Gojira in all his glory

Autoethnography is a relatively new concept to me and admittedly upon hearing it I was at a complete loss. Ellis et al. (2011) defines autoethnography as the approach to researching and writing, that systematically both describe and analyses a personal experience in order to understand one’s cultural experience. Simply put it is the personal observation, of a personal experience and interaction with a culture in order to form a greater understanding of that experience.

Having watched the later Godzilla films many times (especially the second one, a childhood favourite of mine, for reasons that now escape my memory), I was somewhat familiar with the overall storyline. Although this was my first time watching the original Gojila, filmed in 1954 I definitely wasn’t my first time experiencing Japanese media. I’ve dabbled in a lot of different forms of Japanese culture from Anime and manga to TV dramas, and feel this prior experience however small helped me understand some of the references or Japanese practices and traditions. These are some of my observations during my viewing of Gojila:

  • Gojila (or Godzilla) the monster, was not very scary (no offence 1945) – obviously we have come a long way with special effects and costuming although I still wonder were people back then actually afraid when watching this movie?
  • Obvious miniature sets were very obvious, as well as impressive and incredibly detailed.
  • Consistent reminders and references to Hiroshima and American brutality throughout the movie. From what I remember from the newer versions of Godzilla, this is something that is also consistent in the newer movies as well – 2014 Godzilla was not as subtle with the heavy references on personal loss and the consistent refusal from the military to learn from previous mistakes.
  • Unnecessary love triangle or dramatics that does nothing to add to the story or plot aside from try to have the audience feel something for the emotional state of the characters (all in all movie would have been essentially the same without the love triangle) – can’t have an action movie without a bad romance plot.
  • Emiko needs to calm down. Let me clarify, I thought that maybe everyone would be a bit more over dramatic when I saw Emiko in the beginning of the film but soon came to realise that all women in this film were dramatic (and yes some of the male characters are to, but its sparse). Maybe it suited the era but watching it now I couldn’t take the movie or the scenes serious when Emiko was screaming in horror at dead fish, running into walls and crying as she looked into the distance. Calm yo self. I would be interested to see if over dramatizing movie or TV shows is a norm amongst Japanese media.
  • Is that a landmark I see? Well can’t have that now can we? Hollywood’s love of destroying well known structures and well known land marks know no bounds, culture, time or country all landmarks must go!
  • A lot of Japanese traditions and customs were present throughout the movie. I found it an interesting insight into the Japanese home life and family hierarchy.
  • Had distinct gender roles, only real occupations for women were nurse or teachers (that I saw anyway) – not too sure what Emiko was. Was she an assistant to her father? Or did she just follow him around?
  • Notices that some of the basic translations weren’t exactly correct but interoperated for that eras use of slang in countries such as America.

All in all I found the movie quite interesting especially in its original setting, and definitely enjoyed some of the little quirks it offered (like the mini sets).

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6 thoughts on “Gojira in all his glory

  1. tjleussink says:

    Interesting account of your first encounter with autoethnography. Great to see that you used the readings definition to set up your post as you commented on Gojira and your previous experience with Japanese media. In saying so, I would have loved to see what you thought autoethnography was in your own terms, whether you agreed with Ellis et al or whether you thought it was something entirely given what was in the reading. Your experience wit Gojira was very similar to that of mine, especially when you commented on the use of over-dramatics and obvious use of mini-sets, although what can we expect from a 1954 film that did the best it could with pre-modern CGI. Perhaps drawing from the reading further may strengthen the post in terms of readers that do not come rom the DIGC330 class and may give them a little more information as to what you are writing about etc. (this was some feedback I received also) Concluding, I enjoyed your account of Gojira and felt you engaged with autoethnography while viewing it.

  2. bw575 says:

    I really enjoyed reading your analysis of Gojira because our experiences were very different. I’m not familiar with Japanese film and i’ve never seen the film before, but because you have, you brought a different perspective of Japanese culture and history to the text. This being said, we drew on similar topics in our reflections including special effects and the way it was filmed, i.e the miniature sets. Good job! 🙂

  3. ohitsthatgirlsblog says:

    I liked reading your post as I find the world of Asian film, culture and media to be so foreign and very hard to grasp on to. I guess this is where the idea of applying Ellis et al’s autoethnographical element comes into play. It would have been interesting to read how you – someone who has immersed themselves in Japanese film, culture and media – would have applied Ellis’s methodology and if that would change your interpretation of Godzilla. However, I like how detailed your dot points were and 100% agree that Emiko needs to calm it!

  4. dominiquegaitt says:

    Hey Chrissy! Great Autoethnography. I agree with your point that Emiko needs to calm down but I think that has less to do with over dramatization of Japanese media of the era and probably more to do with gender roles and enhancing female stereotypes of the era. Japan Power note in their post on gender expectations: http://www.japanpowered.com/japan-culture/a-look-at-gender-expectations-in-japanese-society that it is very normal to see females in traditional roles of cooking and cleaning in the home throughout Japanese media. This notion that women are creatures of the home I feel is further reflected through the lack of definition of Emiko’s job. As it is unimportant because she is a woman and will end up marrying one of her many suitors and live a life in the home instead of molding a career. Fantastic post highlighting some very interesting observations through your autoethnographic experience!

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