An Anime Auto-ethnographic Experience Take 2.

Watching ‘Ghost in the Shell’ was a whole new experience for me. Whilst I didn’t particularly enjoy the film, it was a genre that I don’t often (if ever) watch. As I wrote in my previous post, I found it hard to keep up with the film as my mind was constantly wandering elsewhere. What I did gather from the film was a strong theme of questioning what it means to be human.
When it was put to the class that we had to continue from our previous posts, I found myself at a mental standstill. I had no idea what further thoughts I had of the film. And to be really honest, I hadn’t given the film a single thought since watching it. In a somewhat confused state, I began analysing my previous post and looking at ways in which I could progress in examining Ghost in the Shell.
My first thought was that I don’t really have a great understanding of what anime is. I knew that anime is a Japanese animated production and that the genre became particularly popular in the Western world during the 60’s when Astro Boy was produced in English.
So I started researching the history of Anime and found that I was able to make sense of some things that had confused me with a basic understanding of anime conventions. Here are some things that I found interesting with regards to the history of anime and Ghost in the Shell:
– Anime is a diverse art form with distinctive production methods (eg. There is less focus on movement and more on the realism of settings) and techniques that have been adapted over time in response to emergent technologies.
As it turns out, the film ‘Ghost in the Shell’ was one of the first films to be produced using a combination of both cel animation and computer generated images.
I also wondered how the philosophy behind the futuristic setting of the film (2029) would be conveyed in other genres. The production of Ghost in the Shell as an anime seems to perfectly fit the genres production techniques, allowing for heavier themes to underlie the storyline. I wonder how well the moral of the film will adapt to the forthcoming Hollywood release.

– Diverse art styles are used and character proportions and features can be quite varied, including characteristically large emotive eyes or realistically sized eyes. Body proportions also tend to accurately reflect the proportions of the human body in reality.
This particular convention lit a light bulb in my head and made me think straight away of the nudity in the film. The nudity was not overly sexualised, it was just showing a human body, although it was a point that a lot of students in the class (including myself) raised as somewhat odd. Perhaps the nudity in this film was to make Kusanagi seem more “real”, more “human” in a world where the meaning of being human was constantly being contested.

With a basic understanding of anime conventions under my belt, I found that I was able to understand the films theme with a lot more clarity.
This futuristic film questions what it means to be human in a world where a vast electronic network pervades all aspects of life.
In the film, the term ‘ghost’ is used to define an individual’s conscious. Science has redefined the ‘ghost’ as the thing that differentiates a human being from a biological robot, meaning that as long as an individual retains their ghost, they retain their humanity.
The process of evolution in the film also acts as a major theme. Except that in this world, evolution is a process of merging two sets of DNA together in order to create a third. An example of this is the story of Kusanagi, a cyborg who was once a human, although due to an illness as a child had most of her body replaced with cybernetic prosthetics. Throughout the film we see Kusanagi continuously question whether or not she was actually once a human. At the end of the film Kusanagi’s body is destroyed and her brain is put in a new body.
Whilst this demonstrates the process of evolution in the film, it also questions what it means to be human beyond having the ability to think. If all bodies were replaced with cybernetic parts would you still be human? Does replacing the brain still make one human? What exactly does being human mean?!

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The Truth Within the Paleo Diet

“ADHD, Autism, Allergies, Anxiety, Asthma, Bi-Polar, Cancer, Chronic Fatigue, Depression, Dementia, Diabetes, Dyslexia, Heart Disease, Schizophrenia, Obesity are all diseases that begin in the gut…. You know what else begins in the gut? A great big load of shit.” Charlie Pickering, 2015.

The Paleo Diet. A “new” fad diet that by now, I’m sure everyone has heard of. But just in case you haven’t, here’s a quick lowdown. The Paleo diet, or Palaeolithic Diet is a diet based on what our ancestors of the Palaeolithic era would have eaten. It avoids foods such as grains, legumes and many dairy foods and instead opts for lean meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, non-starchy vegetables and nuts. This highly celebrity-endorsed diet claims to cure many diseases and guarantees rapid weight-loss results.

Balzer, 2007

Balzer, 2014

Well known Australian chef and Paleo-Diet-Endorser Chris Evans (AKA ‘Paleo Pete’) was put under public scrutiny when ABC’s ‘The Weekly’ host Charlie Pickering gave a lengthy rant about the fad diet after both Channels 7 and 10 aired segments on the movement.

While the clip that Pickering is making a point about about does showcase the fad diet in all its glory, it also fails to mention how harmful the diet can be.
In Channel 7’s segment, we see that reporter Mike Willesee loses a noticeable amount of weight in the 5-week period, but when comparing the paleo food regime to his former “ice cream and coca cola” diet, it comes with no surprise that his weight improved!

“Advice such as ‘avoid all grains or all dairy’ only ensures people will miss out on vital nutrients, and adds confusion to an already noisy world filled with fad diets and empty promises of rapid weight loss.” Emma Bourke, Australian Heart Foundation, 2014

While the paleo diet does encourage eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, the exclusion of grains and dairy from a healthy diet means that people are missing out on vital nutrients. For example, grains (and other carbohydrate foods) are a good source of energy that provides essential nutrients and fibres, so the cutting out of this particular food group from a diet is not helpful in maintaining a healthy weight.

paleo_pyramids

Whilst the paleo diet has gained a large amount of interest (largely through celebrity endorsement), the Dieticians Association of Australia (DAA) is warning against the diet, saying there is no evidence supporting the advantages of the diet.
In fact, the DAA have conducted some of their own research, where participant’s paleo experiences were followed for three months. They found that in the short term, the diet was hard to adhere to and very costly, with some participants even dropping out! They also reinforce that with fad diets such as the paleo diet, which are promoted by celebrities, there is no responsibility held with regards to individual diet and health advice. Proving that, seeking the advice of an Accredited Practicing Dietician (APD) is the most beneficial avenue.

Reference List:

Balzer, B 2014, Paleo in 25 Words, Ben Balzer’s Palaeolithic Diet Site, weblog post, 2 July, viewed 23 August 2015, <http://benbalzer.com/?s=paleo+in+25+words&gt;

Bourke, E 2014, Heart Foundation Comment on Paleo Diet, Heart Foundation, viewed 23 August, <http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/news-media/Media-Releases-2014/Pages/heart-foundation-comment-paleo-diet.aspx&gt;

Dieticians Association of Australia 2015, Paleo Diet, Dieticians Association of Australia, viewed 23 August, <http://daa.asn.au/for-the-public/smart-eating-for-you/nutrition-a-z/paleo-diet/&gt;

Pickering, C 2015, The Weekly: Paleo Diet, online video, 19 August, Youtube, viewed 23 August, <https://youtu.be/gHOZhkjOclI&gt;

An Anime Experience

Being told that you’ll be watching a film during your first class for the session is always an exciting event. This unusual happening was made even more thrilling when we were given an option as to which film we wanted to watch. My attention had been grabbed. When we were asked if we’d prefer to watch Godzilla or a film that I didn’t quite catch the title of, I was really hoping that the majority vote was for the former, as I had no idea what the ‘Ghost’ movie was, and being a class about Digital Asia I was pretty safe in assuming that it wasn’t Patrick Swayze’s ‘Ghost’. But, alas, the majority vote went to ‘Ghost in the Shell’, an anime film. My heart dropped. I’m not a fan nor do I follow anime (outside of some childhood fave’s including Pokémon and Sailor Moon), so I was somewhat hesitant as the film began.

ghostintheshell
Perhaps it was due to my lack of understanding of anime, but I found myself rather disinterested in the film, and spent the time distracting myself with thoughts about travel, market stalls and motorbikes.
However, there were a few times that the film did manage to grab my attention. The first being the use of the thermal invisi-shield, which I admit, I thought was a pretty cool inclusion for a 90’s film. Sci-fi digs aside though, I found that a lot of the film seemed to be questioning what it means to be human. It went beyond the ‘I think; therefore I am’ stigma and instead delved further into being human via means of showing feelings such as empathy and vulnerability, both of which were displayed with nudity and the desire to reproduce.
I don’t think that I’ll be watching anime films at leisure anytime soon, however I did find it interesting that Dreamworks have recently announced that they will be doing their own adaptation of the film directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Scarlett Johansson. However, this has been greeted with much dismay from fans of the original Japanese anime form, who have created a petition and have so far got over 15,000 signatures in order to have Johansson’s role dismissed and instead replaced with an actress of Asian heritage.

Anti-Racism outside of Media Paradigms

In this weeks class there was a lot of focus on how Muslims are represented in Australia and what it means to be Australian in regards to the treatment of Muslims in public. For me (in regards to the videos watched where “Australians” were seen sticking up for Muslims being targeted by Islamophobes in public), standing up for someone – in this case a targeted Muslim – does not make one Australian, it’s a natural human response. This also further brings to question what exactly it means to be Australian? If we were to judge by what was seen in the videos, one would think that to be Australian would mean being heroically white – inarguably a very questionable point.

However, what surprised me was that there was no mention of the change of relationships between muslim and non-muslim people, especially after several global responses over the last few months. It seems that since 9/11, the media has got the world in a tangle in regards to muslim-hate, derived from terror attacks world-wide. We haven’t been led to realise that the Islamist’s performing these attacks are part of a very minor group (I doubt that there was a lot of Christian-hate during the KKK movements in the 1800’s – although I do think that reasoning for lack of fear in comparison to recent Islamophobia is due to the differences in what media sources were available during each time). Instead, the media have taken the angle that all Muslim’s are bad, in some cases it’s been so extreme that different areas now have Burqa bans – which is taking the Muslim-hate issue to an stand-point well beyond discrimination. Although, the last couple of years have seen a change in how Muslim’s have been represented. The world finally caught on to the media representations and people started forming their own thoughts. Which has got us to the point of unity that we are at now. The first occasion being that of the overwhelming response to the Sydney Siege, where the hashtag #illridewithyou became viral and saw Muslims and non-Muslims alike band together as one. Another occasion where the world showed global unity was at the freedom march in Paris after the Charlie Hebdo attack. A particular moment that stood out for me whilst I watched the march on TV was when a Pakistani and Israeli man were standing next to each other, noticed one another – two strangers – and embraced. Proving to everyone that there is no hatred, we are standing up to those who are trying to create a separation.
While what we studied in class demonstrated this to a degree, it was limited in that it only showed reactions to bullying in a public place, and highlighted how to react in an ‘Australian’ manner. When in fact terrorism is a global problem, not just local to Australia. And how people respond isn’t a contributing factor to one’s national identity; responding to threatening behaviour (whether it be standing up for someone in public or a city rallying together) in regards to race is a global response, which demonstrates unity and anti-discrimination in practice.

Gender and the State of the Newsroom

The focal point for this weeks topic was where women stand in terms of equality in media jobs. While it is very well known that women and men are treated differently in the media workforce, there is little emphasis ever put on sexuality in the workforce.

Recently, an acquaintance of mine left his job at a well known TV station. While this is not an unusual happening, his reason for leaving had me feeling shocked, and surprised at finding out that treatment of this sort is still happening. My friend felt forced to finish up his 10 year career with a major Australian TV company because he was severely bullied in the workplace for being gay. While I will not go into details of the bullying that he was receiving, further research has led me to discovering that he is not alone in this type of workplace discrimination.
Although same-sex marriage is still yet to be legalised in this country, I thought it to be absolutely absurd that something so unimportant, such as a person’s sexuality to still be an issue not only in the workplace, but also in general. For starters, we’re in the 21st century, sexuality shouldn’t matter! Secondly, we live just shy of Sydney, one of the top ten gay friendly cities in the world, so one would think, if anything, that being gay in this area would be well supported by society!

Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case. According to the Same-Sex: Same Entitlements Inquiry which was commissioned by the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2006, harassment of LGBT persons in the workplace is still a common occurrence. Leaving many LGBT workers feeling like they’re being targeted and needing to forfeit their careers to escape from the homophobic environment. In some cases, applicants have been unsuccessful in getting jobs and promotions for being homosexual. The Inquiry also found that, when feeling forced to leave a position due to discrimination, the victim rarely takes legal action, which I found interesting as my friend chose not to take legal action when leaving his job. The example that is used in the Inquiry speculates that the reason for not taking legal action may be due to the ‘who knows who’ in the particular industry that the worker was from, which can also be applied to media jobs, although my friends reasoning for not taking action was simply because he wanted to move on from what had happened.

In terms of benefits and roles within certain jobs, it seems that roles that members of the LGBT community have within the media are similar to that of women. For example, homosexuals are given ‘soft stories’ to cover ie; Richard Reid, the Today Show’s token celebrity gossip guru.
And in terms of entitled leave, same-sex couples aren’t guaranteed parental leave, as the WorkChoices legislation has narrow definitions for the terms ‘spouse’ and ‘child’, meaning that homosexual co-parents aren’t guaranteed the leave due to the legislations definition of ‘paternity leave’. This is also the same for work-related travel entitlements, as same-sex partners is not included in the definition of ‘spouse’.

The Inquiry concludes the segment on homosexual treatment in the workplace by recommending that definitions and clauses in several legislations need to be amended in order for there to be equal treatment amongst homosexual and heterosexual persons in the workforce, and I couldn’t agree more.

Campaigning for Animals

It’s been two weeks since we did the in-class study of animal cruelty. Two weeks and it is still constantly on my mind. Thinking about what we were researching makes me feel sick and horribly angry. I’ve also annoyed my boyfriend because apparently I never stop talking about Blackfish either. I’ve always been an animal lover and growing up have always believed that I have this ability to connect with animals – like an animal whisperer.

Contrary to my opinion regarding ‘ignorance is bliss’ in relation to war images, in terms of animal cruelty, I’ve (quite ashamedly) remained dutifully ignorant. This is in no way because I don’t care, it is because I can’t stand to watch or know of these instances happening and knowing about it makes me deeply sad.
When watching the Four Corners episode on the live cattle exports to Indonesia, I found that my head was constantly turned, I couldn’t bare to watch what was happening. I struggled to even watch the ‘humane’ method of stunning cattle. While I think that this expose was necessary, I personally preferred the bubble that I was living in prior to watching this. Eating meat has always been a sensitive point for myself. I am not a vegetarian. I have tried several times, but have not followed through. Not because I am low-driven, but because I am human, and humans were made omnivores. We need the protein that is in both meat and plants. While there are substances available, I find that my body really struggles with the absence of meat in my diet.
However, in saying that, monitoring how these animals are being prepared for the abattoir needs to be strict. There is absolutely no justifiable reason for hurting and injuring animals, not only for the sake of the animal, but also for the consumer as the meat isn’t going to be tender if the animal’s muscles were tight at the time of death.

In regards to Blackfish, I don’t think I’ve ever felt such an arrangement of emotion in 90minutes in my life! The set up that SeaWorld has with the Orcas is beyond disgusting. Knowing what I do now since having watched Blackfish has left me feeling noticeably dumb and so naive as to what’s really going on. SeaWorld, like many other theme parks, really plays on the Disney effect. Happiness is constantly felt because everything is being so well looked after ….. NOT! Before watching Blackfish, the concept of their Orcas being held captive had never occurred to me. I believed in these amazing relationships between human and Killer Whale. I thought it was interesting to learn that the former SeaWorld trainers that were featured in the film were under the same belief too, proving that SeaWorld is particularly good at deceiving all. For the duration of the film I was in a state of shock. I was under the assumption that the animals used at SeaWorld were rescued, and was severely disheartened to learn that they were captured and separated from their families. You would’t take a child from a mother, so how does SeaWorld justify taking a calf from its mother? Clearly, they justify it with dollar signs. Which is sick, but also proven in several cases regarding the death of trainers at their parks. It’s become almost a pattern now, that when a death occurs at a SeaWorld or affiliate park, the blame is quickly pointed at the trainer. This is absolutely cowardly. There are several reasons as to why Orcas have killed trainers, for example frustration – the pools that they are kept in are in no way comparative to their natural habitat, to make comparisons, it would be like a human being trapped inside a 4×4 room for the entirety of their lives. I know I certainly would’t enjoy that, so what makes SeaWorld think a huge, wild animal would enjoy being held captive in a tiny pool when compared to their natural environment of the ocean?!
Another reason for trainer deaths affiliated with Orcas is because the Orca simply wants to play, although for obvious reasons, Orca’s and humans playing together isn’t going to work. Another (obvious) reason for Orca’s attacking is because it is in their nature! They are wild animals who pray on smaller sized species. When hungry or being starved of food, if a human foot is to slip into the pool, of course they are going to lunge for it – it’s food!
While these are just some examples as to why captive Orca’s have attacked humans, they are enough to prove that no matter how well a person may think they know an animal, they can’t change what natural instincts these animals have!
While I am glad that SeaWorld haven’t euthanised Tilikum (the whale that most recently killed SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau) our reasons for keeping him alive are very different. Instead of putting Tilikum in a Sea Sanctuary (as explained in a National Geographic interview with a former SeaWorld trainer) SeaWorld have kept Tilikum as their sperm donor. They pay people to masturbate this whale on a regular basis so that they can gather the sperm and inseminate other female whales. While this is blatantly disgusting, this also creates further issues as the majority of the whales being produced at SeaWorld are fathered by Tilikum, meaning that SeaWorld have created inbred whales.
While the easy thing to say in protest to SeaWorld is ‘release the Orca’s’, unfortunately this can’t be done. As most of the whales have been raised in captivity (and are inbred), there are a lot of health issues which surround that, making Sea Sanctuaries the best place for them.
Since watching Blackfish, I have re-watched it, researched articles related to Orca’s being held captive and searched for organisations petitioning against SeaWorld. With companies like National Geographic interviewing former trainers and advocates against SeaWorld emerging, I hope that the end to Orca’s in captivity will be coming to an end soon. I know I’m definitely going to be doing what I best can to help this movement!

Looking at Others

The focal point in this weeks topic was the image of Afghan woman, Aisha who was on the cover of Time magazine in 2010. The publishing of this image on the front cover of the magazine was met with much scrutiny and controversy. Issues were raised not about Aisha’a mutilated face, but the caption with which accompanied the photo – ‘What Happens if we leave Afghanistan’. A pretty cocky title if you ask me. The combination of those 6 words with the picture of Aisha represent exploitation and an absurd twisted kind of guilt trip, attempting to make readers feel that we must keep sending our troops over to Afghanistan to save the women who “evidently” can’t look after themselves. Upon reading the article itself, one quickly notices that Aisha is barely even mentioned – her image is just a nasty selling point. Needless to say, if sales and publicity is what Time were aiming for with this issue, they definitely succeeded.
Stemming from the publishing of images like Aisha’s comes the question, should confronting images (particularly war photo’s) be made available for the public to see? In short, I think that war images should be published, they need to be seen. A lot of people seem to live by ‘ignorance is bliss’, which is fair enough, as a lot of war images are very confronting, but I query how we can learn from our mistakes in an empathetic manner without having some sort of insight as to what is really going on. In the reading ‘Regarding the Pain of Others’, Susan Sontag states that ‘A photograph is supposed not to evoke but to show. that is why photographs, unlike hand-made images, can count as evidence’ (p. 42).
This point really reinforces why I think war images should be published. While they can make you feel squeamish, you are looking at what needs to change and have a form of evidence showing you why this shouldn’t happen again.
In terms of war, I don’t think ignorance is bliss, these images need to be seen, and the captions need to reflect the image in order to create a better understanding. If a picture is worth 1000 words, why is it that images that potentially convey the most meaning are being left unseen?