media

[BCM 320] Autoethnographic Analysis? Aha!

SQUAAD

One of the most critical components of the autoethnographic method and product is arguably that of the researcher’s self-reflexivity and reflection upon their investigation and information. Indeed, in the words of Ellis et al,“Autoethnographers ask: ‘How useful is the story?’” (Ellis, 2010). As such, the following blog post will be an analysis of my own autoethnographic narrated experience, directed by some of the key tenants of the research methodology posited by Ellis et al in ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’ (2010).

Re-reading my earlier Blog Post, I can see where my upbringing as a white, Anglo-Saxon male has influenced my approach to and rationalisation of, my Digital Artefact and the scope it entails. As an individual educated in a mainstream primary and secondary schooling system, many of my opinions, attitudes and beliefs regarding music, art and culture have been strongly influenced by small-Australian-town norms, my peers and a majority mindset, and…

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YouTube Eats

In terms of Asian travel, the closest I have gotten to it is driving to pick up some honey chicken from my local Chinese restaurant. Unfortunately, I am yet to fully experience travelling abroad to an Asian country and soak up all it has to offer within its culture.

Growing up in a small town, my exposure to Asian culture was minimal. I remember occasionally seeing some anime on TV, but I never actually watched it, I was more of a Saddle Club kind of girl. My family holiday in Melbourne as a child introduced me to Chinatown. The buildings were beautiful and the food we ate for lunch was even better. When I was 11 years old, two Chinese sisters started at my school. Being a town without much diversity, all the students were so intrigued by them and asked all sorts of questions about their previous home, we even wanted to organise an excursion to their village. Soon enough they pretty much became professional Mandarin teachers with everyone wanting to be their best friends. For most of us, it was our first real exposure to a culture outside our own, it was so innocent.

As I grew older and moved out into the world, I realised there was one main aspect of Asian culture I really enjoyed and couldn’t escape – the food. From sushi to tom yum we are spoilt for choice and it’s all delicious.

As much as I love what is on offer here in Australia, I am still intrigued by what else is out there. Video platform YouTube is where I do most of my research on these unknown foods. Japan is probably the most commonly featured country in my viewings I mean who wouldn’t want to try all those flavours of KitKat?!

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Or try canned bread from a vending machine? Maybe that isn’t for everyone…

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It is so interesting to see all the different foods and flavours I am yet to try. You can see the culture embedded within the products, they reflect the needs and wants of the nation in the form of flavour.

Over the past two years, a trend that started in South Korea has really taken over YouTube with ‘mukbang’s’ becoming common content on many popular vlogger’s channels.

The word ‘mukbang‘ is a combination of ‘meokneun’ which means eating and ‘bangsong‘ which means broadcast.

The individual’s film themselves eating while answering questions from their viewers or subscribers.

I think the exploration of food and its consumption via YouTube could be a good topic to study for my autoethnography project. Food is something everyone enjoys and can relate to, I mean we literally need it to stay alive.

[BCM 320] Ethnography for your Ear-Holes!

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Bloom Blap! My car speakers reverberated, Triple J blasting through the radio. My Subaru vibrated with the bass. Aggressive and over-the-top rap bars blared. As I continued my journey, the song would break down in a mixture of synths, echoes, vocal harmonies and percussion in one epic Hip-Hop medley.

I loved every second of it, surprised that I hadn’t yet heard the unknown song before, nor could I recognise the artist singing.

Tom Tilley, the radio host’s voice interrupted my thoughts, “That was a new track called ‘Kids’ by Rich Brian; you’re listening to Triple J!”

Rich Brian? I thought. No way! I was already familiar with the Indonesian-born rapper Rich Brian as I had listened to a lot of his earlier albums while I was still in High School. Back then, Brian’s style seemed to be directly influenced by American rap; or as Jones (2017) puts it, glamorising violence…

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Akira

The film screened this week in BCM320 digital Asia was Akira, a Japanese anime film released in 1988 and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo. Set in 2019, a motorcycle gang in a post-apocalyptic world struggle to protect themselves from the infectious evil of both civilians and political authority in Tokyo.

This was my first real exposure to anime. It was very different from the usual western cartoons I am familiar with. I associate these colourful moving pictures with my childhood and innocence, but Akira definitely challenged my views. It was a much more mature film regarding its underlying messages in comparison to the Western culture cartoons I have consumed.

Live-tweeting this tutorial sparked more interesting conversations than the previous week. The film’s plot I feel brought scary realities into play. The depictions of a furious, corrupt, power-driven world can definitely be seen amongst certain hierarchies in society.

For me, a futuristic film focused on the elements of such mature themes such as political power and violence rather than new technological inventions was very refreshing. The friendship between Kaneda and Tetsuo is something I think should be viewed by everyone. Akira is definitely a film ahead of its time with its continuing relevance throughout decades past with a strong focus on personal and authoritarian relationships. Scenes felt so raw and real at times. Even though the blood was animated, and the sound effects created by production the violence still made me sick. I found this very weird as I have watched many films in my life so far that has included extreme violence and it did not make this big of an impact.

Through background research of the film and information shared on the Twitter hashtag, I was surprised to see how often Akira has been used as inspiration for many people in their creative works, in particular, Kanye West. Relating to the setting of the film, it was quite intriguing to also find out this now 30-year-old film almost predicted the future with its mention of Tokyo hosting the 2019 Olympics when they are in fact hosting the 2020 Olympics.

“Autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience” (Ellis, 2004, Holman Jones, 2005)

My understanding of autoethnographic methodology is that an individual is giving a recount of a past experience assisted by secondary research regarding the subject of discussion. Ellis et al (2011) communicate the practice of ethnography as culturally conducted studies that have a purpose to educate those unaware or in need of assistance to understand particular a culture and its elements.

Some of the methods of research commonly used when conducting a study are journal articles, interviews and photographs. To be considered as valuable in an autoethnographic study, sources go through a process of analysation. Ellis et al emphasise the need to comparing and contrasting personal experience against existing research. They also state the importance to produce a product that demonstrates reliability through fieldwork, aims to reduce generalisability and heighten validity of their study.

I believe autoethnography is crucial to progression within the world due to its deep cultural exploration. The ability to make something familiar to one’s unaware or even ignorant self has the ability to create a chain of education and the passing of information.

AKIRA: My First Anime Experience

So far, BCM320 has proved to be a subject full of ‘first times’ for me. In week 1, our screening of The Host was my first experience with Korean film, and this week was my first time watching Japanese anime. Our week 3 screening was Katsuhiro Ôtomo’s Akira (1988). While neither of the screenings thus far would be my typical genre of choice, I am enjoying the gentle exposure to the diversity of Asian media cultures. (more…)

The Great Challenge: Group Work!

Hello! For the group auto-ethnographic study, I partnered up with Rose to do a viewing and in-depth look into the Chinese Reality show- The Great Challenge! We divided the different discussion topics between us, and both recorded our own initial reactions to the program via podcast. For this study, I’m looking at the international audiences of the show, and also the production/ how the show was created and formed.

Firstly, I’ll talk about how the show was created.

The Great Challenge, which can also be translated as Infinite Challenge- which is one of the most popular Korean TV shows of all time. Infinite Challenge in Korea holds over 17-18% of all viewership during its weekly timeslot, and the main protagonist of the show has even come to be known as the “nations MC”. The Korean Infinite Challenge was first broadcast in 2005, and has over 545 episodes to date. Due to my personal history with Korean media, I’ve been an avid viewer of this program for a few years- although I was never able to fully immerse into it.

The Great Challenge, is the Chinese version of this show. It’s creation was announced after MBC announced it would be taking legal action against ‘copy-cat’ programs that had been showing up in Chinese media. They announced the plans to take legal action, along with the news that they would be collaborating with one of China’s biggest TV networks CCTV1.

CCTV1 claims the greatest number of international channels in all of China, with an annual 1.2billion viewers. The Great Challenge only increased their viewership- when it rose to become the no.1 highest viewed TV program in China.

Usually, spin-offs have less success or there’s a lack of support from the original cast members and company, however, in this case, CCTV1’s deputy editor-in-chief stated that Infinite Challenge “reaches out to different sectors of the general public and is an excellent show that showcases the different sides of Chinese and Korean culture.” This demonstrates that rather than create a separate program to shove Chinese audiences into a program of their own- the separate program is still intended to be viewed by both cultures, and highlight the amazing cultural aspects of both.

This is also supported by the fact that the original cast of Infinite Challenge have openly supported the Chinese remake- Yoon Jae Suk (the main MC of the show) has often voiced his support and recognition of the program, as well as how well it’s doing in terms of viewership and interaction.

The next segment I was asked to discuss, was the international audiences that viewed this program. Rose and I watched the program via YouTube- which is very international in terms of who can access the content- however most of the comments appear to be in Chinese and the comments that aren’t in Chinese are English speakers asking for there to be more subtitles from now on. The fact that CCTV themselves have uploaded the series onto YouTube, and have taken the time to add subtitles demonstrates that they do in fact know there is an international audience, or at least they are trying to gain one. However, this could also just be a lead on from the international popularity of the Korean program.

Another thing to consider, was brought up in the comments, Chinese people who have immigrated or were born overseas may not know Chinese well enough to understand the language or subtitles of the program- CCTV could be targeting that demographic as well, since someone in the comments was arguing about it (video link). As well as within the program itself, with the Chinese subtitles throughout the program, it seems like communicating the content to such a large audience requires a lot of translating!

Lastly, here is my podcast. It’s not much of a comparison since I was trying to focus on what the program was showing me more than what I could match up with the Korean version (at the time of viewing, I didn’t know it was the official remake).

It was a pleasure to work with Rose, thank you for reading!

Reference list:

Love Live – Why I Understand It So Well!

Hey all!

Ultimately, I’ll be changing my DA because I understand Japanese gaming too well. However, I actually really enjoyed realising just how much I understood about Japanese Idol and gaming culture- and then realising that it was making this game easier for me to understand and interpret.

Here’s my podcast:

 

And as always some helpful links:

Saint☆Oniisan – What Did I Just Watch?

When you’ve been a die-hard anime fan for a while, you come to realise that there is something for everyone. You name it, there is probably an anime about it. For my original digital artefact, I wanted to focus on the depiction of the Chinese Zodiac across mediums. However, when I stumbled upon this GIF while scrolling through Tumblr, I found myself intrigued by ‘Anime Jesus’. Why had I never seen him? Where was he from?

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Saint Oniisan (Tumblr)

After some investigation (A.K.A googling ‘Anime Jesus’), I discovered that the GIF was from a slice of life/comedy manga series called Saint Young Men (Saint Oniisan).

‘Jesus Christ and Gautama Buddha, the founders of Christianity and Buddhism, are living together as roommates in a Tokyo apartment while taking a vacation on Earth. The comedy often involves jokes about Christianity, Buddhism, and all things related, as well as the main characters’ attempts to hide their identities and understand modern society in Japan.’ – MyAnimeList

Why did I decide on this anime? Well, growing up my primary education on religion was through scripture, which was spent as a bludge more than a time to practice Christianity. Religion is often something I would sweep under the rug as ‘complex’ and ‘unnecessary’. As someone who identifies as atheist, I am not tied to any form of religion. However, a common theme I have noticed in many anime, are the references of spiritual manifestations or religious entities. This theme is always something I passed as a spectacle and paid no mind in understanding it’s deeper context. For this experience, I thought to understand how Saint Oniisan touches on the influence of religious beliefs in Modern Japan.  Spending most of the anime discovering if it trivialises the relationship of the two religious worlds of Christianity and Buddhism when they collide.

Scouring the streaming sites, this series was adapted into both a 2 part OVA (Original Video Animation) and a Movie. I decided to watch the Movie, due to being easier to access on online sites such as KissAnime, Gogoanime and Crunchyroll. There were only subbed versions available and as it was later in the night and I had my fingers crossed that I could stay awake for the length of the animation.

Within the first few minutes, I could already notice that Saint Oniisan’s drawing style, especially of the characters, was quite different to what I was familiar with. Think a more proportioned, ‘realistic’ depiction. Despite their ethnic backgrounds being of foreign decent, Buddha and Jesus have predominantly Japanese features. Their ‘foreignness’ is emphasised in other ways during the animation. For example, the scene where Jesus is mistaken for ‘Johnny Depp. I found this scene particularly interesting, as in this reality, Japanese girls were more likely mistake Jesus as a celebrity rather than a religious figure.

Although this is fictional, I believe there is some truth behind the attitude of community members such as the elderly and children towards the prominent religious figures. I couldn’t help but observe their ideas on ‘happiness’, ‘enlightenment’ and ‘revitalisation’. One of the more interesting characters in the anime, was the yakuza. We are introduced to him during the sauna scene, where his Buddha tattoo grabs their attention. Characterised by his criminal behaviour, he parallels Jesus’ historical experiences with his own.

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Yakuza with Buddha Tattoo (Gogoanime)

Modern means of expressing faith are challenged throughout Saint Oniisan. Presented by events, food, places and objects scattered throughout the anime. Buddha and Jesus are continuously seen wearing different shirts which I’m assuming had relevant virtues of their religions printed on them. I wasn’t aware of this until one of the community members commented on it and I was upset that these sayings were written in kanji so I couldn’t read them.

Like its name says, slice of life commonly presents the ‘every day’ experiences of a culture. Buddha and Jesus engage with places such as theme parks and spas in the location of Tachikawa. Contextualising their experiences to a specific Japanese suburb (which I had never heard of) presented it in an almost touristic nature. Despite these new and exciting adventures for the characters on earth, the place itself was not particularly new and exciting for me. The repetitive nature of slice of life was well… boring. Nearing the end of the movie, I found myself checking my phone every so often. Even having to re-watch parts as I was distracted by thoughts of hitting pause and going to bed. The one thing that kept me watching was Jesus and Buddha’s relationship, which I couldn’t help but label a ‘bromance’. Almost feeling borderline sacrilegious, it was hard not to wonder whether or not this was avoidable.

I was surprised how much this text made me think. I’m my next post I will be having a more in-depth look at what stood out as epiphanies during this experience.

Understanding my world through Autoethnography

The idea of Autoethnography is so foreign to me. So far in my academic career I’ve transformed from the high school system “1st person is evil”, to welcoming how your cultural perceptions has shaped how you understand a situation. Ellis et al. defines Autoethnography as:

“An approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno)”

Therefore, this incorporates how a person understands a situation or event due to how their personal experiences have shaped their way of thinking. To be an autoethnographer, you must first explain your cultural upbringing to your readers/audience and then critically analyse how this has formed your understanding.

If you read my last blog, I attempted a little autoethnography, by critically analysing how I took meaning from watching Godzilla based on my cultural upbringing. It was a different approach to writing that I haven’t noticed myself using up to this point in my academic career. Yet, it makes sense to use this form of research and writing, because it can be used as a tool for further understanding of yourself and those around you.

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Photo I took of the beach (Otres Beach, Cambodia)

I noticed myself doing this in my recent travels to Cambodia. I was sitting on a beach, and women were walking up and down the beach selling foot rubs, manicures and pedicures to tourists. I was approached by one woman who was driven to make me buy something from her. I noticed the difference between the selling techniques used by advertising company’s in Australia and her persuasion techniques. She rubbed her hand on my legs and said “Oh! So hairy! You need threading”. I realised this must be how they try to persuade tourists to pay for them for a beauty service. Thinking back to how someone would sell me something in Australia compared to how things are sold in Cambodia is very different. This event made me interested in how the media sold products to Cambodians, and noticed a lot of downgrading their own beauty in order to sell their products. Most of the models on the packaging were white, or looked very similar to white people. This sets the standard of “beauty” in Cambodia and tells people that they aren’t beautiful unless they look white.

I think to how the media sells me products, and I notice a lot of the similar sort of advertising techniques. Therefore, I am interested in researching further into how the Asian advertising market sells its products as part of an autoethnographic project.

 

 

References:

Ellis, C, Adams, T.E & Bochner, A.P. 2011, ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, Vol. 12, No. 1, <http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095&gt;

Autoethnography: What’s it all about?

When I first came across the term “autoethnography” I had initially dismissed it as another tedious, research-related term which I would struggle to comprehend and eventually get frustrated by. However, mid-way through reading “Autoethnography: An Overview” (Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. 2011), I had the realisation that the term referred to the method of using personal experiences as a means to subjectively comprehend cultural experiences (Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. 2011, pg.1), with subjectively being the key word. Because, as the article points out, “autoethnography is one of the approaches that acknowledges and accommodates subjectivity, emotionality, and the researcher’s influence on research” (Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. 2011, pg.4).

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My IRL reaction to the term “autoethnography”

When I started to think about this form of research, it occurred to me that I have been an autoethnographer since I started university, although for most of the time unknowingly. Through my blog, I have been using personal experiences to gain an understanding of cultural experience. With a huge interest in film, I realized that film-makers too (especially documentarians) are autoethnographers. They reshape their own personal  and cultural experiences and use it to create a narrative which goes on to share a film-maker’s experience. 

With this in mind, I am now beginning to think about how I will use auto ethnography to gain a further understanding on Asian horror films, particularly ‘J-Horror’. As someone who is a massive fan of the 1998 classic “Ringu”, I am incredibly excited to use J-Horror as the basis for my autoethnographic research. In the coming weeks, I will hopefully zone in on the specifics of the research process and through what medium I will present it.

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Until then…

References:

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. 2011 ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, vol.12, no.1, <http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095>