autoethnography

On Dating Sims for Women, by Women

Below is the highlights real of my playthrough of Hatoful Boyfriend. Please consider muting the playthrough and listening to the above podcast while the video plays.


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What’s the big reveal?

I recently played through Hatoful Boyfriend for the first time. It was completely not what I expected but first I need to explain my decision to engage with this particular aspect of digital Asia. I first found an interest in let’s playing visual novels after a friend showed me PressHeartToContinue and I could not stop laughing at all the funny voices she made. Needless to say my voice does not compare. Please see her fabulousness below.

Dodger conveys her experience of visual novels in an entertaining and compelling manner, something that compelled me enough to try a visual novel for myself.

Back to expectations. So, my channel, GameWreck, is all about me being incredibly shit at games for other people’s entertainment. Generally, I stumble about running around in circles until I literally bump into the thing I need to pick up all by accident.

Apparently visual novels don’t work that way. They have an extremely minimal amount of gameplay. Your gameplay is essentially boiled down to a series of choices you make.

Surely most games are about choices? (more…)

Gojira might be the reason for Japan’s technological brilliance…

Last week, I wrote about symbolism in Japanese art and how Gojira reflected Japan’s fear of nuclear power, something they also contributed to the creation of. The destruction and devastation of Nagasaki and Hiroshima haunts this nation yet they continued nuclear testing to the detriment of fishing boats such as Lucky Dragon 5. Brophy mentioned the Japanese propensity for technological fortification, which fuelled a new direction for my research.

It’s common knowledge Japan is the cornucopia of technological advancement. Richard J Samuels posits their emphasis on technology as “a fundamental element in national security, that it must be indigenized, diffused, and nurtured in order to make a nation rich and strong.” This is something seen very much as a part of Japan’s culture: the emphasis on technological development, education on its purposes and uses, and thorough understanding within its people. It’s probably a direct response to the outcomes of World War II and the subsequent US occupation. I think it’s inspiring to see a nation so unified in its search of security and confidence. As a citizen of an island nation, I can relate to the special vulnerabilities inherent but I can’t help but wonder why Australia does not have a similar push towards technology as compensation. I believe Japan’s situation is strongly indicative of their political representation.

As Japan has risen to a point of singular technological advancement, this confidence allows them to “pursue a ‘proactive contribution to peace and stability’ throughout the Indo-Pacific region” according to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as conveyed by John Lee. Due to the symbolism in Gojira and the subsequent franchise, Japan was able to perceive and reflect the results of technological pursuits and form a strong relationship to technology while remaining mindful of its past and potential for great terror. I think this is characterised by the cultural values that influence what films can be made and shown.

Godzilla’s success in the West is for different reasons than in the East. The East valued the symbolism for what it was; the West embraced the concept of the monster for its superficial values. In my own viewing of Gojira, I could not shake these values. I was looking for a level of realism afforded in present day films by computer-generated images. It wasn’t until Brophy reminded me the intention was never to portray a real monster that I was able to look at something deeper within the text. The typical Japanese symbolism and what it stands for in their culture and society. I’m glad to finally appreciate this film when it has such a strong global following and grateful to know more about Japan as a nation. If only Australia was able to unite in such a way.


References:

Brophy, P 2000 ‘Monster Island: Godzilla and Japanese sci-fi/horror/fantasy’ in Postcolonial Studies, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 39-42.

Lee, J 2015, ‘Tokyo Ascending: Abe’s New Defense Strategy’ in World Affairs, vol. 178, no. 2, pp. 66-73.

Samuels, RJ 1996, Rich Nation, Strong Army: National Security and the Technological Transformation of Japan, Cornell University Press, Cornell

Pretence is a fool’s game

There was never any pretence.

As I was researching Japanese filmmaking in the 1950s, I found Philip Brophy’s postcolonial article on the Godzilla franchise. He makes the argument, “As puppet, doll and prop on a stage of special effects, his theatricalised unreality is never hidden.” As silly as it sounds, during my whole time watching Gojira it never occurred to me they never meant the monster to be realistic. The reality of a human-in-a-suit is in fact meant to be indicative of the cultural story that Gojira represents. Since humans meddling with nuclear testing caused the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, why would a 50 foot nuclear lizard destroying Tokyo be any different?

For some reason, discovering the monster is intentionally false legitimises Gojira in my mind. I suppose the experience is like trying to analyse literature and realising the metaphor was never meant to be believed in its entirety.

Brophy’s realisations about Godzilla stem from the experience of visiting the Toho pool that acted as the shrunken down version of Tokyo Bay in the films. Comprehending the scale of the falsehoods lead to his further understanding about Japan on a cultural level and the inherent vulnerability that comes with being an island nation. Brophy observes Japan as having a “technologically compensated concept of fortification”. This is reflected in the Toho pool’s edges being lined with “giant gas tanks” and “electrical power stations”, as though cocooning themselves in a shell of technology will protect them from the forthcoming threat of Gojira. The irony inherent in that technology will protect from other technology boils down to the fear of human against human. This is something I can relate much better to than a giant lizard monster.

By breaking down the film to a metaphor about postcolonial struggle, Gojira makes a lot more sense to me. I suppose in this instance, the technological limitations of the time were a benefit in order to have the discussion about the regret of human intrigue and inquiry into technology we do not understand. If the monster were believe to be a simple monster this discussion would never take place.

I’m just kicking myself because this should have been common knowledge after all the anime I watch. Japanese story-telling has always been symbolic.


References:

Brophy, P 2000 ‘Monster Island: Godzilla and Japanese sci-fi/horror/fantasy’ in Postcolonial Studies, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 39-42.

If Lasseter Could See TV Now…

Echoing a previous post on the nature of research, today I am thinking about collaborative ethnography. Luke Eric Lasseter (whose name has been unfortunately misspelled in the source I am using) is the starting point for the type of collaborative ethnography I am interested in. This kind of ethnography involves including the conversation between the ethnographer and the “consultant” as a part of the research although that fits into the category of “reciprocal” ethnography. What makes it collaborative is making the research process and/or end product of some use or relevance to the consultant/s. Collaborative ethnography is not a parasitic relationship; it is a symbiotic mutualistic relationship where all involved are benefited.

This is where I think corporate media research in the home fails.

My favourite example is television research as I am personally quite invested in a number of television series. Nielsen invented television ratings. They measure “more than 40 percent of the world’s viewing behavior—hundreds of channels, thousands of programs, and millions of viewers. This measurement breadth allows clients to plan programming and advertising for their ideal audience.” Networks most commonly cancel a show when the viewership from Nielsen is consistently or increasingly low. This is an example of quantitative research that also carries a number of limitations. For example, Ivan has observed a habit of people leaving the television on in the home to simulate company without actually watching whatever it is showing. Nielsen is trying to expand its accuracy by measuring “Social TV” – the number of users engaging with Twitter during the live airing of a television show and also the reach those tweets have.

However Nielsen does not engage in the content produced by Twitterers. That is where the real qualitative data is and this is where collaborative ethnography can change things for the better.

My favourite example is a Tumblr conversation between Arrow showrunner Mark Guggenheim and Rosie Twiggs about the character development of Ray Palmer.

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 3.02.26 pm

Twiggs claims a number of inconsistencies and arguably creepy behaviour that she wants Guggenheim to address and improve upon. By actively engaging in social media, Guggenheim has opened himself up to a conversation with his show’s viewers that could lead to a mutually beneficial product. (Here’s the link for further reading.) Now, I don’t know if he will take Twigg’s advice but I personally think he should.

Showrunners, actors and writers all engage with their viewers on social media, primarily Twitter. They are able to see firsthand how the viewers respond but this ultimately has no sway over the continuation or cancellation of the show. There’s a broken link in this chain that really needs to be addressed.