#research

Reflecting on Hindi TV as an Autoethnographer: Mahabharat and Hindu Epics

Watching the first episode of the 1988 Hindi TV-series Mahabharat and accounting for my experience by live-tweeting my thoughts and opinions on the show has left me with a lot of questions. Is television anywhere near as popular in India as a pastime as it is in Australia? What was the real message behind the show? Why on earth was Ganga killing all her children?

ganga-apr23

Ganga and King Santanu (Image Source)

With these questions and my cultural assumptions in mind, — which can be found in my first post here — reflecting on my autoethnographic accounts of a cultural phenomenon can be insightful and revelatory. Reflective analysis not only highlights “dominant narratives” and “ways of thinking” about culture but also pursues a deeper understanding of such experiences on a larger cultural scale (Warren, 2009). By scrutinising my initial comments and assumptions, and by conducting a little more research on all those postulations I tweeted about, here I am, trying to make sense of my Mahabharat experience.

My first enquiry is into the prevalence of television in India, and more precisely, the popularity of Mahabharat across the country. Researching this felt like a history lesson, but albeit an intriguing one. Television for me is a staple, and consuming programs on TV like there is no tomorrow is something I pride myself on. Television in India was introduced in 1959, however “transmission was restricted to areas in and around the capital city of Dehli for over a decade” (Kumar, 2006, p.57). With the arrival of the TV in the Indian family home came the inevitability of globalisation, and moreover a connection to “an increasingly mobile world around them” (Kumar, 2006, p.64). Television allowed families to share in entertainment experiences, created a bond between individuals and the characters they saw on-screen and moreover kept people informed.

As for Mahabharat, “the religious epic captured the collective imagination of Indian viewers” (Kumar, 2006, p.76) since its inception and release. Programs such as this have entrenched a sense of national identity for members of the Indian community (Kumar, 2012), and have been reflections of Indian values, mores and social and cultural norms. To say the show was successful would be an understatement, reaching a diaspora of over five million individuals. “Within weeks of its launch, the TV show became part of many Sunday morning routines” (Awaasthi, 2016). The Mahabharat series has since seen two modern adaptations released as a result of its popular reception in the past, with Lavanya Mohan (2015), writer for the The Hindu stating that “BR Chopra’s Mahabharat revolutionised Indian television of the nineties.

Now that context has been somewhat established and the history of Indian television successes has been explored, my next question is about the content I saw in the first episode of Mahabharat. There were several times throughout the course of the 40 minute show I was left scratching my head in confusion. Was this simply because of a cultural barrier or was the show itself confusing? My guess is the aforementioned.

Mahabharata — note the ‘a’ at the end this time — is one of the major Sanskrit epics of ancient India. Denoting information on the development of Hinduism, the poem was traditionally attributed to be the work of Vyasa. According to James L. Fitzgerald (2009) of Brown University, the Mahabharata presents sweeping visions of the cosmos and humanity and intriguing and frightening glimpses of divinity in an ancient narrative that is accessible, interesting, and compelling for anyone willing to learn the basic themes of India’s culture.” The sacred text was the basis for the television series Mahabharat, and the first episode I saw was regarding the story of Devavrata.

To put it briefly, the first instalment of the Mahabharat series shares the story of King Shantanu and the relationship he has with the goddess Ganga, with whom he marries in human form. She is described by her “superhuman loveliness” (Rajagopalachari, 1979, p.19) and Shantanu’s infatuation with her is duly noted. Following the birth of their children — they have several throughout the course of the first episode — Ganga drowns them in the sacred river Ganges. The first episode of Mahabharat doesn’t explain why Ganga does this, however it is believed that it was due to a curse. So, mystery solved? I think so.

Watching the first episode of Mahabharat with absolutely no knowledge on traditional Hindu stories, the Mahabharata or Sanskrit epics proved challenging to say the least. Not only was it made clear that I was an outsider in this cultural experience, but it also highlighted how unfamiliar cultural phenomena can lose meaning when shared across transnational borders. As I tried to make sense of my Mahabharat experience my own understandings of Hinduism and India’s entertainment industry were confronted with new ideas and interpretations.

As I have acknowledged before, autoethnography demands self-reflexivity and openness to interpret a cultural experience. By researching my cultural assumptions and addressing my ethnically driven concerns with information from books, eminent media platforms and social and historical commentary, my experience and understanding of Indian television and the Mahabharat experience I encountered has profoundly changed. The next time I sit down to watch an episode of Mahabharat I won’t be so thrown by Ganga drowning her children, and I will be able to appreciate the cultural heritage present in the telling of a great Hindu epic.


References:

The Getting of Culture: A proposal for a non-linear exploration of the emergence of Bitcoin in China

My individual research project will explore the Bitcoin phenomenon in China. Introduced in 2009, Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer electronic payment system that bitcoin-mining-imageharnesses decentralised networking technologies to enable payments without the need for a central authorising agency (Bitcoin Group 2015, p.26). Bitcoin is often referred to as a form of cryptocurrency or virtual currency because it exists purely in an electronic form (Bitcoin Group 2015, p.26). Bitcoin is “mined” by supercomputers which solve difficult mathematical formulas to generate the currency (Murray 2016). As of 30 November 2015, 14.9 million Bitcoins had been mined (Bitcoin Group 2015, p.26).

In recent years, China has become a market for Bitcoin unlike anything in the West, fueling huge investments in mining farms as well as enormous speculative trading on Chinese Bitcoin exchanges (Popper 2016). Mines run by Chinese companies account for approximately 70 per cent of the world’s bitcoin processing power and Chinese exchanges…

View original post 1,405 more words

K-Pop 101

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kon’nichiwa Australia! Looking at the prevalence of Japanese culture in Sydney.

Another blog in the machine.

Australia is a multicultural nation. We pride ourselves on diversity and being open to new cultures and the Japanese culture is no exception. In recent years manga, anime, cosplay and all things Japanese have all exploded into Australia culture and the cultural and media exports make Japanese culture a soft power deserving of our attention. Through my digital Asia studies I have discovered how much Japanese culture is available for consumption in Australia and it’s popularity among Australian audiences.

There are some who believe that the rising popularity of the socially constructed ‘cool Japan’ and products that have an essential ‘Japaneseness’ about them serve to reduce bad feelings toward Japan that came after WWII (Allen 2006). What creates this idea of ‘cool Japan’ are the innovative technology and interesting cultural products that Japan are able to export to Australia, and Australian consumers can’t get enough of them. From sushi and…

View original post 811 more words

Reflecting on my Autoethnographic experience: Traditional Japanese Origami

The one thing that I have to mention first off is a mistake a made in my previous post of which I am attributing to my lack of knowledge and understanding of the Japanese art origami.  After starting my research, I quickly became aware and slightly devastated to learn that the figures that I created and documented in my first post were in fact dove’s, not crane’s.  There is a distinct difference in the final product of each figure, as well as the process of creating a crane being a lot more complex than that of a dove.

 

Regardless of this mistake, I have continued to research into the assumptions I made in my first post.

The exact origin of origami has often been debated due to the fact that paper degrades quickly leaving no trace as to where origami originated from and who first invented it. It has been said that paper was first invented in China by Cai Lun (also written as Ts’ai Lun) in 105 AD, whilst archaeologist evidence suggests that paper was invented even earlier than this. Paper was then brought to Japan by Buddhist monks in the sixth century AD.

Interestingly, in relation to my curiosity about the importance of the ‘crane’, I found out that the oldest known document written about origami surfaced in 1797 and was called the Senbazuru Orikata, which translates to ‘How to Fold One Thousand Cranes’. In Japan, the crane is a mystical creature and is believed to live for a thousand years. Culturally speaking, in Japan, China and Korea, the crane represents good fortune and longevity. Perhaps this not only answers my query about why the crane is so important but it also provides a reason why in the movie ‘Sadako and a Thousand Paper Cranes’ the main character Sadako tries to make a thousand origami cranes. Maybe this is because she is hoping that she will overcome her leukaemia and therefore prolong her life.

Further to this, the crane has developed a worldwide symbol of children’s desire for peace, however this concept has developed over time in conjunction with the traditional meaning of good fortune and longevity.

The meaning behind the crane then led me to consider if there was a meaning behind the floral prints on origami paper. I was able to determine that the two most prominent flowers, at least in the origami paper that I bought, are the cherry blossom and the Japanese lotus flower. Cherry blossoms are actually Japan’s national flowers, (I feel like I did know this) whilst the Japanese lotus has lots of different meanings depending on the colour, although generally involves the concept of rebirth.


Research then led me to the film Sadako and a Thousand Paper Cranes to try and revisit and understand the meaning behind the film. It turns out the film is based on a true story in which a young child called Sadako developed leukaemia as a result of being exposed to radiation as a baby during the atomic bomb of Hiroshima in 1945. The tradition was that if you created one thousand cranes and made a wish after each one was completed, then your wish would come true. Although there are conflicting stories that she either died having made 644 cranes or completed the one thousand cranes and then later died at the age of 12 from cancer is also debated. I personally want to believe that my recollection is of the second choice.

sadako.jpeg

Sadako memorial piece in Peace Park Seattle which is always draped in paper cranes.

Sadako actually wished for world peace instead of her own health and I can’t help but notice a clear link with the text of my first blog task, Gojira, which also had an underlying message surrounding the negative effects of war, atomic bombs and further nuclear testing.

This concept has really challenged me to consider my naive reaction to the frustrations of origami making. While yes it might be difficult for a beginner to grasp the difficult folds, twists and creases of an origami sheet, it is important to stop and look at the whole picture and see why origami has such a powerful cultural resonance with Asian countries. Whilst I was also pondering the importance of the crane and its traditional meaning in an Asian setting, I stumbled across this wonderful quote by Yoshizawa Akira, who has been acknowledged for his creative origami, which I think really explains the beauty of origami:

You can fold a simple quadrilateral paper into any shape as you want. I wished to fold the laws of nature, the dignity of life, and the expression of affection into my work…Folding life is difficult, because life is a shape or an appearance caught in a moment, and we need to feel the whole of natural life to fold one moment”.

Hence through my research I have discovered that origami paper itself is an intricate story of Japanese culture, with importance given to colour, floral patterns and design. I also learnt that the gold of origami paper represent love and loyalty whilst silver represents elegance. Clearly I had no idea of the traditional meaning behind the different elements on origami sheets, although I did and still do appreciate the beauty of each individual sheet of paper. Not only this but the importance of each shape or figure that can be created with the paper no doubt has an underlying cultural significance in an Asian setting that I was not aware of. Perhaps this is because my cultural experience has been hindered by lack of understanding and limited access to Japanese in general. Thus I am quite happy to conclude that my autoethnographic encounter coupled with research has allowed me to address my assumptions whilst also answering some unanswered questions presented to me in my first blog on origami.

______________________________________________________________

References

Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 2016, history.com, viewed 14 September 2016, <http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/bombing-of-hiroshima-and-nagasaki>.

Cherry Blossom Meaning 2016, enki village, viewed 15 September 2016, <http://www.enkivillage.com/cherry-blossom-meaning.html>.

Echo, A 2016, Sadako and the 1,000 Paper Cranes, image, Emaze, viewed 15 September <https://www.emaze.com/@ACLQIFLW/Sadako-and-the-1,000>.

Goldstein-Gidoni, O 2005, ‘The Production and Consumption of ‘Japanese Culture’ in the Global Cultural Market’, Journal of Consumer Culture, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 155-179.

History of Origami 2016, Origami Resource Centre, viewed 14 September 2016, <http://www.origami-resource-center.com/history-of-origami.html>.

History of Origami 2016, Origami Instructions, viewed 14 September 2016, <http://www.origami-instructions.com/history-of-origami.html>.

Meaning of The Origami Crane 2012, JCCC Origami Crane Project, viewed 15 September 2016, <http://www.jccc.on.ca/origami-cranes/pdf/meaning_of_the_origami_crane.pdf>.

Origami 2016, Japan Zone, viewed 14 September 2016, <https://www.japan-zone.com/culture/origami.shtml>.

Lotus Flower Wallpaper 2016, image, pcwallart.com, viewed 15 September 2016, <http://pcwallart.com/lotus-flower-wallpaper-3.html>.

Sadako Sasaki 2016, image, Activity Village, viewed 14 September 2016, <http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/sadako-sasaki>.

Williams, R 2006, The Invention of Paper, Institute of Paper Science and Technology at Georgia Tech, viewed 13 September 2016, <http://ipst.gatech.edu/amp/collection/museum_invention_paper.htm>.

Wallpaper HD 2016, image, Schone Wallpaper, viewed 15 September 2016, <http://www.schonewallpaper.de/wallpaper-hd/page/8>.

 

 

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.

Godzilla Unearthed

Taking it back to my initial reaction to Godzilla; I’ve now done the research, compared my reactions to what was actually happening in the movie and have accepted that some things will remain a mystery to me while some scenes which I took at face value have a lot more meaning than I first realized. However, I feel like this is quite common even with Hollywood films since it is impossible to keep track of every detail of the movie on first watch and even just reading over the story line on Wikipedia can help reveal some answers. I’m sure I’m not the only one who went on a crazed Google expedition to find out all I could about a mind-fuck movie I just watched (Inception, Fight Club, and Eternal Sundhine of the Spotless Mind, I’m looking at you) and find out if I was even close to understanding the plot.

MCDGODZ EC052

But, back to Godzilla. In true autoethnographic style, it’s now time to analyze my experience with a little bit of background research to help understand my initial reactions. One of the first things I noticed during my viewing was a map of Japan that appeared sideways compared to modern maps, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to find out exactly why this is so that will have to remain a mystery to me. It struck me that even though I viewed American and Japanese film as quite different from each other, there were a lot of tropes and themes that appeared in Godzilla which are common in Hollywood cinema as well; most noticeable was the love triangle plot line between Ogata, Serizawa, and Emiko. In America’s love triangle repertoire, there’s Sweet Home AlabamaTwilightMoulin Rouge, and Bridget Jones’s Diary just to name a few. Japan on the other hand has an almost infinite list of anime featuring love triangles; think Skip Beat!NanaHoney and Clover and School Rumble. Maybe we’re not so different after all.

Before watching Godzilla, I never knew of its intense focus on the dangers of nuclear weapons, but this metaphor made sense to me since the film was released in 1954, barely a decade after the horrible events of World War II. Even the last line of the entire film drove in a final reminder to learn from the horrors of the past when Yamane says, “but if we continue conducting nuclear tests, it’s possible that another Godzilla might appear somewhere in the world again“. Until researching the text however, I was unaware of the parallels Godzilla had to the events of the second world war. An article by Peter H. Brothers explains the extent at which the director of Godzilla, Ishiro Honda, went to re-create some of the brutal experiences from the war. As WWII was drawing to a close, Japan was forced to fight America alone as both Germany and Italy had surrendered and this can be seen through Godzilla when Japan once again must face the threat alone. Also, in the film Tokyo is reduced to a ‘sea of fire’ during the monsters rampage which can be likened to the real-life bombing of the capital on March 9, 1945, where over a million people lost their homes while 100 000 others lost their lives.

After delving deeper into the context of the film, it is clear to me that Godzilla is supposed to be a remorseful look at the past with an emphasis on the evil that should never have been used – the atomic bomb. Although I haven’t seen the US version of Godzilla, there are many articles stating the obliteration of the originals political message and this is understandable due to the tension between America and Japan; especially after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was only in 2004 when the original Godzilla  was released unedited without any American protagonists in sight. Comparing the two different versions would be an interesting study to take up especially since each country were on opposite sides of nuclear war, however, this has been enough Godzilla for one day.

GOJIRA Revisited: the Impact of WWII and the changing role of Japanese Women

One of the main assumptions I made in relation to Ishiro Honda’s 1954 film, Gojira that I researched was in relation to the oxygen destroyer and Godzilla himself being metaphorical concepts related to nuclear warfare. As Umphrey (2009) highlights, “Gojira is a not just a monster laying waste to a city, but a commentary on environmental and nuclear politics.” This is an important concept considering that World War II had only just recently ended prior to the release of Gojira.

miniture work .jpg

Miniature sets were used in Gojira

Wilson (2013) outlines that in the 1950s, Second World War films were very popular. Such films often relied upon either original footage from US sources or specially built models and miniatures as was seen in Gojira. It is also interesting to note that Ishiro Honda directed other war related films prior to Gojira such as ‘Taiheiyo no washi’, which translates to Eagle of the Pacific and ‘Saraba Rabauru’ (Farewall Rabaul). Wilson further outlines that the popularity of war films in Japan were due to the nostalgia inflicted in viewers which provided great cash flow and commercial gain for the films. Interestingly though, war films during this time seemed to appeal to men more so than women (Wilson, 2013), so perhaps this explains Honda’s decision to incorporate a love triangle in Gojira in the hope to attract the female Japanese population.

godzilla and director

Ishiro Honda’s films around the 1950s were heavily influenced by the nuclear warfare issues of World War II

Godjira also represents the inconceivable destructiveness of the new atomic age (Brougher, 2013). Similarly also does the oxygen destroyer. Hence my assumption that Dr. Serizawa’s hesitation was due to the terrible implications that could have been far reaching if his creation was found to be in the hands of the wrong person. It was essentially a metaphor for power and nuclear war. Further to this, Gojira represents the destruction of Japan caused by the awakening of the American “monster’ of war and nuclear weapons during World War II. Hence the movie is trying to outline that nuclear war cannot be ended or solved by further experimental and atomic bomb material (the oxygen destroyer). However in the end Dr. Serizawa has to use the oxygen destroyer to help Japan, which ultimately results in his death to prevent the wrongful use of his creation.

love triangle.jpg

The Love Triangle

Lastly, as Shapiro (2002) highlights, Emiko struggles with the interest of two rival men chasing her. There was great emphasis during the 1950s on the importance of family, often with arranged marriages still taking place (Friedman, 1992). However the evolving role of women is most apparent in Emiko’s attitudes toward marriage and the family system. Multiple sources that I visited suggested that Emiko was actually engaged to Dr. Serizawa, until she broke off her engagement with him when she went to visit him at his lab, in order to be with Hideto Ogata. Research has allowed me to understand that the role of the Japanese woman was changing around the 1950s towards giving women a voice whereas previously they were perceived as the subservient gender.

Following my research, I have come to really appreciate the influence World War II had on the film as well as the depicted changing roles of women around that time. I now understand that the movie is an important part of Japanese history, rather than simply a confusing movie about a giant looking dinosaur and a highly emotional woman in a love triangle.

References:

  • Brougher, K 2013, ‘Art and Nuclear Culture’, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, vol. 69, no. 6, pp. 11-18.
  • Friedman, S 1992, Women In Japanese Society: Their Changing Roles, viewed 19 August 2016 <http://www2.gol.com/users/friedman/writings/p1.html>.
  • Shapiro, J 2002, ‘1945 to 2001: Japan’s atomic bomb cinema’, in J Shapiro (ed.), Atomic Bomb Cinema: The Apocalyptic Imagination on Film, Routledge, New York, pp. 283.
  • Wilson, S 2013, ‘Film and Solider: Japanese War Movies in the 1950s’, Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 48, no. 3, pp. 537-555.
  • Umphrey, O 2009, ‘From Screen to Page: Japanese Film AS a Historic Document’, PhD thesis, Boise State University.

An Interview With Godzilla

godzilla-fuck-this

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.

Reflecting on my research

On my post from last week about live music in Thailand, I received a number of comments suggesting I should look into some other Asian nation’s live music industry, and evaluate how these were either similar or different to that of which I have already learned about Thailand. I found this very interesting – it was something that I hadn’t really thought about doing myself and I think it could give me an added level of insight into my overall topic of Thailand’s music industry, in terms of an added context of related countries.
However, it happens to be the last week of required blogging for this subject – meaning I have little to no time to explore this topic before getting started on my final research project (in the same topic). That being said, I have decided to focus on this issue in this project a little more than I would have done otherwise – so thank you for the suggestion, fellow bloggers!
In this post, I have decided to merely wrap up what I have been discussing over the semester, and discuss with you what I think I have learned over the course of completed DIGC330.
First of all, this was a really interesting assessment to complete due to its methodology of autoethnography. It was enlightening to constantly give my own opinions and perspectives on whichever topic I would be talking about, especially in terms of secondary and academic research – which is something that I have never really done before at university.
This methodology really allowed me to engage with the research material in a way that I had never been able to achieve previously.
In terms of the topic I chose to look into, I feel as though I really learned some new information that I’ll carry with me for a while. Being an avid music lover, it was an easy topic to research due to my own personal interest.
However, that being said, I primarily listen to only Australian music (for no particular reason – all my favourite bands just turn out to be local), which means my knowledge did not really span past this.
Overall, I found this blogging assessment to be really beneficial to discovering what DIGC330 is all about as a subject, and gave me a really good idea into what I wish to be researching in my personal project a few weeks from now!
Catchya on the flipside, all you dedicated readers.