Where ‘Real’ and ‘Digital’ Collide: Digital Ethnography

Like many, I’ve grown up in the ‘digital era’. Although I believe I had the perfect balance of digital entertainment and ‘real play’ as I was growing up, many of my childhood memories surround digital devices. So, when thinking of digital ethnography and how I can use this to reflect on my personal experiences, there are several memories that come to mind.

Week 5 Prezi.JPG
Screenshot from: Prezi

For this blog post, we were asked to reflect on a relationship we’ve had with a technological form of media. Pokemon was brought up as an example that we can use, which would usually deter me from talking about this topic. However, Pokemon has been a part of my life since I was a little girl, so I feel that this topic is incredibly relevant in my interpretation of digital ethnography.

maxresdefault.jpg
Gameboy Colour. Source: Google Images

I was first introduced to the world of Pokemon through my older brother. Although he had the trading cards, I didn’t really understand those – nor would he ever let me touch them – so my first experience of actually playing the game was when my parents gave me permission to play Pokemon Red on his Gameboy Colour. After that, I was hooked.

maxresdefault.jpg
Gameboy Advance. Source: Google Images

A few years later, I was lucky enough to receive a Gameboy Advance for my birthday, along with my very own Pokemon Game that belonged solely to me. While I enjoyed the first game that I played, my love only grew when I started playing Pokemon Ruby. The improved graphics and vibrant colours brought the world more to life and only accelerated my love for the game. While I wasn’t as good as my brother, I still spent hours playing – getting excited every time I scored a new gym badge or my Pokemon evolved.

new3dsxl_withPokemon.png
Nintendo 3DS – I definitely own 3 of these games. Source: Shopitree

Eventually, I upgraded to a Nintendo DS, which brought along a whole new set of Pokemon game experiences. Fast forward to the present day, where I currently have a Nintendo 3DS, and 3 of the most recent Pokemon games. So, it’s clear this relationship is still going relatively strong, even though I haven’t played for over a year now. My love for the game has almost guaranteed that I will buy the newest instalment if/when it is released.

Not only has this game given me great memories and hours of entertainment, it also allowed me to bond with my brother. While I’m sure he didn’t appreciate me trying to copy everything he did when I was younger – as most annoying younger siblings do – this shared interest has carried into the present day and, as a result, it has positively impacted the dynamic of our relationship overall. However, all the time and money spent on these games is most definitely not ideal.

This digital relationship has certainly had a significant impact on my life and how I perceive my childhood memories. Seeing as this isn’t the only relationship I’ve had with a form of digital technology – much of my life has been saturated with digital devices – there are probably many other interpersonal relationships I’ve had that would have been impacted by a digital relationship. Which leaves me to wonder how different these relationships would be had there not been a digital variant.

References:

Moore, C. & Vettoretto, R. (2018) ‘Digital Ethnography’ BCM241 Week 5 [Prezi] <https://prezi.com/vvg5merpskzh/digital-ethnography/&gt;

 

Advertisements

What The Horror: Analysing My Auto-Ethnographic Methodologies

Following on from my previous blog post, where I discussed my reasoning behind my chosen topic for my digital artefact, this blog post will focus on analysing my auto-ethnographic methodologies I intend to use for this project.

As Ellis, Adams and Bochner explain in their overview of auto-ethnography, “auto-ethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno).” (Ellis et al, 2011) For my research project, I will be analysing my experience with Japanese horror films in an attempt to understand the culture of the Japanese film industry.

jhorror film posters
Three of the films I will be watching. Source: IMDb

I originally chose this topic because I thought it would be a fun way of exploring something I never thought I would experience. However, after conducting my initial research on the topic, I encountered my first ‘epiphany’. Many J-Horror films are based on Japanese urban legends and folktales, and this discovery made me realise that I have an opportunity to learn far more about Japanese culture than I had originally anticipated.

As Leon Anderson states, one of the advantages to auto-ethnographic research is that it focuses on self-understanding.

“The kind of self-understanding I am talking
about lies at the intersection of biography and society: self-knowledge that
comes from understanding our personal lives, identities, and feelings as
deeply connected to and in large part constituted by—and in turn helping to
constitute—the sociocultural contexts in which we live.” 

(Anderson, 2006, p. 390)

Currently, my self-understanding in relation to my topic is that I’m not a huge fan of horror films – I’m not alone when I say that I don’t like being scared. However, in light of my epiphany, I realise that I am closing myself off to a whole genre that’s rich in culture and history, making me ignorant to a large part of society. Improving my understanding of this genre, as well as the people that find joy in consuming this content, could allow me to become more open-minded and empathetic towards other cultural norms.

In my previous blog post, I referred to the reflexive approach to auto-ethnographic research. This form of auto-ethnography is incredibly important for achieving the ‘self-understanding’ that Anderson discusses. Reflexive ethnography is when a researcher also documents the personal developments and changes that they’ve experienced over the course of their research, as a form of establishing a deeper connection with their chosen culture. (Ellis et al. 2011) As my previous experiences with horror films have not exactly been positive, I’m hoping that I will encounter a few personal changes throughout my research – which will hopefully include improving my tolerance for scary movies. Although, even if my stance on horror films doesn’t change, acquiring knowledge of a new culture will certainly result in some personal developments that I can reflect on in my final project.

 

References:

Anderson, L. (2006) ‘Analytic Autoethnography’, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Vol. 35, No. 4, pp. 373-393.

Ellis, C, Adams, ET & Bochner, AP (2011), ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Research, vol. 12, no. 1.

Myers, C. (N.D.) ‘7 Creepy Japanese Urban Legends That Inspired Horror Films’ Ranker. Viewed: 16 September 2018 <https://www.ranker.com/list/japanese-urban-legends-that-inspired-horror-films/christopher-myers&gt;

 

Get Ready, Get Set, Get Spooked: An Auto-Ethnographic Dive into Japanese Horror Films.

When it comes to Asian culture, I’m pretty well versed in some areas. I’ve grown up being exposed to Japanese media culture, through games and television shows, as well as food that my Asian friends have introduced me to. For the most part, these interests have continued on to the present day. Thus, I was struggling to think of an aspect of Asian culture that I’m interested in, yet haven’t explored.

Enter, Japanese horror films.

giphy.gif
Source: Giphy

Why have I chosen this topic?

While I have watched a few horror films in my life, they weren’t exactly the most pleasant experience. My mother is a horror film buff and she’s always casually watching them at home while doing household chores. That trait hasn’t exactly transferred to me. Watching a scary movie always results in sleepless nights, consisting of constantly glancing over at the end of my bed and never leaving the safe confines of my tightly wrapped blanket. Even watching a let’s play of a horror game on YouTube has evoked that reaction a few times – which I’m certainly not proud of.

giphy.gif
In short: Me + Horror Movies = Not a great combination. Source: Giphy

However, it has been several years since I’ve actually taken the time to watch a legitimate scary movie, which [hopefully] means I now have the mental maturity to not act like a child after watching one. Not only am I exploring this topic to test my emotional endurance, but I am also genuinely curious to learn about the history of J-Horror and how it’s presence has shaped the film industry.

While attempting to decide which film I should watch, I’ve noticed that many of these movies are based on Japanese legends and folktales. Although these stories have paranormal elements, these cultural features give these films a bone-chilling sense of realism. (Thessaily’s Place, 2013) This, along with several other specific techniques, makes the genre of J-Horror notoriously more frightening than Western horror films. Therefore, this Digital Artefact will generate some interesting perspectives on the Japanese culture, as well as the Japanese film industry, from a girl who has little to no tolerance for jump-scares.

I have only heard about J-Horror films that have been adapted for Western audiences (i.e. The Ring or The Grudge); which are often referenced in popular media. I already knew that I didn’t want to watch the original version of a well-known Western remake as I feel I have heard too much about these films in passing, and my experience may be altered from knowing what to expect. However, there are some J-Horror remakes that I haven’t heard of and don’t know anything about (i.e. Dark Water), so I don’t think watching this film would give me a skewed perspective.

After researching various forums and lists, I have narrowed my selection down to three options:

jhorror film posters.JPG
Source: IMDb

I have chosen these three because they seem to explore a wide range of themes. Suicide Circle seems to be based more in reality, as it has more of a ‘crime thriller’ than a ‘horror’ premise. Kwaidan and Dark Water are focused more on supernatural themes, with Kwaidan being based on folklore and Dark Water following a more traditional horror film story line.

I’ll admit, there are perhaps more sensible way for me to learn about Japanese culture and history that do not involve torturing myself. This method is not exactly palatable for all ‘cultural outsiders’. (Ellis et al. 2011) However, I feel that placing myself out of my comfort zone will allow me to develop a ‘reflexive’ approach to my auto-ethnographic research – this experience will be as much about my journey with the film as it will be about analysing the culture of J-Horror. (Ellis et al. 2011)

How will I document my auto-ethnographic research?

I have chosen to log this experience through a blog post. Due to the multi-media functionality, I find this format very versatile and will be able to effectively present my findings no matter which form of methodology I choose to partake in.

Although the most logical route to follow is a video response to my chosen J-Horror film, I’m afraid that it will result in complicated editing and possible copyright infringements. Additionally, I don’t think I will be able to coherently verbalise my thoughts while I’m terrified. Most of the footage will most likely be of me covering my eyes and screaming obnoxiously for a majority of the film. However, I will record short videos of my thoughts throughout the film, which will be included in my final blog post. To accompany this, I will live-tweet my viewing experience. I will log the time-stamps in the film that correlate with the tweets in order to give a well-rounded review in my final blog post.

References:

Myers, C. (N.D.) ‘7 Creepy Japanese Urban Legends That Inspired Horror Films’ Ranker. Viewed: 16 September 2018 <https://www.ranker.com/list/japanese-urban-legends-that-inspired-horror-films/christopher-myers&gt;

Thessaily’s Place (2013) ‘What makes Japanese Horror scarier’ WordPress. Viewed: 16 September 2018. <https://thessaily.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/what-makes-japanese-horror-so-much-scarier/&gt;

Ellis, C, Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. 2011, ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, vol. 12, no. 1.

 

My New Normal

Today marks the end of my second week living on campus. I’d like to say I’m adjusting well but to be honest, I just don’t think it’s hit me yet.

I actually live on my own now.

Well I mean, sort of. I live with roommates, but none of whom are responsible for me, that’s my job. I have to remember to eat well, shower every once in a while, not let my laundry pile get too big before I get around to actually washing, etc. I still need to work on keeping a budget but needless to say that’s not working out too well.

Before I came here I actually took care of myself pretty well, surprisingly. My diet was reasonably healthy, I exercised occasionally and I hardly ever drank alcohol. Like, ever.

So to excuse this poor behaviour that I’ve recently acquired, I like to tell myself that moving away from home is a huge change (which is true) and it takes time to adjust to a new normal (which is also true), but it will happen eventually (I hope).

I continue to tell myself this despite the fact that I know the adjustment won’t happen on its own, I need to make it happen. I guess these are my old procrastination habits returning after not being around for nearly a year. I’m sure they will keep showing up as the year goes on, especially when assignment due dates start edging closer… but that’s an issue for another day.

For now, I need to focus on getting my life together. Adjusting to my new normal now, not later. And to do that I need to move forward, take what I’ve learned in the past and use that to help me change; keep the good, get rid of the bad. I need to stop thinking of this move as temporary and start thinking in the long term. Truly think of this as my home, not some place I stay during the week before I return home to Sydney on the weekends.

As I’m transitioning into this new version of myself, it’s hard for me to accept that certain aspects of my life are guaranteed to change. The everyday routine that I developed over the past year provided me with a sense of comfort and gave me no incentive to change my situation. However, I’m starting to realise that I can’t get too comfortable limiting myself, and that my new normal, living away from home and going to school again, is exactly what I need in order to change for the better.