Is calling Australian films Australian bad attention?

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Image source

When a person loves a product they are likely to tell one person, but if a person has a negative experience they are said to tell ten people. This is where the belief that any attention is good attention originates. The pure belief that whether the product is famous or infamous does not matter, people will look for the item out of sheer curiosity. But does this saying also work for films?

If people post bad ratings for a film often it will deter other audience members, it is a rarity that a film will become a pop culture success just for being an awful film. Sharknado is an example of a tragic film where the bad attention turned it into a pop culture classic. Similar to Mad Max which may be seen by many as another “weird” Australian movie created in the boom cycle, however; this film has gained a significant cult following and has seen a revival  last year with Fury Road.

Australian films seem to have a continual hype due to being Australian. As a culture we are continuously encouraged to support Australian content, though it is the Australianness of films that often deters the audience. When we look at the film Babe, many Australians did not even realise that it was shot locally in Bowral. Babe utilised opposite binaries compared to traditional Australian films (Brabazon 2001p.154), it also ensured that the film would be received internationally by not creating a specific setting.

Babe has attempted to create a setting that could be anywhere, with no true Australian accents, native Australian animals or landmarks; this resulted in the film becoming an international success. Bowral requested a sign to be erected publicly stating that it was the ‘home’ of Babe (Brabazon 2001 p.155), however; the producers did not want to gain any attention from the location where it was filmed. Evidently they feared the downfall of their Australian film purely due to being Australian. Though are Australian films even achieving any attention at all?

Dow (2014) states that due to international blockbusters marketing budgets, it is lucky if we even see an Australian film poster at our local cinema. Sometimes any attention can be good attention if it leads to a pop culture sensation, however, sometimes attention to the nationality of the film seems to result in a negative view. Makes you wonder whether Australian films are attracting any attention at all in today’s market?

References:

Brabazon, T 2001, “A pig in Space? Babe and the problem of landscape”, in Craven. Ian (Ed), Australian Cinema in the 1990’s, pp.150-156.

Dow, S 2014, ‘What’s wrong with Australian cinema?”, The Guardian, 26th October, viewed 11th January 2015, < http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/oct/26/australian-film-australian-audiences >

 

Is it the Australian films or the audiences?

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Sources: https://jessbinx.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/top3.jpg

Australian films have consistently struggled to achieve audience numbers compared to their Hollywood rivals. So why is this? Why are Australians not supporting their local content?

Australia has produced multiple iconic films such as; Priscilla Queen of the Dessert, The Castle, Crocodile Dundee, Babe and of course Strictly Ballroom. However, when we look at these films, each employ a stereotypical Australian culture except Strictly Ballroom. Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom shies away from the traditional binaries of the bush, beach and red dusty plains to portray a sense of national identity. Rather Strictly Ballroom reflects on dancing culture, multiculturalism and the often conflictual blending of Anglo and Spanish culture (Brabazon 2001 p.151). It is these themes that have seen Strictly Ballroom being regarded as the ‘most reclaimed film of its decade’ (Brabazon 2001 p.151).

Australian audiences prefer to watch films that limit their national identity due to the general connotations of these films employing a cheesy, dorky and stereotypical Australian ideal. This is why movies such as Strictly Ballroom and Babe have been successful in the Australian landscape. These three films do not portray an Australian stereotype, instead these films could be watched by an audience internationally as their plots can be applied universally. Australian films nevertheless generally present the local market rather than presenting the local audiences desires (Bowles 2007 p.249). Yet, Australian films at the box office only show on average for five weeks and generally only on seventy-five screens across the nation (Middlemost 2015).

The local audience is an ideal that has not been researched thoroughly in an Australian context. It is important for producers to research the local audience not only to see what content is in demand but also to research the way in which audiences consume content. Rosentiel (2013) stated in his Ted Talks that now as consumers we no longer “need to be home at 6:30pm to watch the news, or up early to receive the paper”, we are now a society that is able to access content at a time that suits us and through a medium (often portable) that suits us. As an audience we are no longer tied down to having to watch  free to air movies on television or certain cinema times, with the introduction of Netflix and other online streaming providers.

Australian content creators need to research further the reliance audiences have to online streaming services and if they are able to utilise these means. Kaufman (2009 p.8) notes that eighteen to twenty-four year olds are rapidly declining from the cinema due to their dependence on computers. This age range will only widen as cheap online services become available.  We have already seen television programmes such as Home and Away attempt to utilise Presto (Australian streaming service), by releasing a few episodes only available on this service.

Australian audiences do not want to view content aimed at creating a national identity. Rather audiences enjoy films that could be based anywhere, allowing a greater connection to the film. Australian film plots are not inferior to Hollywood, they simply have a smaller marketing budget and are restricted through the audiences predisposed ideals of Australian films. Nevertheless, it is significantly important that audience engagement and medium of content consumption is further researched as this maybe the key for the revival of Australian content.

References

Bowles, K 2007, ‘Three Miles of rough dirt road: towards an audience centred approach to cinema studies in Australia’, Studies in Australasian Cinema, vol.1, no. 3, pp245-260.

Brabazon, T 2001, ‘A pig in space? Babe and the problem of landscape’, in Craven Ian (ed), Australian Cinema in the 1990’s,  London, pp.150-156.

Kaufman, T 2009, “Finding Australian audiences for Australian films”, Metro, no.163, pp 6-8.

Middlemost, R 2015, ‘Watching an Australian film: what’s wrong with this experience?’, lecture notes, BCM339, University of Wollongong, 15th December.

Rosenstiel, T 2013, The Future of Journalism: Tom Rosenstiel at TEDxAtlanta, YouTube (Online Video), 28th May, Tedx Talks YouTube Channel, Viewed 23rd December 2015, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuBE_dP900Y&gt>

Ozploitation.. What does it really mean?

The 1970s was a historical decade in Australian cinema.  The 1970s saw Australian media censorship laws loosen, with the Government allowing R18+ content to be released nationwide. This was also implemented alongside the 10BA tax legislation, a Government initiative that attempted to boost the national film market by providing significant tax incentives. 10BA tax would provide a 150% rebate (Ryan 2012 p.145) to all eligible film creators, this coupled with the release of media censorship saw an influx of horror, comedy and action films being created.

The influx of films saw many unmemorable productions, simply due to the low quality of script and production. Many of these films were merely part of a tax rebate scheme where many producers of content attempted to take advantage of this rebate. It was the making of these ‘b-grade’ films that donned the term Ozploitation.  But what is Ozploitation?

Ozploitation is simply Australian exploitation films. These films are defined by Kuhn and Westwell (2012) as;

Exploitive certain events or trends, they are low budget commercial films that are aimed at a neglected market in mainstream film making. Though these films may also include explicit sex, violence and drug abuse.

Consequently the 1970s saw the rise of Ozploitation films, these 1970s films experimented with sex and free love, remarkably similar to the free love movement during the 1960’s.

The influx of ‘sex romp films’ throughout the 1970s saw the exploitation of Australia’s new media censorship laws.  One of the first sex romp films was The Naked Bunyip released in 1970, this documentary investigated a variety of sexual experiences through fact and fiction. Though this film is not an iconic Australian film and would not be recognisable by most of Generation Y.  The only pop culture hit of the Ozploitation era was Mad Max. This film has become a cult classic, with the Mad Max series being produced and the fourth film having been released earlier this year. Mad Max was first released in 1979 and has had international success. One of very few Ozploitation films to become widely known.

We also saw the rise of the horror genre under this period, with multiple horror films being produced such as; Razorback (1984), Long Weekend (1978) and Howling III: The Marsupials (1987).  Many producers created horror films as they were easily accepted by the international market. With Dunks (2014 p.34-35) arguing that many produced horror films to simply launch their careers within the international market with limited success. Many of these horror films have been forgotten, however; we are seeing a comeback of Ozploitation films with services such as Netflix. Howling III: The Marsupials has recently become available on Netflix, allowing international audiences to experience it for the first time.

So what does this indicate about the Australian Film industry? Looking at the films which were created during the period, it shows that the Australian Film Industry is attempting to provide a funding platform to encourage Australian content, nevertheless, resulting in tax evasions and exploitation films. It shows that Australia has the potential to create brilliant films with the likes of Mad Max, but currently it seems the industry is seeing content creators interested in the economic benefits rather than producing entertaining content. Resulting in poor scripting and production elements and overall low quality niche films.

References:

Dunks, G 2014, ‘Down And Out Down Under’, Metro, No. 180, pp. 34-37.

Kaufman, T 2009, “Finding Australian audiences for Australian films”, Metro, no.163, pp 6-8.

Kuhn, A, & Westwell, G 2012, Ozploitation, n.p.: Oxford University Press, Oxford Reference, EBSCOhost, viewed 14 December 2015.

Ryan, M 2012, “A silver bullet for Australian cinema? Genre movies and the audience debate”, Studies in Australasian Cinema, Vol.6, No.2, pp 141-157.

Key Assumptions in Australian Films

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Image Source

Australian Content, especially films, has always suffered within the media landscape. There are many reasons Australian films are not successful at the box office, Burns and Eltham (2010 p.111) state that un-popular Australian films are due to; low production and marketing budget, distribution bottleneck and poor investments. Internationally Australian films are not always received well due to often culturally specific elements that other nations simply do not understand. However, this has resulted in contemporary film makers attempting to make non-culturally specific films such as Daybreakers, in an attempt to obtain a larger audience domestically and internationally (Ryan 2012 p151).

It is a key assumption that Australian films are saturated with culturally specific elements. Many Australian films will contain; iconic Australian scenery, Australian slang, usually Australian talent being the lead and often strong stereotypical elements. However, Australian audiences often find this content to be cheesy, cringe worthy and B grade (Ryan 2012 p. 150).

The main assumption is that the industry is meant to promote a positive image of Australia through the portrayal of “Australianess”. Ryann (2012 p. 143) notes that the 1970’s Australian film industry was sustained through cultural policy to ensure the development of Australian stories. By 1975 The Australian Film Commission favoured movies that shared a national identity. Clancy (1985 p.21) states that when it came to economic and cultural clashes, cultural always won, asserting that Australian films are part of the expression of Australian Life.

Although audiences have shied away from national identity/ culture in cinema. It seems that Government film agencies assume that Australian films need to positively portray Australia internationally and thus perhaps resulting as a travel commercial. However, it seems that these assumptions that Australian film characters will portray the Australian stereotype has resulted in “ocker comedy”. For example the film The Castle has become a classic Australian film known for its famous one liners such as; “tell him he’s dreaming”. The Castle is a classic Australian film as it plays on many of the stereotypes of Australian culture, however, this is satirical stereotyping. Rather than The Castle portraying cultural identity, it is creating a satirical story around Australian culture resulting in a comedic film. Unfortunately this film was not received well internationally and was shown with subtitles in America.  Compare this film to Strictly Ballroom, which has not implemented a strong sense of national identity; instead has a strong narrative of a young girl learning ballroom dancing to compete in the National Championships. Unlike The Castle the Australian culture within this film is not intended to be laughed at or be used to entice travellers to the country.

Audiences hold strong assumptions of what they believe Australian films will incorporate yet Australian audiences seem to shy away from films that are overt with national identity. Many Government agencies that support local film production assume that the films they support portray a positive image and show true national identity. Though this has led to often a stereotypical take on Australian society resulting in the boycott of Australian films. Even if films forgo cultural elements sadly many consumers will have pre-existing assumptions regarding all Australian films.

References

Burns, A and Eltham, B 2010, “Boom and Bust in Australian Screen Policy: 10BA, the Film Finance Corporation and Hollywood’s ‘race to the bottom’, Media International Australia, No. 136, p 103-118.

Clancy, J 1985, The search for form in Australian cinema, Island Magazine, No. 22, pp. 21-25.

Ryan, M 2012, “A silver bullet for Australian cinema? Genre movies and the audience debate”, Studies in Australasian Cinema, Vol. 6, No.2, p 141-157.

Critique of Neskania

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For the past three months I have been following Ralphie’s subreddit project, Neskania. Neskania is a subreddit where users are able to submit content to build an alternative world. The aim of the project was to build a world from a complete blank canvas, where users would submit historical events, native music, food ideas, agricultural products that the local economy survives on and maps.

Ralphie’s methodology has changed over the past thirteen weeks. Neskania started as a simple subreddit where Ralphie merely had an introduction post which was not receiving much traffic. His marketing methodology only consisted of posting in subreddits and promoting it through his personal Facebook. This resulted in individuals on his Facebook not understanding the concept or know how to use Reddit.  This led Ralphie to change his methodology in an attempt to build a greater audience. Ralphie broadened his marketing externally of Reddit and Facebook, by tackling websites and forums for content creators (such as DeviantArt) and alternative world creators. He also attempted to repost content from his subreddit to other subreddits to gain interest.

Ralphies trajectory has slightly changed focus from the start where he was driven to gain readers rather than content creators. This resulted in Neskania achieving  sixteen subscribed readers, though he was not achieving  audience engagement within his subreddit. Ralphie started to engage with the subreddit more by creating a weekly update of the developments within Neskania and detailing what needed to be created. This was in an attempt to keep people interested and updated although his audience did not respond well. Resulting in the weekly updates becoming biweekly.

In an attempt to generate a further interest Ralphie utilised some of the features of Reddit by creating a Wiki and help section. The Wiki was a learning curve for Ralphie and required him to do extensive research on how to use ‘mark down’ to create the Wiki. The Wiki is inventive and adds realism to the project, thus would hopefully result in further engagement.  Though this did not happen and it seems this was due to the platform Neskania was built on. This led Ralphie to add a help section, this explains the aim of Neskania and how to contribute content. However, the issue with this section is that you have to go to the Wiki tab to find it. I was unable to find this at first because I am not a Reddit user and I believe this help section would only be helpful to avid reddit users and even then it is in an obscure place.

Ralphie also spent some time creating flairs for events, craft, ideas, etc… This allows all the content to be aggregated easier into topics and adds some colour to his page. Especially as he was unable to create a banner for his subreddit. He expressed his expectations that flairs would increase engagement.

Neskania has not succeeded as first expected and I believe perhaps the marketing and platform choice were what let this project down. Ralphie noted that he utilised websites that have a community whom make alternative worlds. Although I feel that if he perhaps used one of these sites to make his community on or attempted to develop a website to host all submitted content, the project may have been more successful. A website would have perhaps allowed the Neskania world to be further digitally built and allow its features to be visual. Though the subreddit would still be necessary as it would be a good platform to aggregate ideas and implement them to the site.  A website and perhaps in conjunction with a Facebook group would allow multiple platforms that users could submit content to. This would maybe help solve the issue for the individuals whom are not sure or willing to learn how to use Reddit.

The Wiki is a fantastic idea, however; the help section should not be placed under this segment. The help section is too hard to find and this renders it redundant. It perhaps could be within the description box before or after the brief description of Neskania, or simply have the help section’s content in this description area with reference to where to find facts about Neskania. Therefore, directing the users to the Wiki,as  if a person is unsure how to post or what to post it is unlikely they would be able to find this section or even look for it, if it is not obvious. Alternatively the facts in the description may fair better as a pinned post to the subreddit allowing room for the help section to be placed by itself in the description.

Overall I feel Neskania is a niche project that would only appeal to some individuals. Resulting in the difficultly to immerse users into this world and create content. Especially as the project was hosted on a platform that can be hard for first time users to comprehend. The concept of the project was fantastic as it was not just providing individuals with content but encouraging creativity through submitting content. If this project was hosted on a different platform with perhaps a better marketing plan it may have been better received.  I firmly believe that a large percentage of individuals prefer to observe rather than contribute. If this project continued by branching out onto other platforms it could possibly become quite successful though it would require better marketing and a better setup.

Animal Welfare Legislation (Autoehnography research: Animal Welfare in Asia)

After researching The Cove and the Chinese fur trade I was left feeling emotionally distraught and failed to understand why these animal plights were not illegal. State Secrets Protection Law may indicate why the Japanese people were obvious to the dolphin slaughter but what about China?

I was extremely fascinated to learn that in 2009 Sohu.com, which is a major Chinese search engine, polled Chinese citizens and 80% (Whitfort 2012 p.349) were in favour of introducing legislation to protect animals within their nation. A shocking statistic, because I could not understand why these slaughters were still widely occurring with a large percentage of the population supporting legislation against it? This is when I discovered that legislation is a large issue.

China does not have an animal protection law though legislation has been proposed and consistently changing. In 2009 China’s first animal protection law was drafted (Whitfort 2012 p. 347) proposing the protection of wild, farm, pet, laboratory and entertainment animals. Under the definition of cruelty being defined as;

deliberate use of brutal means and/or methods to cause unnecessary suffering/harm to the animal or the brutal means/or methods to kill it’

(Whitfort 2012 p.351). Currently the only legislation in place is the Protection of Wildlife 1988 which only protects endangered species or those that are vulnerable to economic or scientific research.  Thus resulting in the barbaric fur trade and other trades such as the bear bile trade within China.

Setting my bias aside, Whitford (2012 p.353) stated a fact that brought me to a realisation. Through the discussion of zoo’s which are non-government agencies they rely on money from ticket sales and Whitford (2012 9p.353) discovered that if zoos cease animal performances that visitor numbers drop and that if 10 000 tickets are sold half of that revenue is used to feed   a single lion. Place this in perspective it is clear that these zoos would ignore a ban on animal performances if legislation was to occur due to a lack of funding.

Though through my horror I have had an epiphany, Asia has multiple levels of animal welfare plights due to their lack of legislation and financial reliance. When I started to research animal rights within Asia I could not understand how the dolphin slaughter and fur trade’s practices were legal. However, I now understand that these practices are simply part of Chinese culture due to a lack of laws prohibiting the act. So why don’t aren’t humane practices automatically implemented?  Simply due to monetary restrictions.

Though would legislation really help? I believe perhaps slightly but it seems that the major issue in China is their bottom line, the inhumane practices are all based on a system that is attempting to gain a product without an economic burden. It also seems apparent that Chinese citizens are aware that their county has a significant animal welfare problem. I now better understand why these in humane practices are occurring due to economic benefits but this does not result in me condoning the issue.

I feel as though I have been criticizing the industry as though I would assume China and Japan would have international standards implemented. However, a country should develop its own standards to match their own individual priorities (Rahaman, Walker, Rickets 2005 p.599).

References:

Rahamn, S, Walker, L and Ricketts, W 2005, ‘Global perspectives on animal welfare: Asia, the far East and Oceania’, Rev.Sci.Tech.Off.In.Epiz, vol. 24, no.2, pp.597-610.

Whitfort, A 2012, ‘China’s Draft Animal Protection Law’, Sydney Law Review, vol.34, no. 347, pp. 347-370.

Furry Chinese Fashion Trade (Autoehnography research: Animal Welfare in Asia)

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In my previous post I touched on the idea raised in the Cove of Dolphins being denoted as pests of the sea by Japanese authorities. This led me to think what other species are classed as pests in Asian cultures this lead me to discovering the Chinese fur trade.

The Chinese fur trade is a hard plight to research due to the graphic images of senseless killings. China skin raccoon dogs, dogs and cats for their fur trade. These animals are mostly not killed humanely and are often skinned alive. My research indicated that some of these animals will be alive for 5-10minutes after they have been skinned (PETA 2015), why aren’t they killed first? Often to protect their fur.

China has a large contingent of street animals and often these street animals find themselves within the fur trade, with some cats and dogs still wearing collars. Around two million dogs and cats are bred or taken from streets in China and killed for the Chinese fur industry (Animals Australia 2015) each year.  This lead me back to a point raised in my previous post, Dolphin and Whale meat is common within Japan so does this also extend to cats and dogs being pests that needs to be exterminated just being a normal part of Asian culture?

I feel that Asian cultures have little respect for animal welfare, especially since they skin an animal that still has an ownership collar on them. China exports fur to multiple Western countries though what intrigues me is the question whether fur is a popular fashion icon within China?

Hong Kong holds a fashion fair specifically for fur, The Hong Kong International Fur and Fashion Fair which has been held since the 1930’s (China Exhibition 2015). In 2014 the festival generated $150 US Million in product sales, with Russia being the largest buyer though not far behind was China, Japan and Korea.  Thus it is evident that fur is a part of Asian culture, further evident through the Hong Kong Fur Federation striving to become the worlds ‘hub’ for fur products.

The Cove discussed that the Japanese people did not know that the Dolphin slaughter was occurring, I believe this is also the case within the fur trade. Obviously China has strict censorship but Japan’s Government implemented the State Secrets Protection law in December 2014 (Aota 2015). The State Secrets Protect legislation states that any public servants or others whom leak state secrets or journalist that encourage such leaks could be imprisoned for five to ten years (Lies 2014). This further explains the states tough stance on activism, the Cove being a prime example. Within the Cove it is often discussed that the Government employ the fishermen for the Dolphin slaughter, however; whenever an activist protests against the this slaughter as shown within the film they are arrested and not allowed back.  Hayden Panettiere is famous for not being able to return to Japan due to an arrest warrant for her protesting of the Dolphin slaughter within the Cove itself.

Will the State Secrets Protection legislation also criminalise whistle-blowers of animal plights? These plights seem to be hidden from the public. I plan to further investigate the animal welfare legislations within Asia.

References:

Animals Australia 2015, ‘Dog and Cat Fur’, FurAnimals Australia, viewed 16th September, url: < http://www.animalsaustralia.org/issues/fur.php>

Aota, H 2015, ‘Report: Japan’s Press Freedom Deteriorates under state secrets law’, The Asahi Shimbun, 13th Feburary, viewed 16th September, url: < https://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201502130073>

ChinaExhibition 2015, ‘2015 Hong Kong International Fur & Fashion Fair’, ChinaExhibition, viewed 16th September, url: <http://www.chinaexhibition.com/trade_events/6654-2015_Hong_Kong_International_Fur_and_Fashion_Fair.html >

Lies, E 2014, ‘Strict new Japan Secrets law take effect amid protest’, Reuters, 9th December, viewed 16th September, url: <http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/10/us-japan-secrets-idUSKBN0JN15920141210 >

PETA 2015, ‘The Chinese Fur Industry’, Animals Used for Fur- People for the Ethical Treament of Animals, viewed 16th September, url: <http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/fur/chinese-fur-industry/ >

Autoethnography research; Animal Welfare in Asia: Taiji Dolphin Slaughter

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Over the next few weeks I am going to be undertaking autoethnography research into the animal plights and the animal rights movement within Asia. To gain a better understanding of the plights and social/ legal reactions and beliefs to these issues. I want to start this research topic by firstly stating I will often hold a biased view due to my strong interest in animal welfare though I will attempt to document my findings in an unbiased manner.

I am starting off by looking at a popular topic; the dolphin slaughter in Taiji Japan. I sat down with my boyfriend and we watched the documentary, The Cove and it left an impression.

The point of autoenthongraphy research is to immerse yourself within the experience, with this film it was not hard to do.  My initial thought was I knew about the slaughter just not the extent that it actually occurs. The Cove produced numerous emotions each resulting in different cultural questions.

I felt fear for these dolphins whom are naturally free within the ocean being herded into the Taiji cove this emotion turns to anger when you see the fishermen harpoon the dolphins similar to their whaling ventures. When the water turned red and you see babies jumping, at one point you see a baby jump at the rocks trying to escape the bloody water of her parents and peers, you feel a hatred for the culture. Then the film contrasts these images with free dolphins jumping and enjoying the ocean, this is was the point I was led to tears for these mammals.

Through all the evidence I cannot understand how these fishermen desiccate these mammals, mammals who are highly intelligent with the possibility of surpassing our own intelligence. These images presented are those of mass murder there was even recordings of the screams. Yet the Japanese Government are hiding it through censorship. This leaves me questioning the legislation in Asian countries regarding animal rights whistle blowers with past activist being sent to prison from petty charges.

What is the real view in Japanese society in regards to the dolphin slaughter? International Whaling Commission representative for Japan in this film stated he could not see what was so special about this species and that it was solving a pest issue; the dolphins are apparently over eating the world’s fish population.  Though what is a massive concern is testing of fish meat within Asian nations, especially dolphin meat which is notorious for high levels of Mercury, what testing is done as currently I am under the impression that there is no national standard.

I am also currently under the assumption that dolphin and whale meat are as common in Japan as cow and pig meat are elsewhere. But what is the social views of these meats and the way they are sourced? Clearly through this film Japanese population are unaware of the source of their food and in some cases it seems they are unsure what they are even eating.

I currently feel enraged at the nation allowing this slaughter to take place, I am feeling further sadden and enraged as this slaughter starts every September, feeling that as I sit here researching that dolphins may be about to face a similar fate in Taiji.

Perhaps when I have a greater grasp on the social norms in society I may understand Asian cultures acceptance of a dolphin slaughter. Though I am intrigued to research their laws and regulations for individuals whom undertake animal activism.

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The concluding discovery (Ghost in a Shell)

When I look back over the past two weeks and read my blogs it is clear I was thinking too hard. I was looking to find a culture clash and I believe this was clear within my second post. My second post where I should have been focusing on my findings I believe show’s myself justifying the elements of this film due to its Asian context, which is wrong.

I was very focused on the nudity of the film, I have no problem with general nudity as I am an avid fan of True Blood. Though an unrealistic female body which I deemed clearly aimed at teen age boys was making me feel unease and disinterested. Though I seemed to view this in an Asian context, through my bewilderment and confusion with their strict regulated television when I was simply forgetting that I have no issue with nudity for other shows I watch. This has lead me to the epiphany that my emotional response was perhaps not due to limited exposure to Asian culture but rather  I personally connotate animated content being content for children. I see Anime as; Pokémon, Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon all of which I watched as a child, nevertheless; Pattern (1998 p.118) estimates that 30-40% of the overall anime market is aimed at adults.  Pattern (1998 p.118) also discussed that anime aimed at adults might be a higher percentage as the adult market has a vague definition and this area has a steady growth rate.  Thus, I have realized that I actually have judged Ghost in a Shell based from my interpretation of Anime being for Children/teens and never gave a thought that (besides Hentai) that the adult anime industry is nearly half of all anime created.

The second evaluation of my experience was my obsession with whether Motoko Kusanagi was human or not. I have a strong belief that if a life form is self-aware that are a living life form. Though it is interesting that I stayed focus on Cyborgs in an Asian context. Whilst researching I was surprised to find that robots are now widely expected outside of Asian culture, with their being a robot consensus being conducted at Carnegie Mellon University (USA) (Mims 2010) where 547 robots had been counted and they were still counting as Robots were always being created.

For there to be a consensus of robots being held this really places in perspective for me how robots are becoming part of our world and it shouldn’t be a foreign Sci-fi ideal. It was researching robotic cultures when I discovered why I found the idea of a robot run culture so interesting. I first wrote that I felt Ghost in a Shell was very “90’s”, in the 90’s a robotic based culture was a thing of the future, of a Sci-Fi world. This is when my second epiphany occurred, I feel that the cyborgs seemed out of place to me simply due to the decade I felt the film was based in. Though in regards to a self-aware robot, I simply believe as stated in my previous post that this was such a strong theme in this film due to the religious view of Animism.

When I discovered that Asian culture has a strong belief in Animism stemming from Shinto, it became clear to me why this was an imposing element. Clearly through the belief of Animism, Motoko has a spiritual essence, though this film is attempting to question the audience’s beliefs.

Through evaluation I believe I have a better understanding of anime and Ghost in a Shell. I am also more aware of why I have reacted to this text in the way I have and I can see a clear transition of my understanding developing as I have analysed my response to Ghost in a Shell.

References

Mims, C 2010, “World’s First Robot Census”, MIT Technology Review, 11th October, viewed on 25th August 2015, url < http://www.technologyreview.com/view/421165/worlds-first-robot-census/?p1=A3 >

Pattern, F 1998, “The Anime Porn Market”, in Watching Anime, Reading Manga: 25 years of Essays and Reviews, Stone Bridge Press, Berkeley, p.118.

Re-evaluating my understanding of Ghost in a Shell

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I feel my account of Ghost in a Shell requires further analysis. I want to further explore a few elements that invoked strong responses from me within my previous post. Firstly Ghost in a Shell requires previous knowledge, it has assumed knowledge. This is a trait of Japanese culture, Japanese culture is known as a high context culture thus they communicate primary through nonverbal cues. This is through the belief that everyone has a shared understanding. With this now in my mind I recall the characters often communicating through nonverbal communication, cues which may have added to my confusion due to my lack of contextual background.

The nudity within Ghost in a Shell was confronting, especially since Japanese culture has strong censorship within the media; nevertheless, Motoko Kusanagi consistently had her nipples on display. Though I could not grasp why we never saw a naked male character. Japanese culture does not condone the male organ, their adult toy industry for instant will not allow penis shaped objects to be sold. To counteract this all penis shaped objects have a face on the end. Even though the culture has strong censorship it seems clear the female body is more acceptable than males. Though why isn’t the nudity censored as it would be generally in a Japanese film? This perhaps could be due to the anime being a computer generated image or perhaps it is widely accepted because the character is a cyborg and not footage of an actual human, thus this leads into my second question, was Motoko really a human?

My basic belief is that due to being self-aware Motoko could be considered human. Japanese culture embraces artificial intelligence as demonstrated within this film. Christopher Mims (2010) notes that Japanese culture is accepting of robots as equals and believe that they inherit a soul, this is stemmed from Animism that is a component of  their religion Shinto. Thus they see robots as aiding everyday life, this is clear in Ghost of a Shell as they are aiding in peace keeping. This also provides context to why the main character is conflicted with grasping her existence, the film is promoting the audience to question their beliefs. Thus stimulating audience participation within the film.

Perhaps if I was to re-watch the film knowing the belief that robots are equals with souls in Japanese culture I would perhaps greater understand the importance and melancholy feeling and be able to engaged within the films attempt to make me question her existence.

References

Mims, C 2010, “Why Japanese Love Robots (And Americans Fear Them)”, MIT Technology Review, 12th October, viewed on 25th August 2015, url < http://www.technologyreview.com/view/421187/why-japanese-love-robots-and-americans-fear-them/ >