A Ping-Pong Affair

By understanding the presence and role of sport in different cultures, we learn why nations hold sport close to their hearts and why they are seen as a part of their national identity.

To understand culture, and our own cultural experiences, we often turn to Asia. The Earth’s largest and most populous continent, enriched with diversity and culture. Digital Asia open’s the doors to a variety of concepts, ideas and functions throughout the Asian culture. Research has shown that apart of this culture, sport is influencing factor that not only show cases athletic ability, but also opens the doors to understand diplomacy and history. For this digital artefact, I have chosen to explore China’s reigning sport, Ping-Pong also known as Table Tennis.

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Culture throughout the ages has progressed, it is “always evolving, dynamic and hybrid” and “cannot be understood as static, eternally given and essentialist”. In order to understand culture, and we must understand its foundations past and present. Table tennis is apart of Chinese history; we acknowledge its integration into society through communism and its role as national identity. Understanding these components allow us to broaden our intercultural understandings, due to my own cultural background and worldview, my research on Asian sporting culture and more broadly has been very much characterised by new understandings.

By applying autoethnography as a research methodology, we are enabled to have an authentic and unaltered experience. Ellis describes autoethnography as “an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno)”. Autoethnography combines the characteristics of autobiography and ethnography, which allows you to selectively write about your past, thoughts and perceived moments that you feel influence your understanding of your area of study.

Through my existing topline understanding of table tennis, I found a likeness to tennis. This is significant as tennis is a sport I grew up playing and was heavily involved in – and this connection allowed me to find a commonality with my research topic. Ellis explains, “[autoethnographers] study a culture’s relational practices, common values and beliefs, and shared experiences.” Self-narrative “can take us to the depths of personal feeling, leading us to be emotionally moved and sympathetically understanding.” Exploring the culture and training of table tennis, I have been able to empathise with the athletes and take an appreciate to the consistency and focus of the game.

The following digital artefact will explore the game of table tennis in China and its cultural value, and how my understanding has been bolstered and impacted by my personal experiences and culture.

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Gojira 1954

Live tweeting is a difficult skill set, one that is only mastered over the course of the semester. However, lucky for me BCM325 prepared me for the big league.

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Unfortunately, I was unable to attend our first seminar back. Jet lag with a side of exhaustion from the first days back at work can really wear down a girl’s immune system. But the show goes on, and lucky for me the internet makes life a lot easier.

My first viewing experience of the semester was not pleasant and resulted in my tweets being forcefully taken down due to utter embarrassment.


Godzilla is a world renown movie, however, I must be living under a rock to have never seen any of the films.

I didn’t know what to expect with Gojira, a black and white film created in 1954 is not an everyday preference. Personally, I enjoy binge watching Harry Potter, any sortShodaiGoji_0.jpg of RomCom or action movie. To educate myself I read an article by the Atlantic to understand why Gojira is a popular film.

Christopher Orr, writes that having watched the American remakes as well as the Japanese original you are able to distinguish the cultural differences. “The Japanese original is far darker and more seamless, a topical fantasy of uncommon power. It may not be a great film, but it is an important one, a surprisingly sombre meditation on means and ends, on when exactly the price of peace becomes too costly to pay“.

 

It was brought to my attention that many Japanese kaiju movies are created as a metaphor  for the nuclear horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Gojira is, as Orr explains, “a theme of visceral immediacy” which becomes increasingly evident throughout the film. It added, in my opinion, more value to the film. Rather than reflecting a myth or legend, the tragedy that struck Japan was channelled in order to create a ‘timeless’ film.

I found that viewing this film in black and white with the accompaniment of subtitles exhibited the overall metaphor of destruction and dispart of the film. Generally, the effect of black and white can cause the viewer to reminisce, it enhanced the feeling of fear and apocalyptic ruins. Director Honda explains, “I took the characteristics of an atomic bomb and applied them to Godzilla“, and I felt that this was further reinforced through the black and white effect of the film.

Having understood the general gist of the remade Godzilla, it was interesting to watch the original and parallel it to the remake(s). America’s Godzilla – King of Monsters, was made to look through the American eye. Producers edited the original Gojira to include the US perspective told by a new protagonist Mr Martin. The protagonist reports on the events of Gojira in Japan without translating the original dialogue. This was an element I thought exhibited how cultural understands heavily influence perceptions and in this case production.

Researchers say that elements of the original film, that were not included in the America remake deter away from the impact of nuclear destruction in Japan. Rather it created an awareness for ‘global nuclear threat’, and comparing these diverse additions of Gorjia we can understand how the nuclear war and the arms race in the 50s have been diversely perceived all around the world.

This cautioned me to rethink my viewing habits. As a Harry Potter enthusiast, with an interest in dystopia, cyborgs and all things comedy. Am I being conditioned through the American lens? My initial understanding of Godzilla as a whole was through Austin Power’s reference to Godzilla in Gold Member. But as you can tell, I have been living under a rock…..

Next time someone tells me to watch the original before the remake, I will listen.