Bring On The Anime!

This week in Digital Asia we have bee brainstorming ideas for our final projects and discussing how to take these ideas further. At this point I know that I want to do something about the transnational flow of Anime and how fans in online communities are working together to break down national barriers. The reason why I want to study this is because anime is a big part of my life and as I have stated in previous blogs for this subject, I feel I Identify with Japanese digital culture despite having grown up in Westernised Australia. The fact that I can even consider Japanese cartoons to be a significant influence in my life, suggests to me, there is a definite cross cultural convergence going on here. One that I intend to explore further. As such, I figure the best way to explore this further is simply to start having auto-ethnographic experiences and develop my concept from there. So here is what I have been doing thus far….

Obviously I’ve been watching Anime (don’t you just love uni work sometimes).

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I have also been doing cosplay makeup for some of my fave One Piece characters and posting it onto Instagram.

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The dressing up was fun, but actually posting these was a little scary because I decided to use my own personal account. My reasoning for this was… if I’m going to say that anime is part of my life then I want it to be a part of how I represent myself on social media. This however, was very deterring because putting these on my own account meant that everyone I know was going to see them. My Anime watching fiends who are into cosplay, were fine with it and even thought it was cool. What I was paranoid about though, was the people who don’t watch anime, what were they going to think about me after this?

A prime example of my fears coming to fruition was when my own sister said to me “stop posting these, everyone is going to think you are crazy and the relatives are going to think you are weird”. This was exactly the response I was expecting to receive. It never ceases to amaze me how something can make me feel so connected to something and at the same time so isolated from everything else. Watching anime and dressing up makes me feel closer to the wider Anime community but acting outside of my own cultural norms makes me feel like an outcast.

The only logical thing to do at this at this stage was to expand my involvement with the Anime community and so I have joined an online One Piece Forum. I have always read one piece forums but this is my first time joining one, so who knows how this experience will be. All I can say is thank God for this help page because I have no idea what I am doing!

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Australia and the Stick of Censorship


I recently did something illegal and for the first time I can actually say the government made me do it without it being a convenient lie used to pass blame onto someone else. That’s right I did something outrageously rebellious and it was all because of censorship.

Let me start of by saying that before South Park the Stick of Truth’s release in Australia, I had full intention of legitimately purchasing that game and was in fact eagerly awaiting its release. That was until I found out that the Australian version of the game, despite the introduction of an R18+ rating, had been edited to meet so called moral standards. Well I certainly was not going to pay full price for a game that had content removed because someone deemed it too inappropriate for my 21 year old self to handle. So I did the only logical thing to do in that situation and downloaded the full version for free off the internet. Sorry gaming industry I wanted to give you my money, I really did.


The R18+ category was a much needed step in the right direction for Australia considering the average age of the Australian gamer is 32 and 76% of our gamers are aged 18 and over. (Interactive Games & Entertainment Association)

Until Jan. 1, 2013, Australia was one of the few developed countries in the world to not have an R18+ classification for video games. The highest rating for video games was MA15+, which meant that any game that the country’s Classification Board found too mature for the MA15+ category was Refused Classification and effectively banned from sale.

This meant that people over the age of 18 living in Australia were restricted to playing games suited to 15 year old’s and younger. To me this just seems ridiculous. Especially when other media industries like film are not nannied  in this way. Adult gamers were literally being treated like kids and being told what is too mature for them all because the government failed to recognise the gaming industry as little more than a form of children’s entertainment. On top of this, due to the lack of an 18+ rating, several games made it into the M15+ category that in all honesty really shouldn’t have.

It’s a win for the gamers who wanted to have the opportunity as adults to purchase these games, but it’s also a win for parents because they can be more confident that games that are age-inappropriate will not be available to people under 18.

I remember when I was younger how much I wanted GTA San Andreas. I convinced my mother who knew nothing about games to buy it for me. Eventually she saw me playing it after months of strategically hiding it from her and lets just say she was furious. However by that point it was too late. I’m fine by the way, not emotionally scarred by any means, not violent, not a criminal, not even drug or sex addicted; What a shock! But in all fairness I probably shouldn’t have been playing it.


So what about now? I thought the introduction of an 18+ rating was supposed to prevent the banning of games but here I am downloading games illegally because the government won’t let me play them. I am a consenting adult and yet I am still restricted in the content I am allowed to expose myself to because of where I live.


This reminds of Hägerstrand’s Constraints Theory discussed in an earlier post of mine. My actions or ‘movements’ within the realm of space and time were impacted upon by the constraint of authority that existed due to my location.

The whole situation also makes me think back to my time learning about Mills Harm Principle in my philosophy class. This principle suggests that ‘The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of civilized society, against their will, is to prevent harm to others. Their own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant’. What this means in terms of video gaming is that people should have to right to expose themselves to as much gratuitous violence, sex, drugs or profanity as they please because people have the right to determine what does and does not harm them. The issue with gaming is people have the conception that the interactive nature of playing games somehow has more of an influence than passively watching a film or listening to music.

For example Saints Row 4 was refused classification in Australia because it associated the in game taking of illicit drugs with incentives or rewards such as speed boosts and super strength. Meanwhile, the movie Limitless centers around characters receiving a massive IQ boost, and all the perks that go along with it, from an illegal drug and made it through classification just fine. The hypocrisy here seems to imply that there is a perceived difference between the mature content shown in video games and the mature content shown in movies.


It is for this reason why several scenes were cut from Stick of Truth. The classification board felt that the showing of anal probing after being abducted by aliens promoted sexual violence towards children in real life. Um OK then.

After playing the whole game, I can see why the scense were considered so controversial but I don’t feel particularly influenced by them. All and all I can definitely see why the game needed an R18+ rating which I think is fine as long as that restriction is enforced but what I cant seem to understand is why the censors believe those scenes were inappropriate compared to the rest of the game.

Given the content that the player is exposed to cutting out these short scenes is like taking a cup of water out off a swimming pool and calling it dry.


Cushing, T 2013, Australian Government Finally Begins Treating Gamers Like Adults; Approves New ‘R18+’ Rating, Tech Dirt, weblog post, 4 January, viewed 29 September 2014, <;.

Corbett, J 2001, Torsten Hägerstrand: Time Geography, Center for Spatially Integrated Social Sciences, viewed 29 September 2014, <;.

gfunk101, 2014, The Australian Government VS South Park: The Stick of Truth, House of Geekery, weblog, 26 April, viewed 29 September 2014, <;.

Interactive Games & Entertainment Association 2014, Digital Australia 2014, Bond University: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, viewed 29 September 2014, <;.

Polites, H 2013, Why R18+ ratings are still a losing game, Technology Spectator, weblog post, 12 July, viewed 28 September 2014, <;.

Why Aussies Don’t Watch Aussie Films


Chris Hemsworth, Margot Robbie, Cate Blanchett, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Isla Fisher, Ryan Kwanten… Hollywood loves our Aussie actors and so do we. The thing is we seem to love watching them in American films but pay little attention to them in our own; unless of course  it’s a flashy Hollywood-financed spectacle such as Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby.


According to 2011 analysis by Screen Australia, only nine per cent of all viewings of Australian films occur at the box office. The other 91 per cent are spread across TV and DVD (Roach 2014). It is a curious dilemma as to why Australians are so against watching Australian movies at the cinema when from DVD sales it is apparent they do actually want to watch them.

Out of 100 Australian feature films released between 2007 and 2009 a total audience was reached of 101 million viewings (Goves 2012). When worded as such this statistic doesn’t seem too bad  but when you consider the fact that more than 50 million of those viewings were for just four titles: Australia, Mao’s Last Dancer, Bran Nue Dae and Knowing it gets a little underwhelming. Looking further down the spectrum we discover the top 20 films accounted for 76 million views, which brings forth the question who watched the bottom 80?

My thoughts… NOT MANY IF ANY!

So what is it exactly about Australian film that stops us from flocking to the Cinema?  Many like to pass the blame on Piracy, that darn unstoppable force of evil.


But this belief operates under the assumption that if torrenting didn’t exist people would undoubtedly go and see these films. I believe piracy, although a factor, is more of a result than a cause. Why is it that Australians will go and see an American movie but wait to download an Australian one? There are others who claim the reason is availability as many Australian films are limited to CBD locations and are only run for short periods of time. Again I believe this to be a result rather than a cause. The reason why the screening is limited is simply because the movies aren’t popular enough. Cinemas cut the screening because they are actually loosing money.

After investigating this issue on my own by asking people around me and by hitting up the World Wide Inter Web, I have come to the hypothesis that the reason for our lack of interest is the result of instrumental conditioning. Being exposed to the same style of film over and over again has shaped our perception of the Australian film industry as a whole; stigmatising it if you will.  Film critique Luke Buckmaster sums it up perfectly when he writes…

“Australian producers have long battled public sentiment that locally produced features are one of two things. The first, that they are morose hard-hitting dramas that explore the “human condition.” The sort of stories that follow characters who battle drug addictions, grieve over deceased family members and live dreadfully unhappy lives….The other perception is that when it’s not busy depressing us with films about cancer Australian films are cringe-inducing “g’day mate” comedies. The sort of face-palm productions geared towards jokes featuring things as stereotypically nationalistic as shrimps on a barbie.” (2014)

Writer for The Monthly, Louis Nowra, set out to watch most of the Australian films released in 2009 because he wanted to grasp the condition of the Australian film industry. This is what he wrote

“The general consensus was that Australian films were grim… While Hollywood epitomises illusion and dreams, we are suspicious of ornate language, wit and the visually extravagant. Our humour is daggy and safe. We extol the ordinary over the extraordinary. Many of the films this year have gloried in downbeat naturalism, as if somehow great truths were being revealed.”(2009)

Now I’m not saying deep and thought provoking Australian dramas aren’t good,  I think a lot are great and sometimes a cheesy bogan comedy is just what the doctor ordered, but the truth of the matter is these types of films are not the kind you rush to the cinema for or even consider paying to see. To me they are the type of movies you watch at home because they are on and are surprisingly taken aback by how good they are. Let’s face it no one wants to go out and watch depressing movies with their friends.

Think about Australian film in the 90’s Strictly Ballroom, Muriel’s Wedding, The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert ,  Babe and now take a look at Australian film in the 00’s Rabbit-Proof Fence (indigenous inequality), Japanese Story (romantic tragedy), Look Both Ways (confronting cancer),  Romulus My Father (immigrant family battles adversity), The Black Balloon (family with autistic son)… the intense drama goes on and on.

Screen Shot from Beautiful Kate (2009)

Screen Shot from Beautiful Kate (2009)

So, if these films, while great, have proven to be unsuccessful at the box office, why does Australia keep heading down the same path. Once again Luke Buckmaster explains it perfectly for me.

“It is the result of decisions made by baby boomers at government-funded film bodies who, threw their weight behind serious and/or distinctively Australian films.

That’s just the way it is, at some point somewhere down the line, someone with power  decided that the only films worth funding were those that were “Serious and/or distinctively Australian” and in the Film industry he who has the funding has the final say.

There needs to be more research conducted into why Australians are not attending the Cinema when it comes to Australian films. We need to look deeper into what it is that demotivates them so as well as get an insight into what things the Australian public is looking for in a film. If we cannot find a way to alleviate this preconceived melancholic association that is  constricting the  Australian Film Industry’s success we may very well be stuck watching nothing but Hollywood for eternity.


Buckmaster, L 2014, Australian Cinema is Still Big, it’s the Audience that Got Small, Daily Review, weblog post, 2 September, viewed 26 September 2014, <;.

Groves, D 2011, Who’s Watching Aussie Films?, SBS, viewed 26 September 2014, <;.

McLeod, S 2007, B.F Skinner -Operant Conditioning, Simply Psychology, viewed 26 September 2014, <;.

Nowra, L 2009, ‘Nowhere Near Hollywood’, The Monthly, 22 February, viewed 26 September 2014, <;.

Roach, V 2014, ‘Local Audiences Snub Australian Filmmakers Yet Hollywood Loves Them’, News.Com, 14 September, viewed 26 September, <;.

Screen Australia 2009, Australian films in the marketplace: Analysis of Release Strategies and Box Office Performance, Screen Australia, viewed 26 September 2014, <;>.

The Technology We Needed Yesterday: Experience Shaping Expectation


I return again this week after having another conversation with my Uncle Kenny. This time we move beyond the introduction of Television and take a look into the near technological future that is the National Broadband Network (NBN) or as I like to call it the Fiber-Optic-Internet-Utopia. As I am sure it will be made obvious by the end of this post, I am a firm supporter of the NBN and believe that Australia should have started laying out fiber-optic cables direct to the home years ago. While there are many debates circulating over the necessity of such an expensive endeavor, I feel it cannot be denied that our current copper wire network is already outdated and stands no chance of adequately supporting our future internet usage. I worry Australia will fall behind the rest of the world, in terms of speed and connectivity, which will ultimately isolate us from the interconnected age of opportunity.

“Building a broadband network will, as the government has pointed out, have the same kind of transformational impact as the railways in the 19th and 20th centuries”. Rod Tucker

“This gives Australia the chance to leap ahead and give the people and the businesses of our country a head-start in the digital economy. Think about what that can do for job creation and productivity.” Paul Budde

It was interesting to discuss this with my uncle because although he feels the same way about the inadequate nature of the current copper network and understands the level of improvement a fiber-optic network would bring, he, unlike myself, is entirely indifferent to it. While I wait anxiously for progress (despite the fact roll-out hasn’t even started in my area), he is completely un-phased. To be honest, before doing some research of my own this week, I was unaware of what the NBN actually was but I was still passionate about it. All I knew is that I desperately wanted a faster internet connection, so I could finally play my Xbox without lag and stream movies without screaming at my laptop. Anything that promised an end to this first world torment was good enough for me. My Uncle on the other hand knew everything there was to know about NBN and fiber optic cables; including how they worked (which he explained to me against my will). The simplest way he put it was “NBN is like a super highway while copper wire is like a dirt road”…“the dirt is fine when only a few people use it, but once you get everyone driving at once, it’s just too small and eventually it starts to decay”. He told me that the copper wires are already in a bad state and will continue to need constant maintenance which is going be costly in the long run. “This is why”, he states, “the NBN is a far better option to Liberals ridiculous Node system”.

 I asked him what he thought the future held with the introduction of high speed internet and he replied “Major business and economic change” as well as “change in our everyday lives”. Asking him what he meant by this, he gave me some examples such as: connecting in real time with people around the world, sending and receiving large amounts of data instantly, having an all in one home entertainment/internet system that used voice command, controlling your appliances when your away from home and even doctors operating on patients through specialized equipment from miles away.


From these examples I was under the impression Kenny felt a new internet age was a good thing, he had positive images of the future similar to my own. I soon discovered I was wrong. After questioning him about how he expected his internet usage at home to change, he informed me that he didn’t have the internet at all. I was surprised by this, never letting it cross my mind that someone in this day and age lived without the internet. When I asked him why he said it was because “With everything you gain you there is something to loose”. He went on to tell me a story about how his job on the railway was impacted upon by improving technologies. “You used to walk into work and say high to everyone, but now there is nobody there”… “Systems are controlled via satellite from a central operating box”… “There is no social interaction”. He said he felt as though people now days were losing the art of conversation “instead of talking to one another young people are putting in ear phones and looking at their screens”.

Perhaps it is just a generational thing but I am inclined to disagree with some of his statements. It is my opinion that younger generation isn’t losing the art of conversation but rather changing the way in which they communicate. It’s true I always check my phone but this is because I am in constant contact with my friends, and although we are not physically talking face to face, there isn’t a day that goes by where we don’t communicate. The point of this blog however, is not to sit here and debate the dangers of internet v’s the benefits, but rather to make comment on the way exposure shapes perception. Am I predetermined to embrace a technological future because of the internet dependent age I have grown up in? Is my uncle so against an online culture because he can remember a time before the World Wide Web? Are our beliefs on the matter of NBN shaped by our own personalities or are we merely subjects of our times? It’s the age old question of nature v’s nurture.


Boyd, D 2014, It’s Complicated the Social Lives of Networked Teens, Yale University Press, New Haven, London.

National Broadband Network (NBN) 2007-2013, 2013, Whirlpool, viewed 24 August 2014, <;.

NBN MYTHS, 2010, What do the Experts Say?, NBN Myths: Debunking the FUD on the NBN, weblog post, 26 September, viewed 24 August 2014, <;.

NBN MYTHS, 2010, Top Ten NBN Myths Debunked, NBN Myths: Debunking the FUD on the NBN, weblog post, 26 September, viewed 24 August 2014, <;.

Learn About the NBN, 2014, NBNco, viewed 24 August 2014, <;.

Wyres, M 2011, Alan Jones and the NBN Fail!,, weblog post, 25 May, viewed 24 August 2014, <;.



Television Lost In Translation

What makes a television show funny? In the case Kath and Kim, the reason why that show is so hilariously funny to us Aussies is because in some way or another we can all relate. Kath and Kim underneath all the exaggeration and vulgar stereo typing, actually gives a pretty accurate depiction of the typical, suburban, middle to lower class, Aussie Bogan lifestyle. While you yourself may be nothing like the characters on the show, I am sure that you know someone who is. Come on quit denying it.


So if the reason for the shows success here in Australia is because it is a satire of our own culture that allows us to laugh at ourselves,why did some genius out there think for one minute that the show would work well in America? Yeah that’s right I am talking about that abomination of a show that was the US version of Kath and Kim. That show was an instant flop and it is no surprise. The thing with comedy is that it differs from region to region and often can be lost in translation. Which was exactly the case with Kath and Kim. The reason for the shows failure was simply because it was putting humor shaped from an Australian context into an American environment. Americans had no relation connecting them  to characters and therefore did not understand the irony. For America their Kath and Kim needed to be more like Earl and Randy of My Name Is Earl because that is a satirical look into Southern Redneck America that US audiences can identify with.


A similar sort of thing happened with The Office. This was originally a popular British television show that, although was a major success in America, needed to be completely overhauled in order to do so. The dark self depreciating humor that is British black comedy would not have been popular in America. The show needed to change, It needed to be less realistic, more light hearted, more silly and not to mention more aesthetically pleasing (Sorry Rickey Gervais).



One thing that never ceases to amaze and frustrate me is the western need to alter Anime and target it to children. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve been sitting in my room watching a Japanese Anime when my parents would suddenly burst in and say “Stop watching cartoons you are an adult”, at which point my reply is always “They are not cartoons they are Anime”. In Asian countries Anime is not made for children; it is for adults but for some reason when it is transferred into western culture it is always interpreted to be for children and is adjusted so accordingly.


This is another way television is lost in Translation. In order for shows like One Piece to be successful in America and Australia they have to be changed dramatically. First of all they have to be dubbed, this is horrible because by simply changing voice actors from serious actors to children’s cartoon actors you instantly loose the quality of the show. There is no real in depth emotion just silly, patronizing, child catering, shrieks and yells. Secondly the entire show has to be watered down, That’s right no gore, no violence, no accurate looking weapons and worst all no innuendos of any kind. In One Piece Sanji’s trademark  cigarette is changed into lollipop. To me it does not make sense for a mighty pirate to carry around a lollipop everywhere he goes and I think it is just insulting to the seriousness of the show.







Getting On With Aussies

After attending my International Media lecture this week I was surprised to discover just how big of an industry International Education is here in Australia. Did you know that International Education is Australia’s third largest export and that it stands to bring millions into the Economy? There are approximately 630,000 full fee paying overseas students in Australia, possibly the highest in the world as a proportion of the total population. Just this year alone we had 55 thousand Indian students migrate here for university.


However the thing that surprised me most of all, was not the prevalence of International Education in this country but rather the treatment of the International students themselves. With more than one quarter of of the Australian population being born overseas, you would think that Australia would be a land of extreme diversity and tolerance but in actual fact it is still a very Ethnocentric country and as a result of this many international students find it hard to have as valuable a culturally enriching experience as they deserve. Perhaps Ethnocentric is too harsh a word, while I’m not going to sit here and say racism doesn’t exist in this country (ahem the Cronulla riots), I would like to think that MOST Australians are not overtly discriminative. A more appropriate word might be Parochialism in the sense that we Australians are very limited in the scope of how we see the world.


Children In China are learning the English Language as early on as kindergarten and many parents who can afford it are sending their children,  as young as two, to private lessons in the hope that they will become fluent at an early age. Here in Australia however our attempts to learn the language of other cultures is limited. Most of us don’t even get the option to study another language until high school and even then, most of the time, it is an elective subject, not a compulsory one. ‘Nowadays the English language is subject to commodification, characterized as a marketable product that provides opportunities to economic, educational and immigration opportunities’.


Australia is such a diverse and globalized nation and yet it’s citizens know very little about the outside world. This is why when International Students come to study in Australia we expect them to act Australian and if they don’t, we feel that they don’t belong. There is a direct correlation between the level of assimilation an international student makes and the level of acceptance they receive socially here in Australia. The more ‘Australian’ an international student is the easier it is for them to make friends. Why is it that we have this belief that assimilation is the best possible outcome? We have this strange ideology that our way is the right way. Do we think that all international students came here to experience Australia and therefore must adapt into ‘our’ culture?


I, myself am not exempt from this attitude, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been put into a group activity at Uni with an international student and thought ‘aww man, how am I supposed to work with them when they can’t even speak english?, I’m going to have to do this whole assignment on my own’. That is exactly the narrow minded attitude I am speaking of, that exist within Australia and even I am guilty of it. International students have just as much culturally enriching information to share with us as we have to give to them. With the global world we live in, it is in the best interest for Australians to to learn more about other nations. For a multicultural country we need to become more tolerant.


I Still Call Australia Home?

When someone asks where are you from, do you instinctively say the place you grew up in or do you say the place you live in now? perhaps you talk about your heritage or nationality or even the place you associate with the most.

When someone asks me this question my answer would have to be Australia because it is the only place I have ever lived but recently I have been thinking about what it means to be Australian and I have come to the conclusion that I don’t really know.

There are some aspects of Australia that are considered to be a part of our culture but the truth is I don’t really associate with these things at all. I don’t like football or cricket, I’m not that fond of barbeques or the beach, I almost never wear thongs, I’ve never lived out in the bush and I am in no way Aboriginal. So does this make me less Australian? Perhaps I should say I am Italian because that is my heritage, but then I’d still feel the same because I’m not really connected to Italian Culture either. If it’s the place you associate  with the most that determines where you come from than I would gladly say I am Japanese because nothing makes me feel more at home than eating Ramen, drinking some sake and watching an anime or reading a Manga. But how could I say that when I am not even from Japan?

Australia is a prime example of a ‘global village’ in the sense that it’s a culture made up of many different cultures. When I stop and think about my everyday Australian life from the things I eat to the clothes I wear, from the movies I watch to the music I listen to, all of it is either influenced by or entirely imported from other cultures all over the world. This leads me to the question has all this cross cultural integration led to a destruction of culture itself?  What it means to be Australian is a difficult question to answer when Australia is so multicultural that is ceases to have its own identity.

At the same time though while I know Australia is very diverse and multicultural, I sometimes wonder just how globalized it really is. It is still a western dominate culture and the existence of cultural Imperialism is clearly evident. As Todd Gitlin states” If there is a global village it speaks American“, take film and television here in Australia for example. About 80 percent of movies released here are American Hollywood blockbusters and the television shows we import are primarily American as well. There are so many great Australian Movies out there but when I think about how many I have seen personally, It would probably be less than forty and when I think about how many American or British Movies I’ve seen it would be in the hundreds (yeah I watch A LOT of movies). The truth is there just isn’t that many foreign films available in Australia. Even look at the magazines we read, What are we reading about each week? American celebrates and American pop stars. You can’t even enter a town in Australia without finding a McDonald’s or two and everyone here has an iPod. So yes it can be noted that Australia in some ways is heavily dominated by western culture particularly American however in other in ways it is a very diverse and multicultural nation. The hard part is determining where global influences end and Australian culture begins.