Autoethnographic Amoebas

When trying to systematically analyse my personal frameworks when making sense of Akira (1988), a clear pattern emerges. Akira is a cult classic film I hadn’t previously seen – but I already had an informed opinion of. I knew that the film is regarded as one of the greatest animated films of all time – but it is labelled as long, bloody, and somewhat overwhelming.

With these preconceived notions in mind, I had already prepared myself to be in for a ride – and that I also possibly wouldn’t be able to understand the film to its full capacity for the aforementioned reasons.

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The truth

‘Crisis of confidence’ is a term that I will temporarily hijack (Ellis et al 2011). Because I already had semi-informed thoughts and opinions on Akira, I didn’t know how I could approach the film in an unbiased way, which is an element of autoethnography.

However as I consumed the text, I was subconsciously relating it to things that already made sense to me – both on a cultural and personal level. Autoethnography is a practice that ‘retrospectively and selectively’ incorporates the ‘epiphanies’ of the researcher – which occur when the author is part of a culture, or possesses a particular cultural identity (Ellis et al 2011). 

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I worked my way through Akira by relating it to my previous understanding of anime and animation, Pokémon, Marvel, and Stranger Things. Being able to make connections (or having small epiphanies) to these things didn’t suddenly make me understand the text. However, the pre-existing frameworks I had began to knit together and it became interesting and more entertaining to watch when I could pick up on elements that felt familiar. 

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However, the secondary part of autoethnography is the consideration of how others may experience ‘similar epiphanies’ (Ellis et al 2011). When analysing tweets from my peers, I noticed that a few tweets were similar to my own in terms of personal frameworks. Autoethnography values ‘narrative truth’ based on experience – there is no easier way to conduct an autoethnographic experience than through live-tweeting.

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The idea that ‘researchers do no exist in isolation’ (Ellis et al 2011) rings true when you analyse the content of the tweets between myself and my peers. And although we weren’t researching or observing one another – autoethnography can not happen without a community. If an outside researcher wanted to understand how university students responded to the film Akira, all they would have to do was look at the BCM320 twitter community

 


 

Sources:

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

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