(Moving) Picture Perfect: A Girl’s Love for Cinematic Experiences

As harsh as it is on my back account, I’m a frequent cinema goer. I love the vibe,  the smell of fresh popcorn, and the anticipation as the lights start to dim and the movie begins to roll. I’m always looking to the internet for upcoming films that I can go see with my friends, as well as waiting eagerly for the highly-anticipated films to finally be released (Avengers 4 can’t come out soon enough).

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Me whenever I see a movie. Image from Giphy

As much as I love watching movies in the comfort of my own home, I have to admit that seeing a brand new film in the cinema is an experience that I deem far superior. I get very distracted by other stimuli when I’m home, so unless the movie is utterly captivating, I find it hard to focus on just the one thing. When I’m at the cinema however, all of my attention is pulled towards the film. That may be because of the large screen or the silent judgement that comes from using your phone in the theatre, but regardless, my focus is on the film in front of me.

 

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Image from IMDb

I was able to partake in another cinema experience this past week, where two of my friends and I went to see BlacKkKlansman. I’d seen the trailer on TV maybe once or twice, but immediately knew that it was a film I absolutely had to go see. While that film did not disappoint and I would highly, highly, recommend everyone go see it, this is not a film review so you guys are just going to have to see it for yourselves.

However, this is about my cinema experience and how it relates to Hagerstrand’s constraints.

In terms of capability, I am lucky that this particular screening of the film was at a discounted rate. This is something that we usually search for, often leaving us to attend certain films on ‘cheap Tuesdays’ instead of premiere screenings. I am currently unemployed, so we’ve had to dial down our cinema visits lately, but it had been a while since we’d gone so I could afford to splurge on this occasion. My usual cinema spot in Chatswood is very popular, which means that we usually get most films and don’t have to search for places far away from us in order to see the films we want.

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My local cinema. Image from Flickr

I have a core group of friends that I go to see films with. On occasion I’ll hit up some other friends when I know that they’ll be interested in a certain film, otherwise I know my main girls will always be up for a movie night – as was the case with this night. Conflicting schedules often leave us with evening screenings, and as someone who is tired 90% of the time, this can get pretty difficult. However, this is something I can put up with.

I can’t think of any authority constraints that had an effect on our overall experience. Everything was really relaxed, we had booked our tickets online and the Coles in the shopping centre was open so we didn’t have to spend too much money on snacks.

The only constraint that truly bothers me is the fact that there aren’t enough decent movies that warrant a cinema visit every week; but at least I’ll have enough money when there is one.

References:

Witheridge, G. (2015) ‘Hagerstrand Not the Irrational Man: An Analysis of Why Tumbleweeds Have Replaced Jaffas Rolling Down Cinema Aisles Giverny’s Posits, Ponderings and Postulations, 30 August, Viewed: 25 August 2018 <https://givernywitheridge.wordpress.com/2015/08/30/hagerstrand-not-the-irrational-man-an-analysis-of-why-tumbleweeds-have-replaced-jaffas-rolling-down-cinema-aisles/&gt;

 

Data Status Update: My Relationship with Media

Like many my age, I’ve grown up with the internet in my life. I remember many days as a child where I was allowed to have ‘designated computer time’, and most of this time was spent playing computer games. I don’t really remember the internet in my early stages of life.

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Image from Reddit

As I got older however, I started to use the internet for all it was worth. While I still played my fair share of computer games, I also found enjoyment from messaging my friends on MSN and indulging in the occasional YouTube video. MSN progressed to Facebook, and YouTube has now replaced TV as my number one source of entertainment. While I still watch films and TV shows every now and again, this is mainly done on my laptop and not on my TV.

Even reflecting on the fact that having one family computer used to be the norm is mind-blowing to me. If you had told me when I was a child that one day each member of my family would have their own laptop, I would have screamed with excitement. I can’t remember what it was like to have to share computer time with my siblings – I’m sure it sparked several arguments.

Now, as I’m sure most other homes do, my household heavily relies on the internet to function. Instead of having one computer, we have five. Whether it be my dad working from home, my mum researching articles for her work, my brother playing video games, or my sister and I putting off schoolwork by watching videos; 5 people in the house calls for a fast internet connection. With a majority of my household internet data being used on streaming content, our bills can pile high pretty quickly.

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When the data’s up and the internet won’t go fast to save it’s life. Image from Giphy

We have gone through cycles of having limited and unlimited data. We would get frustrated with the slow internet towards the end of the month that my dad would splurge on the unlimited, and when that became too expensive, we’d revert back. I’m not currently sure which part of the cycle we are on now, I currently live out of home but come back almost every single weekend (the struggles of a broke uni student). As far as I can tell, my family still has the same media habits that cause us to spend a majority of our day on the internet.

Hermann Bausinger said something really interesting in his article about media and daily life. He stated that “tools themselves are distinguished by the fact that they rapidly take on the character of artificial limbs.” (1984) Our relationships with certain technologies have become so strong that they are essentially extensions of ourselves and our bodies, and this could not be more true for me.

Media is embedded so deeply into my life that I’m not sure how I would survive without it – as I’m sure most of you could relate. There are so many ‘media rituals’ that I partake in that I don’t even think about: for example, checking my phone in the morning, turning on the TV as soon as I walk into the living room, listening to music whenever I have to walk somewhere, etc.

I could probably rely less on the media to get me through my day, but for now, I’m going to go watch some YouTube videos.

References:

Bausinger, H. Translated by: Jaddou, L. & Williams, J. (1984) ‘Media, technology and daily life’ Media, culture and society, pg. 344-345

Case Study: The Importance of ’13 Reasons Why’

Mental health is often a topic of discussion on social media. Due to the high numbers of people that suffer from depression and anxiety, as well as other mental illnesses, constant attempts are being made to bring awareness to these issues – as well as spread love and support to those who are suffering. The show 13 Reasons Why sought to contribute to this enlightenment through the platform of popular media.

13 Reasons Why is a Netflix series based on the 2007 novel of the same name. I’m sure most of you have seen it, or at least heard of it. Just in case you are of the few that are completely unaware of the show, here is a quick summary of what it’s about.

Whether or not you’ve taken the time to watch the series, you are probably aware of the intense controversy surrounding the show. There are several episodes that are extremely graphic and, for lack of a better word, “triggering” due to the sensitive nature of the content. These scenes faced mass criticism on social media, and sparked important conversations about mental health; specifically, how to properly represent these issues in the media.

The show faced it’s first round of controversy in 2017 upon its release, when the final episode included an extremely realistic portrayal of suicide. This scene was incredibly jarring for most viewers, and although the episode included a disclaimer at the beginning, I don’t think anyone was prepared for what they were about to see.

While a significant number of viewers thought this scene was inappropriate, given that it could possibly act as a guide on how to commit suicide, the show’s creators defended this controversial move. One of the writers, Nic Sheff, discussed his own experience with suicide, stating that “my own life was saved when the truth of suicide was finally held up for me to see in all its horror—and reality.” (Sheff, 2017) On a certain level, I agree with this statement. Seeing suicide depicted in such a realistic manner turned me off from thinking it could ever be an “easy way out”.

The explicit nature of the show has also inspired authority figures to take action in the discussion of youth suicide. Prior to the release of the second season in May of this year, my sister’s high school sent out a note urging parents to talk to their children about this series and if they choose to watch, they are doing so with parental consent. Encouraging children and teenagers to discuss their issues with loved ones is an incredible feat in the scope of mental health awareness and prevention.

Do I think this 13 Reasons Why is a successful intervention in the mental health discussion? It’s certainly not perfect. While it is bringing important issues to light, the discussion is mainly focusing on the flaws of the show rather than the actual topics they’re representing. However, if the show didn’t take the controversial approach, I don’t think it would’ve had a widespread impact – it would’ve just been another show attempting to tackle mental health. By keeping the conversation centred around mental health and encouraging kids to talk about their issues, this show can make a positive impact on the perception of mental health in the media and in society.

References:

Reilly, K. 2017, ‘R29 Binge Club: 13 Reasons Why’ Refinery 29. Viewed: 14 August 2018 <https://www.refinery29.com/2017/03/147511/13-reasons-why-recap-episodes-synopsis&gt;

World Health Organization 2018, ‘Depression’. Viewed: 14 August 2018 <http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression&gt;

Sheff, N. 2017 ‘13 Reasons Why Writer: Why We Didn’t Shy Away from Hannah’s Suicide’ Vanity Fair. Viewed: 14 August 2018 <https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/04/13-reasons-why-suicide-controversy-nic-sheff-writer&gt;

Porreca, B. 2017 ’13 Reasons Why’ Creator on its “Naked Honest” Portrayal of Teen Suicide’ The Hollywood Reporter. Viewed: 14 August 2018 <https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/13-reasons-why-netflix-suicide-drama-selena-gomez-990132&gt;

 

 

Screening of Akira: Auto-Ethnography

This week we continued the BCM320 screening saga, and watched the anime classic, Akira (1988). This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced anime; like many, I grew up watching Sailor Moon and Pokémon, as well as some Studio Ghibli films. I’ve also used my brother’s Crunchyroll account to delve into some more recent anime – as basic as it sounds, Attack on Titan is a personal favourite.

However, while I know that anime can sometimes get confusing and graphic, I wasn’t quite prepared for how confusing and graphic Akira would be. I’m not going to lie, I had no idea what was going on. After many hours of reflection, and a reading of the plot summary on Wikipedia, I still have not fully grasped the themes of this film. My live-tweets reflect this rather well.

While this confusion was quite jarring at first, I have come to realise that it is simply a step in the auto-ethnographic process. Ellis (et al, 2011) discuss this process in an article, stating that “scholars began recognising that different kinds of people possess different assumptions about the world…Auto-ethnography, on the other hand, expands and opens up a wider lens on the world…”

We are able to expand upon our knowledge of the world through “epiphanies”, which are “remembered moments perceived to have significantly impacted the trajectory of a person’s life.” (Ellis, et al, 2011)

Due to my prior experiences with anime and Japanese pop-culture, I thought I already had a reasonable understanding of this world. However, through experiencing this film and exploring it’s history, I was able to learn more about Akira‘s influence on pop-culture and discover not only it’s impact on Japanese culture, but on my own culture.

It was Akira that essentially opened the doors for anime to become embraced by western pop-culture. It is the reason why I was able to enjoy the aforementioned TV shows and films. Akira is also embedded in the music industry, as it makes a strong feature in Kanye West’s music video for Stronger, in which West essentially performs a live-action interpretation of the film. It was also a heavy influence on the Netflix phenomenon that is Stranger Things – with the 80’s aesthetic, as well as mirroring several key plot points.

Akira has indirectly had an influence on my consumption of pop-culture throughout my whole life. This was a surprising, yet extremely interesting, “epiphany” that will most definitely prompt a second viewing from me.

 

A Childhood [Tele]Visionary

Like so many that have come before me, the television was a staple object in my life. I grew up constantly having the television on in my home, regardless of if anyone was fully paying attention to what was on. My family became accustomed to the background noise. I know many of my peers no longer watch television, most spend their time watching YouTube videos or Netflix. Even though I also spend most of my time indulging in the same websites, the television will always remain on in the background. Most of the time my house feels to quiet and empty without it.

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Image from Odyssey

The media plays a significant role in the structure of culture. The media that was presented on television is what gave birth to ‘youth culture’, and in turn we’ve experienced a cultural shift that views teenagers as naïve and deviant. As a young adult, fresh out of my teen years, I have often felt that this culture has influenced how I should think and how I should act. Television shows like Skins, Pretty Little Liars, and Friends presented characters that I felt like I could model myself after. While this may have been somewhat inappropriate for a young teen, I was completely unaware of my identity and was thus highly influential.

I also believe that the structure of the family influences the type of content that a person consumes. I have an older brother, which means that we spend countless afternoons and weekend mornings watching episode after episode of The Simpsons and Family Guy. I have many memories that are tied to specific episodes, either ones that remind me of my family or some that have had an impact on me.

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Image from Giphy

On the other hand, all of my childhood friends had an older sister or were either the eldest of their siblings. This meant that they watched reality shows and high school shows, such as The O.C. and The Hills, which I was not exposed to until my preteens.

We also did not have Foxtel in my house until I was 10. Prior to that, we had a package that only gave us access to Disney Channel, and not Nickelodeon like many of my other friends had.

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Image from The Daily Edge

My friends didn’t really relate to my childhood memories, and nor did I to theirs. While this wasn’t vital to our friendship, it did open my eyes to how different television habits can diversify individual experiences.

I’m not entirely sure if it play’s as much of a role in children’s lives today. The only frame of reference I have of the younger generation is my cousins, who are both under 10, and they’re usually drawn to iPad’s and other portable devices. It will be interesting to see how this upcoming paradigm shift will affect the experiences of future generations, and whether it will create a divide between the old and the new.

 

 

References:

Livingstone, Sonia (2009) Half a century of television in the lives of our children. The ANNALS of the American academy of political and social science, 625. pp. 151-163. ISSN 0002-7162