Week 2

An introduction to media ethnography

Cooper's Blog

My first BCM320 seminar introduced me to the topic of studying Asian media ethnographies, with this weeks focus being a live-tweeting experience with a viewing of Korean film The Host.

This was a difficult exercise for me, as watching a foreign-language film requires a lot of attention to read the subtitles whilst also taking in the action of the film, and I personally find it quite difficult to maintain an attention span for prolonged periods of time, specifically when there’s other modes of entertainment (eg. my laptop with twitter open).

That being said, I believe this viewing experience was valuable to my learning, although my live tweeting could use some improving.

I was able to note on Twitter regarding a similarity I noticed in the father-searching-for-daughter storyline, the same as in the film Taken, a movie which was my favourite when I was younger. It was interesting to note a…

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A Rather Ordinary Observation from ‘The Host’

With a Vietnamese background, I was exposed to Asian films before getting to see the productions from Hollywood. For me, Asians films and series are something that I culturally relate to and ones from Westerns present me a culture that I haven’t experienced, both of them have always been equally intriguing.

This is not the first time I’ve seen a Bong Joon-ho’s production, and though it might not be the best one from him, I still enjoyed it. ‘The Host’ is still a special piece, not because it doesn’t have has a twisted, brain hacking plot like ‘Memories of Murder‘, or directly discusses prominent issues like animal cruelty in ‘Okja‘, class discrimination in ‘Parasite‘, but because the movie has shined the light on the Asian family-oriented culture.

I came across this tweet about how South Korean film characters expressing ‘extended emotion’ in the movie as people were screaming, and they talked so loudly and all expressions seem to be overly dramatic. This observation intrigues me because I’m told pretty much the same thing from my foreign friends when they hear or see me with my family, I’m louder and I’m definitely more dramatic than normal. Having never actually questioned such behavioural patterns, the tweet triggered me to dwell into every detail in ‘The Host’ that reflect those behaviours and I was left feeling more nostalgic than ever.

Gang-du’s family is rather exceptional, as the firstborn, he is a bit mentally challenged and is a single father, taken care of by his own father, his brother is drunk most of the time, and his sister is a gifted athlete. However, they are surely not dysfunctional, especially when it comes to protecting their family. Each individual has the same motive and tried their best to perfect the puzzle pieces in the making of a whole picture, and it was all thanks to the love they have for each other, for their F A M I L Y. Although the process was messy, definitely loud, and there are deemed to have some sacrifices, in the end, the picture was completed, with a spark of hope for a new beginning, such a classic Joon-ho’s ending.

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The Father’s Act 

All families are problematic and to make it even more complicated, we Asians tend to turn an individual’s issue into a whole family one (though it’s fair enough when your daughter is captured by a river monster). Living in a world where individualism is strongly embedded you might find this ridiculous, and admittedly it can be a nuisance at times, but it can also bring out the best in people for the greater cause, which, in this case, is to rescue their beloved granddaughter/daughter/sister. The love is visible in the most ordinary, comedic details like giving your own daughter a beer or imagining giving her your own food because she was dearly missed by every family member.

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Despite the obvious dramatized and fictional elements, ‘The Host’ was surprisingly, pleasantly ordinary and extremely Asian!

1954 Godzilla

In week 1 of live tweeting we explored an old Japanese science fiction film, Godzilla. godzilla5-091215

Although this film was made in 1954, it is one of first films in this franchise. I have never watched any of these franchise films, so I really had no idea what to expect with this film. All I know is that Godzilla is on the lose in Japan, damaging various buildings and homes of those who live in Japan.

Personally, I am not a fan of this film and the live tweeting we had to do for this film. Being in Future cultures last semester, the films we viewed in class were intriguing and captivating. I almost felt comfortable doing the live tweets for BCM325. I had a lot of say and it was easy to interact with other classmates about the films.

For myself, and many other students in class it was hard to keep up with week ones film due to the language barrier. I believe one of the most liked comments from this week was observing how hard it was to live tweet a film in a different language. But it something I will have to learn to adjust to.

Usually when I live tweet, I go by sound. I will listen to the film whilst researching interesting facts or finding relevant gifs that hopefully applies to my comment. But with this language barrier it allows me to explore a new way of live tweeting. At first, this was a little hard to see and understand. But by the end of this weeks live tweeting it somewhat made sense. I have to use other ways to connect to the films, other then listening. This will give me the ability to reach new heights with my live tweeting allowing me to branch out to other students in different ways.

When it comes to making sense of the film, I really lacked an understanding of this film. Growing up as a child I was very use to speaking two languages. So I guess I had a somewhat understanding of linking two different languages together. I don’t think I would have ever been allowed to watch films like this as a child; the closest I got was probably the rugrats movie.

As I’ve grown up, I’ve lost the ability to speak two languages and stuck to boring yet slightly mindless comedy films. I am not one to watch thrillers or any horror films. This was yet another challenge I had to overcome when doing this weeks live tweeting. I really struggled coming up with interesting live tweets as I’m so use to making something comedic. This is usually how I reach out to people, whether its family or friends.

This week’s film has really pushed the boundaries for me, but it’s also something I have enjoyed exploring. I’m interesting to see the next few live screenings, and seeing how I can tackle it.


This one is definitely one I never thought I’d be writing. Let me set the scene for you:

I am on the floor of a dingy little motel in Ipswich, Queensland. Why am I on the floor you ask? The charger to my laptop doesn’t reach the supplied workspace and to my surprise, the turtle-paced internet provided by the institution hosts a better connection down here. Welcome to my wild Saturday night in. I was called last minute to head to sunny Queensland with a motorsport team I work for, which is why this blog post comes so profusely late and why it comes from these humble beginnings.

When I thought about studying communications at uni, this was hardly what I had in mind. Yet here we are, detailing my experience of the original Godzilla film. Oh, that’s right, what you’re actually here for; Gojira.

I recently started a subject ‘Digital Asia’, and I am delighted to be analysing my consumption of the original classic as my first task. If you aren’t familiar with the film, check here for what you need to know on the ’54 original.

I have never actually sat down to watch any of the Godzilla films in any way, shape or form, so this was a first for me. Although I have never seen any of the films completely or even partially, for that matter, I had an understanding of the construct of the film and the notion of the storyline. Big, prehistoric-looking monster traumatises cityscape and destroys civilian populations and landmarks.


Little did I know there were so many more layers to the dinosaur-reptile hybrid that tromped across the skyline. A monster with hidden depths? Tell me more.

I was fascinated to discover that take away the million dollar franchise and the corny special effects, beneath lies a tale detailing an entire populations’ fear of nuclear warfare, and a bleak future outlook for the world. The personification of current social concerns and atrocities in the form of an immense, nuclear beast fascinated me, and I was able to identify it through a marketing looking glass given my specialised knowledge in the area of social marketing. The personification of a negative action or activity is a common technique to help push social cause marketing efforts on the basis of developing particular emotions within the audience. There is a possibility I wouldn’t have been able to identify the effectiveness of this method if I had seen the film earlier in my childhood.

This, of course, wasn’t the first time I had seen a black and white film. Although I did come to the realisation that nearly all had been about caucasian lifestyles and glamorous women, clean-cut men and typically western ideals. I often felt a sense of shame, having not broadened my horizons earlier and ignorantly consuming exactly what Hollywood tells us we should. I doubt this embarrassment is something that the producers aimed at for a western audience. Then again, who could have predicted the concept would branch off into million-dollar remakes across the globe? Was the film ever intended to be seen by any Western eyes?

The final point of interest for me was watching my classmates, and myself, project our own current cultural references, interpreting the ’54 original though a 21st Century framework through our platforms, our memes and often also gifs. Our understanding of a digital asia, I presume, will come through our own learning processes in our online digital environment. Captured perfectly by our tutor Angus Baille:

That’s all for now, until next time.



Week 1: Gojira

I was raised by a technophobe of a father with a love for old film – and as a result have a robust respect for immersing one’s self totally in a film. Whilst I myself am of course guilty of absentmindedly reaching for my phone amidst a movie – Thursday’s class was quite a difference experience.

Sitting in on a screening of Gojira, soundscape from around the room was a rather curious one; it is said that the sounds of the monster were made by scraping a leather glove, covered in resin along the strings of a double bass. Even more curious was the complementary sound of twenty five keyboards tapping away around the room – the cogs and gears of the class, each individual trying to think up an even funnier meme then the last one.

With a task as mentally stimulating as this it was admittedly difficult to concentrate on the film – making the watching more like a passive viewing party. The first thought I had was how this activity rang true to our generation; the multitasking millennials in full swing.

The year is 2018. To see someone talking on the phone whilst checking their emails with the news rambling in the background is not an uncommon sight. One can definitely argue that live tweeting definitely has a place – along a ticker tape at the bottom of programmes like Q&A and Insight. The feed provides an important, realtime commentary on current affairs. Because of today’s comparatively larger population, live tweeting does indeed provide a technological alternative to a society’s traditional public forum.
It was interesting to be a part of a live tweeting session – and watching the realtime reactions to the film play out – even if those reactions involved making memes and poking fun at a 1950’s thriller complete with an underlying moral message about the implications of nuclear technology – a film ripe with humor…

But it also harks to a period of technological change – now the act of watching a movie requires not only a screen and popcorn, but also your email inbox and Instagram feed close at hand. But enough of my old man ranting and shaking my fist at the sky  – the movie was good.





After going through the lecture slides, I downloaded Gojira and watched it on a Sydney to Wollongong train trip. In some ways, watching a black and white Japanese foreign film while on an Australian train provided great juxtaposition for cultural awareness. I was sitting in a carriage with fellow Australians, some in suits, some in jeans and converse, some very drunkenly slurring Aussie slang while others shielded their children’s post day care ears from such colourful language. And here I sat watching a film where even the monsters were treated with respect.

As a first generation migrant, to whom English is technically a second language, I have grown up loving foreign films. I grew up in house where children did not often watch TV. If we were watching TV it was a SBS (SBS before 8.30pm ehm ehm) family movie night – popcorn, home made Bengali and Arab sweets, world music soundtracks and subtitles. As a child I had the joy of watching and reading artsy, indie and documentarian Bengali films. As I got a little older, we would go to foreign film festivals. I moved out of home at 17 but like many familial attributes, the love for foreign film moved with me.

Growing up as a person of brown colouring in a multicultural, yet very white part of Sydney, my exposure to Western film was channelled through friends birthday parties and movies watched in school – limited to essentially The Goonies and The Rabbit Proof Fence. It wasn’t until I was in my later years of high school that I turned to Western Film for entertainment – cue The Godfather, Fight Club and Batman (I have two older brothers). Whether I was watching a eastern or western film, I was raised to question what it is the content is telling us to value, what it wants us to question and in turn, what really was the purpose of making it.

For these reasons, when I noted that Gojira the film was produced in 1954, I understood that it was a comment to the Atomic Age. I have always valued the simplicity and creativity of old film techniques. In one of the scenes in Gojira, we hear the singing of children as the camera pans the destruction of the city after Gojira’s first attack. The slow camera movement creates an emotional allusion to the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  At first the footsteps of the monster seem to be an expected film sound effect, but upon closer reflection, (as someone who has been trapped in a war zone) each step sounds like a bomb – a sound that unfortunately, would be familiar the films post WW2 audience.

How I make sense of the film is framed by by cultural, social and educational conscious and subconscious knowledge. For me the content was telling us to value peace, it wants us to question political tensions and the abuse of power. The purpose of any film is to some extent entertain, but Gojira is a reminder of what has happened and what can reoccur if we do not learn from our historical mistakes.

60 years on and Godzilla is still strong

I’m a 90s baby, I grew up watching Hi-5, The Wiggles (originals) and then grew into more sophisticated films like Mean Girls that truly understood the struggles of growing up in a white privileged society. I’ve grown up in a mostly peaceful time, and the only worries I’ve faced have been “end of the world” scares that never eventuated. As a result, the films I watched growing up were mostly light-hearted fun, adventure filled stories that never showed hard-ships.


Godzilla (1954), image, movieboozer.com

I would have never watched Godzilla growing up, and even if I did I would have missed the underlying metaphor behind the film. This is because I’ve never lived in a time where the horror of nuclear war or death of loved ones has ever been a treat to my perfect bubble wrapped life.


As I watched Godzilla, I found it difficult to relate to the characters because I had never experienced anything that made me think about how my life could be affected by this. Also, my experience of films up to this point were American made or American sympathised, therefore the common enemy of those films were Russia, Japan, or Germany that had made up the Axis Powers in World War II. These stereotypes had carried across to my understanding of the world around me, and it was only until I was old enough to experience the world for myself that I found this to be this incorrect.


Therefore, expanding my understanding of International Film is a valuable source to understand how other countries document and make sense of hard-ships they have faced. The Japanese film industry using a nuclear, fire-breathing monster as a metaphor of the destruction the US inflicted upon Japan during the war makes this film more relatable for many different audiences, rather than if it was a more direct portrayal of the event. It ended up becoming a hugely successful formula and as a result, ironically America has released their own Godzilla films.


If you’re interested in a little background reading:

Here’s an article of photos of Hiroshima and Nagasaki then and now from the Guardian 

And a review of Godzilla

Gojira, an Understanding

When I first realised I would have to do this subject on Digital Asia, I must admit I was wary and disappointed. I am not really one to watch anime, or read manga, or really I’ve never been interested in it at all. I was again surprised that the first movie we were to watch would be Godzilla. I’ve never watch the original, although I have watched the latest one (Gareth Edwards, 2014), and the one where the bad hair over took the story line (Roland Emmerich, 1998). This subject is heavy on the autoethonography methodology, and it is necessary for me to relate back to the subject matter in a way that explores my own connection and contextual understanding of it. My cultural background is limited, at best. I have no real understanding of Asian media, other than the cartoons dubbed for Cheese TV back in the ’90s-00’s.

The way I have watched, understood and disassemble the movie Gojira from 1954 is through the discussion in class about the contextual and historical location Godzilla has in the film world. I never really put much thought into the big lizard, and through the discussions over twitter and in class I have learnt a lot more about where it stands as a movie.


The movie came out at a time where Japan had lost its sense of self; the Japanese culture had lost a part of its identity due to the clashes with the West. Not so subtle inferences to Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the fall out of nuclear war are echoed throughout this movie. Godzilla himself, with his nuclear breath, is the metaphor for a time where the possibility of being wiped off the map, was a reality some thought would happen. The sentiment of antiwar and anti-nuclear weapons was a powerful message to be sending out in a post-war Japan. Godzilla was symbol and exploration of the people’s fears, encased in a rubber suit.  To my understanding, Godzilla was a call for the end of this type of destruction. Godzilla speaks louder than roars, as even in modern times, the monster can be the symbol for whichever man-made disaster is occurring at the time.  Global Warming, war, nuclear power – all of these topics are easily interchangeable as a new Gojira.

My understanding of the context and importance this film has all stems from discussions in class and a larger memory of history than I thought I had. The subject matter is much richer than just a monster in a rubber suit. It is a movie that speaks up about what an entire country felt at the time and that is powerful.

State of Play

sop-regularGrowing up I loved video games. My PlayStation didn’t have a memory card that worked very well so my brother and I became particularly skilled at completing games in one day (except Chicken Run because that shit was hard). We thought we were pretty skilled right up until the point we went to one of our family friend’s house. When we got there we lost every round of Tekken 3 and it was shocking. Take that insular, naïve point of view away and give it a broader context and you get the exact same feeling when watching State of Play. I didn’t grow up in the most technologically prominent family, my father is a tradie and my mother is an English teacher, so over the years my interactions with video games and advanced technology have been limited, though my interest in them has not been. I was an avid watcher of Good Game (RIP), an ABC television show showcasing and reviewing video games and video game related news, and know people who game competitively so before my viewing of State of Play I was aware of the intensity of gaming competitions in South Korea and of the small fortunes some of these gamers were earning. However, what I was unaware of was the extremely young ages the gamers were starting from.

At the age of 16 I was figuring out what romance was, going to parties and getting picked on for my Dumbo ears (grew into them its ok). It would have been inconceivable to me at such a young age to do something on that level and if I’m being honest, there is a high likelihood it could have broken me, in multiple ways. The amount of stress and intense pressure these young gamers are placed under would break many people and I think when it truly reaches other cultures, such as the USA or England, where composure is not valued so highly, it could do some real mental damage. The dizzying highs of this world could also make re-adapting into the real world after much more difficult, much like what happens to Olympic athletes who retire from their sport extremely young, like gymnasts. In a culture that may be less resilient than South Korea, ex professional gamers could end up feeling unfulfilled and depressed about their lifestyle but the age of their mid-twenties, an age when most people are beginning to find what they want to do in life.


‘GOJIRA’: Reaction + Thoughts

Originally posted on: mc560.wordpress.com/

Those people who know me well, will (rightly) tell you that I am a massive film geek. So when I found out that we would be watching the 1954 allegorical B-movie ‘Gojira’, I was naturally thrilled. As the film started, I began to think about the differences between the Japanese film industry and the Hollywood film industry.


As I said in one of my tweets posted during the screening, NO-ONE makes genre films quite like the Japanese. Unlike many (there are exceptions) Hollywood blockbusters, Japanese blockbusters always seem to try to incorporate some  form of social, religious or political context. With this in mind, it was fascinating to watch the way that ‘Gojira’ uses genre (in this case b-grade sci-fi) in order to make a bold allegorical critique of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WW2. Contrastingly, if you look at the 2013 remake ‘Godzilla’ (which I actually kinda liked) you’ll notice that it has none of the original’s political undertones, but is more interested in establishing Godzilla as a major player in the new MonsterVerse (as is now the trend).


Having said this, it doesn’t mean that all Japanese films are as smart as ‘Gojira’ and that all Hollywood blockbusters are simply disposable pieces of entertainment that exist solely for financial reasons. It just occurred to me, as I watched ‘Gojira’, that very few American film-makers would be make such a ballsy, political blockbuster.

Another difference between the two film industries, which I briefly discussed with my tutor after the screening, is the perception of their audience. By making such a allegorical film, the director of ‘Gojira’, Ishiro Honda, clearly perceives the audience to be clever enough to understand the ideas and messages that the film is trying to convey. Hollywood, however, often believe that a blockbuster has to be ‘dumbed down’, in order to satisfy audiences and are often very reluctant to finance big-budget films with complicated narratives or concepts (although this trend is starting to die down, thankfully).

In the end,  the screening of the 1954 ‘Gojira’ was an eye opening experience which led to a deeper understanding of the way the Japanese film industry works and the differences between them and Hollywood.

Until next time…