Archive for March, 2013
Introduction to me – My name is Zoe Burgess and I am currently affiliated with Birkbeck Universities Japanese Cultural Department. I currently hold a Masters in Contemporary Film developments specializing in South Korean Cinema and did my dissertation of ‘Morbid sexuality and the love of taboo in Japanese cinema’. I am now working on my PhD Queering the fandom, a study of female fan culture and their appropriation of the yaoi genre. I am a film theorist who specialising in queer theory as well as gender and sexuality, social commentary and cinema as cultural identity. I am also very active in the fan community as an artist, video blogger, and conceptual cosplayer and designer. I recently survived criticism by Gok Wan when he announced on public TV that I was sad for like Anime, manga and john barrowman and was a depressed emo Goth I currently head a campaign to right that wrong and represent fangirl as the confident, creative and intelligent people we are.
Introduction to topic – as a film student my belief is that film, TV and media is a direct reflection of the society of the time it was created and therefore a true reflection of the culture that bore it, it can stand up as historical testament to not only the technical advances of the time and factors such as camera techniques and editing but also social trends, fashion, language, changes in politics, law and the interests and passions of the audience. Film is Culture and therefore it makes sense that it will have a reverse in the form of counter culture. Counter culture is a term used when a form of media such as anime shows an alternate or inverted view of the culture that created it. Instead of showing the true reflections of society, history and culture counter cultures shows us what we either wish our society, history and culture is or how we can escape these things. For example for us in the Uk we have been in and out of recession and money has been tight while British cinema is famous for realism so films about the struggling working classes are abundant but we want to escape this and therefore a cinema of excess of fantastical adventures has proven more popular and commercially successful in the current climate. Anime is one of the best examples of counter culture as it enables for every interest, thought, desire and idea to get a visual representation counter to the actually trends of Japanese society. We all know that japan has stricter rules on social behaviour, roles of the adult and pressure on students to achieve higher grades, with all this social pressure its unsurprising they have an industry that caters for fleets of fantasy allowing a release from social and cultural norms. One of my favourite genres that is great for counter culture is the New wave mecha genre with animes such as Evangelion, fafner and Bokurano, there is so much pressure on youth to achieve something but also on adult failure and how they have been corrupted by society, wisdom of age, money and status and therefore the ones not corrupted and therefor able to judge society are children who have remained innocents against social pressures. This is why new wave mecha employs children as the ones to fight for society as they are seen as “pure” and don’t have ulterior motives influenced by adult problems. Anime can be a great tool for escapism as well as an inspiration for cultural movements and phenomenon such as cosplay. Counter culture has been appropriated by fan culture and anime fandom is very good for breakout views and expressionism. By having fans engage and appropriate their fandoms they then go on to express themselves using this fandom as a base and as source material. Fan communities become a culture counter to the perceived normal culture of modern society.
Anime has allowed for people to take that escapism and expressionism to another level by not only allowing their vision to escape from cultural norms but also their actual selves. Anime fandom has created off shoots such as cosplay, fanfiction, and fan art and video that has allowed individuals to further add to the realms of counter culture.
Cosplay - Many choose a cosplay based on the characters that they relate to, the ones they either wish to be more like or the ones they feel share the same identity. In normal society and within our culture we don’t have the opportunities to be heroes or villains, to be fantastical figures that lead lives unimaginable in our society so we have to create a place for these alter egos a place where we can reflect our own identities regardless if they a counter to the social acceptable norm. I like many Cosplay why do I do this, to become more than the person presented to modern society, to be a new and more alternate version of myself who can use art and vision to represent myself. I am what I have termed a conceptual cosplayer meaning that I don’t become characters I become a theme, a genre to myself. I cosplay to escape what is socially accepted, to escape from the realism and boring everyday world that is my job. I have my genres and inspiration and I choose to become a visual representation of the things that I enjoy. As such I have started making outfits based on iconography such as the Tardis dress I wore last year and at last this year my current cosplay of Shoujo Manga. I am a girl who reads manga, particularly from the dark shoujo genres with favourites such as Yami no Matsuei. I have broken social norms and even cosplay norms by becoming the genre that inspired me in the first place.
Body Modification – I also enjoy the ideals of body modification physically changing aspects of yourself so better represent your true self. I have then taken conceptual cosplaying to new extremes with my love of tattoos. My goal was always to be a walking manga, I believe that my skin is my canvas and therefor I can illustrate it. I choose all my tattoos (bar one) from Manga, finding iconography and themes that I enjoyed the most by artists I liked the most.
Fan Works – Fan culture by nature is a form of appropriating and celebrating counter culture. By taking the original material and celebrating it you are promoting non-mainstream areas such as fanfiction and doujinshi. Fan works are not something that exists in the mainstream, people don’t write fanfiction for events in the news but they do for areas such as anime. Anime lends itself more openly to fan interpretation, it allows for a culture of alternative opinions to be given voice. This is evident in areas such as slash AMV’s that combine images and video footage to prove a particular story or character development as seen by the fan. Fan works are not part of the original canon of the anime and therefor are an interpretation or inverted form of the anime and by that definition an example of counter culture. Fan works do not make up a true reflection of society and culture that bore it. Fan works act to back up the counter culture.
The Panel is up on Youtube to here the full thing with my Co-panelist Leah Holmes.
For more of my video blogs see my Youtube channel:
You can follow me @lonedreameryaoi and the Let Zoe Spoil You facebook group