Thailand

Ong Bak – An Autoethnograpic account

A Collection of Thoughts

With the ever increasing awareness of martial arts including Muay Thai, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Karate, Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ), Hapkido, Taekwondo and many others I decided to focus this autoethnographic account on the martial arts film genre. Martial arts films generally fall into the action film category and usually contain one or more martial arts fights between characters. The first martial arts film which drew attention for the Western audience was ‘Enter the Dragon’ starring Bruce Lee.

A popular strain of Mixed Martial Arts is Thai Boxing or more commonly referred to as Muay Thai. Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand and was developed several hundreds of years ago as a form of close-combat that utilises the entire body as a weapon. Muay Thai is referred to as “The Art of Eight Limbs” because it utilises eight points of contact and the body mimics weapons of war. The…

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Botched Butts and Illegal Eye Surgeries

The unfortunate reality of some of the more dramatic beauty trends is that not everyone can afford them. In developing countries where most people cannot afford some procedures, regulations may not always be as strongly enforced as they ought to be.

 

In the Philippines, while there is the FDA to regulate and approve ‘safe’ items, there is also a fair amount of products available that are extremely unsafe and causing controversy. A great example of this is skin whitening products, there are a lot of skin whitening products that have high levels of mercury in them. According to Dr. Bessie Antonio, president of the Philippine Society of Clinical and Occupational Toxicology (PSCOT), “Skin contact with mercury-added cosmetics can cause serious dermal problems, including discoloration, inflammation, itchiness and tiny bumps … can eventually damage the brain and the kidneys.’’

 

 

While many products have been recalled or made illegal it still remains that those products will be available and appeal to both extremists and some poorer persons, thus there are serious cases of skin disfigurement.

 

Many countries have had issues with with counterfeit botox and illegal surgeries, for example in Thailand there is an abundance of illegal practitioners that have little to no training and are cheap and therefore targeted towards the lower classes. In 2012 Thai actress Athitiya Eiamyai, 33, died due to a botched filler injection in the buttocks by an unlicensed practitioner.

 

Hang Mioku

 

While a lot of the more extreme beauty trends may be treated as normal and trivial procedures in some cultures it is pretty shocking to see what desperate persons will do to be beautiful. A South Korean lady named Hang Mioku became obsessed with silicone injections. After using regular silicone she started using black market silicone injections, and then eventually switched to cooking oil which ultimately left her face dramatically enlarged and permanently disfigured.

 

The ugly side of cultures with high levels of cosmetic alteration is unfortunately disfigurement and sometimes death.

 

Sources:

http://www.sunstar.com.ph/manila/local-news/2011/08/11/parade-boosts-awareness-about-dangerous-skin-whiteners-172230

http://asiancorrespondent.com/90308/thailands-pretties-and-the-beauty-to-die-for/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2320679/Korean-woman-Hang-Mioku-injects-COOKING-OIL-face-refused-plastic-surgery.html

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.

Live Music in Thailand

After looking into Thailand’s music scene and industry over the course of the semester, I realized that I have not yet chosen to look into the live music scene in this region. This is especially strange due to how much I enjoy live music here at home – I’ve lost count of how many bands I’ve seen over the years.

For my project, I’ve chosen to look into more alternative music genres throughout Asia, rather than focusing on mainstream artists. This means that most live gigs that I will be talking about will not take place in large stadiums or well-known venues – rather underground bars and clubs, and old houses turned music warehouses.

After doing a quick Google search of live music in Thailand, I was directed to the Lonely Planet’s website that detailed a few alternative and ‘indie’ venues such as ‘Brick Bar’, a basement pub and ‘Parking Toys’, a nightclub in Bangkok that specializes in local electronic music (Lonely Planet, 2014). It was interesting to discover venues such as these – of course, most cities in any country has their own local and underground music scene that we may not know about, but it is a little strange for me to think of this one in particular.

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This got me thinking about why I hold such views. Why is it that it can be so normal for me to experience Sydney or Wollongong’s local music scene, but almost unheard of for the same events to take place in an Asian country?

After asking myself this question, I find that most of my Asian stereotypes in terms of music stem from the huge popularity of genres such as J-Pop and K-Pop that have penetrated the Western music industry, and that we can now hear here in Australia on a daily basis. Due to the sheer magnitude of K-pop artists and songs such as Psy’s Gangnam Style (with two billion YouTube hits, it’s a wonder if anyone hasn’t heard this song) I feel as if though these types of artists are what I primarily think of in terms of Asian music.

Of course, I know that this is a stereotype and a generalization. This is why I think my research into Thailand’s music industry is really helping me to break these views I used to hold. Music is something that I enjoy thoroughly, and it has been enlightening over the semester to be able to broaden my horizons, and quash any clichéd perspectives I used to hold about the Asian music scene.

Thailand’s music industry and the use of Spotify

In my research of the alternative music genre located in Thailand, this week I have decided to go in a different direction and delve into the actual music industry of this nation, and research concepts such as the primary music producers; influence of content; and distribution of funds.

This will be an interesting comparison to make with the Australian music industry, and to investigate any similarities or differences. I thought that this would be quite a relevant topic to explore due to the personal experiences I have had with the music industry here in Australia – for instance, my mum has worked for Sony Music Australia for my entire life, and I have also worked there on a few occasions.

This personal insight into one music company here is a great advantage when researching something as broad as music production in a particular nation, as it allows me to have a perception on some aspects, that I may not have had otherwise.

In Thailand, there is one music conglomerate company, called GMM Grammy that controls the majority of music production and distribution coming from artists in that nation.

This is split into a few smaller companies, such as Genie Records, Grammy Gold and UP^G Records. The Grammy group principally controls the Thai music industry, with intellectual property regulations, manufacturing, distribution and business models all falling under the Grammy umbrella.

As it has in many other countries, piracy has been of great detriment to Thailand’s music industry. According to GMM Grammy, the sales of the conglomerate’s products have decreased drastically, although the live music scene has actually boosted in recent times. This is thought to be because of the increase in use of digital and social media technology for music access – artists’ names are being thrown out there more often across platforms which leads to a higher level of recognition.

This is interesting to note in terms of comparison to the state of the music industry in Australia. For instance, the piracy epidemic is actually decreasing here. Music streaming apps such as Spotify are allowing users to have instant access to any music they like, which was the previous lure of illegal downloading – although the app comes at a price, which users don’t seem to have a problem with.

Being a regular Spotify user myself, I can definitely identify with the attraction that the app exhibits. I love having access to any artists or songs that I like, at any time and across devices (for instance, I have Spotify installed on my iPhone, iPad and Macbook).

This is definitely a difference between music in Thailand in Australia. I am yet to find an app or program that is equal to Spotify in Thailand – i.e., that provides its users’ with music instantly, legally, and for a small fee. It would be interesting to investigate this further to discover whether there have been any attempts for one to be launched, that have either failed or not become popular.

I just love music, okay?!

After discussing with my Digital Asia class this week about the actual aims of our own investigation into different aspects of Asian culture in a digital sense being to investigate from an autoethnographic level, I found that I needed to restructure the way in which I have been going about and recording my research as a whole.

This week I have thoroughly researched what it means to be successful in the practice of autoethnography, and I established an appropriate definition by my understanding – ‘the way that an author studies and in turn discusses a certain culture’s relational practices, values, beliefs and shared experiences to assist outsiders better understand the culture, while relating this back to the author’s own past opinions, stereotypes and experiences’.

I primarily decided on this definition through Carolyn Ellis’ (et. al) article ‘Autoethnography: an Overview’ from 2011.

In terms of my research topic, the alternative music genre in Thailand, and different artists’ experience with various social media platforms, this autoethnographic perspective will be entirely relevant, due to the high interest I personally have into alternative music.

Ever since I can remember, I have had an immense interest in music, along with my entire family. I am a fan of almost any genre under the alternative umbrella – indie pop, garage rock, heavy metal, hardcore, punk – with my favourite at the moment being Australian stoner pop (it seems that this is an official thing now – Dune Rats anyone?).

In addition to this, I have a high interest in the way that the music industry works, not only here in Australia but around the world.

It’s also fascinating to discover how different countries interact with one another in terms of their own industries.

For the remainder of my research, I aim to look into the social media practices of artists from Thailand, while also contrasting the actual music content with that of Australian artists who may be similar. It will be interesting to find similar artists, and discuss my experience of the two – do I like one more than the other? Why might this be?

After finally fully understanding the basis behind autoethnography as a research methodology, I think I will be able to reach the full potential that comes with my research topic!

Research Project finally decided – Alternative Thai music scene

This week, I have finally decided on the final topic for my digital research project for DIGC330. Yes, I know this took me a while to hone in but I felt as if I didn’t have a certain direction – until now.

I have decided to look into the alternative music scene in Thailand, with a focus on particular artists’ social media practices. It will be interesting to discover which artists favor which platforms, and to delve into why these choices may have been made by some.

To do this, I will be finding examples of artists from Thailand that embody the alternative music genre – but not until I define what can be considered alternative! I chose to specifically focus on music from Thailand due to the sheer number of musicians that hail from there – it’s actually quite surprising to discover how big the indie music scene is in their country.

I think this definition is necessary if you want to find appropriate artists and delve into what makes them ‘alternative’ rather than ‘mainstream’. It will also be interesting to find out why these two ends of the spectrum are so different.

This video helped to introduce me to the different kinds of bands that I will be dealing with when researching alternative Thai music. To give a more personal feel to the project

I have chosen to listen to a few different bands in depth and find out which ones I like the most, and try to discover why this could be.

Being a big fan of mainly Australian alternative music myself, I feel as though this could be a very interesting comparison to make – between Thai and local Australian bands.

Through this research, my digital artifact will soon begin to take form. I am planning on making an annotated playlist using music-streaming platform SoundCloud of a variety of different alternative Thai bands, including ones that I did like and also was not really a fan of.

I will include commentary on each track, discussing the make-up of each song, and why this has affected my research.

Although it did take me a little longer than expected to settle on a final research topic, I am happy with the direction in which my project is headed, and can’t wait for you all to see the final result!

Manga and Anime in India

Each week, I will be focusing on one countries and looking at Manga and Anime culture in that country. I will look at Manga and Anime fandom, how they interact with each other and also how they receive the content, foe example, is there any television channel that broadcast Anime or how they receive a Manga.

I will be focusing on India this week. After looking at many articles and fan site. I found that Anime and Manga popularity is increasing. However, finding source of Manga and Anime legally is quite hard. Not many store in India sell Manga and finding store that selling Anime is even harder and it is not available in video rental store. Anime become popular after Animax India launch in 2004, with the arrival of Animax and increasing popularity of Anime, many children’s channel had increase their number of Anime.

Manga and Anime fan in India interact with each other through social media, club and event. India have many event that related to Anime and Manga. In 2011, India host it first ever Comic Con and India will host its 5th Comic Con in 2015. Comic Con is not only event, there are many other event such as Anime Con. There are many Manga and Anime club in India, for example, The Bangalore anime and manga fan club have more than 2000 members even though they only have 500 members 2 years ago. Another big club is Mumbai Anime Club, this club host many event and they also have more than 2000 members.

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Picture from Mumbai Anime Club Cosplayers

My experience of reading Manga and Anime is usually through website but I was first experience Anime through TV. My first Anime is probably Digimon and it is still one of my favorite Anime. For Manga, during my high school, many of my friends was reading Manga and I read it when they finish or when I have noting to do at school and thats is when I start to like Manga. Finding Manga and Anime is not too hard in Thailand. There are many store that sell them and many poplar store that sell movies usually have Anime section. Which is a lot easier to find compared to India and Australia (I never see store that sell Manga or Anime).

This song from Digimon Adventure 02 brings back so many childhood memory.

 

This one from Digimon Adventure

After looking at many sites and learning about Manga and Anime culture in India, I think that there are many limitations for it to gain popularity. As finding Manga and Anime in store is hard, many have to go to online source in order to read or watch Anime and Manga. They also have to be able to read Manga or watch Anime in English because finding the source for Manga and Anime is already hard but finding it in Hindi is even harder. Furthermore, one of the best TV channel for Anime (Animax) is not available on most DTH operators now and that result in people have less exposure to Anime. With less Anime, new viewer who never experience Anime before won’t be able to know if Anime is good or not and thats make it so that Anime will only popular in a small circle of people who already experience Anime but Anime and Manga popularity in India is increasing and Animax might be back on DTH operators.

Reference

Pillalamarri, A 2014, ‘Japanese Cultural Influence Grows in India’, The Diplomat, 29 August, accessed 1/09/2014, http://thediplomat.com/2014/08/japanese-cultural-influence-grows-in-india/ 

Tanna, S 2012, A Study of Circulation of Manga and Anime in India, accessed 1/09/2014,http://asiancultureindustries.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/a-study-of-circulation-of-manga-and-anime-in-india-shilpa-tanna.pdf