Godzilla and me


This is my very first Digital Media subject so I’m expecting to hear some terms I’m not entirely familiar with- but autoethnography was an intriguing mouthful of a word that I was completely unfamiliar with and eager to learn more about. I have no prior knowledge of this term, but Chris and a few of my fellow classmates seemed so enthusiastic about this form of research which was very encouraging, and I’m excited to learn more about this approach and eventually be able to encompass autoethnography in my own work.

After reading Ellis’s Autoethnography: An Overview, I’ve come to understand that it is a form of research that seeks to both describe and analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience, and is a combination of autobiographical and ethnographical work. It actually acknowledges the fact that there is subjectivity and emotionality in research when there are differing cultures, and it accepts the fact that the researcher can’t help but view their research through their cultural lens, no matter how immersed in the other culture the researcher may be. An ethnographer will become part of their study, not just a mere tourist or journalist, and aim to become part of the everyday lives of the people in this culture. It goes deeper than just studying their cultural norms and values, but examines experiences, ways of speaking, investigates the use of space, and even analyses clothing and architecture. Ethnography and autoethnography is a unique form of research that can allow us to gain a deeper and truer understanding of other cultures, which is crucial these days as globally we grow increasingly interconnected within the digital realm.

To be able to watch the original Godzilla in class was honestly an absolute treat. The origin of the concept of Godzilla was something I had always wondered about as the only Godzilla films I’d come across were western remakes with an all-white cast and for some reason set in America. I’ve never been to Japan and I can’t say I consume much Japanese media, so my knowledge of culture is limited. I assumed I would not be able to follow the story completely nor particularly enjoy it as black and white movies is another form of media I rarely consume, however I was pleasantly surprised.

The story itself was very easy to follow, and I loved how it was dramatic from get-go (and my was it dramatic!) There were your stereotypical characters that you’d still find in theatre today; the dominant male lead, the passive woman (damsel in distress), the wise old father, the crazy scientist. These characters were easy to identify with and added to the dramatics of the film. I feel many things reflect the context of the era, including the role of women in society. Universally, women’s rights were limited in the 1950s and women often played a minimal part in the story, however I was impressed that while the character of Emiko was still quiet and passive in nature (and the immense lack of intimacy between her and her love interests is honestly laughable), she played a pivotal role in the movie and I view her as the hero of the film. You also cannot ignore the transparent message behind the consequences of nuclear-bomb testing on society throughout the movie, and I feel this film reflects Japan’s regret as to the effects of their nuclear testing. It is a blatant and clear notion that nuclear testing should be prohibited and I am surprised and impressed that such a topical and controversial message was being spread at the time.

While the graphics may not have been quite there, I found this film extremely enlightening and it has opened my eyes to a whole new area of film. I was watching this film from an (admittedly) uneducated view and I am eager to return to this film with a deeper understanding of Japanese film and culture, and I’m sure I can achieve this through the process of ethnography.


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