media

Understanding my world through Autoethnography

The idea of Autoethnography is so foreign to me. So far in my academic career I’ve transformed from the high school system “1st person is evil”, to welcoming how your cultural perceptions has shaped how you understand a situation. Ellis et al. defines Autoethnography as:

“An approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno)”

Therefore, this incorporates how a person understands a situation or event due to how their personal experiences have shaped their way of thinking. To be an autoethnographer, you must first explain your cultural upbringing to your readers/audience and then critically analyse how this has formed your understanding.

If you read my last blog, I attempted a little autoethnography, by critically analysing how I took meaning from watching Godzilla based on my cultural upbringing. It was a different approach to writing that I haven’t noticed myself using up to this point in my academic career. Yet, it makes sense to use this form of research and writing, because it can be used as a tool for further understanding of yourself and those around you.

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Photo I took of the beach (Otres Beach, Cambodia)

I noticed myself doing this in my recent travels to Cambodia. I was sitting on a beach, and women were walking up and down the beach selling foot rubs, manicures and pedicures to tourists. I was approached by one woman who was driven to make me buy something from her. I noticed the difference between the selling techniques used by advertising company’s in Australia and her persuasion techniques. She rubbed her hand on my legs and said “Oh! So hairy! You need threading”. I realised this must be how they try to persuade tourists to pay for them for a beauty service. Thinking back to how someone would sell me something in Australia compared to how things are sold in Cambodia is very different. This event made me interested in how the media sold products to Cambodians, and noticed a lot of downgrading their own beauty in order to sell their products. Most of the models on the packaging were white, or looked very similar to white people. This sets the standard of “beauty” in Cambodia and tells people that they aren’t beautiful unless they look white.

I think to how the media sells me products, and I notice a lot of the similar sort of advertising techniques. Therefore, I am interested in researching further into how the Asian advertising market sells its products as part of an autoethnographic project.

 

 

References:

Ellis, C, Adams, T.E & Bochner, A.P. 2011, ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, Vol. 12, No. 1, <http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095&gt;

Autoethnography: What’s it all about?

When I first came across the term “autoethnography” I had initially dismissed it as another tedious, research-related term which I would struggle to comprehend and eventually get frustrated by. However, mid-way through reading “Autoethnography: An Overview” (Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. 2011), I had the realisation that the term referred to the method of using personal experiences as a means to subjectively comprehend cultural experiences (Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. 2011, pg.1), with subjectively being the key word. Because, as the article points out, “autoethnography is one of the approaches that acknowledges and accommodates subjectivity, emotionality, and the researcher’s influence on research” (Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. 2011, pg.4).

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My IRL reaction to the term “autoethnography”

When I started to think about this form of research, it occurred to me that I have been an autoethnographer since I started university, although for most of the time unknowingly. Through my blog, I have been using personal experiences to gain an understanding of cultural experience. With a huge interest in film, I realized that film-makers too (especially documentarians) are autoethnographers. They reshape their own personal  and cultural experiences and use it to create a narrative which goes on to share a film-maker’s experience. 

With this in mind, I am now beginning to think about how I will use auto ethnography to gain a further understanding on Asian horror films, particularly ‘J-Horror’. As someone who is a massive fan of the 1998 classic “Ringu”, I am incredibly excited to use J-Horror as the basis for my autoethnographic research. In the coming weeks, I will hopefully zone in on the specifics of the research process and through what medium I will present it.

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Until then…

References:

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. 2011 ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, vol.12, no.1, <http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095>

First Hand Look at Godzilla

In my autoethnographic look at Gojira, let’s just say I had an interesting experience in viewing film. I had never seen the film before, let alone any Godzilla movie in the franchise, and to my pleasant surprise, I actually enjoyed it. I do not have a lot of experience with watching foreign films, just a few Studio Ghibli movies which isn’t something that is completely unusual as they are quite popular. The film started out for me, almost a bit humorous, in the way that it is edited, the acting, sound effects, long silences and Godzilla himself which could be a mixture of technologies available during production in 1954, and the different cultural background that I am used to. For me personally, the only television I could related this too was Doctor who in the quirky editing and the sci-fi genre.

The actual motive itself I thought was very well done in a way that contemporary movies in this genre solely focus on special effects but this movie has a strong story line. Love was a theme whether it was family love or romantic, relationships built, then there was a detailed  look at a way of stopping Godzilla through a young scientist Serizawa and his ‘Oxygen Destroyer’. But not only was the story line good, it draws on important themes arising from Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the terror in Japan during the final stages of World War 2 which I did not know about prior to this. I thought I would have known everything about this movie from references to Godzilla in scenes from my childhood such as the television show Rugrats with ‘Reptar’. The film definitely surprised me to the depth and complexity of issues explore and how Godzilla is a Metaphor to the bombings and the terror and destruction caused is exactly what happened during the bombings in which you felt sympathy for the citizens and an emotional engagement.

Image of Hiroshima and Image of Godzilla

(Images sourced from atomcentral.com/hiroshima-nagasaki.aspx  and  godzilla.wikia.com/wiki/File:Gojira_1954_-_4.jpg )

Another important part of the film was the character Emika, she played a very important role as both a protagonist in the film but also her characters role as a head figure that makes decisions and is able to fight for what she believes. She was the person who was trusted enough to be told about the ’Oxygen Destroyer’ and then passed on that useful information. I definitely think with scenes like that, this shows the movie was so advanced and ahead of its time, with women having the opportunity to speak for themselves and have a say which may not have actually been apparent in society. The role of women and the symbolism of was  proves how powerful this movie was. I genuinely enjoyed the film and would be interested to now see how a modern interpretation is presented.

Dana

Walkman; An everlasting love?

Over the past couple of weeks, I have delved into studying the history of personal musical handsets, the way they were formulated into existence and the influence they have formulated into today’s generation of devices. As stated in the last post, these observations fall largely under the “Walkman Effect”; that is the influence that Sony’s device brought about from the late 1970’s and of which we still feel today.

The Walkman by no means was the first in it’s category to bring music portably to the individual; it was however the leader in a portable evolution, an evolution of our society and a revolution in technology. In 1978, Sony successfully consummated a compact playback device with lightweight headphones to create the first truly portable, personal technological device, as it was smaller and lighter than any other portable audio device on the market. In 1979, the ‘Walkman’ was introduced in the Japan, selling its entire stock of 30,000 units within the first three months. According to CBS;

“A Walkman cost $200.00 in 1979. Considering the average monthly rent in 1979 was $280.00, that’s a significant amount of money.”

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One thing I did not know prior to undertaking this research was that in an attempt to get Japanese students to purchase the Walkman during their summer break, which coincided with the release in July 1979, Sony employees would walk the streets of Tokyo offering students and young people free samples of the Walkman, such as allowing them to walk a block with it on and then return it, of which gave valuable, if not supremely truth worthy, product endorsement.

Hosokawa’s 2008 article “The Walkman Effect” cites a study undertaken in the mid 1980’s by French magazine, Le Novel Observateur, where they ask whether “men with Walkman’s are human or not; whether they are in touch with reality or separated from it?”, in which an interviewee responds that the question is outdated, that “these are the days of autonomy and an intersection of singularity and discourse” This observation came across quite strongly to me, as here is a respondent, aged between 18-21 years old in mid-1980’s France, who states an argument that has been the lightning rod of marketing campaigns of every technology and media marketing campaign, from Apple to Warner Bros. That is that devices, in this case the Walkmen, are beacons of self-government and expression, of taking control of your surroundings but not excluding you from the world you are in.  I strongly agree with this sentiment, for as I am a dependent of public transport to go to and from University, a necessity is my phone and earphones, which are far more pivotal than an Opal card.

It is this reliance upon my mobile to provide me and my travelling counterparts with an escape from the mundaneness of the bus ride and the never-ending trip down Appin Road that underlines the importance, not reliance but importance, of innovation and technology. This too is the very reason, as mentioned in the previous post, why Sony initially developed the Walkman, to allow users a slice of escape during whichever activity the like; be it flights, bus trips, roller skating or just walking through the city.

During my research into these devices, my Mum just so happened to have kept her PYE Companion 5000 Stereo Cassette portable radio from her late teens-early adult years. It’s large, chunky and heavy by todays standards, but you have got to appreciate the finesse that went into the device, from the deep blue leather case, to the spongey headset and the dual ability to play tapes and a FM radio. Below is a series of photos, and for a touch of the 21st century, a Samsung S5 belonging to my Grandmother, as this is Digital Asia and an iPhone won’t cut it.

 

As can clearly be seen, the size difference is astounding. Both devices have cases on them, however whilst you would need to clip the Companion onto your belt or into ones handbag, the Samsung can easily fit into your pocket or palm. The 16GB S5 can hold roughly 4,000 songs, which with the cassette player one would require roughly 266 cassette tapes as an equivalent. Try getting those onboard your next Qantas flight.

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266 cassette tapes? Impressive.

Speaking of experience, during my flight to Los Angeles last November, I was presented with the option to plug my phone into my inseat-enteetainment system, so if I chose to, I could listen to my music or view my photos via the tv screen in front of me.
So has the Walkman left a mark upon our society? Undeniably yes. In his book, Boy meets Boy, David Leviathan states “O Lord, as I walk through the valley of the shadow of doubt, at least let me wear a Walkman”, as the central character uses the device to provide motivation and an escape from embarrassment. According to former Apple CEO John Sculley;
“I remember Akio Morita (Sony founder) gave Steve and me each one of the first Sony Walkmans. None of us had ever seen anything like that before because there had never been a product like that… Steve was fascinated by it. The first thing he did with his was take it apart and he looked at every single part. How the fit and finish was done, how it was built.” 
Steve and John weren’t the only ones fascinated by it, as Sony gave both of them and the world the concept of personal portable music, and that is something I have come to appreciate whilst researching this topic. You see, the Walkman, as a device, has faded into history, being uncompetitive against the current iPod and mobile phone mp3 files of today; however, the Walkman, as a tool of social revolution, is still with us. It’s design concept is still here, a box with headphones, has not changed, for if you were to look at the images of the S5 and the Companion 5000 we just examined, the main difference in facial design is size.
It is also worth noting that the Walkman is an excellent example as a representation of culture, and in 1997 theorists studying the Walkman coined the term “Circuit of Culture” as a means of analysing the impact the device hashed on contemporary society. The 5 factors; Representation, Identity, Production, Consumption and Regulation are all interconnected with one another and rely on each other to perform. For example, the conception of the Walkmans identity formed the way the device was consumed by buyers, and the production of the device was guided by the regulations of the day, in particular what could be taken onboard aircraft, for which the Walkman was initially designed for.
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This concept is perhaps the most constructive and correct analysation of the Walkman, for it underscores the importance and impact it has had on our society, and it turn, the Circuit of Culture is now a standard model used to determine other impacts upon our society, such as the Playstation and the iPhone. Thus, the Walkman has undeniably left an everlasting, deep impact upon our social, technological and cultural industries, and 30 years on, it continues to do so.
Bibliography
Hosokawa, S. (2008) ‘The walkman effect’, Popular Music, 4, pp. 165–180. doi: 10.1017/S0261143000006218.
Du Gay, P., Hall, S., Janes, L., Madsen, A.K., Mackay, H. and Negus, K., 2013. Doing cultural studies: The story of the Sony Walkman. Sage.
Dodds, W.B. and Monroe, K.B., 1985. The effect of brand and price information on subjective product evaluations. NA-Advances in Consumer Research Volume 12.
Ellis, C., Adams, T.E. and Bochner, A.P., 2011. Autoethnography: an overview. Historical Social Research/Historische Sozialforschung, pp.273-290.
Ellis, C.S. and Bochner, A., 2000. Autoethnography, personal narrative, reflexivity: Researcher as subject.
Lloyd, D 26th June 2004, “A brief History of iPod”, ilounge.com, http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/articles/comments/instant-expert-a-brief-history-of-ipod/
Schlender, B 12th November 2001, “Apple’s 21st century Walkman”, fortune.com, http://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2001/11/12/313342/index.htm

History.com Staff, 2009 “The first Sony Walkman goes on Sale”, A+E Networks, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-first-sony-walkman-goes-on-sale

Sandoval, G 26th October 2010, “Goodbye Walkman; Thanks for the iPod”, cnet.com http://www.cnet.com/au/news/goodbye-walkman-thanks-for-the-ipod/

Japanese Commercials

I’m in love with Japanese commercials, partly because it’s strange to me and partly because they have a unique appreciation for Tommy Lee Jones. I had seen a few here and there but hadn’t thoroughly explored them until more recently.

 

 

Apparently when watching Japanese television there isn’t as clear of a distinction between the show being aired and the commercial break. From what I’ve seen and been told by my friend Kyle, who studies Japanese and has done study abroad in Japan a few times and whom also introduces me to awesome Japanese tv shows, Japanese media seems to be much more fast paced. My first impressions of the commercials in this video are not only are these insane but quite a few of the commercials, whilst eye catching, are unrelated to the product they’re selling. While I do let out a classic sigh of ‘oh Japan…’ when watching these intense segments I’ve come to think ‘well… what about American television and the insanity of Honey Boo Boo?’ To be honest I’ve just succumbed to the stereotype of Japanese people being weird and haven’t just viewed it solely as ‘entertainment’, and that’s something that I will have to work on.

 

When thinking about what media I will explore and what specific countries media I will research I have to admit that I am scared of confusing cultures. Yes, I know a bit about Japan, South Korea and China but linguistically, culturally and even ethnically I don’t know enough to actually tell various countries and cultures apart (yes I know I’m a little racist and I’m a terrible Asian). Additionally when I think about countries that aren’t South Korea, Japan, China and the Philippines (because I’m Filipino, not because it’s popular in Western media) I realize that I really don’t know anything about their digital cultures. Personally I’ve never looked at commercials and media for other countries such as Mongolia, but now I am pretty curious to find out what their overall style is.