Gojira

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].

Unlucky In Love

About a month ago, now, I endured the original Japanese film, Gojira, which made me both overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time. As revealed in my previous post, I took this feeling to be love. Gojira and I had a good run, but our honeymoon phase is over. We’re breaking up. It’s best for both of us. I’m having a love affair with Japanese horror films, but I won’t talk about that now.

As the true-blue cultural outsider that I am, I noted in my last post about how different 1950’s Japanese couples were from the modern Australian couples I was used to seeing, especially in terms of the character’s lack of physical contact in the film. I figured I should give it some more background info. Australia has a Christianity-based “guilt culture”, which is ruled by internal moral standards, whereas Japan has a “shame culture”, meaning it is ruled by external moral standards. There are many potential reasons for this, including linguistic, governmental, and multicultural theories. I’ve yet to really decide if this theory promotes the idea of the ‘other’ a bit too much for my liking, but you can read more about it here if you feel so inclined.

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The Japanese term for the touchy-feely behaviour I’m talking about is Icha Icha. It can mean anything from a peck on the cheek to wild sex. It’s got the same kind of ambiguity there is in English when a friend says they ‘hooked up’ with someone and you don’t really know what courteous ‘ohh’ sound you’re meant to make in response.

Basically, Japan relies on social shame and disapproving glares to make sure everyone keeps their hands to themselves. At first I thought that it was a bit like in primary school where we were all yelled at not to touch each other, and then I thought that it would make people repress their emotions and that can’t be healthy. Then I had a bit of a mini epiphany like, ‘actually, who the hell am I to decide what is or isn’t healthy??? I have no background in cultural studies or psychology. Maybe I should shut up and be a bit more accepting.’ And then I was like ‘wait, I’ve gone off topic again.’

To properly and concisely revisit my thoughts on the couple I thought was ‘weird and detached’ (a line which I didn’t really want to share online at first in fear of being pegged a racist): I’ve discovered that Japan still considers it taboo for couples to have public displays of affection, but they aren’t against hand-holding anymore, which they used to be in the 1950’s. I’ve thought about this a lot over the past week, and I’ve decided that a) this difference isn’t even a bad thing, it is just a thing, and b) maybe Australians should take note because I wanted to evaporate in a lift yesterday when a couple started making out next to me.

Here is somewhere else to look at info on couple etiquette in Japanese culture – again, it’s a bit of US, THE NORMAL ONES vs. JAPAN THE ALIENS, but with the website name being ‘Outsider Japan’, what can you really expect? It’s interesting, just be wary of the language used. This site is also very interesting with much less of an US and THEM mentality.

In my last post, I did talk about the character archetypes I noticed, but I won’t mention them here. They will appear in a later post when I talk about female representation and character archetypes in Japanese horror films. It’s going to be a shocker.

I’ll leave you with this nugget of wisdom: a bit of classic Australian ignorance can be somewhat cleared up by autoethnographic research, especially with the help of Ellis et al.

 

Now That I’ve Got Your Attention…

As Eric Cohen noted in his piece ‘Flooded: An Auto-Ethnography of the 2011 Bangkok  Flood‘ auto-ethnography  is essentially a focus on the researcher and ‘his/ her position and involvement in the field’, whichever field that might be. My first attempt at this method involved the viewing of Gojira (1954), which I initially felt was an inherently flawed exercise due to my having already seen the film multiple times. I persisted nonetheless, and tried to distance myself from it and focus on details I hadn’t noticed before, tiny things like Japanese light-switches always being flicked up to activate and not down.

This first post was an attempt to distance myself from my previous experience with the film in order to create a fresher source of observations to analyse in the future (see: now). Yet at the same time, I didn’t want to appear totally clueless because that would be insincere so I instead filtered my remarks through a mental screen that asked ‘have I ever made this point?’ or just to play the Devil’s Advocate. For example, I noted that many shots are actually edited in a fast manner whereas others are as expected: slow and deliberate. As a self appointed guardian of Gojira’s reputation I staunchly rebuked the notion that the suit ‘looks fake’. Indeed, Godzilla buff James Rolfe, I argued, states that CG in the 2014 movie Godzilla is faker.

This is my ‘pattern of cultural experience’, as Ellis et al proposes. My previous experience with the film in an educational capacity,while holding a continued personal interest in afterwards, led me to produce observations that were at odds with those of a first viewing. As such, I tweeted obscure gifs of things like particularly bizarre shots from a later film, as well as one of Godzilla water-skiing in a Snicker’s ad. Moreover, as an admittedly easily amused young man, these goofy, irreverent episodes juxtaposed against the literal and metaphorical destruction of culture in Gojira proper amuses me in a ‘how far he’s come’ kind of way.

As an exercise, the structure of auto-ethnography as a tool to write about a particular experience and the impact of it is uniquely positioned to give the reader a deeper understanding of the writer’s thoughts and a invaluable glimpse into their perspective. For myself, the process of recording my initial thoughts and now revisiting them with a broader understanding of what auto-ethnography is has helped me better understand why I recorded what I did at the time and what motivated me to do so.

It is clear now, for example, that my remark of ‘it didn’t appear to be your average soulless ‘summer blockbuster’ film’ was preempted by my understanding of the film as a cultural touchstone that does mean more to people than would initially be believed. I wasn’t aware how much my previous viewing and studying would affect these kinds of statements, but returning to them it is clearly influenced by repeated viewing and not an merely innocuous off-cuff remark.

That concludes my auto-ethnographic deconstruction of my earlier, but not earliest, ruminations on Gojira (1954). Refreshments are at the back.

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Re-examining Gojira (1954)

Re-examining my first post for DICG330 ‘Autoethnography and Gojira (1954)’, I have developed deeper concepts and knowledge surrounding this subject, including autoethnographic research. To recap:

“autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze personal experience in order to understand cultural experience” (Ellis 2011).

In my first post, I expressed my thoughts and experience of the film, Gojira (1954), which is “viewed as a thinly veiled critique of the incendiary and atomic bombings of Japan during World War II.” One of the main assumptions that I researched in relation to Ishiro Honda’s 1954 film was the metaphorical concept of nuclear warfare. Buchman (2015) states that, “the film might be a monster movie at first look, but beneath the surface the film is a profound political statement against the use of nuclear weapons in warfare.” This comes as World War II had ended recently before the release of Gojira, and therefore scenes such as Godzilla’s rampage are symbolic representations of the atomic bombings as Godzilla portrays all the characteristics of a nuclear weapon. This can be depicted at the start of the movie as the prehistoric dinosaur Godzilla arises from the depths of the ocean after being awaken by underwater hydrogen bomb testing, and the use of kaiju as a symbol for the nuclear holocaust suffered by Japan. The film producer Tomoyuki Tanaka stated that “mankind had created the bomb, and now nature was going to take revenge on mankind.”

Secondly, when researching the use of miniature sets that were used to creatively film highly detailed objects (that I couldn’t believe they ended up been mostly destroyed), I learnt that within Gojira the combination of miniature sets and costumed actors, gave birth to a whole new genre known as tokusatsu (“special filming”). Ryūsuke (2014) discusses how the distinctive style that was pioneered by Tsuburaya Eiji went on to become highly influential in Japan and overseas, leading to many memorable creations including the TV show Ultraman. Meanwhile, the storyline of destruction in Gojira is similar to many modern-day monster films, it is rare to see them filmed using the technique of miniatures and other objects that bring fantasy world to life, as they decline due to increase of computer graphics.

Another element of the film that stood out to me from my cultural experience was the portrayal of emotion appearing very dramatic and displays of affection not only being alluded to, but unlike anything you’d expect to see in modern film. James Orr (2001) states that, ‘in postwar Japanese discourse on peace, mothers and wives were portrayed as the virtuous women whose plight symbolized the nation’s nuclear victimhood” illustrating how through their good and admirable qualities their emotional commitment to families wellbeing’s stood before their lucid commitment to the welfare of the community.

Following my research I now understand the influence that world events can have on the film industry, and in particular the influence of World War II on Gojira. It has become clear to me that each individuals personal past and culture produces the way we encounter different experiences of the same film. It is evident that Gojira plays an important part in Japanese history conveying nostalgia, special effects and emotion.

References:
The Victim As Hero: Ideologies of Peace and National Identity in Postwar Japan – James Joseph Orr.
A Brief History of Godzilla, Our Walking Nuclear Nightmare- Brian Merchant
Autoethnography: An Overview – Ellis, Adams & Bochner
Japan: The Second Golden Age – Film Reference
Classic Films – Godzilla (1954) – Michelle Buchman

An Unlikely Love Story

One cold winter’s day, a twenty-year-old Australian university student met a sixty-two-year-old Japanese film, Gojira. It was not love at first sight. It wasn’t even love thirty minutes into the meeting. The student was heard to whisper, “If I only had a half-hour to live, I’d put on Gojira, because watching it feels like an eternity.”

That student was me, just over a week ago, wondering what I had done to deserve watching the treacherous, boring film that Gojira is. My opinion of it changed along the way, however. I’m not a massive fan of watching movies that aren’t in English. Mostly because you have to pay attention to what’s actually happening, rather than staring blankly at a screen with no intelligible thoughts running through your head.

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Third Rock from the Sun

 

Once I found my autoethnographer’s hat (there was one underneath everyone’s seat. It was a blessing, a gift – it was like being on Oprah), I realised I had to analyse my personal experience to understand the cultural experience (shout out to Ellis, Adams, and Bochner (2011) for the insight). I was worried, initially, because studies into culture usually end up with white people pointing at people who are culturally different to them and shouting “HEY, LOOK AT THESE WEIRDOS!”. Ellis et al. explained that autoethnography is actually more socially conscious and “gives way for different points of view”, and generally, it’s more accessible. So basically Autoethnography > Ethnography.

When I endured Gojira, here’s a few things I noticed:

  • The couple that were together at the beginning of the movie continue to be together at the end of the movie, which was very strange for my Hollywood brain to get around, but quite pleasing afterwards. The couple are also culturally different to how Australian couples are – albeit, they’re probably different from how modern Japanese couples are, but I haven’t seen any modern Japanese films to have an informed opinion on that. The couple in Gojira hardly have any physical contact, which is different for Australian cultural norms. The couple does not seem cold to one another, but more like it is not their place to display any affection or grieve in each other’s arms.
  • The film doesn’t have a lot of spoon-feeding for the viewer (as opposed to Hollywood where there’s a voice over at the beginning of half their modern films saying ‘my name is John Doe. I’m the protagonist and leading man.’), although it did become clear later on that there was indeed a leading man, a damsel, a mad scientist – archetypes that you can’t escape across culture and time.
  • War and fear leave scars and the arts are always there to represent the mood of the citizens. This is clear throughout the film with the constant reference to warfare and the human condition. In all honesty, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the film if it didn’t have the message of “We need to stop nuclear testing. We need to stop this madness” at the end.

All up, I enjoyed examining the film from my perspective. I’m looking forward to my future romantic encounters with Asian media.

What The Heck is Autoethnography?

To be honest, other than briefly hearing the word tossed into conversation here and there, I haven’t heard much about autoethnography, so it should come as no surprise when I saw and heard the word and thought: “what the heck is that?”. I’ve never been too fond of big words that usually sound a lot more simple or meaningless than they actually are, and autoethnography isn’t much different, except for the fact that it is a big word with a very simple, yet complex meaning depending on the individuals understanding of it. As Ellis et al. (2011) defines it, autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to both describe and analyse (systematically) personal experience in order to understand ones cultural experience. To me, in short, this means that it is a systematic method used to decipher ones personal cultural experience when exposed to different cultural attributes. As simple as that is, it can actually be harder to understand that I first thought.

My first thought once consuming all that was discussed in the Ellis et al.  (2011) reading was that, whether consciously or subconsciously, we all undertake autoethnographic research (in relative terms) every time we are exposed to a cultural difference compared to that of our own. As discussed by Ellis et al. (2011) in section 5, a common critique of autoethnographic research and work is that it is not rigorous, analytical or theoretical enough and instead too aesthetic, emotional and therapeutic. Although in my understanding of the term, these traits as so often expressed in autoethnographic research, are still analytical and theoretical responses to a subject, regardless of how it is displayed or presented.

Below is a sort of stream-of-consciousness of my experience when viewing Gojira (1954), the first time I have viewed such a culturally different film to what I would usually view.

  • My first thought was, “oh here we go, a black and white film all in Japanese, how am I going to understand this?” – this was a problem for me as I haven’t yet learnt to appreciate black and white film, maybe given the fact I was not exposed to much of it while growing up or taught to appreciate it.
  • I had done some quick background research and having found out that the set was incredibly small so it actually made me appreciate the time and effort that it must have taken to built such a perfect piece.
  • The ability to pick up when Special FX were being so obviously used made me laugh, but also appreciate the production effort of the film in order to provide entertainment to an audience.
  • The Special FX are just an older-version of what we consider CGI nowadays and with the resources they would have had in 1954, they did a sufficient job.
  • The incredible lack of dialogue and a sufficient score (background music) made it quite difficult to stay immersed within the film and quite often had to remind myself to actually watch and take note of what was happening.
  • Having studied Japanese throughout high school, it came to no surprise to me when the use of weapons, especially those of mass destruction, was quite critical.
  •  The over-dramatic emotion displayed by characters came to me as no surprise, maybe this is because of my stereotypical view on most Asian films/media that I should probably forget about when viewing something of this matter.
  • Eventually I grew incredibly bored given the slow-paced nature of the film and the lack of excitement that was displayed unless there was a fight scene.

REFERENCES

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095 accessed 12/8/16

To be honest, other than briefly hearing the word tossed into conversation here and there, I haven’t heard much about autoethnography, so it should come as no surprise when I saw and heard the word and thought: “what the heck is that?”. I’ve never been too fond of big words that usually sound a lot more simple or meaningless than they actually are, and autoethnography isn’t much different, except for the fact that it is a big word with a very simple, yet complex meaning depending on the individuals understanding of it. As Ellis et al. (2011) defines it, autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to both describe and analyse (systematically) personal experience in order to understand ones cultural experience. To me, in short, this means that it is a systematic method used to decipher ones personal cultural experience when exposed to different cultural attributes. As simple as that is, it can actually be harder to understand that I first thought.

My first thought once consuming all that was discussed in the Ellis et al.  (2011) reading was that, whether consciously or subconsciously, we all undertake autoethnographic research (in relative terms) every time we are exposed to a cultural difference compared to that of our own. As discussed by Ellis et al. (2011) in section 5, a common critique of autoethnographic research and work is that it is not rigorous, analytical or theoretical enough and instead too aesthetic, emotional and therapeutic. Although in my understanding of the term, these traits as so often expressed in autoethnographic research, are still analytical and theoretical responses to a subject, regardless of how it is displayed or presented.

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SOURCE

Below is a sort of stream-of-consciousness of my experience when viewing Gojira (1954), the first time I have viewed such a culturally different film to what I would usually view.

  • My first thought was, “oh here we go, a black and white film all in Japanese, how am I going to understand this?” – this was a problem for me as I haven’t yet learnt to appreciate black and white film, maybe given the fact I was not exposed to much of it while growing up or taught to appreciate it.
  • I had done some quick background research and having found out that the set was incredibly small so it actually made me appreciate the time and effort that it must have taken to built such a perfect piece.
  • The ability to pick up when Special FX were being so obviously used made me laugh, but also appreciate the production effort of the film in order to provide entertainment to an audience.
  • The Special FX are just an older-version of what we consider CGI nowadays and with the resources they would have had in 1954, they did a sufficient job.
  • The incredible lack of dialogue and a sufficient score (background music) made it quite difficult to stay immersed within the film and quite often had to remind myself to actually watch and take note of what was happening.
  • Having studied Japanese throughout high school, it came to no surprise to me when the use of weapons, especially those of mass destruction, was quite critical.
  •  The over-dramatic emotion displayed by characters came to me as no surprise, maybe this is because of my stereotypical view on most Asian films/media that I should probably forget about when viewing something of this matter.
  • Eventually I grew incredibly bored given the slow-paced nature of the film and the lack of excitement that was displayed unless there was a fight scene.

REFERENCES

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095 accessed 12/8/16

“Humans are weak animals” Autoethnography and Gojira

As a sociology student autoethnography was a term I’d heard before, but hadn’t really learnt much about and definitely hadn’t ever participated in. Even now after re-reading the Ellis (2011) reading a number of times I feel I’m only just starting to grasp it. Self-analyzing and self-observation at the same time as consuming new media for the first time sounded like a very foreign concept, but I found that reflecting on experiences of the texts wasn’t too hard a task.
Self-observation of how I experience texts feels like just the tip of the iceberg. To fully understand a text or experience, I have to try to interpret the text at the same time understanding how and why I’ve interpreted said text the way I have. This feedback loop of interpreting ‘how’ and ‘why’ I’m understanding media a certain way could go on forever. I’m also only just beginning to grasp the idea of being encouraged to tweet in class and blogging as part of assessments. Digital communications feels like a different world to my arts degree. *Cue awkward segue*

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(see what I did there?)

Watching the film Gojira (1954) was an entirely new experience for me and felt like a whole new world of film. I actually really enjoyed the film, once I got over the slow pacing and awkward silences that had no dialogue or music. I felt it actually had a similar structure to modern day disaster movie, but just moved far more slowly. Here’s some thoughts I had during the film:

• There are a lot of extras in this movie. I don’t know why this feels so significant to me but there are just a lot of people on screen, films don’t really show crowds in that way anymore.

• Usually in Japanese shows/films I’m irked by how much the characters speak and over-explain everything that’s happening. In this film I’m completely frustrated by how little is being said about what’s going on.

• The lack of dialogue and music made it difficult to immerse myself in the world and I definitely felt more like I was watching a movie than experiencing it. I haven’t watched many films from this decade before, and I think I know why now.

• For some reason I’m very surprised at how critical the film is of weapons of mass destruction. First blaming Godzilla’s existence on hydrogen bomb testing, and then Professor Seriwaza’s moral debate on sharing his technology.

• The miniatures were amazing! Having nothing from the time to compare it to I’m insanely impressed by them. I’m equally devastated too that they were all destroyed during the movie.

• Can Emiko please stop screaming, and if she must continue can she at least not have such a dead-pan expression on her face.

• Affection as well as violence in the movie was only alluded to and not directly seen (even the fights scene pans over to the fish tank before we get to see any good stuff happen) which says something of the time and place it was set and filmed in.

 

Gojira (1954) was definitely laced with a lot of critique of nuclear power. Seriwaza was a really interesting character, and I think he said some much about himself and the films overall theme when he said “humans are weak animals”.

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“We don’t really play for fun. Mostly, we play for work”.

The notion of the term Autoethnography relates to my personal interests in studying the differences or similarities within different cultures, particular in the film industry. It is clear a cultural bridge still needs to be formed between different nations and the research methods and processes involved in Autoethnography builds a perfect foundation to achieve this goal. It’s funny how upon searching the subjects second research movie ‘State of play’, the results return a thriller/drama from 2009 starring Russel Crowe. Although both texts have the same title, it isn’t until you write the words ‘Korean Movie’ afterwards will you find the correct film.  Ellis, et al. 2004 understands this method as the removal of one’s self form their comfort zones and analyzing the experiences within different cultures through your own traditional lenses and using this as a tool of research. This means that although a language barrier may exist, the experiences and accounts gained while being engaged and involved in diverse practices also become the end product. This relates to the analyzation of the 1954 classic film ‘Gojira’. The entire movie contained no English bar the subtitles, but when you engage yourself with foreign content, you broaden your horizons – opening up your mind into an entirely different world.

Whilst watching ‘Gojira’, it becomes very easy to draw dissimilarities when comparing the culture against the typical 50’s films enjoyed in the western hemisphere. The same can be said with the South Korean film ‘State of Play’ which follows the manic nature of computer gaming as a sport in a way that some western cultures might find taboo. But what was interesting in both movies were the differences in the traditionalism and social interests found within both Asian cultures, depending on the age group they belonged to. For example, the cultural similarities between the Japanese elders and their younger generation were somehow lost in a gap filled with altering perceptions and beliefs. This was evident in the different methods in how the traditional tribe’s people dealt with the large beast, as the younger generation had no interest in the almost comical practices of human sacrifices. It’s almost as if the film conveys the negative vicissitudes resulting from cultural change and their lasting impacts – just like how the movie in context can also be viewed as a possible warning to future generations about the dangers surrounding nuclear weapons.

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Fast forward 60 years later and the same cultural variances in different generations still exist in the 2013 Korean film  ‘State of Play’, as the young Korean gamers struggle to convince their elders about the legitimacy of professional gaming. Although eSports champion Park Yo Han earns a steady salary and appears comparably rich to his father and uncles, they fail to understand the culture of online gaming, and reject the notion that playing Warcraft is a job. This is particularly amplified when one of Yo Hans uncle satirically mentions he should retire at the age of 28.

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“We don’t really play for fun. Mostly, we play for work. It’s the same for other jobs where you have to survive in competition. This work just happens to be a game”. – Park Yo Han.

 

Autoethnography and Gojira (1954)

Autoethnography is a qualitative research practice that forms from analytically looking at experience. It is the way we study the formation of ourselves, as it requires self-reflection and writing to explore personal ideas and realizations that occur, and are made possible due to being part of a culture and/or from possessing a specific cultural identity.

As Ellis states, Autoethnography

“acknowledges and accommodates subjectivity, emotionality, and the researcher’s influence on research, rather than hiding from these matters or assuming they don’t exist.”

gojira-790x569(Gojira: The Japanese Original)

The concept of Autoethnography relates to Digital Asia as I reflect and write on the similarities and differences that occur between cultures, specifically in the industry of film. Watching the film Gojira (1954) explored a whole different side of film which was a new experience for me. I found it extremely interesting and thought provoking once I got past reading the subtitles at the commencement of the film.

Here are some thoughts I had in the duration of the what felt like three-hour film:

  • If it wasn’t for this subject I’d probably never take it upon myself to watch a foreign film, especially not action films in Japanese – is this because I’m like a typical white-girl?
  • The lack of dialogue and music made it difficult to focus although the storyline appeared fairly easy to follow, and not to mention that I’ve never sat through an entire black and white movie before
  • I was impressed by the miniature sets that were used to creatively film highly detailed objects to portray scenes of gigantic monsters in cityscapes even though they were mostly destroyed – how could you do that?!
  • The fast pacing and the ‘wipe’ scene transition is used to represent the chaotic state of mind in the country of Japan at the time
  • The framing element used in the Japanese map caught my attention – in the scene the island nation was pictured on a ninety-degrees angle. I began question if it was an accident or on purpose (was it to play with my mind like it did, or was it some sort of political message?)
  • The storyline is similar to many modern-day monster films. I began questioning if the success of this film provided the beginning of an Eastern step towards Western film through the theme of destruction
  • The portrayal of emotion is a bit dramatic – specifically in the death of the fish scene
  • Displays of affection was not only alluded to, but in this 1950 film it is so unlike what you would expect to see now – for example the scene the shows shoulder grabbing as affectionate. I don’t think this is something you would expect (or at least I wouldn’t) in modern film
  • I began getting frustrated by how little was going on, and how slow-paced it was

By taking an autoethnographic approach to this film, I think it outlined how “forms of representation deepen our capacity to empathize with people who are different from us” by reflecting on personal experience and cultural knowledge. Therefore, through the product and process of autoethnography research is treated “as a political, socially-just and socially-conscious act” which I hope to further investigate across the duration of this course.

References:

Ellis C, Adams T.E., & Bochner A.P. 2011. Autoethnography: An Overview, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1., available from http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095

My thir-, ah, FIRST viewing of Gojira (1954)

My in-class experience with the seminal Japanese ‘monster’ film Gojira (1954) is not one likely shared by many of my cohort. Having previously studied this film at an HSC level I already possessed some thoughts and facts surrounding the text from my prior viewings and research which revealed the text’s societal, contextual meaning in Japan both at the time of its premiere and today, many years in the future. My interest in the film led to a passive interest in the later ‘Godzilla’ films. Indeed, hours prior to re-watching Gojira with my peers I was watching a group of Canadians view the… decidedly goofier, Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973).

giphy

‘Decidedly goofier’

So, I went into the film with a preexisting appreciation for it and its legacy, perhaps not ideal for testing the autoethnographic approach to research. However, I tried to disassociate some of my experience and take notes regardless and freely remark on what I thought at any given time. (more…)