film

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].

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An Interview With Godzilla

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Starting off the semester with a lovely portmanteau, autoethnography would allow our studious minds to describe and analyse our experiences of digital Asia while including our personal context. This methodology acknowledges that people see things differently and therefore provides an insight from an outsider looking in. With our modern day access to international media whether it’s a game show from Japan or a Bollywood film from India, autoethnography shows how our own cultural bias can change our understanding of a medium while also providing a way to increase that understanding simply through describing and analysing our experiences. Ever watched Eurovision? That is one roller-coaster ride of a cultural study.

Godzilla seems to be one of those movies which stands the test of time; maybe not on a special effects level, but definitely in pop culture. Although many people, myself included, would have to admit that they’ve never seen the film (until now anyway), most would still be able to understand the reference in an everyday context. So when I found out that we would be experiencing this classic in-class, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued. Personally, I have some experience in Japanese culture having studied the language for two semesters as well as having consumed a range of media from Japan including music, anime, and TV shows. I feel that my knowledge of Japanese culture, albeit limited, still helped with my understanding of the film. Here are some of the thoughts while watching Godzilla:

  • Why is the direction of Japan on the map sideways? Not sure whether it was on purpose to display a political message, an accident by the movie’s creators or maybe it was purposefully done just to mess with the audience.
  • I expected to see Godzilla much later in the film, I feel that Hollywood prefers to create tension by keeping the audience guessing on what/who the villain is. For example, Jaws and Cloverfield both waited until the climax of the film before revealing the enemy completely.
  • Big emphasis on the H-bomb and the devastation it caused in the past. Feel like Japan is more remorseful towards their actions in WWII while, in comparison, America tends to glorify their past. History is written by the winners I suppose.
  • Hydrogen bomb testing was a terrible idea, clearly.
  • A love triangle, never seen that before in Japanese anime or film… (she says in her head sarcastically)
  • What did she see?! Points for acting skills.
  • No one ever listens to the scientists in movies! But, in fairness, a 50m beast is destroying your country and there doesn’t seem to be a way to capture him, let alone hold him captive for a lengthy period of time. Sorry Dr. Yamane, but I have to agree with the masses on this one, kill the monster!
  • It seems that both America and Japan enjoy destroying national landmarks in their apocalypse movies; goodbye Tokyo Tower!
  • Self-sacrifice is also a popular trope it seems; I’m actually having a harder time remembering a film where there isn’t at least one person willing to die for the greater good.
  • A final political message before the credits roll.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie as a one time watch and felt it was easy enough to understand for a foreigner. Of course, the more cultural knowledge of Japan you have, the more you would get out of the film especially if you were to do an in-depth analysis on Godzilla. I’m curious to go back and research the themes of the film to find out if there were any important messages I missed.

Auto-Ethnographic Experience… GODZILLA

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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.

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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.

My Experience of Dark Water “Honogurai mizu no soko kara”

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Last Friday I was invited to go and experience my friends’ new home theatre room. Armed with a six-pack of James Boags, an armful of Thai food and my bright yellow fox onesie, I was ready for a long night of thrilling theatre. 
Descending the stairs to their once creepy basement, now beautifully carpeted theatre room, the group was presented with our choice of films for the evening.
Amongst our selection was; ‘Hansel and Gretel and the 420 witch’, ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ and ‘Dark Water’.
Being aware of the potential for Japanese horror to mentally scar us, we opted to watch Dark Water first and then sooth ourselves with the other two movies afterwards.

Settling down into the dark theatre room, I began to devour a healthy serving of fried rice with chicken & cashews as my friend proceeded to put the movie onto the big screen. Beginning to feel the flow of alcohol, we joked and carried on throughout the beginning of the film, trying to keep up with the introductions of the characters and the general basis for the story

In brief, the movie follows a mother and her young daughter who have recently moved into an old apartment block after the breakup of their family. The apartment has problems with water leaking from the ceiling (Dark water), and the mother starts seeing a ghostly figure of a small girl around the apartment. As the story unfolds we began to learn that this ghost child used to live in the apartment block and had gone through a very similar situation to the real child, facing the possibility of being neglected and forgotten during her parents’ divorce.

As it turns out, this ghost child was referred to as ‘Kawaii’ throughout the movie. I assume that was her actual name, but as slightly inebriated children of the internet generation we could not stop making jokes about how cute ‘Kawaii’ was in all of the jump scares and ‘frightening’ scenes of the film. While these scenes were definitely well directed and horrifying, as a group we laughed our way through the terror, yelling at the screen and enthusiastically enjoying the film.

Interestingly our collective understanding (or Misunderstanding) of the Japanese term ‘Kawaii’ shaped our experience of the film, regardless of how insignificant its use seemed to the overall story.
As I understand it, the term ‘Kawaii’ means adorable or cute and has been attributed to a section of Japanese popular culture that embody these qualities. In the context of this film, it seemed odd to name the ghostly apparition that was depicted as threatening and horrifying, after a term that was used to describe things that were cute and innocent.
Looking back at the ending of the film and the motivations given for the ghostly girl, the name Kawaii seems slightly more apt to the character and was probably a conscious decision by the film makers.

-Nathan Smith

Hayao Miyazaki, Domo Arigatou Gozaimasu

When pondering influential figures of the Japanese animated film industry, one name stands above them all, “Hayao Miyazaki.” Miyazaki’s career as a director, animator, manga artist, producer, and screenwriter has spanned over fifty years, sharing his success with his work partner Isao Takahata, the co-founder of influential film and animation studio, Studio Ghibli.

Hayao Miyazaki art portrait by C3nmt

‘Hayao Miyazaki Art Portrait,’
by C3nmt

His award winning films have captured the hearts of a global audience. In fact, according to the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan, his film Spirited Away (2001) is currently the highest-grossing film in Japanese history, having grossed over ¥30 billion, (equivalent to over approximately $310 million AU.)

Spirited Away was actually what introduced me to the world of Ghibli, seven years ago at the end of the school year in a French class. Ever since that fateful ‘bludge period,’ my love for Miyazaki and his films has since grown exponentially. Yet, why have these films captured our hearts? Perhaps the secret lies within one of the master’s famous quotes, “in order to grow your audience, you must betray their expectations,” a motto which certainly applies to my experiences with his films. Each of his films, without fail, have both surprised and delighted me, the wonderful characters, artwork, stories, and soundtrack enchanting me.

Researching his online presence, I discovered that he wasn’t publicly active on any social media site. However, it appeared that his work had a life of it’s own. Everywhere I looked I found fans sharing and creating original content related to Studio Ghibli, just look at the tumblr tag.

I’ve personally participated in this celebration of Ghibli as a fan. In fact, reflecting on past instagram posts, the photos I’ve posted which garnered the most likes were all related to Studio Ghibli. Furthermore, another instance demonstrating the pervasive nature of Studio Ghibli, at the recent Sydney Supanova I attended a few months ago, perusing through stalls I discovered a plethora of Ghibli merchandise, even running into cosplayers dressed as Chihiro & No-Face from Spirited Away.

Chihiro & No-Face spotted at Sydney Supanova 2014!

Chihiro & No-Face spotted at Sydney Supanova 2014!

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