DIGC330

Fight Like a Girl

It took me a long time to understand how to begin an autoethnographic study. The term itself is not hard to grapple but it is difficult to wrap your head around once you’ve spent almost four years at University taking yourself out of the equation and supplementing it with work from other people who are far more intelligent that you.

But after a lot of looking around, Hoppes (2014, p.64) summarised it perfectly, “autoethnographers’ methods vary, but generally include discussion, reflection, note-taking, emotional recall, and identification of categories and themes yielding a narrative that affords both the inside view of a research participant and the outside view of a researcher”.

 

Autoethnographic research is also somewhat of a Pandora’s box. It takes you on a journey way, way, way to the right so you are immersed in a different culture. But then spins you around and around and expects you to run all the way back in the opposite direction so you can tell people of your journey.

But as Hall (Chang 2008, p.34) eloquently suggests, the key to studying another culture is to not to simply understand a foreign culture but to better understand our own or to be better equipped.

This is particularly accurate for me as I am exploring tones of feminism through the text Sailor Moon. Initially I was annoyed that there was no loud, or glowing neon sign, that said, “here is the feminist part, ding ding ding”!

On reflection, I feel quite stupid because there is absolutely none of that in my own culture so why would I expect if from another?

The genre that Sailor Moon falls under is Shoujo which often addresses a “girl’s first love, and the innocent excitement and sometimes painful drama that comes with it. It also deals with friendship and personal development” (Lai, 2015). Conversely, Lai (2015) says that another genre targeted towards female audiences is josei which uncovers what it means to be an adult, what it means to be a woman and with it a sense of maturity and readiness for adulthood.

This was interesting as I did not know that there were so many levels and areas of manga and anime. So maybe I am placing too much ‘pressure’ on Sailor Moon to be a feminist text much like you would not expect the Saddle Club to be teaching girls about what it means to be a woman.

Despite all this, Newsom (2004, p.58) does make a point regarding the Sailor Scouts who are powerful and feminine characters as well as their power being dependent on femininity. Femininity is a literal requirement of being a Sailor Scout.

Sailor Scouts also represent a planet and this is believed to be refelctive of their personality and behaviour.

  • Sailor Moon/Usagi Tsukino  – she is extremely protective of her friends and the Moon is supposed to be the ‘Queen of Astrology’ and represents our emotions, moods and thoughts.
  • Sailor Mercury/Ami – Mercury represents communication and is often associated with intellect. Ami  is possibly the most intelligent girl of the whole group and often berates the group for not doing their homework
  • Sailor Mars/Rei Hino – Mars is passion. It also represents assertiveness and action and can have aggressive urges. Rei is the hot-tempered, aggressive chacrter who ofen finds herself in the midst of an argument
  •  Sailor Jupiter/ Makoto Kino – Jupiter revolves around expansiveness. They desire new experiences and getting to the top. Makoto is independent and after her parents died while she was young, she’s been taking care of herself and others.
  • Sailor Venus/ Minako Aino – Love & pleasure is the name of the game for Venus. The most important theme about Venus is harmony in interpersonal relationships. Minako is the stereotypical pre-teenager who is often dreaming about finding love.

sailor moon crew.jpg

The winning combination of these girls enables a stronger connection with the characters as you are able to identify yourself with at least one of them. Similar to the Spice Girls who were also riding the wave of Girl Power in early 2000s. Everyone knew if they were Sporty, Baby, Posh, Scary or Ginger.

It truly is a coming of age piece that exemplifies what it means to have friends and that they will have your back no matter what. The only other observation that I have recently made was the fact that the evil woman Queen Beryl is wonderfully evil and has the greatest cackle ever. I was apprehensive when I saw that many of the female characters who are evil tend to have submissive males, as I thought it really could go into the realm of misandry. But it has not from the little that I have observed thus far.

Overall, this show is all about amplifying the ‘girls only club’, the power of friendship, kicking some evil butt and all whilst looking fab-u-lous in those outfits with hair always on pointe – yes, that was supposed to be sarcasm. I still loathe it.

 

 

Chang, H, (2008), ‘Autoethnography as a Method’, Eastern University,  http://www.academia.edu/1244871/Autoethnography_as_method

Cooper-Chen, A, (1999), “An Animated Imbalance: Japan’s Television Heroines in Asia,” International Communications Gazette, vol.61, no.3, pp.293-310

Ferris, A, (2014), ‘Why Sailor Moon Is One of the Greatest Feminist Stories Ever’, The Absolute Mag, accessed 19 September, http://theabsolutemag.com/26731/longreads/why-sailor-moon-is-one-of-the-greatest-feminist-stories-ever/

Hoppes, S (2014), ‘Autoethnography: Inquiry Into Identity’, New Directions fro Higher Education, vol. 2014, no. 166, pp. 63 – 179

Lai, A, (2015), ‘Looking at female characters in Anime and Manga’, The Mary Sue, http://www.themarysue.com/female-characters-anime/

Newsom, V.A., (2004), ‘Young Females as Super Heroes: Super Heroines in the Animated Sailor Moon’, Femspec, vol.5, no.2, p.57 – 81

Advertisements
Standard
DIGC330

She Is The One Named Sailor Moon

She is the one named Sailor Poo!” I used to sing every time the show began, just to annoy my sister who was far more invested in this series than I ever was. Well, I pretended to not like it simply because she did. And if we are being honest, I did the same for pretty much every show on Cheez TV.

 

However, rediscovering this classic before-school television show under the strict guidelines of an autoethnographic study has shed new light on this series and I may have judged it too quickly as a kid.

Sailor Moon is one of the most popular anime and manga series, which has sold over 35 million copies worldwide.

The series is a Japanese shōjo manga series which is a category of manga aimed specifically at a female audience rather than writing for a specific genre. Sailor Moon is about a young school girl, Serena who unbeknownst to her, is a guardian destined to save the Earth from evil and sets about establishing a team called Sailor Scouts – Mercury, Mars, Venus and Jupiter.

I initially found it difficult to find the original, full-length episodes that did not involve me climbing over Internet walls lined with dragons ready to bug my computer at any minute. But maybe I was looking in the wrong place as many of the sites were – I assume – in Japanese and I was not able to understand where to click and where not to.

However, after many exhausting hours – in reality it was about one hour that ended in complete frustration – a quick scan through good-old YouTube lead me to Season 1 Episode 1 and it was the English dubbed version. Disappointing. But so began the nostalgia

Ellis et al (2011) suggests that autoethnography involves the interpretation of a text which is often influenced by our own personal experiences and understanding. It is then coupled with a “thick description” of a culture to help facilitate understanding of a culture for insiders and outsiders.

I began with the first episode to reacquaint myself with this series as it has been many years since watching early morning TV.

I had to change to another episode later in the series where she had transformed into Sailor Moon to examine the spectrum that is the character of Serena and Sailor.

From watching the first episode and episode 30 (where she becomes Sailor Moon) there were a lot of first impressions and many observations were things that I had not noticed when I was a child viewing this series

  • Theme song really catchy and bubbly – almost sickening
  • Introduction or beginning scenes are  really vibrant despite watching it on YouTube
  • Seemingly accurate portrayal of Tokyo where the series is set
  • The lines of expression coming from their faces and bodies to exemplify and exacerbate the characters’ emotions are helpful. Something like the laughing tracks added to sitcoms showing you where to laugh
  • Being able to pause and digest is different from initial viewings back in the days of box televisions where you were not able to pause, rewind or even record
  • Mouths do not move at the same time as their words in the English dubbed version – annoying but understandable
  • Character’s names are incredibly hard to follow – there was Queen Beryl and another Emporer of blah-blah and other names such as Chibiusa – and they are not phonetic either. It got a bit overwhelming and there were a lot of WTF moments
  • I really liked that they accurately portray a young, teenage girl who is struggling to find a way to tell her mother that she failed her Algebra test – something Serena and I have in common.
  • She is obsessed with boys and has arguments with her friends and heavily blushes when she is embarrassed.
  • She seems to be a typical teenager which enables a stronger grasp on what is happening even if you cannot figure out who we’re fighting or saving or hating – much like the roller-coaster that is teenage life.
  • Why does she wear such a short skirt as Sailor Moon? I mean, how can you possibly fight crime and the bad “guys” when your skirt barely covers your bum?

 

I hope to explore more of the English episodes of Sailor Moon – as finding a subtitled full episode of the Japanese television show is proving difficult – too add to the data and and examine this series through the lens of feminism with the help of Newsom (2004). Although it is not an autoethnographic article, it does examine this topic in depth and has some incredible insight into the world of Sailor Moon as well as some juxtaposition between Western female roles and Asian female roles.

I want to delve deeper into the question of whether this is a war cry to all the strong women out there or whether it is hiding the traditional, over-glossed, dominant not strong female role.

Once the creative juices have begun to flow again, I hope to present this in a research essay as I feel that this topic needs some arguing along with the autoethnographic method. But for now.. “fighting crime by daylight, winning love by moonlight….

 

 

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

Newsom, V.A., (2004), ‘Young Females as Super Heroes: Super Heroines in the Animated Sailor Moon’, Femspec, vol.5, no.2, p.57 – 81

Standard
DIGC330

Gory Gojira

Auto-ethnography  is essentially focussing on the researcher and “his/her position and involvement in the field” (Ellis et al, 2011). Considering my first viewing of this film – and frankly any Japanese film – I felt withdrawn as so many said they had seen it. I had never been involvement in this ‘field’. I was struggling to find any commonalities between American cinema and Japanese cinema. On the day, I found a few blatantly obvious things.

After coming home and madly searching through Google and re-reading Ellis, I found that there were a lot of obvious but subliminal messages that Gojira was trying to tell us. Namely, nuclear weapons and World War II.

An epiphany! At last! Common to other auto ethnographers, I hear, made me begin to witness the film in a different light. It was not just a film with a scary monster destroying the city; the monster was meant to be the embodiment of America, portraying the fear, chaos and horrific destruction that they caused after dropping the Atomic bombs in Japan, in 1945.

I felt rather stupid that I had not noticed this considering I am fascinated by 20th Century history. I mean, how did I miss the closing line from, Yamane, “if we continue conducting nuclear tests, it’s possible that another Godzilla might appear somewhere in the world again”.

Or even the scene in the hospital where  a Geiger counter was waved over a small child who had no hope of survival portrays, “a poignant moment witnessed by so many in history…as well as infuriating the audience with the highly emotive scene” (Kalat 1997, p.20)

One of the assumptions that I brought to the experience of watching Gojira was that there would be nothing that I understood because it was a completely foreign film and culture. But then there was a love triangle and a disapproving father and suddenly, something was clear to me. Nearly every Disney film has a disapproving father and whilst there are hints of betrothal in these films, there has never been a death for someone’s love to be accepted – to my knowledge. In Gojira, they made the ultimate sacrifice for Emiko’s love and happiness.

Despite all the initial confusion, there came acceptance that Gojira is an interesting film and has the subliminal message of the dangers of nuclear weapons. Furthermore, through more research, I found that I had a deeper connection with the film and what it was trying to say. It was something so poignantly beautiful.

 

But this, to me, is truly what autoethnographical research is about. It is stripping it back to the simplest of commonalities and in turn generating a more emotive response from the audience. Once the context and – I suppose – the motive for making this film was evident to me, I began to feel ashamed that I took it at face value; a confusing and sad film about a monster and a city. What it is, is a sad, honest and evocative story of human mistakes.

Standard
DIGC330

My God! That’s Godzilla?!

With my mouth agape, eyes squinting in confusion and head spinning, for the first time ever, I watched Godzilla.

Wow.

I must admit this now, before we go much further that my knowledge and experience of Japanese cinema is..well..nil. Not a little or a bit. Zip. Nothing.

So I was ready for whatever was going to appear on the screen. Whatever weird and wonderful film that we were about to watch. I must admit I was quite surprised by how much I understood the film. Maybe not on a deep, personal level but enough to get me through this week.

As I sat there ogling at the complex cinematic gold that is Godzilla, I was searching for any kind of connection – anything! – and began to reflect on what Ellis et al (2011) said about autoethnography.

Whilst this seems like a complex term, once broken down, it applies effortlessly to the film and other scholarly works. Autoethnography is both a process and a product; it is something that is equal parts autobiography and ethnography and treats research as a political, socially conscious and just act. It also interweaves personal and interpersonal experiences so as not to differentiate between the “outer” and the “inner” cultural groups.

Furthermore, it also aims not to exploit the experiences shared between the culture and the researcher or writer. There is nothing changed for a Western audience – excluding the subtitles – there is no need to. It is a film produced in Japan for any audience.

As Ellis et al said, the majority of work is written, insisting on canonical forms of research that favour and advocate the “norm” which is white, masculine, middle/upper class and heterosexual.

Maybe that was why I was so baffled by Godzilla. I was so busy trying to find the commonality, the secret hidden message that could not accept the fact the film was completely foreign to me.

A correct or rather an adequate piece of autoethnographical work should be evocative, aesthetically pleasing and chronological according to Ellis et al.

Godzilla is to some, aesthetically pleasing – I mean, he does look like a moss covered rock with a spiky spine – but it does not fit into the modern ideas of what a beautiful film may be.  But what about other cult classics, such as Alfred Hitchcock’s Birds which still has dodgy camera work and fairly hilarious string-controlled birds; but fits the norms as described by Ellis by having predominantly white, males in the film.

One element that I could grasp onto was the love triangle between Emiko, Ogata and Serizawa. Whilst many Western films do not touch the subject of betrothal, the majority do explore the issue of a disapproving father – hint, every Disney film ever!

On reflection, however, the storyline does seem to appeal to me as it was basic yet dramatic enough to keep me engaged and it followed to recipe for a great blockbuster:

  • damsel in distress – or failing, screaming idiot as I like to refer to them
  • nutty scientist
  • wise old father
  • dominant male

emiko

I think this subject is going to be engrossing as I am not a Digital Asia buff by any means. I rarely watch international films – apart from the couple of times where I watched German and Italian movies to improve my language skills (hint: it didn’t help it one iota!) – but because there is such a fluidity between the two cultures today, I am excited to see what I can learn along the way. Weird terminologies and all.

 

 

Standard
BCM310, Uncategorized

Capturing Crises

Photographs have a prolific ability to evoke the deepest of memories, inspire the staunchest of non-believers and transform a story of unimaginable hardship into one that provokes change and help.

Today, we are blessed with the media coming to us with information that covers every angle from  every inch of the globe. We are bombarded with news stories everywhere we turn – from checking your Facebook  news updates whilst on the loo to reading the paper whilst waiting for a coffee.

And now, more than ever, we are connecting with people from all over the world in different time zones and cultures. We are slowly developing an understanding and empathetic view of the world around us. It appears to be a beautiful thing. But do not be mislead by this utopian view of the media, we are also witnessing some of the most barbaric atrocities that we have ever seen.

The unbelievable stories of escape from desecrated cities, the complete and utter chaos caused by environmental tragedies and the narrative of human suffering as individuals flee from the most harrowing and gruesome circumstances are also being transmitted into our lives.

Michal Kimmelman presents a different and somewhat unattractive opinion about how we are not reacting to these poignant images the way we used to:

It was one thing to try to wake humanity up to suffering in the world via photographs from the early years of the last century…when most people saw distant places and learned of faraway disasters through photographs, but it is another thing to try to do so now, when the number of images that flash across television and computer screens diminishes the value of any single image you may see.

It is almost as if each image comes with a needle full of a powerful anaesthetic. We are becoming numb. Numb to the emaciated children, the howling mothers sprawling across bombed streets and the tens of thousands fleeing their homes in the hope of finding a safe place to stay.

But, is it because these atrocities are not happening on our doorsteps, that we are becoming somewhat bored of the same images, the same captions, the same notions, issues, crises? Campbell (2011) suggests that we are only motivated once the suffering is coupled with symbolic proximity.

We incite change when we can relate to it.

 

It’s a tricky business to get people to look at other people they may have spent a great deal of time trying, consciously or otherwise, not to notice (Kimmelman, 2001)

 

When the controversial image of a young Syrian refugee who washed up dead on a Turkish beach sparked great debate and outrage, we began to notice.

We thought of our children and we immediately put ourselves in that family’s position. However right or wrong that may have been, we began to realise the human cost of this epidemic. It was no longer about the numbers, the statistics, the enlarged images of tens of thousands of people fleeing their homes with headlines slurring lies. It was a young boy, in a red t-shirt, who so tragically lost his life in the hope of finding a safer home.

As Ingrid Sischy an art critic and writer stated in the New York Times (Kimmelman, 2001, p.2),

Beautification of tragedy results in pictures that ultimately reinforce our passivity toward the experience they reveal

The image – however opposed to it you may be – worked in a sense as it reignited a tired debate over the dispersion of Syrian refugees. It was something that was not beautiful. It was raw, poignant and extremely harrowing. It brought it home for all of us. It put a name to a crisis. And names make individuals.

It is obvious that there is a huge gap between our heightened awareness and our limited response to incite change.We need to start putting names to these crises, not a photograph that is black and white and so artistically done that we cannot connect on the simplest of emotional levels. We need to notice.

 

Sources:

Campbell, D, 2001, ‘The problem with regarding the photograph of suffering as ‘pornography’,https://www.david-campbell.org/2011/01/21/problem-with-regarding-photography-of-suffering-as-pornography/

Kimmelman, M, 2001, ‘Photography review; Can Suffering Be Too Beautiful?’ The New York Times, p.1-4, http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/13/arts/photography-review-can-suffering-be-too-beautiful.html?pagewanted=all

 

Standard
BCM310, Uncategorized

Quality vs. Quantity

In a world that is increasingly becoming self-absorbed, technology is an easy thing to blame as it is constantly adapting to meet our everyday needs.

The true narcissist in all of us, is once again being awakened by new technological advancements which include the countless apps and devices that are tracking our health, fitness, lifestyles, sleeping patterns and who can forget our…ahh… bowel movements.

Society as a whole has set some of the most unbelievable and unrealistic standards of perfection – which are hard not to subscribe to – and for those who do not fit into the teeny tiny parameters, we are constantly fighting an uphill battle in order to achieve said perfection.

With hashtags such as ‘fitspo’, a nation gripped by the rising obesity and Type 2 diabetes epidemics and the introduction of superfoods, technology has moved swiftly to accommodate for those of us who want to take matters into our own hands and improve our lifestyles by constant monitoring.

But by constantly monitoring our habits, are we only perpetuating these entrenched obsessions with numbers? From weight to whey and from sneaking an extra biscuit to skipping an extra kilometre, we are turning ourselves into number addicts.

Welcome to the quantified self.

The quantified self is any individual engaged in the self-tracking of any kind of biological, physical, behavioural, or environmental information – Swan, 2013

The quantified self, the numbers man, the digital dude. Whatever it may be, it is a craze that is sweeping the health and wellbeing community. Tracey (2013) found that seven out of ten adults regularly track some aspect of their health and over 60% of those adults track restrictively, their diets, weight and exercise regimes.

We have once again become slaves to technology. First it was social media and now it is the examination of ‘the self’.

Being able to measure something gives us the sense that we can control it. We can work to improve it, whether it’s a marketing campaign or our productivity or our health. Having measurements readily available can also make us forget about all the things we cannot measure – Walker Rettberg 2014, p.62

But the distinct line in the sand is yet to be drawn. The nature of these numbers means that it is a slippery slope into an obsessive addiction to track every minute, every detail of our lives.

tumblr_m2mh0fYKzG1qbs8du

 

Gary Wolf ended his Cannes Ted Talk with this poignant statement:

The self is just our operation centre, our consciousness, our moral compass. So, if we want to act more effectively in the world, we have to get to know ourselves better.

But at what cost? By strapping a technologically advanced device to our bodies, does it really mean that we know ourselves better? Or give us greater insight?

Yes, you may know how much coffee you drink or how well you sleep. But what happened to just soaking up every ounce of the day and just experiencing life through your own technologically advanced devices – your eyes, your skin, your tastebuds and all the other wonderful senses.

I do agree, in part, that there is some benefit to knowing these numbers but only if you have a medical condition or need it as a way to kickstart your motivation. But I do not see the long-term benefits of knowing yourself through these numbers. What happens if you lose it? Will your brain forget to tell your body that you are hungry? Or that you will forget that consuming twelve cups of coffee may not be beneficial for you?

I would much rather enjoy the quality life by not having to worry about what the quantity of numbers say today. Eat that extra doughnut, walk that extra mile or skip it because you cannot be bothered, get to bed earlier and wake up earlier.

My philosophy is that we need to step away from technology and start enjoying what is in front of us. We do not need numbers and devices to tell us that going for a walk improves our moods. Life is about balance and I can rarely get numbers to balance for me.

Because when was the last time a number made you truly happy?

Sources:

Swan, M, (2013), ‘The Quantified Self: Fundamental Disruption in Big Data Science and Biological Discovery’ Big Data, vol. 1 no.2, p.5

Walker Rettberg , J, (2014)‘ Seeing Ourselves Through Technology: How We Use Selfies, Blogs and Wearable Devices to See and Shape Ourselves’ Quantified Selves, p.62

Standard
BCM 332

Who runs the world? Well….not girls

Feminism, the fight for social and political equality between the sexes. A simple yet often misconstrued term.

A word that is thrown around constantly but with little to no knowledge of its meaning. However, when asked whether Hollywood is filled with sexism, many would say yes. The feminism debate came to the forefront – again – in 2015 at the Oscars when Patricia Arquette’s acceptance speech went viral as she asked for wage equality for all women.

This was not the first time Hollywood was called out on their blatant sexism displayed throughout the awards ceremonies. Amy Poehler started the #askhermore campaign which asks journalists and reporters to give more than just the boring old questions that are devoid of any substance such as, who are you wearing, how long did it take you to get ready, what are your must-have pieces?

cate blanchett

ELLE magazine flipped “the script” for red carpet interviews as they asked men the same questions that women are constantly bombarded with at every award ceremony. The result? A combination of hilarious, insightful and varied responses.

James Corden, the host of the Late Late Show, was asked how did he get ready for the event? “I put one leg in and then the other in and I lifted it up and then I sucked in and did it”. What’s your must have fashion piece? “I always wear a G-string. I’m never without one. You should see the one I’m wearing now”.

But the #askhermore campaign is not without criticism. Sarah Miller, a writer for time.com, wrote:

“women created the movement, and many seem to be empowered by it. But I wouldn’t be surprised if others wanted to just talk fashion”

I think she has dramatically missed the point. The issue is not talking about fashion, it is about having the choice to be asked more. In my very humble opinion, I feel that this is what feminism is about. It is about having the choice to be a career-driven women who wants to have a family as well. It is about feeling accepted for being a stay-at-home mother. It is about choices, freedom and seeing ourselves on an equal playing field with men.

Because, when you #askhermore, it is amazing to see that she is so much more than a dress.

Screen Shot 2015-08-29 at 10.29.39 am

Standard