insightful and revelatory. Reflective analysis not only highlights “dominant narratives” and “ways of thinking” about culture but also pursues a deeper understanding of such experiences on a larger cultural scale (Warren, 2009). By scrutinising my initial comments and assumptions, and by conducting a little more research on all those postulations I tweeted about, here I am, trying to make sense of my Mahabharat experience.

My first enquiry is into the prevalence of television in India, and more precisely, the popularity of Mahabharat across the country. Researching this felt like a history lesson, but albeit an intriguing one. Television for me is a staple, and consuming programs on TV like there is no tomorrow is something I pride myself on. Television in India was introduced in 1959, however “transmission was restricted to areas in and around the capital city of Dehli for over a decade” (Kumar, 2006, p.57). With the arrival of the TV in the Indian family home came the inevitability of globalisation, and moreover a connection to “an increasingly mobile world around them” (Kumar, 2006, p.64). Television allowed families to share in entertainment experiences, created a bond between individuals and the characters they saw on-screen and moreover kept people informed.

As for Mahabharat, “the religious epic captured the collective imagination of Indian viewers” (Kumar, 2006, p.76) since its inception and release. Programs such as this have entrenched a sense of national identity for members of the Indian community (Kumar, 2012), and have been reflections of Indian values, mores and social and cultural norms. To say the show was successful would be an understatement, reaching a diaspora of over five million individuals. “Within weeks of its launch, the TV show became part of many Sunday morning routines” (Awaasthi, 2016). The Mahabharat series has since seen two modern adaptations released as a result of its popular reception in the past, with Lavanya Mohan (2015), writer for the The Hindu stating that “BR Chopra’s Mahabharat revolutionised Indian television of the nineties.

Now that context has been somewhat established and the history of Indian television successes has been explored, my next question is about the content I saw in the first episode of Mahabharat. There were several times throughout the course of the 40 minute show I was left scratching my head in confusion. Was this simply because of a cultural barrier or was the show itself confusing? My guess is the aforementioned.

Mahabharata — note the ‘a’ at the end this time — is one of the major Sanskrit epics of ancient India. Denoting information on the development of Hinduism, the poem was traditionally attributed to be the work of Vyasa. According to James L. Fitzgerald (2009) of Brown University, the Mahabharata presents sweeping visions of the cosmos and humanity and intriguing and frightening glimpses of divinity in an ancient narrative that is accessible, interesting, and compelling for anyone willing to learn the basic themes of India’s culture.” The sacred text was the basis for the television series Mahabharat, and the first episode I saw was regarding the story of Devavrata.

To put it briefly, the first instalment of the Mahabharat series shares the story of King Shantanu and the relationship he has with the goddess Ganga, with whom he marries in human form. She is described by her “superhuman loveliness” (Rajagopalachari, 1979, p.19) and Shantanu’s infatuation with her is duly noted. Following the birth of their children — they have several throughout the course of the first episode — Ganga drowns them in the sacred river Ganges. The first episode of Mahabharat doesn’t explain why Ganga does this, however it is believed that it was due to a curse. So, mystery solved? I think so.

Watching the first episode of Mahabharat with absolutely no knowledge on traditional Hindu stories, the Mahabharata or Sanskrit epics proved challenging to say the least. Not only was it made clear that I was an outsider in this cultural experience, but it also highlighted how unfamiliar cultural phenomena can lose meaning when shared across transnational borders. As I tried to make sense of my Mahabharat experience my own understandings of Hinduism and India’s entertainment industry were confronted with new ideas and interpretations.

As I have acknowledged before, autoethnography demands self-reflexivity and openness to interpret a cultural experience. By researching my cultural assumptions and addressing my ethnically driven concerns with information from books, eminent media platforms and social and historical commentary, my experience and understanding of Indian television and the Mahabharat experience I encountered has profoundly changed. The next time I sit down to watch an episode of Mahabharat I won’t be so thrown by Ganga drowning her children, and I will be able to appreciate the cultural heritage present in the telling of a great Hindu epic.


References:

Touring North Korea

Picking up where I left off, in the midst of virtually touring North Korea, I think I have decided upon where my autoethnographic research will lead to for my final research digital artefact. Autoethnography is, essentially, when the researcher throws themselves into a cultural field, experiencing the oddities and nuances alike. And upon experiencing these foreign, but otherwise “everyday” events, looking back to within one’s self and understanding why such events have stood out. To explore my research through such a process I am thinking of writing a short online fiction piece. The narrative is still not entirely decided upon, however I am thinking of a plot that’s loosely based around the idea of a character being absorbed through a virtual reality headset and placed into the actual world of the 360 North Korea video I am basing my research around. From here the character experiences the unfolding events. I am considering embedding live tweets from my research as thoughts, or learnings that the character experiences. This would be slightly interactive as the readers could click on research links through embedded tweets(form of references/further readings).

So, in order to create this interactive online digital story, I must begin my research.

To do so, I am going to delve into some of the following things that stood out to me, in the hope of understanding North Korean culture through the cultural framework of my own life. Through this research it will be interesting to consider how my experience of the video changes. This investigation should then hopefully inform how I will convey my research through my interactive digital piece. Looking at my previous observations, I want to focus in on a few core aspects:

  • How successful can North Korea really be? How much longer can they last while being isolated from the rest of the connected world? To expand on this, I want to look at the internet situation of North Korea. In the last few days North Korea accidentally leaked the DNS for .kp, showing only 28 domains on their internet. This Reddit post will be a valuable place to being my autoethnography.
  • Military experts analyse the footage from the festival to try and gain an understanding of N.K’s military strength
  • The notion of tourism, or tourism attractions in North Korea is interesting.

Furthermore, there are a few other curiosities I am interested in exploring:

  • How do weddings work in North Korea? Are they planned marriages?
  • Traffic is reported as being relatively new to N.K.
  • Most people (everyone?) are wearing navy blue armbands. What are these?
  • The Supreme Leader is kind of hard to take seriously with his massive portrait on a float regardless of how many missiles and nukes he flaunts. However it is hard to ignore the atrocities he is carrying out.

As the civilians in the 360 video walked the streets, waited for trains, and even visited “tourism destinations”, I noticed they weren’t doing something almost everyone does in my day to day life. As they moved through the streets and waited in the metro, absolutely no one was scrolling through feeds on their phone, something of a complete obsession within the culture I am familiar with. The strangeness, and perhaps more importantly, the significance of this cultural variation was emphasised in the narrators final lines.

“All of this closing off from the outside world cannot be sustained as each successive modern era requires participation in a global economy in order to survive… many wonder how much longer will this last”

The notorious censorship of the North Korean internet is just one facet of this so called “closing off” of the country. But in understanding this isolation, I am, as an autoethnographer, able to better understand the 360 video at hand and thus the North Korean country. Interestingly, North Korea’s main Domain Name System (DNS) server was recently leaked revealing that there are only 28 websites on North Korea’s public internet. Now, when I say public, I mean this limited amount of websites can be viewed by the outside world and tourists. There is an internal intranet used by officials and government in North Korea, which would be a whole new type of interesting, but there is a lot of significance in seeing the limited extent of the public internet. For starters, many of the websites are propaganda in its simplest form, one site show casing the Supreme Leaders activities, such as visiting farms full of bountiful fruit. In this case, these sites are most likely meant to be viewed by the outside world.

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Supreme Leaders Activities: http://rodong.rep.kp./en/

Most of these sites are extremely “pre-dated”. Looking at the North Korean internet is like taking a step back to the beginning of the internet. They are slow to load, and when they do, you are presented with an unsophisticated site that may not have been updated for a long time. Yet in a way, this brings a kind of authenticity to my North Korean experience.

A few of these sites bring me back to one of my early observations in the tourism of North Korea. The idea of North Korea as a holiday destination is one that seems completely insane to me. The places I have holidayed in, be it western countries such as America or Asian countries such as Thailand, for the most part where safe and allowed for tourists to do what they wanted. This form of freedom and adventure in a foreign place is what I understand as the idea of a holiday. However, there is practically no freedom to tourists visiting North Korea. You cannot leave your hotel room without government official “guides”. While most western visitors recounts of travelling in North Korea are positive, saying “the only way DPRK tourism is not safe, in my opinion, is for tourists who plan on participating in any civil disobedience”, Enright, a travel writer who wrote about her trip on her blog, Borders of Adventure, said she was constantly aware of breaking the rules and the possible punishment this entailed. “You can’t say to your guides, ‘Hey did you know that during the war the North bombed the South and not the other way around?’” She goes on to explain that telling her North Korean guides the truth about the rest of the world would have put not only herself but the guides in immense danger if she were overheard. In discovering this bleak way of tourism, there is obviously a definite reason you are escorted around the country by The Supreme Leaders Henchmen “guides” on specific, structured tours.

I feel these strict circumstances around tourism and the isolation placed on North Korea are both pointing to what the Supreme Leaders dictatorship is trying to achieve and continue to maintain, a unified hive mind of solidarity. North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Su-yong told reporters at a UN climate change conference earlier this year that “The real source of power in our country isn’t nuclear weapons or any other military means, but the single-minded unity of the people and the leader. This power of unity we have is the real source of power that leads our country into victory.”

Living in a country where freedom of speech is a somewhat protected right, it seems bizarre that the government of North Korea is promoting single-mindedness. Furthermore, that’s an interesting sentiment when the country literally parades massive nuclear weapons through the capital city in celebration of the 70th anniversary of The Workers Party.

What I have found through my research is that North Korea is ultimately an oppressed society with limited freedoms. However, in a way this only adds to the culture of which as an autoethnographer I have begun exploring. As Ellis (2011) explains, “When researchers do ethnography, they study a culture’s relational practices, common values and beliefs, and shared experiences for the purpose of helping insiders (cultural members) and outsiders (cultural strangers) better understand the culture. These practices, values and beliefs (which I have merely scraped the surface of) vary from mine own with such a vast difference that when I view the 360 video now, the entire context has changed.

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Japanese Pro Wrestling. Looking Back on

Going back on my assumptions and thoughts on watching my first match, and doing more research about Japanese wrestling specifically the history and the major parts and figures in the business I found that my assumptions were lacking a tad as i focused on some small things and didn’t give enough room to talk about what I was watching and how I was reacting to it.

So through this blog post I will analyse further what I noticed the most from my match, delve deeper into the cultural aspects of it and bring up new things that I had wondered and seen through watching the match again.

the first point that I brought up in when watching the match was the crowd, which was a whole new thing to me as there was so many older viewers and the crowd was split pretty evenly in sex. This led me to the assumption that professional wrestling is watched mainly by people older than teenagers in Japan and that it does not cater to one sex more than the other, which is extremely good seeing as wrestling in the western world has always been seen as a show for children and mainly focusing on males. 

Another reason as to why the audience may be split evenly is that female wrestlers in Japan are treated with much more respect by the company and the audience than their counterparts in the western world. Japanese wrestlers or Joshi puroresu are portrayed as being just as hard hitting and physical as the males, sometimes more-so because of their size and weight! The Joshi puroresu aren’t seen as being a draw because of their looks or the size of their assets, like some other companies do/did but have actually shown themselves to be a strong crowd pulling force and have remained stable while the male wrestlers have faltered in times of scandal. Some of the most renowned joshi puroresu are Kana, Bull Nakano, Aja Kong, Malia Hosaka and Akira Hokuto.

Another part of the show that I found to be a different was just how quiet the crowd was and how uninterested they seemed at times. I know that if I was there I would be jumping out of my seat with excitement and joy. I first thought that the reason for the quietness what that they were watching the match from a technical standpoint and like a theatre play, where they would gasp when they see something dramatic or laugh when they see something funny. And that is sort of what happens but in between those parts they are silent. After some research I found out that this is quite normal, apart from the few exceptions…

The usual ‘ohhing’, ‘ahhing’, applauding and laughing are seen throughout when they are called for, but the silence is seen as a cultural thing as they are showing respect to the performers, just like you would a theatre show like I mentioned. This notion of respect for the performers has taken me off guard as I am so used to the crowd involving themselves in the world created in the ring and trying to make the show about themselves. This can be seen in a lot of western promotions such as WWE and to an extreme extent (mind the pun) the original ECW.

I then talked about the styles of the matches and the rules that are accompanying it, such as the hard hitting strikes and the rules such as the 20 count for being out of the ring and the flow of the match being more about getting moves in, being as technically sound as you can be and having the fighting being the forefront of the story. This is a completely different way of producing pro wrestling to some of the other cultures as most others rely on extremely story based content and putting the actual wrestling on the back end to progress the narrative. From what I gathered, in japan the wrestling IS the narrative.

Kayfabe, which is the portrayal of staged events within the industry as “real” or “true,” specifically the portrayal of competition, rivalries, and relationships between participants as being genuine and not of a staged or pre-determined nature.(WhatCulture,2015)
While kayfabe seems to act the same in all cultures, in Japan they way that they use kayfabe to their advantage is completely different. Just like how western cultures tell their stories like soap operas with wrestling in between, Japan portrays its product with what looks like actual fights where the only goal is to hurt the other person and win. The match that I watched was so physical and the elbows and slaps they were giving each other seemed to really leave a mark. So why would they be enduring all this extra pain if it wasn’ to make the fighting look more real. I think that Japanese wrestling prides itself on being the most technical and ‘wrestling’ wrestling promotion in the world as the amount of submission hold and grappling I saw in the matches that I have watched have outweighed any other cultures.

Japan focuses on slow pacing through the matches where it starts of slow with minimal exciting spots and mostly ground work, then ramps right up to the end where people are flying everywhere. it flows so well that It brings you into the story of the match more than having a long backstory about why these two people are fighting because they were picked by Donald Trump.

 

 

The Tibetan Sand Mandala – Part 2

Talkin' About Technology, yet not restricted to.

Drawing from the information and my experiences in Part 1 of watching a Tibetan Sand Mandala being made (YouTube clip here) I will use an ethnographical understanding presented by Ellis et al as “an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience” to make sense of my understanding as well as an understanding of the Tibetan Sand Mandala. Ethnography is quite challenging in itself as it deals with first experiencing an aspect of another culture, making note of those experiences and then reflecting on those experiences and how those experiences affect you by looking at your own culture and why those aspects occurred to you. As research and understanding of my first experience has developed there are observations that I did not notice on the first or next viewings or even include in my Part 1 blog…

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