Autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze personal experience in order to understand cultural experience – Ellis et al. 2011
Conveying understanding goes through stages and those stages depend on an individual’s cultural framework.
3. Personal relation
1. Reflect on cultural experiences to find common ground for a somewhat familiar concept
2. Research – AfreecaTV, YouTube, journal articles, online articles
3. Collaboration of external and internal research and draw upon cultural framework
4. Form knowledge and opinions that both alter and reveal my personal identity through this auto-ethnographic process
We know that memory is fallible, that it is impossible to recall or report on events in language that exactly represents how those events were lived and felt; and we recognize that people who have experienced the “same” event often tell different stories about what happened – Ellis et al. 2011
From Digital Asia Blog posts: YouTube Eats and Cultural Reflection – Britt 2019
In terms of Asian travel, the closest I have gotten to it is driving to pick up some honey chicken from my local Chinese restaurant.
Growing up in a small town, my exposure to Asian culture was minimal. I remember occasionally seeing some anime on TV, but I never actually watched it, I was more of a Saddle Club kind of girl.
My family holiday in Melbourne as a child introduced me to Chinatown. The buildings were beautiful and the food we ate for lunch was even better. Ellis et al. (2011) state that “When researchers do autoethnography, they retrospectively and selectively write about epiphanies that stem from, or are made possible by, being part of a culture and/or by possessing a particular cultural identity” and I would label this as a defining epiphany.
Given my initial neutral experience with the local Chinese restaurant, I was unaware of how much more there was culturally behind the food. Once I experienced the more flamboyant environment of Melbourne China town it became more of a luxury to me as it was at a far distance to where I resided. The quick and inconsistent exposure left me curious and intrigued, feelings that have never left.
Being born towards the start of the new millennium meant that I grew up with technology. It was never a foreign concept to me.
In Kindergarten I was taught how to use a computer. Through the years this has stemmed from iPods and iPhones to software developments or applications such a social media which I have self taught with ease.
Video for me has always been around. Music videos were probably the first sort I engaged with so when I discovered YouTube and its domains of content I wasn’t too amazed. For the past 5 years I was aware and engaged in influencer communities across multiple platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. Pereira, Sung & Lee (2019, P. 87) mention the important point that “people today are increasingly taking cues from one another rather than institutional sources, serve as credible in-dependent third part endorsers who have the ability to shape audience attitudes through social media such as blogs, tweets and videos”.
When I thought about my history with Asian cultures and its focus around food and the digital world I grew up in, the concept of mukbangs came to mind.
I first saw a mukbang around 3 years ago. I hadn’t heard of it before, the video was displayed in my trending page on YouTube and the pizza displayed in the thumbnail was definitely the defining moment for my click. Some of the vlogger mukbangs I watch are Jeffree Star, Trisha Paytas and Michael Finch (see below). There was no obvious clues that this new content title was foreign only when the western presenters would actually try to say mukbang and completely butcher it by offering multiple variations of the pronunciation of the word.
The idea or interest in Korean cuisine was something that had never previously crossed my mind. Chinese and Thai were the only Asian dishes I had some familiarity with.
Exploring the origins of this trend was so refreshing in terms of the western model I was used to and just in relation to culture in general. It is fascinating in any area to see how differently another groups of people operate. Koreans are so neutral in there practice of mukbangs and keep the video on topic to focus on what both the host and viewers are there for – the food.