From this week’s reading on Indionesian popular culture one point that really stood out to me was the fact these shadow plays face the danger of being lost within the modern culture. This would potentially be caused by three main factors including the schoolhouse, lightbulb and the motorbike. Each of these factors would lead to certain changes in the community which could essentially lead to the decline of these shadow plays. Education meant higher literacy rates which would essentially expand the possibilities for children in terms of entertainment and education. Electricity meant alternate forms of entertainment would be available such as television and finally they might choose to spend their disposable income on transportation such as a motorbike.
This idea of cultural traditions being pushed aside due to changing technologies and improvements in society is quite unfortunate. It sad to think that the future generations may not be exposed to certain elements of a culture and therefore I think we should always hold onto those important elements that exist within our own culture.
The reading titled “Kitty Litter: Japanese Cute at Home and Abroad” has assisted me in understanding the widespread impacts of the character Hello Kitty in addition with the concept of kawaii both in Japan and around the world.
Previously my interpretation of the Japanese word kawaii was simply its English translation into “cute”. The readings have greatly broadened my knowledge of this concept and has lead to the discovery that my previous interpretation was extremely inadequate. Different dimensions encompass the concept of kawaii including the physical and emotional dimensions (McVeigh 2000) Physically any item which is small in size is considered kawaii or if the object is originally large in size it can also be classified as kawaii if it is shrunken down to a small miniature size. In addition to this is the emotional dimension whereby any character who evokes vulnerability and a need to be cared for is also considered to be kawaii. The idea that miniature is cute is certainly relatable in our everyday lives. When shopping at stores such as Ikea which have children sections containing miniature versions of the adult furniture these miniaturized pieces are frequently labelled as “cute” due to their size.
Secondly the reading highlights the vast impact of Hello Kitty on the everyday life of people around the world. Hello Kitty for some is essentially a way of life as they have many different aspects which revolve around this one single fictional character. Within an office environment Hello Kitty has the ability to increase office morale even during economic downturn. In an family environment the consumption of Hello Kitty merchandise makes an individual a better mother to her children. It is considered the mothers obligation to teach her children how to be consumers as they grow up. Hello Kitty helps in defining an individual and provides one with a sense of belonging within themselves and towards others. Generation gaps as bridged as mothers and daughters come together as well as friends. In interviews with consumers it was discovered that they each had their own memories of Hello Kitty from when they were children. These memories of special occasions has the ability to bring peace to one of the respondents. Personally I can also relate to this idea as I myself have memories of Hello Kitty when I was a child. Many years ago there was a Hello Kitty partnership with McDonalds where they released a new toy each day over a period of time. There was this one particular toy which I really wanted and on the day I went with my family down to McDonalds to line up for over an hour to get this one toy. This memory reminds me of relationship I have with my family and the sacrifices which they have made for me over the years. Such events certainly have the ability to bring people together and develop relationships.
Both the concept of kawaii and the character Hello Kitty undoubtedly have played and will continue to play a major role in the lives of those in Japan and around the world. The popularity of this cartoon cat shall continue to expand as it is passed on to each subsequent generation.
McVeigh, B. 2000, ‘How hello kitty commodifies the cute, cool and camp: “Consumutopia” versus “control” in Japan’, Journal of Material Culture, no. 5, pp. 225-245.
I think that dress plays a very important part in society and this idea was definitely reinforced in todays presentation on the topic of “politics of dress in Asia”
I see it a lot in todays culture. People from different backgrounds or from different areas of Sydney dress themselves in varying manners. Its all part of the different sub cultures that exist in our city.
I have had experience myself in terms of the Chinese qipao as a form of national dress. In the past when celebrating Chinese festivals all of my relatives would wear their qipaos as it plays an important part in who we are and represents our backgrounds.
One idea which I had never thought about until now was the perception of undress and the different representations that it has. Little did i know that in some countries the idea of undress played such an important role.
This weeks presentation topic on Chinese sexual culture provided some interesting unknown facts which i previously didnt know about the Chinese culture whilst also reinforcing existing experiences which i have encountered.
Little did i know that currently there are actually more sex shops in China that in the western world and that the sex toy industry is in fact a $2 billion a year industry. This is a staggeringly high figure and something which i previously didnt know at all.
I also did not know about the presence of the Super Girl tv show and the repercussions such shows have had on the Chinese female culture. The concept of “mobile sexuality” and the ability for females in China to essentially chose what gender they want to be gives sexuality and gender a dynamic aspect that i previously would not have understood. This has mainly come about due to the portrayal of females in the media such as through the Super Girl tv show.
Lastly one aspect i did already know about was the popularity of online simulation games. I have previously heard a lot about these games where people essentially live out an alternate life and get married with another virtual character to start a family. I have also seen these games being played by some of my own relatives. Personally I myself am not interested in these games but it was really interesting to discover all the effects these games can have on individuals such as negative social and psychological impacts
I think the topic this week on masculinity in Asian pop culture is very interesting as I myself have noticed the change over the past years as I have followed various different Korean Pop groups. As mentioned in the presentation during class it is very clear that the male bands in Korea have gone through many different phases over the past years. I first found out about Korean music in high school and now looking back at the music videos of the songs which I used to enjoy it is very clear how the masculinity of the artists have developed.
Another topic which I have come across in the past years which relates to the content of this week is the emasculation of Asian men in the US media. I guess you can conclude that this trend doesn’t just apply to US media but also in Asia as well.
Lastly the table in the lecture slide does a great job of highlighting the ideal attributes of masculinity from an Asian male perspective and I am not surprised by the findings. The large emphasis on having a job as well as having lots of money contrasted to the low priority of having a manly image and being attractive clearly outlines the differences of masculinity in Asia.
The reading titled Consumption, class formation and sexuality: Reading men’s lifestyle magazines in China has greatly broadened my understanding of difference between masculinity in the western society and masculinity in China. In addition the emergence of the “middle class” in China and the way in which they attempt to distinguish themselves within their society through consumption and association with “status” is very interesting. As put by Luigi Tomba (2004) the middle class “appear increasingly to shape their status around a new set of collective interests, especially in their modes of consumption and access to resources” Personally I have been able to witness this behaviour but through the readings have been able to acquire a more in depth understanding of the topic.
Previously I knew very little about the existence of male magazines in China. I would occasionally see them on the shelves when I was visiting the country but personally took no interest in them myself. The readings have given me an insight into the history of these magazines and their increasing popularity over the past decade. I never would of known the way these magazines were so interrelated to the changing culture and development of metrosexuality within the males in China. The concept that a magazine alone can represent a status symbol to the “middle class” of China is very shocking. I myself just view a magazine as a publication for reading and viewing and the idea that others may look about a magazine in envy due to its content or price was previously unfathomable.
Likewise the way in which the consumer of these magazines absorb and interpret the content is extremely different. As put forward in the readings it is viewed as a “taste textbook for successful men” and that “Your taste defines your position”. The emphasis of distinguishing yourself and establishing your status through your “taste” is not something I personally enjoy but I do witness this behaviour a lot overseas with my relatives. Their excessive spending on high end brands is now no longer surprising but has become an accepted fact of life. For example all the high end stores in Hong Kong such as Louis Vuitton always have long lines of people outside their stores waiting to buy the products. What is interesting though is the fact most of these people lining up are not from Hong Kong but rather from mainland China and have come down with the purpose of shopping. These stores are also available in China but they make the trip to Hong Kong in order to ensure the products are genuine. Due to the strong prevalence of counterfeit branded goods in China these consumers fear that even the main chain stores may not be selling genuine goods so they go to Hong Kong because they have a greater trust in the stores there.
The way in which culture has evolved especially the attitudes toward metrosexuality over the past decades has really challenged me to think about what new trends might occur in China over the upcoming decades. Being such a fast paced growing economy the possibilities are essentially endless.
Tomba, L. (2004). Creating an Urban Middle Class: Social Engineering in Beijing, The China Journal, No. 51