I explain my Habbo Project for the Group project in DIGC330.
I explain my Habbo Project for the Group project in DIGC330.
What I want to focus on during this blog post is three main investigations. Firstly I will look into why exactly my initial reaction to Hatsune was different to others. Specifically investigating into my own cultural background and what I’ve previously been exposed to throughout my life and why that would reflect through my reactions. Secondly I will look into Koya Azumi’s book ‘The Mysterious Drop in Japan’s Birth Rate’, and alongside with my own opinions and conclusions, attempt to make some connections with her arguments and my own. And lastly I will conclude all of this by making a judgment statement on how I think Hatsune and the entire concept of her may affect Japan in the long run, leading into my idea for the group project.
My cultural background starts with me being born in Australia and raised here my whole life. However my parents and their entire family before them were all born in Lebanon and mostly raised there. So I was brought up with a bit of both cultures mixing into each other. For the most part of my childhood, my parents made sure to keep most, if not all of the lessons they learnt from Lebanon and raised us the way their parents would have. So we didn’t have much access to technology at all because our focuses were going to school, staying with family and making strong connections with people. Instantly I can realize that this is why I thought it so odd for tens of thousands of people to adore a hologram. I was fixed to believe that the only real connection you needed where ones with heart beats and any connection to technology was not only unnecessary but almost sinful. My reaction in this case was not unwarranted, in fact it makes quite a lot of sense.
Even then, Australian culture doesn’t entirely support a huge connection to technology especially when compared to Japan. Australia is in fact quite behind when it comes to technology and how often its used to substitute real life connections. So all in all my lack of connection to technology in comparison to Japan makes complete sense.
As most of us know, Japan is very ahead of the time in regards to technology and using to to mimic and substitute human connections. I go more into that in my previous blog post, discussing Hatsune and the Gate Box. So knowing this, and also knowing about the population drop in Japan (which I also discuss in my previous post), it’s quite fair to think there is a connection here. When I have discussed this with a few people, they have always seemed to have the argument that “maybe the drop is intentional”. I want to make it clear that I truly believe it is not. Like Koya mentions in her book, ‘The Mysterious Drop in Japans Birth Rate’, a drop like Japans in 1966, which was a 26% decline in birth rate in just one year, in a country that is heavily industrialized and as successful as they are, this decline makes absolutely no sense. It’s important to note there was no war, or change in legal codes or sudden shifts in culture that could have influenced this change.
I definitely believe that a demand for technology is Japan and a demand for quick and satisfying interactions (without the demand for them to be human) has a huge connection to this issue. The main difference between western culture and Japan, is that western culture has a demand for technology while also demanding that to be ideally human. Where as Japans demand does not include that human connection. This is where we see a lack in face to face interaction, leading to a lack of a social life.
This leads me into what I want to propose for my group project. I’m riding solo on this project and have decided to definitely stick to this concept. I am going to be spending a few hours on a virtual hangout and recording the session. I will then analyse the session and my reactions throughout it as well as doing some research behind the hangout I was on. I have chosen to go on Habbo Hotel due to its popularity of consistency as a virtual platform. More on this soon.
Azumi, K. Trans-action (1968) 5: 46. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02818926
From day one of this subject I knew that I was more than excited to research into Hatsune Miku and the entire concept of who she is and why she exists.
I’ve been fairly interested in the entire concept of holographic idols in Japan ever since I began this degree. However, my interest always sat at me thinking it was exciting and revolutionary, whereas this subject has definitely opened my eyes to the very real issues and social panic that come up due to the influences of this holographic obsession.
In case you have actually been living under a rock and don’t know who Hatsune is, she’s a humanoid persona in Japan. She performs as an animated projection hologram and is voiced using a synthesizer application created by Crypton Future Media. Her name actually was made by combining the two Japanese words for first (初hatsu), sound (音 ne) and future (ミク miku). Meaning her name is “the first sound of the future” which makes sense seeing as she was the first part of Crypton’s “Character Vocal Series”.
It’s insane to realise that Hatsune is a huge trend in Japan. She has toys and endless amounts of merchandise as well as literally selling out stadiums for her concerts where thousands of people watch a hologram perform for hours. She is adored by the majority and while it seems exciting and fairly innocent, there are definitely some issues that come along with this.
My experience with Hatsune began a while back when I was very much involved in the anime world and fandoms online. Friends I had made online started introducing me to her music without actually telling me she was the holographic animation that she was. And instantly I was hooked, and playing her music all day every day while thinking how great her and her voice was. So then I looked her up on youtube, and found myself watching a video of her performing at a concert. There and then I realised I had been praising an animation for the past few weeks and adoring a synthesized voice.
Linking this to what I was learning in my digital media studies, I instantly starting thinking, is this an issue? Should I be worried that I’m so heavily invested in the music of a hologram? Should I be questioning the fact that she sells out stadiums?
I think the first thing I realised when looking into Hatsune, was how this relates greatly to the downfall of population in Japan. Already in the last 5 years, Japans population has fallen by 1 million and is projected to fall to about 83 million by 2100. Researchers are almost certain it atleast will fall somewhere below 100 million. Now this drop can be explained by a few things however we can’t ignore the social panic towards the lack of human interaction in Japan and other Asian countries which can be influenced by the demand towards “fake” personalities or holographic idols. As most of us know, Asia is well ahead in technology than we are, quite specifically when it comes to mimicking human connections. Holographic entities aren’t new to Japan, in fact they’re very common and are always becoming more and more normalized.
It was only a few weeks ago that I found a post on facebook advertising a “friend” you could buy in Japan, she is a holographic animation stored in a little box. She can text you, talk to you and comfort you the way a friend would. You can hook her up to your phone and have her text you all day long, receiving warm, friendly and relatively emotional responses. This devise is called the GateBox. The goal of the creators was to give people the opportunity to “live with their favourite character” but it’s clear that it’s unintentionally caused some other concerns. (Feel free to click this if you’re interesting in learning more)
The main concern is if this will replace human contact or the demand for human connections. I never really considered this a concern until I realised how badly Japans population was dropping. This can definitely be somewhat explained due to people having a lack of human connections, never meeting a partner and therefore not producing offspring. I personally refuse to believe that humans will never need that face to face connection. We are smart enough as a species to know it is vital and necessary, at least even a little bit. However I won’t lie and say that I am slightly worried to how common these “friends” are getting. It’s interesting to watch my opinions change the more I read about them.. and I expect my opinions to keep changing the more I look into it. I’m excited to see where I end up and what my conclusion will be regarding my thoughts on this phenomenon in Japan.
I plan on working my final project around this, I just need to figure out exactly what angle I want to work it. Possibly maybe even a review? A personal experience? If I can manage to get my hands on the Gatebox, or something with a similar concept then I can record my own experience and document my opinions over time, assuming I would be involved with it for a few weeks. That’s the plan. I have already explored the world of video and podcast quite a bit during my degree, so the next task will be deciding what media platform to use. Hopefully I will have this all sorted and ready to propose to you all next week!
I’m not a complete stranger to auto ethnography at all. I did society and culture studies throughout my senior High School years. I have also done a few culture classes in uni as well. But mostly from the society and culture (SAC) class, we always got learnt to chuck away everything my English teachers were teaching us. What my SAC teacher wanted was something raw, personal and self-developing. She wanted a piece of writing in which she can see me grow, learn and develop. Writing that including my opinions, thoughts and reactions.
The biggest issue with this is finding a balance. There has to be a close eye looking at when one starts to be too personal, empathetic and therapeutic or possibly when one is much too analytic and critical. To achieve a good and fulfilling auto-ethnography piece, you need to be able to express yourself, show personal opinions and ideas and show empathy and progress while also ensuring you are being critical, analytic and somewhat level headed. This is definitely going to be a bit of a challenge, especially considering I will be writing about something fairly new to me. However i’m sure the outcome will be worth it, and a huge learning experience.
My main goals are to achieve a balance. To try and not be too biased, but to definitely acknowledge when Ive noticed I am, and why this might be the case. To break down and analyse not only the text itself, but my actual reactions to them and my initial thoughts and deconstruct where they came from and why they exist. Let the personal journey begin.
I hope you all got that MyChonny reference in the title there, and if not.. GET CULTURED.
So I wont lie when I admit that I basically laughed at Chris’ face when he said we were going to be watching Godzilla, or “Gojira”, the quite aged Japanese version. Not only had I not seen this movie, I hadn’t seen any Godzilla movie (which by the way, Chris reckons there are AT LEAST 30, which is bollocks!). So I was heading into this experience with the naive idea that Godzilla was just a huge lizard that ate people and stepped on towers with absolutely no decent backstory or worthwhile metaphorical meaning.
At first, I was torn between whether I was heavily impressed by the complete over dramatic and somewhat unnecessary acting or if I was just that bored my mind was making me believe crazy-people things! But I kept watching, and actually found myself quite shocked as to how this movie unfolded.
The main turn of events that made me re-think my prior naive opinion on Godzilla was the fact that Godzilla hardly appeared. I mean, yes he was mentioned and what-not, but he was not the center of attention. A lot of the movie seemed to be based more around the people, culture and stories as well as their reaction and handling of the situation. It was much more about the people than it was about Godzilla.
I started to realise that throughout this film, it didnt feel as though it was man vs beast. It sort of felt like it was man vs man. Which doesn’t make much sense? But it does..
You could tell throughout the movie that they obviously suspected and deep down knew that this monster had spawned due to their own nuclear testing due to the wars and such. The men never really seemed as though they were angry at Godzilla, I always got the feel that they were simply scared of what they had done.There was never a “battle” sort of feel, or a win or lose vibe. It was more “lets fix this insane mistake we caused and probably not do that again”.
What really got me thinking was the line at the end of the movie where a man states that if they keep doing the nuclear testing in which they were, that this incident could happen again. And right there and then I realised this story had so much more to it than most people would ever think.
I think its extremely interesting to see how pure and meaningful the original was, and how much that has changed to the more recent adaptions of the film. Although I havent watched them and cant give an educated opinion on them, I can definitely speak for multiple people when I say that Godzilla is more often then not, represented as a crazy lizard beast who likes to go bang and stomp things instead of representing the true meaning behind him. Which ultimately, was a warning and eye opening call to Japan in a time of need and desperate measures.
Now, I unwillingly know more about Godzilla. And I will forever claim my new knowledge as my own. Thank you for that Digital Asia.