Tuesday, 22 December 2015

It was 2:20am and in a dark balcony adjoined to a 24 hour shopping complex, I sat cross-legged on a bench, smoking a disgustingly bitter cigarette. It tasted unbearable, but the smell of the burn was intoxicating. It instantly transported me to the brightly illuminated streets of Shanghai - the pollution, the buzz of the cars, the chatter of friends, and of course, the pungent wafts of smoke that drifted around me as they incessantly burned through packets of Double Happiness - the cheapest cigarettes you can buy in China. I smiled, reminiscing the good memories. Shanghai was only two years ago, and while it doesn't feel like a lifetime since setting foot in the winding alleyways and dog-shit-stained pavements of Hongkou district, every day that passes by means a little bit of that incredible, adventurous experience fades. The smells. The lights. The food. The Bund. And most importantly, the people, many of whom I have forged immensely strong friendships with. 

I exhaled, and a long silvery line of smoke snaked its way into the Melbourne air, lingering in front of me for a moment, then disappearing into the night. I stubbed out the cigarette and took out another from my packet. I was thinking that a lot of people are in the same situation as me right now. Young, ambitious, and fearful. 'Fearless' would have been ideal, but honestly, nothing scares me more at this very moment than that feeling of uncertainty about my future and what I will become. I am aware of my peers' achievements, my competition, and my prospects. I am aware of how hard it is to find a job, let alone a job which screams '100% success' and not 'I-settled-for-a-third-rate-option'. I am aware that every minute I spend binging on SBS On Demand (because I don't have Netflix), somebody else at the tender age of 21 is fomenting some brilliant idea for a start-up company, and might be earning a six figure salary within three years of graduation. Or that I have friends younger than I who are apparently killing it trading and investing in stocks. 

I lit my cigarette. Yeah, for someone with a shitload of high self-expectations, it's more than a little bit anxiety-inducing. It's not like my parents even give me that much pressure to do well anymore. Sure, my dad forcibly signed me up as a member of the Labor Party, hoping that this will motivate me to take my first steps towards a trail-blazing political career. And my mum still forwards me her contacts on WeChat, asking me to add them and build up my connections. These are in no way bad things. They are in fact, incredibly good opportunities for me. The pressure that I feel now? That plagues my mind every night I lie in bed, and makes me feel guilty if I'm not constantly networking and adding lines to my CV? It's mostly me - I torture myself over how well everybody else seems to be acing life. But then of course, there's also social media. Facebook, to be exact. If you're a university student, you should know what I'm talking about. 

I leaned back and looked up at the stars. I sighed. Two nights ago, I had finished all episodes of Cowboy Bebop, which if you didn't know, is a hugely iconic anime of the space western and cyberpunk genres. I wished I were Faye, a beautiful bounty hunter that had reawakened from decades of a cryogenic coma. She has the ability to live fully in the present, to start anew, to develop a new identity, and to embark on exciting adventures every single day without having to worry about appeasing anyone. She can travel where she pleases, meet whomever she likes, do whatever she wants - put simply, she is not limited by anything at all, not even herself. And best of all, she gets to live up there, among the stars and the planets. She is surrounded by a supremely vast and infinite beauty. Me? To escape my mental anguish, I had ended up next a K-Mart, a Coles, and an empty food-court.

This is another reason why whenever I feel dissatisfied and trapped, I think of Shanghai. Largely because of the memories, but also because that city in itself is so vast, so luminous, and so lively even in the wee hours of the morning, that I become infected by its energy. I would love being able to take a stroll down the streets at 3am and still be able to see night-hawkers and people playing Mahjong. I think it would actually make me feel happier, and less lonely without being obliged to talk or interact with other people. Plus, street food is the best food. 

Melbourne on the other hand, is boring. It's eerily quiet. Too suburban and too isolated. And ironically, the most suffocating. I'd been sitting on the balcony for a while, but I was surprised to find it had almost been half an hour. 

I stubbed the cigarette out at the receptacle and walked home.



Sunday, 15 November 2015

Everyone shines a light for France. But who's going to shine the light for Beirut?

Nobody. And that's the truth. Because tonight, while all the western European countries are putting on pretty, poignant displays of French colours over their iconic buildings and bridges, the suffering of humans in Lebanon are ignored. And for the first time in my life, the hypocrisy is actually pissing me off. 

Yeah, lots of things are pissing me off these days. Incessant make-up advertisements tailored towards me simply because I'm a girl; stupid ass puns on Facebook; the cretins defending the Apple store security guard; "safe spaces", "trigger warnings" and sanctimonious "social justice warriors" all make me want to rip a stress ball to shreds. 

But at this very moment, nothing pisses me off more than hearing someone say "I'm not racist, but we need to stop accepting refugees" or worse, "turn them back, we need to protect our own citizens first." 

These people are so fucking selfish. Fuck. 

You are essentially saying that humans of the Middle East are not worth the same value of humans from first world European/Western societies. Somehow, they're of lesser quality. Not worth a response. 

Indeed, we've become so immune to violence in the Middle East, so used to hearing about Syrians, Lebanese, Libyans, Jordanians, Israelis, Palestinians, dying and being slaughtered - that it's not even 'news' anymore. Middle Eastern people aren't even 'humans' anymore. They're just facts, statistics, numbers that you see on a fucking screen. 

Syrians, for example, are victims of chemical attacks from their own government. They're being used as literal human shields by all sides, being locked up in cages and dragged in front of rebel tanks/cars/soldiers. They're being indiscriminately targeted by Russian airstrikes. Hundreds of thousands die. And netizens don't give a flyingggggg fuck.

Earlier this month, Syrian women caged by militants and used as shields against airstrikes.

To be honest, a few months ago, I probably wouldn't have given it that much thought either. I'd see the pictures, gasp, and then move on. But I don't want to have this response anymore.

Tonight really woke me up to that. 

I have Muslim friends from international student club groups at university who feel persecuted every day by the inane comments of racist Australians like Pauline Hanson. 

I have Cambodian friends whose parents fled their home country on shoddy boats to seek asylum in Australia and still deal with anti-"boat people" sentiment, while being illegally paid below-minimum wages. 

I have Sri Lankan friends whose families are scarred by the recent civil war between the Tamils and Sinhalese, and who carry those scars and tensions with them into the classroom even if they try to hide it.

I have been taught humanities by a (blonde-haired, blue-eyed) teacher who was a second generation Lebanese-Australian, who once brought in Lebanese food for the class, and whose son was also a student in my year level. 

I have grown up with Pakistani Muslims in primary school, including one boy who did a class project on Jet Li and shared his love of Linkin Park with a Vietnamese classmate in the computer rooms when they really weren't supposed to be there. 

I have listened to intelligent friends subconsciously uphold racist stereotypes with remarks like "sorry, I just don't date Asians". 

I have taken friends back home and listened to my relatives make off-hand racist remarks about how dark their complexions were, and how they might steal things from our house.  

I have had one friend also make off-hand racist 'jokes' about Indians smelling like curry and having dirty bathrooms while we were sitting inside an Indian restaurant, surrounded by Indian families. 

And while I love a few politically incorrect jokes myself, I would never fucking do that^.

So screw this world. Screw racists. Screw ignorance. And fuck your stupid little racist jokes. 

Wake the FUCK UP to what you are doing and contributing to. Put things in freaking perspective. Think of all the friends and acquaintances that might be affected by your words, or omissions. And stand up for them. 

Because as Emma Watson said - if not me, who? If not now, when? 


Sunday, 8 November 2015

The 'Power' of Make Up is a double-edged sword. So stop defending it like it's the best thing ever.

In response to: #thepowerofmakeup

Any reasonable person realises that the heart of the make-up industry preys on and encourages women's insecurities to sell their products. 
Are your eyebrows thin and sparse? Use this!
Imperfect dark spots? Use this!
Eyelashes short and stumpy? Use this!

There is nothing wrong with having thin and sparse eyebrows until fashion dictates it.
There is nothing wrong with having a few natural dark spots until fashion dictates it.
There is nothing wrong with having short 'stumpy' eyelashes until fashion dictates it.

In relation to this, two things really bug me.

1. Firstly, unless you're Michelle Phan/a make-up artist/equally comfortable going au naturale in public, then you're lying if you say you only wear make-up for yourself and not to look good for other people/satisfy whatever corporation-driven beauty standards are currently trending. 

I HATE IT when women go ape-shit defensive on Facebook when somebody actually says "make-up is bad". They'll say something like "shut the fuck up loser and stop telling women what to do"/"pitting women against each other" after aggressively contending that make-up is awesome for boosting self-esteem and making you feel beautiful and empowered. By that reasoning, why not just take it up a notch and get cosmetic/plastic surgery for everything you feel shit about? 

I agree that when you have a big night out and you want to cover up something you feel really insecure about, make-up is a very useful tool to help you boost your confidence. I also agree that make-up CAN be a valid expression of individualism (I have a friend who wears glittery green lipstick and paints her eyebrows red). But people who say these things without acknowledging make-up's downsides are in complete fucking denial.

Why do you feel empowered only when you wear make-up? Why can't you feel empowered without make-up? Because you're insecure about how you look naturally. And why is that? 

BECAUSE MAKE-UP COMPANIES & A FUCKED UP SOCIETY. 

Almost all of our insecurity is systematically built up by the exact same shit fed to you by make-up corporations through their inescapable, ferocious advertising. Maybelline entices you to think that beautiful people are born with it, and 'others' can just use their products i.e. if you use Maybelline products, you too can be 'beautiful'  like Adriana Lima (lel). Yeah, thanks Maybelline, a cosmetics company, for 1. setting our beauty standards 2. highlighting our insecurities 3. encouraging us to buy your stuff.

The undeniable truth is that the majority of women don't wear make-up for themselves. Deep down, they DO feel obligated to wear make-up whenever they go out. At work. At parties. Even a trip to the supermarket.

It's why the whole #nomakeupselfie is a fucking thing in the first place. So don't freaking suggest that make-up is a 'solution' to our insecurities... that it's empowering. It's not. 

Instead of defending make-up, we should be defending NO make-up. 




2. Secondly, from what I've seen on social media, girls younger than ever before are experimenting heavily with make-up. Twelve year olds now feel like they have to wear make-up to look good at school because all the other girls are doing it, and largely because they see pictures and tutorials on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram etc. 

While I don't have a personal problem against anyone interested in make-up (and of course, many of my friends are very into it), I WOULD have a problem with society's increasing obsession with make-up if one day, my 13 year old daughter asks me to buy her five different MAC lipsticks and an URBAN DECAY palette because she doesn't want to feel ugly compared to her classmates who all contour their faces with a gazillion different products.

Anyway, I know that scenario ^ is already the norm in many places but I just hope good parenting will give her enough confidence to say "fuck you" to the pressure of wearing make-up in circumstances when she shouldn't have to.  



Another thing - more than ever before, men are also being pressured to look good. There are now make-up lines being developed for men and it is largely accepted as fact that no male K-pop star wanders outside without having applied a layer of foundation. On K-pop websites, there are now 'before' and 'after' pictures of male K-pop stars with and without make-up. 

THIS IS NOT THE WORLD I WANT TO BE IN, OR WANT MY CHILDREN TO LIVE IN. 

ALSO... 

Who the fuck wants to wear a billion layers of primer, foundation, highlighter, bronzer, powder, eyeliner, mascara, brow filler every day? HOW DO YOU DO IT??!?!?!

It takes a ridiculous amount of time to put on and take off; it 99% of the time doesn't even feel comfortable because it's heavy and there's always the fear of smudging your make-up or caking it on something else. You basically cannot touch your face when you have that much make-up on and it sucks. You can't rub your eyes when they're itchy or even rest your head on your fist sitting at a table. 

God. 

End of rant.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

'What is the Korean Wave and how has borderless media contributed to its success?'


What is the Korean Wave and how has borderless media contributed to its success? In examining the reasons for the global popularity of the Korean Wave, you must also consider whether it is a unique phenomenon.
(2014 Semester 1 University Essay for 'Borderless Media in East Asia' / Grade: HD)
 


Introduction

The campy tune was ubiquitous, the dance parodies were endless and the media hailed the phenomenal global response to the 2012 song Gangnam Style as a sign of a new cultural zeitgeist – the Korean Wave: the explosive rise of South Korean pop culture, from its pop music to its television dramas and online games, throughout the rest of the world.[1] Indeed, the music video for Psy's Gangnam Style hit one billion views within six months of upload and still holds the record for most viewed YouTube video as of May 2014.[2] While no other Korean artist has come close to replicating the success of Gangnam Style since then, including Psy himself, stunned commentators have become acutely aware of the intensifying popularity of Korean dramas, music and games outside of Korea – a cultural industry worth $10 billion and estimated to increase to $57 billion by 2020.[3] With 182 Korean Wave fan clubs worldwide, including 3.3 million official members, the global reach of the Korean Wave stretches from East Asia to unassuming places like Latin America, Europe and even the Middle East.[4] In the midst of such exciting developments, this essay discusses whether the Korean Wave is a unique phenomenon in being able to achieve global popularity, and analyses the ways that borderless media have helped it transcend cultural and geographical barriers.

Why is the Korean Wave so successful?

1.       Government Sponsored Nation-branding

The first and arguably most significant factor of the Korean Wave harks back to its origins as a government sponsored initiative to compete against neighbouring economies and to ensure the survival of a Korean national identity in the face of rapid globalisation. Kim argues that the government played an indispensible role in initiating its growth in the private sectors as it reacted to the devastating 1997 Asian financial crisis.[5] Pressure from the IMF and WTO, as well as China’s competitive threat to South Korea’s manufacture based economy, led to the implementation of numerous neo-liberal policies. These included the increased privatisation of public broadcasting, liberalisation of domestic markets, deregulation of media and the emergence of multi-media conglomerates that had taken advantage of these new freedoms. More importantly, restrictions on the broadcast of foreign media were lifted and Hollywood studios were able to distribute films directly to local theatres.[6] Kim contends that trade experts naturally took inspiration from Hollywood and looked to cultural exportation as a way to market South Korean goods and services.

In contrast, Shim argues the success of the Korean Wave should be attributed more to “Korea’s struggle for cultural conformity when confronted by the threat of global cultural domination.”[7] Still smarting from its colonial history, the government in as early as 1994 sensitively observed that the overall revenue from the US film Jurassic Park was worth the foreign sales of 1.5 million Hyundai cars – cars regarded as the Pride of Korea. This defeat prompted the Presidential Advisory Board to submit a report asking the government to promote media products as a national strategic industry.[8]

Consequently, systematic infrastructures were implemented as part of a specific policy to globalise the Korean culture industry. President Kim Dae Jung immediately allocated $148.5 million the year after his inauguration to establish the Basic Law for the Cultural Industry Promotion in 1999.[9] Funding was used to establish film schools, media scholarships and also the creation of the Pusan International Film Festival. Large companies like Samsung and LG were also required to invest in the industry, with LG reported to have provided Vietnamese TV stations with several Korean TV dramas for free, even covering the cost of dubbing. Of course, the actors are subsequently hired for endorsements by LG and other Korean companies.[10] As a result, drama themed group tours to Korea from Taiwan experienced a 50% increase from 2002 to 2003; enrolments for Korean Language at the Inlingua School of Language in Singapore increased 60% in 2003 compared to 2001 and sales of Korean cosmetics in China tripled to $336.8 million from 2009 to 2010.[11]

Overall, Kim states that “Korea may be the first nation to consciously recognise and, more importantly, form official policy and take action towards becoming a dream society of icons and aesthetic experience.”[12]  


2.       Cultural hybridisation and glocalisation

The second key reason for the Korean Wave’s global success is its ability to skilfully blend western and Asian cultural values, styles and genres to create its own ideal – known as a process of cultural hybridisation.[13] The result is an image of Korea that is modern and cosmopolitan, looking much like the west, yet still retaining the traditional Confucian values of Asia, such as familial piety, respect for elders and sexual abstinence. For example, many Korean dramas, including the 2009 phenomenon Boys Over Flowers, revolve around members of the young urban middle class and are set in the sophisticated metropolises of Seoul or Incheon. However, the narrative is heavily infused with “Asian values” such as family unity and pursuit of education, and usually the protagonist will endure against difficulties by upholding these Confucian values.[14]

This hybridised ideal image is extremely appealing to Asian audiences, including diasporas. In Austria, a Japanese fan of Korean dramas said “Korean popular culture contains strong Asian values which are lacking in modern Japanese pop culture” and a Taiwanese fan said “Japanese dramas are just trendy and well made but sometimes it is not realistic… Korean dramas are more ‘Asian’ to me. Maybe that is why I watch Korean dramas so often, because I miss home.”[15]  Sung posits that the heavy emphasis on Asian values still retained in Korean dramas  is a strong selling point in Asia because it offers a cohesive identity and sense of community for members of Asian diasporas who may struggle to integrate with the ‘progressive ‘culture of the mainstream host society. Moreover, the appeal of Confucian values in Korean dramas has won support from even audiences in the Middle East where more conservative depictions of family and love are preferred.[16]

Apart from cultural hybridisation, producers also engage in strategies of glocalisation – a practice of “providing customisable territory-specific content and extensive localisation services for products that are distributed regionally.”[17] For example, the major Korean talent agencies that train and produce all of the country’s K-pop bands have, since the early 2000s, adopted a strict regime of teaching Chinese and Japanese to their most promising talents. The South Korean girl group SNSD are able to sing in both Korean and Japanese, while the members of the boy group EXO is split into EXO-M – the Mandarin singers, and EXO-K – the Korean singers. Thus, they are more able to market their songs effectively to audiences in both regions.

Korean online games are also very glocalised and hence, are able to enjoy worldwide popularity. According to Jung Ryul Kim, the Chairman of Gravity Corporation, the formula for successful regional distribution is to firstly, make the game familiar to target users and secondly, hire someone who knows local users well to deliver it.[18] The South Korean game Lineage, often ranked within the top 5 online games in the world, demonstrates both cultural hybridisation and glocalisation. It is set in a European medieval environment, but the game play itself mirrors the Confucian hierarchy of Korean society as players must formulate themselves into a strict hierarchy of leadership – a feature that would and has never be produced in America as players tend to prefer individual autonomy. Moreover, depending on the market, native speakers are hired to do translating for the game. For Russian players, Russian slang and axioms are added in; the same for Chinese and English players. Animation, architectural and dress styles are also altered to fit the different markets.[19] Overall, the global success of the Korean gaming industry, like its pop music industry, lies in culturally hybridisation and glocalisation, thus transcending cultural and language barriers.[20]

3.       Social media and fan participation

Finally, the third key factor in the rise of Korean pop culture on a global scale is the availability and avid use of social media networks by fans. With the emergence of smart phones and various social media platforms like Blogger, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, fans are able to create vast networks, share photos and songs, facilitate and engage in discussion about their favourite Korean idols at incredible ease. In fact, YouTube has been hailed by Ono and Kwon as a critical “k-pop interlocutor”.[21] They argue that K-pop is wholly based upon performance and aesthetics. The cool synchronised dances, the flamboyant fashion and the stars’ perfectly sculpted faces and bodies are its selling points because they depict an ideal, modern cosmopolitan look – the reason why K-pop can transcend the language barrier as “the visuality of performance [is] central to what makes K-pop circulable”.[22]

In aspiring to look like K-pop stars, there is now a phenomenon of fans uploading dance covers of their favourite K-pop dances onto YouTube, some even wearing similar outfits. Khiun posits that this active fan participation is more than just imitation but reinterpretation and recalibration of K-pop, and that the ability of anyone from around the world to participate is “decentring and transcending the geo-social and cultural boundaries of the highly manufactured and rigidly regimented industry.”[23] For instance, pale white skin is considered beautiful in Korea and so most Korean pop stars have very pale skin. Those with dark skins are singled out conspicuously by the scrutinising Korean public.[24] However, fans with darker skin (such as those from Latin America) who upload K-Pop dance covers are breaking those standards while actively promoting a more global and cosmopolitan image of K-pop. This notion is very interesting as Khiun identifies a contra-flow of culture where the fans are the ones responsible for manipulating, changing and perpetuating the very cultural products they are consuming. Overall, the active movements of fan clubs, including the mass uploads of dance covers, are testaments to how borderless media has allowed for greater accessibility of Korean pop culture as well as the ability for fans to change its inherent socio-cultural standards.

A Unique Phenomenon?

Some people may believe that the Korean Wave is a unique phenomenon, driven by new information technologies, glocalisation and of course, the avid support of the South Korean government. This may very well be true, considering that the closest comparison that can be made is with the Japanese cultural mania that peaked in the 1980s and 1990s – back in a time when the internet did not exist.[25] Perhaps that fact itself lends credence to the uniqueness of the Korean Wave. Currently, Japanese pop culture is in a slump. Its music industry is still the second largest market for music in the world, but its market size fell by 8.3% in 2010.[26] The Japanese accounted for 50% of the world gaming market in 2002 but in 2012, that figure has fallen to 10%.[27] Keiji Inafune, global head of production at Capcom, summed up Japan’s lagging gaming industry with one apt simile: “It’s like sushi. Everyone loves sushi in the West, but you can’t just serve sushi over there like it is in Japan.”[28] His sentiment clearly underscores the importance of cultural hybridisation and glocalisation when exporting cultural products. However, the question is why Japan has failed to implement the same strategies as South Korea. Many commentators have held the opinion that the Japanese government or media may not think it necessary to market to the world when they already have such a big domestic market. And of course, their strong competitive economy may account for this comparatively laissez-faire attitude. But no matter, South Korea has clearly taken full advantage of technologies and glocalisation strategies where Japan has not – using borderless media to foster a trendy cosmopolitan image of its culture. At its current rate, the Korean Wave is leaving Japan far behind and appears on course to challenge the most strategically important market of all – the US.



BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Journal articles

Chan, Dean. “Negotiating intra-Asian games networks: on cultural proximity, East Asian games design and Chinese farmers.” Fibreculture Journal: internet theory criticism research no.8 (2006): 1-16.

Huang, Shuling. “Nation-branding and transnational consumption: Japan-Mania and the Korean Wave in Taiwan”. Media, Culture & Society, 33, no.1 (2011): 3-18.

Shim, Doobo. “Waxing the Korean Wave.” Asia Research Institute Working Paper No.158 (2011): 1-21.

Wasserman, Todd, and et al. “Land of the Rising Sun.” Brandweek 46, no.8 (2005): 22-29.

Books and Book chapters

Jin, Dal Yong. “Hybridisation of Korean Popular Culture: Films and Online Gaming.” In The Korean Wave: Korean Media Go Global, edited by Youna Kim, 148-164. Taylor and Francis, 2013.

Khiun, Kai Liew. “K-pop dance trackers and cover dancers: Global cosmopolitanisation and local spatialisation.” In The Korean Wave: Korean Media Go Global, edited by Youna Kim, 165-181. Taylor and Francis, 2013.

Kim, Youna. “Korean Media in a Digital Cosmopolitan World.” In The Korean Wave: Korean Media Go Global, edited by Youna Kim, 1-27. Taylor and Francis, 2013.

Kim, Youna. “Korean Wave Pop Culture in the Global Internet Age: Why popular? Why now?” In The Korean Wave: Korean Media Go Global, edited by Youna Kim, 75 – 92. Taylor and Francis, 2013.

Nye, Joseph, and Youna Kim. “Soft Power and the Korean Wave.” In The Korean Wave: Korean Media Go Global, edited by Youna Kim, 31-42. Taylor and Francis, 2013.

Ono, Kent A., and Jungmin Kwon. “Re-Worlding Culture? YouTube as a K-pop interlocutor.” In The Korean Wave: Korean Media Go Global, edited by Youna Kim, 199-214. Taylor and Francis, 2013.

Sung, Sang-yeon. “Digitisation and Online Culture of the Korean Wave: ‘East Asian’ Virtual Community in Europe.” In The Korean Wave: Korean Media Go Global, edited by Youna Kim, 135-147. Taylor and Francis, 2013.

Websites and videos

Mark Cieslak, “Is the Japanese gaming industry in crisis?” news.bbc.co.uk, posted 4 November 2010. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/click_online/9159905.stm

OfficialPsy, Gangnam Style (online video, May 4, 2014). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bZkp7q19f0&feature=kp


Peter Dyloco, “Can J-pop replicate the success of K-pop?”  japantoday.com, posted 15 September 2011, http://www.japantoday.com/category/opinions/view/can-j-pop-replicate-success-of-k-pop

“Photos of Tanned K-Pop Band Spark Controversy Over Skin Colour,” koreabang.com, posted 3 July 2012,  http://www.koreabang.com/2012/pictures/photos-of-tanned-k-pop-band-spark-controversy-over-skin-colour.html



[1] Shuling Huang, “Nation-branding and transnational consumption: Japan-Mania and the Korean Wave in Taiwan”, Media, Culture & Society 33, no.1 (2011): 3.
[2] OfficialPsy, Gangnam Style (online video, May 4, 2014). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bZkp7q19f0&feature=kp
[3] Youna Kim, “Korean Media in a Digital Cosmopolitan World,” in The Korean Wave: Korean Media Go Global, ed. Youna Kim (Taylor and Francis, 2013), 6.
[4] Youna Kim, “Korean Media,” 13.
[5] Youna Kim, “Korean Media,” 4.
[6] Doobo Shim, “Waxing the Korean Wave”, Asia Research Institute Working Paper No.158 (2011): 1-21, 7.
[7]Doobo Shim, “Waxing the Korean Wave,” 7.
[8] Doobo Shim, “Waxing the Korean Wave,” 8.
[9] Doobo Shim, “Waxing the Korean Wave,” 10.
[10] Youna Kim, “Korean Media,” 12.
[11] Youna Kim, “Korean Media,” 12.
[12] Youna Kim, “Korean Media,” 4.
[13] Doobo Shim, “Waxing the Korean Wave,” 14.
[14] Youna Kim, “Korean Wave Pop Culture in the Global Internet Age: Why popular? Why now?” in The Korean Wave: Korean Media Go Global, ed. Youna Kim (Taylor and Francis, 2013), 80-84.
[15] Sang-yeon Sung, “Digitisation and Online Culture of the Korean Wave: ‘East Asian’ Virtual Community in Europe,” in The Korean Wave: Korean Media Go Global, ed. Youna Kim (Taylor and Francis, 2013): 135-147
[16] Joseph Nye and Youna Kim, “Soft Power and the Korean Wave,” in The Korean Wave: Korean Media Go Global, ed. Youna Kim (Taylor and Francis, 2013), 34; Youna Kim, “Korean Wave Pop Culture in the Global Internet Age: Why popular? Why now?” in The Korean Wave: Korean Media Go Global, ed. Youna Kim (Taylor and Francis, 2013), 80.
[17] Dean Chan, “Negotiating intra-Asian games networks: on cultural proximity, East Asian games design and Chinese farmers,” Fibreculture Journal: internet theory criticism research no.8 (2006): 1-16, 6.
[18] Dean Chan, “Negotiating intra-Asian games networks,” 6.
[19] Dean Chan, “Negotiating intra-Asian games networks,” 4-5.
[20] Dal Yong Jin, “Hybridisation of Korean Popular Culture: Films and Online Gaming,” in The Korean Wave: Korean Media Go Global, ed. Youna Kim (Taylor and Francis, 2013), 148.
[21] Kent A. Ono and Jungmin Kwon, “Re-Worlding Culture? YouTube as a K-pop interlocutor,” in The Korean Wave: Korean Media Go Global, ed. Youna Kim (Taylor and Francis, 2013), 199-214.
[22] Kent A. Ono and Jungmin Kwon, “Re-Worlding Culture?” 208.
[23] Liew Kai Khiun, “K-pop dance trackers and cover dancers: Global cosmopolitanisation and local spatialisation,”in The Korean Wave: Korean Media Go Global, ed. Youna Kim (Taylor and Francis, 2013), 172.
[24] “Photos of Tanned K-Pop Band Spark Controversy Over Skin Colour,” koreabang.com, posted 3 July 2012,  http://www.koreabang.com/2012/pictures/photos-of-tanned-k-pop-band-spark-controversy-over-skin-colour.html
[25] Todd Wasserman et al., “Land of the Rising Sun,” Brandweek 46, no.8 (2005): 22-29.
[26]Peter Dyloco, “Can J-pop replicate the success of K-pop?”  japantoday.com, posted 15 September 2011, http://www.japantoday.com/category/opinions/view/can-j-pop-replicate-success-of-k-pop
[27] Mark Cieslak, “Is the Japanese gaming industry in crisis?” news.bbc.co.uk, posted 4 November 2010. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/click_online/9159905.stm
[28] Mark Cieslak, “Is the Japanese gaming industry in crisis?”

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Movie: The Visit


The verdict: I cannot look at my grandma in the same light after this. 

Yesterday night, I made an extemporaneous trip to the cinema with my friend and boyfriend to watch M. Night Shyamalan's newest found-footage horror film, The Visit. I had seen the trailer ages ago and legitimately laughed out loud at what I thought was a total joke movie. You really can't take the plot seriously - two kids visit their grandparents at their lovely country home and find out that cuddly grandma's actually a complete freak with Formula 1 crawling skills. It doesn't sound scary at all. It sounds absolutely hilarious.

Of course, it then made a lot of sense when my friend said before the movie "Hey, you know this is a horror comedy right?" and I was like, "Fuck." I hate horror-comedies. Because horror-comedies aren't scary. For example, Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland are classic paragons of the horror-comedy genre but I would personally classify them as 100% comedy and 0% horror. I didn't find them scary at all, but even worse, I also didn't find them very funny. A few laughs here and there but nothing memorable that would have made it a great movie (which is not the consensus, I know). 

The one experience that really turned me against the genre was when I bought and watched Sam Raimi's Drag Me To Hell during schoolies (another completely shit experience). Even though the movie had received rave reviews (92 percent on RT), I remember everyone agreeing that it was one of the worst horror films they had ever seen. The thing is, we were all looking forward to REAL SCARES, not hilariously bad scenes of projectile vomit. So of course, it just became an extremely disappointing 2 hours. 

Back to The Visit.  I had also walked into the cinema knowing that the last few movies Shyamalan had directed were tantamount crimes against humanity, namely The Last Airbender and Jaden Smith's coming-of-age in After Earth. In light of all this, I was not expecting anything actually scary or, well, anything that would be good from The Visit.

BOY WAS I WRONG.

The Visit was good. Very good. 

The last time I had laughed and screamed at the same time during a movie was in Year 8 when my two BFFs and I were watching C-class horror movie The Unborn. There was this one scene where an old man in a wheelchair suddenly appeared at the top of a staircase, and then slowly crawled its way down with every possible bodily appendage (except for the penis) circumducting at varying weird angles and speeds. It was pretty horrific, but so over the top that we couldn't help bursting out into fits of laughter, as did the rest of the mostly tweenage audience. However, The Unborn was still overall a shit movie. It tried to be horror and failed.

The Visit, on the other hand, was a self-conscious horror-comedy which got pretty much everything right because it did manage to make me simultaneously laugh and scream in fear. Creepy grandma really blew it out of the water. 

The two sibling protagonists Rebecca and Tyler, aged 12 and 8 respectively, were not annoying at all but incredibly intelligent, funny, and precocious kids. Rebecca was the slightly uptight older sister with a huge interest in 'organic filmmaking', which is why she wants to document the visit. 
Tyler is an adorable aspiring rapper whose witty lines and cheesy smile steals the show. Both characters really drove the film and sparkled with their banter, sarcasm, and occasional rap sessions. They were developed well enough for us to truly care about them. 

There were of course a number of jump-scares in the movie, but Shyamalan manages to gradually and consistently build up suspense, keeping whatever it was that was wrong with grandma and grandpa a total secret until the final climax - which is awesome because you keep trying to guess what it is, and for some time, I still believed that supernatural elements might have been at play. Thankfully, there were no stupid supernatural cop-outs in the movie and everything that went 'wrong' was purely human. 

Anyway. What a great, fun and truly enjoyable movie. Diehard horror movie fans - don't be put off. This is still one that is able to supply the thrills and scares.