Pom Poko on Environmental Issues

The Film Pom Poko by Studio Ghiblis director Isao Takahata and animator Hayao Miyazaki. The film comments on the environmental impact that urbanization and expansion of construction work in the Tokyo area has on the local raccoon dog population. The film is animated in three different animation styles, one being the typical Studio Ghibli style, one inspired by simplified manga drawings and the last being the realistic style. These different styles are used to trigger different emotions in the viewer. The realistic one is used when the raccoon dogs are among humans, this describes how we as humans see them, as animals, without particular emotions and personalities.

In the film, there is a narrator that narrates from a third person perspective and places in historical facts, there is also a second narrator, the main raccoon dog character that gives a narration in the form of a journal entry.The decision to make the perspective of the Raccoon Dogs prevalent throughout the film was most likely made as it gives the viewer a greater connection to the creatures affected by the situation. This connection might have greater impact on the viewer as they create an emotional connection towards the raccoon dogs. Emotional bonds with the raccoon dogs will make people more likely to act upon their feelings of sadness and want to work towards better environmental protection laws and less habitat destruction. While the other narrator’s perspective will keep, the viewers informed about different situations and what exactly is creating the crisis that the raccoon dogs are in.

Studio Ghibli is an animation studio known for its environmental focus and commentaries on environmental change, habitat destruction and human impact on the nature. Through a friendly animation style and humor they try and communicate the message of importance of environmental conservation to their audience. As the film goes on the viewer is fed with information of the impact of human interaction with nature can have on other organisms, with a great focus on mammals. The viewer is offered a different perspective to view this from than they might be used to from their day to day life. On the other hand, as the film was screened in the 1990’s Japan not all viewers felt that they were affecting their own environment in this manner, leading them to denial. This can be very problematic as their homes might need environmental preservation programs more or just as much as is portrayed in the film.

Striving for Understanding

Monday the 4th we had the honor of a visit from Josh Rushing, a highly inspirational journalist, during one of our “Introduction to Mass Communication” sessions. Rushing is working in what would be my dream position; he has the honor of interviewing and conveying the difficulties of the few to the many. His work leads to a better understanding of difficult situations that most people will never have to or hope to never have to. In his show Fault Lines he along with his co-host and production team follow stories of people in all walks of life, everywhere on the planet, from Syrian refugees to American’s in Oklahoma. This leads to his stories having an impact on people from all kinds of backgrounds. As Rushing said he tries to create a base for people from different walks of life to bond with the people in his interviews, i.e. a mother in Oklahoma will be able to identify with a Syrian mothers struggle and pain of keeping her children safe. It was inspiring to hear how he talked about the people he interviewed and how he really seemed to care about the cases he took on in the show. I believe we need more journalists like him, people that can show the public that they do in fact care about their work, social media platforms have definitely helped with showing the more human side of both journalists but also to show first hand experience from victims of different situations.

I believe that Rushing’s hope to strive for a better understanding of the world is a vital part that the media needs to play in the years and decades to come. The need for cultural understanding is great, the rise of racism and misinformation that seems to be present today, f.ex. in the police brutality against African American’s and Donald Trumps opinions on immigration. The media has a crucial role in trying to reverse this wave of misunderstanding with bringing out information that shows different cultures and ethnicity in a good light.

Propaganda: Bias or Just a Different Perspective?

What question drives your interest in media? What question(s) are you hoping you will find the answer to regarding your media world?

I have been lucky enough to live in more than one and more than two countries, in fact next spring when I turn 20 I will have lived in 4 countries. I would say that it is not a bad thing to have 4 different cultural and therefore media perspectives before the age of 20. When I was younger I did not realize how this would influence me but as I grew older, became a teenager and now, a young adult I have realized the implication that this has had on me and my media experience. Being able to read papers in 5 different languages, papers from countries bordering each other or countries across an ocean from each other, gives different perspectives. This has given me an interesting view on how the same “story” is reported on in different ways, ranging from in which format it is reported in and to which outlet is used to publish it.

Seeing a case such as the European “immigration crisis” being reported on from a Syrian refugee through a series of Instagram video’s has a completely different tone of voice than a reporter at the Guardian or a reporter working for Danmarks Radio (The national broadcasting outlet in Denmark) will have. The background of the creator gives a different voice and different authority to the content of the media piece. Who are we going to believe? Is there a reason for us to rather believe one of these sources? Will we choose the report that comes from our own cultural background or will we choose the report coming from someone that to us has a seemingly completely different view of life?

In today’s media culture, the walls of culture, socioeconomic and political backgrounds are being broken down. Nevertheless we often choose to ignore what is not created by people similar to us, again be it from someone with a similar culture, socioeconomic or political background. My hope is to see people break out of their niche, exploring opinions that are the polar opposite of their own, not necessarily to agree with them but to see that it is out there and why some choose to believe in them. But how can we do that? If people automatically look for the news they want to see how can we force them to look at the big picture?

I want to contribute to breaking these walls, I want to bring different perspectives to people, to show them what they wouldn’t usually see. I want to educate people on topics that they would have never thought off before. I want to break down the walls of cultural misunderstanding.

My hopes are to find the reasons for why people seek out a certain type of media, why people choose to stay in their comfort zone.I want to find out how I can tempt them out of their comfort zone without making them think that what they are seeing is propaganda with no relevance to them. I want to avoid people brushing different perspectives from theirs off as bias but rather display the possibility of another perspective to the pool of knowledge that they already have or create a new passion for a topic that they have never before explored.