Asia

The brutal and hilarious world of Asian dating

Most of you reading this will know about television shows such as The Bachelor and X-Factor. Some of you might even be huge fans, with your Foxtel IQ memory being used up by countless hours of women crying over one man and people who can’t possibly think their talented making a fool of themselves on national television.

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Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of dating and talent shows, but my god has that changed. I have recently been made aware of the single greatest dating show I’ve ever seen. It’s called If You Are The One and it’s so great. Brutal, full of surprises and so opposite to every Western dating norm that I am used to, If You Are The One is a cultural phenomenon. It has bridged an understanding of Chinese dating and partner types through the use of entertainment, but the real understanding comes from my own experiences: the fact that some of the dating standards are so strange and so funny to me produces a strong juxtaposition between Australia and Asia and allows me to understand the culture so much more – a direct feature of autoethnography.

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To describe the show quickly, a lone male suitor has to impress a panel of 24 single women (The Bachelor), who register their interest or disinterest through the use of podium lights (X-Factor). Throughout the show, the man introduces himself through pre-filmed footage and short performances of their talents. If the man and woman choose each other, then they win a trip to the Aegean Sea – wild. But the real lessons and entertainment comes from the reasons the women don’t choose the man, usually for purposes such as their family would disapprove of they are not ready to father children immediately.

My initial encounter with this Chinese dating came a few weeks ago during my first viewing of the show, from which my spiralling obsession has grown. I recorded a few observations during this first episode:

  • Huge live audience with lots of applause
  • All the 24 girls are beautiful and very thin – much like Australian dating shows.
  • The show uses purely English music – empowering as the man walks on, sad music if he walks off alone
  • Win prizes if every girl turns light on. If no one turns on light, they get another chance with audience members who are interested.
  • First impressions: turn lights on if they like him. Purely based on looks (Tinder).
  • Women makes comments like “You’ll be fun to marry”
  • The men and women perform things to impress each other: breaking dancing, singing jazz dancing and yoga – maybe the funniest thing I might have ever seen
  • Seems like a talent show and dating show mixed into one
  • Man shows introductory videos: one of them is about past relationships: re-enacted videos of the lovers together: seems so odd for the new women to want to see that. Man describes why the relationship ended – usually things like careers not matching or man not ready for marriage or children (this usually means many women turn their lights off)
  • So brutal when the countdown from 24 women goes further and further down (written largely on the screen)
  • The participants seem much more picky than Australian dating shows. Consider deeper things than just personality and looks
  • Internal thought: “50 minute episodes and 4 people find a lover or not- this is so much fucking better than an entire season of the Bachelorette. No drama and no tears!!!”
  • One woman sang to show her feelings – ‘Can’t take my eyes off of you’ – why an English song?
  • Most men speak of the expectations to find a wife and have children to keep family happy and leave a legacy
  • One couple chose each other and straight away decided by what age they would have children together. When choose each other, straight away choose when to have kids by
  • Feels like such a weird blend between English and Chinese. The music and show really don’t mix together well

As such, my individual research project aims to understand Asia, in particular Chinese dating, through my own experiences, considering how my own cultural biases and experiences form my opinions. “Autoethnography is 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). In this way, the researcher makes themselves the subject of research by using their thoughts and observations. So, by describing and analysing my personal experience of dating and dating shows I will produce research into the cultural experience of Chinese love.

I plan to continue watching more Chinese dating shows (hell yeah), and then produce a digital artefact which compares or relates what I am used to (Western dating) with the norms of Asian dating. I am still tossing up with the form my project will take – however, I am sure I will take notes during the dating shows of anything that seems different to what I am accustomed to. I will then use this information to create a project which clearly highlights the differences in culture, perhaps using reasons that people in Wollongong have decided not to date someone.
Autoethnographic research will allow an insight into Asian culture that regular research would not – application to real life situations. Hopefully, this form of research will produce an interesting, humourous project that bridges an understanding and connection between Australia and Asia.

BULA! Kava, Fiji and culture

My opening post on Kava was based on perceptions both personal and societal with minimal investigation. This post is almost completely research based. So what is Kava?

Kava is a depressant drug, which means it slows down the messages travelling between the brain and the body. Kava is made from the root or stump of the kava (Piper methysticum) shrub.’ – Dr Edward, Global Healing Centre.

To follow up on my personal interest of the Fijian beverage, I’ll be undertaking a cultural study of how the drink impacts the country’s lifestyle. When attending my brother’s wedding in Fiji, I’ll speak with locals and gather information from the region to assist in unpacking how this iconic drink fits into their society.

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Since my initial interest was sparked, I’ve had time to gather information and reassess my approach to the study. Initially my attention came from the side effects of Kava itself and the reasons why it is such a popular beverage in Fiji. This interest certainly still exists, however I’m becoming more fixated on the role it plays in Fijian society and how it impacts the local’s lifestyle and way of living.

My opening blog post proposed seven questions and beliefs surrounding Kava. After engaging in further research into the topic, I’ve come up with a few answers.

Q) The general belief is that Kava is said to contain a very high alcoholic content, so how strong is it?

A) Kava contains NO ALCOHOL! This was news to me. It is however a depressant like alcohol. It is classified as a ‘psychoactive beverage’ made purely from shrub native to Fiji. There are many different strands of Kava creations that have there own profile ranging from sleepy to numb to relaxed.

Q) Another conception of Kava is that it can act in the same way a psychedelic drug would in that it can impact the brain causing an individual to hallucinate. Is this fact or fiction?

A) Kava is not a psychedelic drug in any way and will not give you warped visions that allow you to see different things. The common perception of this derives from the fact that there are hallucinogenic beverages like Kava such as Ayuhuasca that are often confused to be Kava. This confusion has led to the misconception.

Q) Are its origins entirely Fijian?

A) Kava dates back at least 3000 years. While it is prevalent in Fiji, its creation isn’t entirely claimed by the country. The piper methysticum shrub that is used to create it is found across the Pacific Islands and the beverage itself is drunk in places such as Tonga, Hawaii, Vanuatu and Polynesia.

 

Q) The belief is that the beverage is consumed by all ages, is this true? If its alcohol content is as strong as it is said to be, this raises further questions.

A) As previously mentioned, Kava doesn’t contain alcohol. The age limit, if any, of drinkers was difficult to find therefore I’ll ask locals when arriving in the country.

Q) Why is it acceptable to consume alcohol at a young age in Fiji and why does this differ from Australia’s attitudes towards drinking restrictions?

A) As per previous answer.

Q) Most Australians seem to be aware that Kava is a mixture of water and natural plantation, so how is it made and what are its exact ingredients?

A) Kava comes from the root of the Yaqona shrub. The shrub is used in multiple ways ranging from strained, crushed, grounded or powdered with water into a very big wooden bowl. It is as simple as it sounds.

Q) Another myth suggests that the drinking frequency and strength of Kava contributes somewhat to the laid back attitude of the country. A big claim, but does it hold any logistical truth?

A) Another question that will need plenty of clarification from locals. However, its regular consumption at all times of the day and relaxed, sleepy impact on an individual suggests it may contribute. The fact it isn’t as strong as previously believed to be suggests it couldn’t contribute to a prominent portion of local’s everyday attitudes to any massive degree.

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Following up on my initial perceptions of the Fijian beverage I’ve become aware of the huge revelation that it doesn’t contain alcohol and I’ve also come to realise Kava is a VERY traditional and cultural element in Fijian society. The locals engage in ceremonies using the drink as a symbol and method of creating relationships and strong bonds between each other. The ceremonies centring around Kava have rich histories dating back centuries. I’ll aim to attend one of these ceremonies when in the country.

Another area I’ll research that is of new information is that it has many uses including medicinal, sedation, diuretic, muscle relaxant among many others.

Extending on my now base layer of knowledge on Kava I’ll look to further delve into its role in Fijian society. This will be aided by photographs, videos and hopefully audio interviews obtained from the locals.

Balancing my Yin and Yang Through Yoga; an Autoethnographic Experience

In my first autoethnographic response to yoga I’d begun analysisng my experience with the practice even though I’d already been doing yoga for quite a few months. I still find it fun, however since I’ve been practicing yoga for this project, my uni load has increased ten fold and I’m lucky to get to go once a week. They say if you don’t have time to meditate 20mins every day, then you should meditate for an hour. They obviously don’t understand how limited your time is when pulling all nighters to submit 3000 word essays.

I complete my practices at the Yoga studio down the road called Body Awakenings. The teachers are really helpful and nice and there is no judgement because everyone is just as terrible as you are. The classes do have a female majority of all ages but there are usually a few men who complete the practices regularly too (boyfriends being dragged along by optimistic partners?)

I love the yoga studio itself, you could just walk into that room and feel relaxed even if you don’t complete the practice. There are multiple scented candles, purple and white walls with a giant mandala painted on one and wooden shutters to keep the bright lights out, all of which sets a relaxing ambiance.

The classes run for approximately an hour with multiple styles to choose from including Hatha Yoga, Core Yogalates, Slow Yoga Flow, Yin Yoga, Yin Yang Yoga, Core Yoga Flow, Restorative Yoga, Core Pilates, Gentle Yogalates, Basic Yoga Flow, Roller and Release with Core Flow, Qui Gong, Meditation along with Teen, Prenatal and Mums and Bubs Yoga classes.

As there are so many classes I haven’t had a chance to try them all, (also not all of them apply to me seeing as I’m not pregnant or a teenager.) However I have tried Hatha Yoga, Yin and Yin and Yang Yoga, Core Yoga Flow, Restorative Yoga and Core Pilates.

My favorite for sure was Yin Yang Yoga because you can relax while holding poses for 2-5 mins while incorporating normal flow yoga where poses are held for 10-20 seconds. Plus it makes you feel cleansed and energetic afterwards.

I researched how this actually worked because the class just involved a whole lot of bending over and lying down and it just seemed to good to be true.

Yin Yang yoga style incorporates a balance between deep long stretches and a Hatha style flow. It’s designed to simultaneously release energy flow and expand flexibility through penetrating deep into connective tissue. Further developing muscular strength and stamina with the combination of the two styles.

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An artistic representation of the Yin Yang Ideology depicting the balance between night and day and the sea and sky. Credit Yogi Surprise, Pintrest

Many people are familiar with the ancient Chinese Yin Yang symbol which emphasizes balance and the cycle of life, how one force dominates and is thus replaced with the opposing force. This is often used a metaphors for life and death, heaven and earth, night and day, health and sickness, poverty and wealth and the cycle of the seasons (winter to summer). Known as the Tai Chi (or Taiqi) symbol, this ideology is mirrored through the yoga style as it balances stillness and movement throughout its practice. Ester Ekhart , describes Yin Yang as best for people who are tired, overstimulated, have overactive mindsets and erratic energy.  I feel this directly applies to me and was invented with myself in mind which must explain why this practice just felt right. My balance between work, uni and attempting to maintain a social life is all out of whack and my inner eye needed some ancient yin yang to work that out.

Here is a Youtube tutorial for a 35min Yin Yang class for beginners to advanced levels of yoga, aiming to release stress if you want further insight into the style by Yoga with Kassandra.

My research has also uncovered that Yoga itself originated in India, beginning as a spiritual process which had the ability to heal yourself and inner being. Many practices which are today defined as different yoga styles, originated in India around the same time that Hindu ideology begun to emerge, therefore the two are often associated with one another. Despite this, it is important to note that the two are separate as yoga is more a way of thinking and living instead of a religion. A Cure Joy editorial emphasizes ‘ It is wrong to identify yoga through religion- just as it is wrong to identify an American product as a Christian product’. I like this metaphor as it helps you visualize how the practice of yoga itself differs from the Hindu religion despite their similarities in ideology.

Yoga styles practiced in the west, can be traced back over 5000 years ago. However as early transcriptions regarding the practice were secretive and passed on orally and written on palm tree leaves which are easily lost or damaged, it is possible that the practice of yoga is over 10,000 years old.  There are 3 different periods which have influenced the creation of yoga as it’s practiced today in the west.

The Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India developed the beginnings of Pre-Classical Yoga and coined the term ‘Yoga’ in the oldest of the 4 sacred Hindu texts, the Rigveda which is a collection of ancient Indian Sanskrits. Yoga was then refined by the Brahman’s priests and Rishis who documented the practice in the Upanishad, consisting of over 200 scriptures. The Upanishad utilized the idea of ritual sacrifice and applied it to the practice in the sacrifice of individual ego through self-knowledge, karma and wisdom.  The Classical period of yoga begun in the 2nd century and is defined by Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras which were the first presentation of yoga that cultivated many different styles and conflicting ideas which were seen throughout the practice. Patanjali was the first to denote the idea of the Eight Limbs of yoga in the Yoga-Sutras. Because of this he is seen as the ‘father of yoga’ as many of the Sutras outlined still influence modern styles of yoga today. The Post- Classical yoga period saw yoga masters attempting to refine the practice futher to explore the physical- spiritual connection between the mind and the body as a means to rejuvenate the body and extend life. This period saw the development of Tantra Yoga, utilizing radical techniques to cleanse the mind and body and ‘break the knots which tie us to our physical existence’.

Modern Yoga was bought to the west by yoga masters in the 18-1900’s. Hatha Yoga which is the most common style practiced in the west encompasses many of the fore mentioned attributes including sacrificing individual ego, self-knowledge, karma practice, wisdom, The Eight Limbs and the separation of mind and body as alternate entities. The first Hatha Yoga School was opened in 1924 by Krishamacharya in Mysore in India. (Today is known as Mysuru) It wasn’t until 1947 that Indra Devi opened a yoga studio in Hollywood, and since then it has been embraced by stressed out white people like myself worldwide.

Brought to me by the ancient yoga masters in India, practicing yoga has helped me feel like I’m getting my life together, or maybe I’m just more clam as it’s falling apart. Regardless my experience with yoga has made me feel enlightened and I thoroughly enjoyed expanding my knowledge on the history and origins of the practice.

 

References;

 

 

 

 

Okashi

I have to start by saying that any assessment where I get to integrate food is always going to be a good one, especially ‘okashi’, which is the Japanese word for treats and snacks. For my individual autoethnographic research, I decided to purchase a basket full of treats from Wan Long Supermarket Wollongong. This is the closest location to where I live to gain access to Asian groceries without physically having to go to an Asian country. With the guidance of my partner Jon, who has previously lived in Japan, we filled a basket full of primarily Japanese based treats. All of the items chosen were a new taste, not ever having tried them before. I filmed the whole experience of the first taste test which made it very easy to watch over and reflect.

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(Source: Cubit, A 2016)

Firstly, it is worth noting the initial selection process of the Japanese based candy at the supermarket. I struggled to identify the difference of Chinese based packaging to Japanese. Most products did have English translated words, such as “strawberry flavour”. However, without the guidance of Jon, I would have got a largely mixed bag of candy and drinks from all over the Asian region. This brings to light the major barrier that language has on interpreting what it is you are buying. Without English translations that are available on imported goods, or the further guidance of Jon who has tried those foods, speaks Japanese and lived in Japan for over a year, I would have not been able to have had the experience that I did, of trying Japanese candy in Australia.

Similarly, it was evident throughout the whole 20 minutes of taste testing, I was critically referencing what I was trying, back to an Australian based taste. For example, “this biscuit reminds me of tiny teddies”. This could mean one of two things. The first is that it could be me trying to understand Japanese culture through my Australian context. For me to grasp and take in what It was I was trying, I was searching for the Australian equivalent. Similarly, it could also have meant that I understood that the video was going to be watched by an Australian audience, thus I could have been referring to the Australian context, to ensure my audience could connect with the foods I was trying.

Moreover, the packaging was something that really stood out to me. The colours were all very bright and most included images of the flavour for example. The candy also largely had a cartoon character of some sort, which I believe was to connect the target market of children, with the product. A cross-cultural study on the affects of advertising in US, Japanese and English families outlined how “Japanese children have a significantly lower level of television viewing that the US and British children” (Robertson et al., 1989). Perhaps this is why the packaging is so bold and colourful, as marketers are focusing on the need to gain attention of children in-store as television advertising targeted towards children is absent or minimal in Japan? Such packaging also could fit with the Kawaii or “cute” culture in Japan.

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(Source: Dreamstime.com)

The reoccurring theme in my above deconstruction of my initial post is how my Australian context not only forms my opinion of product selection, tastes, and packaging, it also informed my method of recording as well as the factors I chose to analyse. Living in metropolitan Australia, I am lucky enough to have access to a range of groceries from Asia, with the closest Asian grocer only 5 minutes away. This is a central factor to my research as I was able to gain access to the treats quite easily. It wasn’t a huge event in tracking down such foods. Thus making my experience of accessing Japanese culture and foods straight forward, even though I am almost 8000km away from Japan.

Sources:

Dreamstime, 2016, Kawaii Foods, retrieved from <https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/cute-kawaii-dessert-cake-macaroon-ice-cream-icons-vector-set-food-isolated-white-54668595.jpg.&gt;

Free Map Tools, 2016, Tokyo to Sydney, retrieved from < https://www.freemaptools.com/how-far-is-it-between-sydney_-australia-and-tokyo_-japan.htm>

Robertson, T, Ward, S, Gatignon, H, & Klees, D 1989, ‘Advertising and Children: A Cross-Cultural Study’,Communication Research, 16, 4, p. 459, Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 25 September 2016.

Unpacking Bitcoin: An autoethnographic analysis of the emergence of Bitcoin in China

In my previous blog post, I proposed investigating the current state of Bitcoin in China for my individual research project and recorded my initial thoughts, perceptions and reactions to Motherboard’s documentary Life Inside a Secret Chinese Bitcoin Mine (2015). The purpose of this post is to reflect upon, analyse and interpret this experience within its broader sociocultural context using an autoethnographic research approach.

Chang (2008, p.43) observes that autoethnography can be distinguished from other genres of self-narrative such as memoir and autobiography by the way it “transcends mere narration of self to engage in cultural analysis and interpretation”. In other words, autoethnography is not about focusing on self alone, but about searching for understanding of others (culture/society) through self (Chang 2008, p.43).

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Hall (1973, p.30, cited in Chang 2008, p.34) argues that “the real job” of studying another culture is “not to understand foreign culture but to understand our own…to…

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“E dua na bilo?” (`Try a cup?’)

BULA, BULA, BULA!

Fijian culture is epitomised by this single word that originated from the native tongue of the Pacific Island nation. However very few foreigners are aware of the actual meaning of Bula, they’re only able to associate it with the country.

Bula means life. It can be used in many contexts ranging from hello, goodbye, thank you, welcome, love among many other meanings. So when thinking of Fiji, you think Bula.

When engaging with the traditional Fijian way of life, there’s no more culturally enticing element of their society than Kava. When you think of Fiji, you think of Kava. But what do we actually know about the traditional alcoholic beverage? Common beliefs and questions arising with it include:

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  • The general belief is that Kava is said to contain a very high alcoholic content, so how strong is it?
  • Another conception of Kava is that it can act in the same way a psychedelic drug would in that it can impact the brain causing an individual to hallucinate. Is this fact or fiction?
  • Are its origins entirely Fijian?
  • The belief is that the beverage is consumed by all ages, is this true? If its alcohol content is as strong as it is said to be, this raises further questions.
  • Why is it acceptable to consume alcohol at a young age in Fiji and why does this differ from Australia’s attitudes towards drinking restrictions?
  • Most Australians seem to be aware that Kava is a mixture of water and natural plantation, so how is it made and what are its exact ingredients?
  • Another myth suggests that the drinking frequency and strength of Kava contributes somewhat to the laid back attitude of the country. A big claim, but does it hold any logistical truth?
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Fijian men in traditional clothing powder kava for a ceremonial drink.

Many Australians including myself ask these questions, so why is this?

Australia has a strong drinking culture dating back generations where binge drinking is an issue within society. Beer, wine and spirits are highly popular and a prevalent part of the country’s economy. So naturally, the idea of a strong alcoholic, possibly hallucinogenic foreign beverage appeals to our society. Is this a good thing? Probably not when considering the big picture, but it clearly reflects the Australian way of life. I’ll answer these questions to clarify the role and importance of Kava to Fijian society.

My personal interest surrounding Kava stems from several areas. Matt Whitehead, A close friend from Hay (country NSW), had a group of native Fijian men join the local rugby league team. The men were flown in from the country on a working Visa where they spent the next six months. Matt told me the men made Kava for him and his family from local growth and ingredients. He told me the alcoholic content was strong, the methods of how they made it and why they all new how to make it with such ease.

I’ve always had an interest in Kava stemming from Matt’s experience without ever acting on it. Fortunately for my personal interest the Digital Asia subject coincided with my brother’s wedding, conveniently in Fiji mid-semester.

During my week stay in the country I intend to investigate Kava for the final assessment task of the subject. I will aim to convey the importance of Kava to the Fijian people using a multimedia project including images, Tweets, video and local knowledge. I will analyse how and if the beverage is advertised and sold to the general public. I will speak with locals about the manner, volume and frequency in which they consume Kava. I will provide a gallery of original images to aid the presentation of how the Kava is made. Raw video footage will also be gathered to further enhance the appeal of the project as well as audio from interviews if the locals are willing to comply with the recording.

Furthermore, I will create a comparison with popular Australian beverages such as beer and wine. I will compare the different attitudes locals have towards alcohol and how each fits into both their lifestyle and economy. I will provide a brief study of alcohol consumption and production in Australia as a reference point to Kava’s influence on society in Fiji. With alcohol playing such a huge role in Australia and being the source of numerous debate topics in the country, this cultural comparative study will shed light on the issue.

The large majority of my autoethnographic encounter won’t be available until the trip is completed, allowing me to come back to Australia and reflect on the experiences.

K-Pop 101

Even as someone who has been following the K-Pop scene for years, the industry still holds many secrets from me and even with the music itself, the language will always be a small barrier to my complete understanding. Although my sister will be the one participating in the autoethnographic study, researching deeper into the industry and the music videos has shown me that the ideals and themes are absolutely teeming with Korean culture – even more so than I initially realized.

The final product for my digital artefact will be Prezi which will include not only my sisters experience with K-Pop, but also a breakdown of what are the most important parts of the music and a small case study to give a relevant example. One question that I chose to look at was whether K=Pop is actually Korean. My initial reaction was yes, of course it is. It comes from Korea, the choreography and fashion trends that become popular because of their video clips is not something seen in American music charts, and just the sheer size of some these groups is unheard of in Western culture. But then I delved a bit deeper and found that it is definitely more Westernised than you’d initially believe.

When the latest wave of K-Pop rose in the 1990s, artists began incorporating popular styles of American music like rap and techno house while simultaneously following an American song model. There are quite a few K-Pop songs out there that are essentially covers of popular American tracks although the lyrics are changed to Korean and a memorable choreography is also included. Girls Generation have done this several times and to great success with a track called Run Devil Run which was originally sung by Kesha. Surprisingly, I actually heard Girls Generation cover of the song first since Kesha’s version did not gain much traction on Australian billboard charts and I wasn’t a big enough fan to listen to her full album. It was interesting to learn that this had initially been an American song, but in my mind, with the addition of the music video, Girls Generation definitely changed it to a K-Pop track.

Although the music is influenced to a degree by American music, the K-Pop industry itself is unique to what you would find in the USA and this can be be attributed partly due to the differences in culture. Even in Australia, we grow up with an “every man for themselves” mindset while Korea holds a more collectivist culture which can be reflected through the way the K-Pop industry operates. Being a fan, it has been clear for me from the onset of my interest that solo artists are definitely the exception rather than the rule and many of those who end up moving towards a solo career were often in groups beforehand. However, I didn’t look further into this unique characteristic and, as it turns out, there’s actually quite a few reasons why Korean music companies prefer larger groups.

Even if you haven’t experienced it first hand, many music fans would have had to deal with a cancelled concert due to an artists sickness or even injury. With the large amount of performers that these K-Pop groups have, if a misfortune befalls one of the members the rest of them are still able to continue a concert allowing for more flexibility for the label. Recently JinE, a member of group Oh My Girl! was put on hiatus because she has been suffering from anorexia nervosa and her label felt it was best for her to receive the treatment she required. However, since the life of an idol is kept busy with promotions and performances, the rest of the eight-member girl group will continue with their activities. This example raises questions about beauty standards in Korea and the pressures idols receive to maintain an ideal look, but that is a whole topic within itself.

Apart from the focus on groups, K-Pop artists tend to hold lower agency over their work. When I was approached with this idea, it made me think of record companies and how in the Australian industry, making music independently from any label is seen as a badge of honour. Then, when I thought about the K-Pop groups I followed, I realized that every single one was part of a larger entertainment company. This means that K-Pop songs are heavily regulated and prepackaged which you can see through their pin-point choreographies and the similar fashion they wear in music videos. Although fans will have their bias (favourite member of a group), it is only through variety shows and sometimes live performances where viewers actually get a better glimpse of individual idols personalities.

It was interesting to find that even after years of following the K-Pop industry, my knowledge was still quite limited and, in some ways, I was still an outsider looking in. I was aware of the typical themes found in K-Pop such as the choreography, fashion and those memorable English phrases scattered throughout the songs – after all, this is what drew me to the genre in the first place. However, there will always be things I don’t understand simply because of cultural and language barriers; some of the translations may not be exact in English and there are some cultural references that I would never have heard of before. Luckily, completing this digital artefact will hopefully fill in a few holes of missing information and allow me to continue enjoying K-Pop, just on a more detailed level.

Making Sense of K-Pop

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After much debate and thought about the different Asian foods I could try for this study, I settled on going in the complete opposite direction and detailing an autoethnography of K-Pop for my digital artefact. However, since I have a decent understanding of the music genre because I’ve been listening to it regularly for the last couple of years, I am going to show my sister (who has minimal knowledge on the topic) several K-Pop music videos and analyze her experience. (more…)

The Art of Autoethnography: Part II

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Part II- Autoethnography: A Further Reflection

In my last post I made a number of observations in regard to the 1954 Japanese film Godzilla/Gojira. My main observation that I had was that I did not find myself engrossed in the film given the educational setting. In this blog post some of the other observations made will be looked at further in an auto ethnographic context.

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Two observations made during the course of the film related to the display or lack of display made by the characters.

Constant shadows make it hard to see the emotions displayed of the characters faces.

Little emotion is shown by the characters when announcing the deaths of the soldiers. They are stone cold statues.

These observations are made from the view point of a 21 year Australian woman. Australians tend to be relatively open with their emotions and this is expressed in western cinema. Western actors display emotions through their body language and their facial expressions. The way that I interpret the displays of emotion in this film is very different to the way that a Japanese person interprets its.

‘Cultural contexts also act as cues when people are trying to interpret facial expressions. This means that different cultures may interpret the same social context in very different ways’ (Boundless Psychology, 2016)

This understanding of culture changes the way that I reflect upon my auto ethnographic research. Further literature research puts these observations into context. Not only does culture impact the way that we display emotion but it also impacts the way that we perceive and interpret emotion too. With this understanding, cultural nuances must be looked at. An article posted on the Association for Psychological Science titled Perception of Emotion Is Cultural-Specific (2010) describes Japanese displays of emotion. Emotion is more evident through tone of voice than through facial expressions in Japanese cultural.

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What this reflection makes clear is the process of autoethnography. Ellis et. al. (2011) made clear in their text Autoethnography: An Overview is the importance of the elements of methodological tools, literature research and personal experience. It is now clear to me the importance of that literature research in informing your personal experience, without this understanding, the research lacks substance and perspective.

Reference List

Boundless.com. (2016). [online] Available at: https://www.boundless.com/psychology/textbooks/boundless-psychology-textbook/emotion-13/influence-of-culture-on-emotion-411/influence-of-culture-on-emotion-263-12798/ [Accessed 1 Sep. 2016].

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].

Psychologicalscience.org. (2016). Perception of Emotion Is Culture-Specific – Association for Psychological Science. [online] Available at: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/perception-of-emotion-is-culture-specific.html [Accessed 1 Sep. 2016].

The Art of Autoethnography: Part I

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Part I- Autoethnography

A form of self-reflection and writing that explores the researcher’s personal experiences and connects this autobiographical story to a wider cultural-political-and social meanings and understandings’ (Collins Dictionary, 2013)

Autoethnography is a new and foreign concept to me, one that seems simple at first glance yet has hidden complexities and requires a greater deal of insight to result in purposeful authenticity.

This week’s reading Autoethnography: An Overview (Ellis, Adams & Bochner, 2011) details that autoethnography is to analyse experience through methodological tools, literature research and use personal experience to illustrate facets of cultural experience. Therefore it is under this guise that I shall share my process of autoethnography regarding the 1954 Japanese film Godzilla/Gojira.

 

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Observation and simply absorbing the text in all its glory, taking note of my observations were the only methodological tools used. A basic approach, but as this is my first attempt at autoethnographic research, basic is the best way to start.

Here are my observations, a summary of the running commentary of my thoughts during the entire film:

  • Constant shadows make it hard to see the emotions displayed of the characters faces.
  • I wonder what the subtitles meant by ‘firefighters’, I’m guessing firefighters given the context.
  • There is a lot of jumping from one scene to the other.
  • Little emotion is shown by the characters when announcing the deaths of the soldiers. They are stone cold statues.
  • There is this annoying bell sound throughout many of the scenes and it is starting to annoy me.
  • This storyline is getting hard to follow, there are many different characters being introduced and the scene jumping around.
  • The constant jumping around between scenes is leading me to disconnect from the text, and a computer screen in front of me provides an abundance of distractions from writing emails to scrolling the Facebook newsfeed.
  • It is so silent given the large amount of people in the scene, there is very little background noise. I am definitely not used to a movie score of this nature.
  • Now I’m thinking about food while watching a man handle a dead fish. I don’t think I am really invested in the film.
  • The scary noise they are running away from isn’t even that loud, their screams cover it.
  • Finally Godzilla/Gojira makes an appearance.
  • That appearance only lasted a second. That was hardly worth all the build up in that scene.
  • There is no visable destination that they are running towards. Then they just stop before the scene changes.
  • The picture of Godzilla/Gojira  is on the screen longer then he actually was.
  • They never actually seem that scared of it. Maybe thats just a cultural difference regarding the displaying of emotions.
  • How did they get the sand from Godzilla/Gojira’s body?
  • I got distracted again by emails. It’s not my fault they just pop up on my screen.
  • Why is the guy in the eye patch so serious?
  • I think that girl has the hots for the guy with the eye patch.
  • I didn’t pay enough attention to know any of the characters names.
  • New method found to slightly understand what’s going on. Watching the #DIGC330 twitter feed.

 

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The literature research conducted on the topic of autoethnography. Autoethnography: An Overview (Ellis, Adams & Bochner, 2011) did two things for my understanding of autoethnography. Firstly it enlightened me as to what the process of autoethnography entails and what it produces; ‘aesthetic and evocative thick descriptions of personal and interpersonal experience’.

Secondly, what my first attempt at autoethnograhic research was not. Ellis et. el. (2011) stated that autoethnography was developed in ‘an attempt to concentrate on ways of producing meaningful, accessible and evocative research grounded in personal experience’. If I were to use this as a checklist, I could say that my work was very much grounded in personal experience as there was no other other facets to it and that by posting it in this digital format it is also accessible, but meaningful or evocative I am struggling to see that part coming to fruition.

 

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My personal experience with this film is that I couldn’t get fully immersed in the storyline. What is evident from my notes is that as the film progressed I became less content with watching and making observations. I found myself looking for distractions and had difficulty remaining focused.

Though in all honesty I have never;

a. Been  drawn to Asian cinema unless it was of a Bollywood persuasion

AND

b. Been able to become totally engrossed in a film in an educational context, it just seems unnatural.

For someone else, or if I had first encountered this film in a different context, the outcome might have been different, though this simply wasn’t the case and I am afraid that this will cloud my view of the film forever in my mind.

Reference List

Collinsdictionary.com. (2016). Definition of Autoethnography | New Word Suggestion | Collins Dictionary. [online] Available at: http://www.collinsdictionary.com/submission/10957/Autoethnography [Accessed 25 Aug. 2016].

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].

IMDb. (2016). Godzilla (1954). [online] Available at: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047034/ [Accessed 20 Aug. 2016].