Sonny’s Eating Show // MUKBANG

Sonny’s Eating Show // MUKBANG

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I ate in front of a camera for the first time yesterday – considering it as ‘an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno)‘ (ELLIS, 2004; HOLMAN JONES, 2005). I have framed my further auto-ethnographic project with my direct personal application into the food phenomena of ‘Mukbang’.

This time around while performing my eating show, I would at the same time present my research on the production and consumption of this form of Asian media which had originated from South Korea – the concept, its emergence, popularisation, statistics and facts revolving around its growth and the society that surrounds it.

For example utilising the platform AfreecaTv rather than an edited YouTube video or streaming through Twitch, allowed for a thorough investigation into Korea’s social eating culture. Initially I could not navigate through the site due to the language barrier. But after researching into how to stream from different nations, you run the site broadcast through OBS, just like Twitch. The site has a layout unlike any other video/streaming platform I have experienced, it looked a lot more like Ebay and/or Gumtree. This depicted this service and form of expression as a great commodity in Korean culture, where money is a main factor in its progression.

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I used this methodology as a narrative form of inquiry and can be seen as a ‘way of knowing’ established through thinking in one’s own person and through the making of judgements – “the narrative is especially relevant to the analysis of organisational processes because people do not simply tell stories – they enact them.” (Pentland, 1999). I wanted to show first hand the aesthetics and evocative nature as to why Mukbangs are becoming popular, convey how they gain traction and present a different perspective as an unfamiliar researcher.

In so doing, according to the Ellis reading I have aimed to:

  • Improve and better understand our relationships.
    The potential relationships between our asian counterparts, to understand the factors that influence their media consumption and to allude to my own experiences in interpreting this culture
  • Reduce prejudice.
    Rather than throwing away all of my preconceived ideas of this genre within Asia, I educated myself on them. I soon learnt that my pre-mukbang thoughts were not all invalid but were mainly the tip of the iceberg in terms of its social utility for audiences. I saw Mukbang as a strange, dark application into the objectifying of people, which can be the case. But as South Korean society changes  in terms of social relationships and the overall demographical sphere, so do their media habits.
  • Encourage personal responsibility and agency
    Because I experienced this form of asian culture, I could then understand it in a more professional manner where I channelled my efforts into judgements that assisted my data collection/depiction. Content that is emotionally engaging (Behar, 1997; Ellis, 1997; Ronai, 1992), as well as critically self-reflexive of one’s sociopolitical interactivity. “Good Autoethnography strives to use relational language and styles to create purposeful dialogue between the reader and the author.” (Goodall, 1998)
  • Give people a voice that, before expression, they may not have felt they had.
    The stigmatisation in this form of Korean culture is heavily placed upon the hosts and audiences. I attempt unpacked the significance of each section of the Mukbang model in terms of its social utility, how it affects the people within and how it is  essentially growing as a self-branding business around the world.

I believe that placing myself in the social context of the South Korean food style of Mukbang has allowed for myself as a researcher to be challenged, changed, embraced, and interrogated in the performance process. At the same time all addressing the key findings of social eating in Korea, why it is happening and what it developed from.

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[ CLICK HERE FOR MY AFREECATV STREAM ]

[ If broadcast is unstable and cuts out – I have uploaded the same stream onto YOUTUBE ]

 

REFERENCES:

An, T. 2016, ‘The Third Voyeurism.’,  QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF DISSIMULATION IN ART | ARCHITECTURE | DESIGN, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp.47-54, date accessed: 11 Sept 2017, < https://dailysonny.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/817c9-masks_0nix_2016.pdf >

Conquergood, D 1985,  Performing as a moral act: Ethical dimensions in the ethnography of performance, Literature in Performance, Vol.5, No.2, pp 1-13 date accessed: 27 Oct 2017, < http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10462938509391578 >

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. <  http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095 >

Holmberg, C. 2014,  Food And Social Media — A Complicated Relationship., HuffPost, date accessed: 10 Sept 2017, < http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christopher-holmberg/food-and-social-media-a-c_b_4898784.html >

ISSUU 2017, Mukbang. date accessed: 26 Oct 2017  < https://issuu.com/carolhia/docs/mukbang >

Palladino, V. 2017, Mukbang and Hauls: The rise of super-indulgent eating and shopping videos, ARS Technica, date accessed: 26 Oct 2017 < https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2016/04/mukbang-and-hauls-the-rise-of-super-indulgent-eating-and-shopping-videos/ >

Pentland, B. 1999, ‘Building Process Theory with Narrative: From Description to Explanation. Academy of Management Review, Vol.24, No.4, pp. 711-724, date accessed: 26 Oct 2017, < http://dsi.esade.edu/theorybuilding/papers/99-Pentland%20Building%20process%20theory%20with%20narrative-%20from%20drescription%20to%20explanation.pdf >

Spry, T. 2001, ‘Performing Autoethnography: An Embodied Methodological Praxis’,  Qualitative Inquiry,  Vol.7, No.6, pp.706-732. date accessed: 26 Oct 2017, :< http://www.nyu.edu/pages/classes/bkg/methods/spry.pdf >

 

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Korean Food Phenomenon // MUKBANG

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I love food as much as the next person and growing up in as a Vietnamese-Australian I was brought up with quite a wide scope in terms of food culture –  such as diverse flavours, etiquette and perhaps the ability to use chopsticks more competently than a fork.

As I entered the subject of Digital Asia I slowly began to recognise on social media the growing rate and popularity of a different kind videos online. These videos were depicting people, from what I was seeing, mainly petite females, eating large quantities of food whilst talking to a camera and ultimately their internet audiences simultaneously. This triggered my curiosity and put me in a state of awe as I began to look into it’s country of origin, South Korea and dig a little deeper into the industry phenomenon of ‘Mukbang‘.

Mukbang, or 먹방, is an abbreviation and addition of two words:  먹다 (sound: “Muk-Dah” / meaning: to eat) + 방송 (sound “Bang-Song” / meaning: (TV) broadcast).

I found this really interesting because it’s one thing to broadcast yourself singing, playing video games or dancing but within my own cultural parameters, broadcast eating was unfamiliar – which made it all the more absorbing! I wanted to commence my auto-ethnographic journey with immersing myself with some of the best in the biz, micro-celebrities in the eating industry or the OGs of Mukbang, if you will. So with a quick google search with something along the lines of ‘South Korea’s most famous Mukbanger‘, I discovered BJ (Broadcast Jockey) Benzz and BJ (Broadcast Jockey) Shukii and watched a single video of theirs in its entirety.

 

 

Okay, after effectively watching collectively over an hour of broadcast eating I have so many thoughts, reflections on my own upbringing/life and questions about the notion of Mukbang. Firstly, besides the straight-up obscurity of it for me, it is impressive. It is impressive to watch a single person consume enough food to feed a group of people, especially that of very slim individuals that were in these texts.

Secondly, reading into this form of media more-so, whilst I was watching this I learnt that Mukbang content is streamed to live audiences, mainly through AfreecaTv which is a P2P technology-based video streaming service based in South Korea. So, there is a huge viewership for these videos where hundreds of thousands of people tune in during to interact with the creator and also millions then after the initial broadcast. And with this, during the experience I could definitely acknowledge a sense of community, a sense of company and maybe even a level of comfort for the regular viewers of this type of content. I think that we as humans definitely do need connection to one another and whether that is through having coffee with someone in the flesh or a meal via digital screen, the effects will be major/minor. The person eating in the video would talk to the engaging public which I felt was pretty cool, it gave the content more substance than just eating and it clearly matters to the public for them to take time out of their lives to comment on features within the video. In regards to my own upbringing through an Australian/Asian filter, food was a very social matter, growing up my family would gather at all times during the day to eat, share food, not necessarily talking to one another but enjoying the overall presence of the gathering. Drawing these linkages highlights the strong social utility that Mukbangs encompass. Building upon this theme, these eating individuals are placed on a pedestal where audiences then become fans – and like any other industry like K-Pop for example, celebrities/micro-celebrities are birthed.

I am not a fan of loud eating or eating sounds at all for that matter, it’s pretty much nails on a chalk board for me and as I continued to watch that was the main audio accompaniment that I endured. And as painful as it was, I began to think that might be a reason why people watch. There is a stigma of fetish-related reason as to why people watch by the herd, people may tune in to watch K-POP-esque people devour food but may also hold the weird fixation of listening to eating sounds similarly to the also growing trend of ASMR that I have also come across in the media today. Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is a term used for an experience of physical sensation of tingling that often begins in the scalp and moves down through the spine and sometimes to the limbs. It can typically be induced by auditory behaviours (sounds that some deem to be relaxing), which in fact includes eating sounds.

Then I found this…

[BJ Benzz ASMR YouTube channel]

At the end of my immersion into this Korean food trend I felt as if though I kind of had a somewhat better understanding of why fans of this form of media develop interest into it. It really did remind me of how other forms of expression and online engagement occupy social media platforms, it’s just a case of different audiences and relevance to them. Interpreting this from a foreign context my reading of Mukbang culture transitioned from a ‘This is really weird’ standpoint to a ‘This is really weird to me still, but I get it’ one.

Perceiving Cultures

Autoethnography is a form of qualitative research where the researcher explores his or her own experience as a focus within the investigation and examination of cultures. It acknowledges the power of the researcher to explore more closely than others are able, and it connects the personal story to the participatory cultures.

“Autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze personal experience in order to understand cultural experience.” (Ellis, Adams and Bochner 2011: np).

Before even being introduced to the notion of Autoethnography I had spent a considerable amount of time overseas and also having looked into the study of communication across cultures – where I mainly focused on addressing the issues involved in communication among people of different linguistic and “cultural” backgrounds.

In saying this one Scholar comes to mind…  Continue reading “Perceiving Cultures”

Gojira (1954); Monster / Metaphor

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At the start of this year I spend some time in Japan where for the first time I was engulfed by the means of Asian media. Anime, Cosplay, Gaming, Manga, you name it. While all adapting to the nation’s ‘Kawaii’ lifestyle. Contemporary forms of the nation’s popular culture, are not only forms of entertainment but also aspects to distinguish contemporary Japan from the rest of the modern world.

Prior to this week’s seminar I had not experienced any of the ‘Godzilla’ films especially that of Ishir Honda’s 1953 original ‘Gojira’. But interestingly enough I believe I was quite familiar with the narrative – to which an immense lizard-like monster creates havoc within the cityscape. But why is it, that I was so known to this story? Popular culture has since taken this notion of Gojira and has replicated, regurgitated and revamped it to suit and interest audiences today and as I aged I was always exposed to these kinds of media. Continue reading “Gojira (1954); Monster / Metaphor”