#Asian cinema

Responding to 爱: What if Fictional Love isn’t Universal?

download

thanks imgflip

“…romance movies is a genre that is always easy to watch”
-me, two weeks ago

In retrospect, this quote was a glaringly, poor oversight. Not only was I forgetting about the plethora of terrible, Western romance films (ever seen that one with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock who sent letters to each other in the past/future via a magical letterbox at a lake-house? I erased it from my memory for a reason and you should too), but I also forgot that poor writing and poor film making would be a universal concept. And that trying to watch a movie from another country, that you have no personal connection to, is probably not the best way to watch a new romance movie.

“Easy” was certainly true for the most part of “The Stolen Years”, but enjoyable….used only marginally. My anecdotes of the trip that was my first Chinese Romance Film can be found here, and no I wouldn’t recommend watching this film either. That isn’t too say it was bad, in fact i’d say it was quite similar to any trashy romance you’d pull out of Netflix, with only a few errors in its entirety (it was way too god damn long).

So, why did I not enjoy it? I had thought that if it was a romance, and had the essential story of two people falling in love, whatever else around it wouldn’t deter it from its essential element. Maybe understanding and enjoying fictional love is not a universal concept to me.

(more…)

Advertisements

Godzilla – a story that never gets old

This is not so related but please tell me if I’m wrong. The few things pop up in my head when a Westerner mentions Asia media are Kpop and anime. Godzilla the original, for me, was a blast. Growing up, Japanese film in my mind were purely about Pokemon, Doraemon, Inuyasha, Ghibli anime and teen romance. Most of them are around very personal stories, around thoughts and emotions of a single person or a small group of people. In shorts, they’re more of drama, and they strongly reflect Japanese culture.

Hardly could I think such a blockbuster came from Japan. I’m not a huge fan of monster movies, because you can always tell the plot without watching the whole movie. The last monster movie I saw was Jaws, which was truly entertaining, but nothing much in the message. But don’t get me wrong, it has always been a nice movie for me.

Watching Godzilla for the first time yesterday (I haven’t seen any Godzilla movie before), I expected something dramatic but still kawaii. It turned out to be really Western. The theme music strongly reminded me of Jaws, the old kind of music used in old thriller movies that still causing rapid heartbeat. The monster, which is said to has traditionally been portrayed by an actor wearing latex costume, look more like a metallic dinosaur to me, since its moves looked so much like the shark in Jaws. Besides, watching an old school blockbuster without CGI is such a fresh feeling. Though it looked like children toy, the film was strangely gravitative. However, it was the message that most audiences were interested in, or at least in DIGC310 class. It was not a message like “With great power comes great responsibility” or a metaphor for a country’s or the power of human, it related directly to war and consequences of it, specifically, the nuclear tragedy happened to Japanese people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki almost 10 years ago. More interestingly, the strongest reference to the WWII in my opinion is, the skin texture of the reptilian was inspired by the keloid scars seen on survivors in Hiroshima.

hiroshima-bomb-radiation-and-metahealth-by-ms-anu-mehta-17-638

Those images suddenly brings me back to thousands of kids who are the victims of Agent Orange released during the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War has become history for over 40 years, toxic legacy of Agent Orange lives on. Many of them weren’t born during the war, but they are the descendants of the veterans, or worse, born and raised in the contaminated land. War may be over, but the fear and the scars it left, stays, and it doesn’t only hurt those who eye-witnessed it but also the younger generations.

Lastly, guys, sorry for the disturbing images.

Gojira (1954); Monster / Metaphor

gojira-with-bridges

At the start of this year I spend some time in Japan where for the first time I was engulfed by the means of Asian media. Anime, Cosplay, Gaming, Manga, you name it. While all adapting to the nation’s ‘Kawaii’ lifestyle. Contemporary forms of the nation’s popular culture, are not only forms of entertainment but also aspects to distinguish contemporary Japan from the rest of the modern world.

Prior to this week’s seminar I had not experienced any of the ‘Godzilla’ films especially that of Ishir Honda’s 1953 original ‘Gojira’. But interestingly enough I believe I was quite familiar with the narrative – to which an immense lizard-like monster creates havoc within the cityscape. But why is it, that I was so known to this story? Popular culture has since taken this notion of Gojira and has replicated, regurgitated and revamped it to suit and interest audiences today and as I aged I was always exposed to these kinds of media. (more…)

Social Media Research Proposal Review

In my initial research project proposal it’s possible I made some assumptions about both the methodology of autoethnography, and the core concepts behind the research itself. Below is a list of the possible assumptions involved in initial account:

  • In my initial post I assumed that Chinese social media was/is used exclusively, or at least “primarily” used by the Chinese population.
  • Those who have grown up in another culture can formulate an objective opinion/comparison through personal collection of data/first hand use only.
  • By analysing platforms created for another language in English, it is still possible to develop an accurate understanding of the culture without losing its nuances to the language barrier.
  • Assuming there is a comparison to be made at all between western social media and Chinese social media, it could be that they are almost identical, or used in very similar ways. This would render the comparison between the two a lot less interesting, and in a way void the meaning behind the research itself.

Further reading and research:

  • relational ethics – implicates itself heavily in this particular research project as it focuses primarily on social media; a means of connecting with others and building relationships. A common critique of the autoethnographic approach to writing is the ethical concerns and responsibilities surrounding the building of relationships for such projects. Researchers often create friendship and other relational ties with people which not only aid their inquiry but are also a simply by product of cultural immersion. This can lead to questions of how deeply can a researcher implicate their ‘friends’ in their writing and whether their relationship must be treated with a kind of sanctity or whether it can be mined for crucial information. In order to potentially avoid questions of relational ethics, I have chosen not to interview or personally engage with other users of these platforms, not to mention communicating with the vast majority of users on Chinese social media would require some knowledge of the Chinese language. Although this raises other concerns about the quality of my observations and whether they accurately represent the culture, I have instead chosen to use the literature to inform me. However, due to the nature of the research project this is not disadvantageous to an approach of this kind, as it is primarily a comparison between one’s known cultural experiences and one’s unfamiliar cultural experiences and how these differences in culture manifest across a range of social media platforms.

Despite these overwhelming assumptions, the autoethnographic approach still utilises a crucial methodology to develop and understanding of the culture through an immersion in it. It is through this approach that I believe I will gain the most data and knowledge to back up my research.

The Art of Autoethnography: Part I

autoethnography.png

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.

 

Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 3.44.14 PM

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.

 

Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 3.43.34 PM

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.

 

Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 3.44.58 PM

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].

Gojira might be the reason for Japan’s technological brilliance…

sswriting

Last week, I wrote about symbolism in Japanese art and how Gojira reflected Japan’s fear of nuclear power, something they also contributed to the creation of. The destruction and devastation of Nagasaki and Hiroshima haunts this nation yet they continued nuclear testing to the detriment of fishing boats such as Lucky Dragon 5. Brophy mentioned the Japanese propensity for technological fortification, which fuelled a new direction for my research.

It’s common knowledge Japan is the cornucopia of technological advancement. Richard J Samuels posits their emphasis on technology as “a fundamental element in national security, that it must be indigenized, diffused, and nurtured in order to make a nation rich and strong.” This is something seen very much as a part of Japan’s culture: the emphasis on technological development, education on its purposes and uses, and thorough understanding within its people. It’s probably a direct response to the outcomes of…

View original post 365 more words

And That’s The End Of That Chapter

Brendan Vs The World

Godzilla in a scene from the film 'Godzilla VS. The Smog Monster', 1971. Toho/Getty Images Godzilla in a scene from the film ‘Godzilla VS. The Smog Monster’, 1971. Toho/Getty Images

Summary time. In my first post I focused on just analysing Godzilla because I had no idea what I was doing. I just pressed record and talked for a few minutes about the movie. Luckily I came up with a point about language becoming white noise that made some sense so I thought I’d look into that.

For my second post I chose to focus on Language in Asian media using my Godzilla ‘white noise’ experience as a jumping off point. My original plan was to use research I found on language as a starting point and then go into examples of different kinds language in Asian media. But when I was recording I went off on a massive tangent about subtitles and their importance. And when I listened back to this I thought it was better…

View original post 175 more words

Pretence is a fool’s game

sswriting

There was never any pretence.

As I was researching Japanese filmmaking in the 1950s, I found Philip Brophy’s postcolonial article on the Godzilla franchise. He makes the argument, “As puppet, doll and prop on a stage of special effects, his theatricalised unreality is never hidden.” As silly as it sounds, during my whole time watching Gojira it never occurred to me they never meant the monster to be realistic. The reality of a human-in-a-suit is in fact meant to be indicative of the cultural story that Gojira represents. Since humans meddling with nuclear testing caused the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, why would a 50 foot nuclear lizard destroying Tokyo be any different?

For some reason, discovering the monster is intentionally false legitimises Gojira in my mind. I suppose the experience is like trying to analyse literature and realising the metaphor was never meant to be believed in its entirety.

View original post 248 more words

Auto-Ethnographic Experience… GODZILLA

60-years-of-godzilla

Let me start off by saying I absolutely love Godzilla. I think he is such a misunderstood fellow and a total bad ass to boot. How can something so ginormous and scary who possesses a destructive power of unprecedented proportion also be so gosh darn adorable?

So, putting my love of the Lizard King into perspective, you can Imagine my reaction when I entered my first Digital Asia class (on my first day back at uni), only to find that we would be spending the entire two hour class watching the original 1954 Japanese classic.. Godzilla (or Gojira in Japanese). Immediately I began to feel like I was back in high school. You know those days where the teacher is sick and the whole class would cheer as an over-sized TV on a stand is wheeled into the room. Only this time we were watching something cool.

Being unable to read Japanese I had no choice but to look at the writing in the opening credits purely from an aesthetic perspective. I couldn’t help but think to myself that Japanese writing looks so much better than English writing and then I wondered if someone was out there thinking the same thing in reverse. By the time I was done with that strange strain of thought it was time for the film to begin.

godzilla_1954_poster_03

The movie has a quite a slow beginning so as I was watching I found myself just listening to words instead of reading the subtitles. While doing this the sound of familiar words kept transporting me into flashbacks of some of my favorite animes. Every time I heard someone say san at the end of a name I would in-vision an memory of The Straw Hat Crew calling out LUFFY-SAN! in respect and admiration to their Captain.

This was also happening during the dramatic moments of the film. I have noticed that in Japanese cinema the tear jerking moments always have some kind underlying moral lesson. For example when (Spoiler Alert) Daisuke dies at the end, that wasn’t just for evoking tears, the movie was making an important message about the abuse of scientific innovation. He had to sacrifice himself to ensure all traces of his weapon would die along with him. Through out the film moments like this kept reminding me of the many lessons I have accumulated from watching Asian cinema.

The moment Godzilla appeared the graphics almost had me in hysterics. For the time they were amazing but watching them now really changes the mood of the film. I can definitely see why the film has become such a cult classic. It is funny to think that this was my first time actually watching the film when it is certainly not my first time experiencing it in some form or another. Remakes, posters, street art, music videos, cartoon references, figurines… Godzilla has saturated the environment I have grown up in. This has made me feel as though I knew the movie well, despite never having seen it.

Tweeting and how it helps me analyse horror

It’s generally known that if you want your public announcements to have a significant effect you need an audience, and the bigger the better. The experience I had of me tweeting in real-time my Japanese horror movie views was slightly impaired I think because my twitter account has a very small amount of followers. Even though I have hash-tags specifying the tweets’ topic of analysis, I think they are unlikely to gain much traction because of their specificity. In having an audience, it would be nice to get some feed back though this was not my main focus for tweeting. I tweeted the experience to analyse what I found to be most important in the movie’s content. This was extremely useful for my research because it pin-pointed exactly how much value I was attaching to certain bits of the content, and made it easier to continue research later about what cultural significance this has.

However, I do in some ways regret not being able to foster a large audience, the amount of time it would take to build a existence on twitter though was realistically not in my timeframe. The most important thing about this though was not lost, and that is I was able to cultivate my fandom by actively engaging with the content. I analysed it and reacted to it with a textualised representation which I can later on use to contribute to my interpretation of what it is that makes Japan so influential in modern day horror fandom.

Twitter combine with blogging has allowed me to systematically organise areas of the content that I find controversial and perhaps socially damaging. By tweeting I can have a conversation with those that create the content, they may not hear it, though those who watch the content might, and perhaps they will agree with my disregard for the impunities awarded to certain cultural influences, and hopefully add to the causes striving to rectify these outcomes.

The accountability that comes from producing real-time thoughts on content I think will be important for my Storify blog when justifying why I chose to research the cultural representations that I did. The marker of my interest, these tweets will demonstrate how I originally constructed my cultural theories and perhaps make it easier for observers to determine how they feel about the research.

If you’re interested in seeing what came up of importance to me, my latest tweets on Japanese horror movies can be found here. https://twitter.com/4livetweeting