Throughout my life I have participated in journal writing, experienced introversion and social anxiety and studied sociology. All these experiences have (for better or worse) taught me to be the observer, to be critical of the observer and to reflect on the observer. They have also sparked an interest in me to seek out autoethnographic accounts, though I was unaware of the concept itself until recently.
I find autoethnographies to provide great insights into different cultures, ways of thinking and experiences that are invaluable to challenging my truths and forcing me to continue approaching everything with a simultaneous openness and critical analysis (a recent and very interesting find is the perspective of a trans man discussing his experiences of white male privilege).
An autoethnography is both a process and a product, as it “treats research as a political, socially-just and socially-conscious act” (Ellis et al, 2011), and these acts are constantly being challenged and evolving. Arguably the most important thing to remember is that there is no universal truth and nothing is binary. Understanding this is crucial when approaching an autoethnography, as the researcher needs to be able to identify their experiences and other’s experiences with equal validation, analysis and reflection.
The other day I was scrolling through facebook when I saw the post below and decided to try an autoethnographic exercise of ‘Ladies Room‘, a youtube series dubbed “India’s answer to Broad City”.
As a fan of Broad City (let’s just forget about that time they endorsed Hillary Clinton), I was curious to see what India’s version of Broad City could look like. Annnd…well l was a bit disappointed. I’ve jotted down some thoughts I had while watching Episode 1:
- Before I even hit play I’m surprised at the amount of views (over 1.5 million) before I remembered that India has a huge population and when I was in India I saw billboards for ‘Hate Story 3’, which looked so ridiculous I naturally went on to view the trailer, which had over 26 million views and so I connected the dots then. Naturally I watched that trailer again before continuing…
- They speak in and out of english, which again reminded me of being constantly confused in India…colonialism?
- Like 3/4 of their sentences are in English with random Hindi (?) words thrown in there.
- My favourite one, all english except the word for weed (1:25)
- Constant flashback to India times. That bathroom setting was far too familiar.
- That background music, I dunno.
- Lol, using period talk to make men uncomfortable, a classic move. Broad City did it better, soz.
- Rape in jail jokes, not my type of jokes.
- I’m fighting all urges to stop watching and research Indian culture.
- Policeman seems upset not because they are smoking, but because they are “ladies” and smoking.
- Oh, only reference to LGBTQI community and I’m unable to make a judgement of it…(3:21-3:32)
- I’m unsure how I feel about the over dramatised reactions.
- Daniel Craig reference? Ok.
- “Commit suicide”. Not pc.
- I’m laughing…at the gross toilet joke. Who am I. I love it though.
- I’m still laughing.
- Does ‘Haan’ mean ‘huh’?
- I’m still fighting the urge to pause the video and research India’s stance on gender roles, feminism, lgbtqi community etc to give me more context for this viewing.
- I like the way they display messages into the video:
- They really like the suicide jokes.
- Once it finished I immediately scrolled down to comments…looks like every comments section on every youtube video ever:
Overall, from my perspective, it was relatively underwhelming and lacked the kind of content I was hoping to see in comparison to Broad City. The video description lead me to believe it was pretty groundbreaking for India’s standards, however the terms used to describe the show raised some red flags for me. Terms like “raunchiest”, “mental adventures”, “girl bros” and wrapping it up by saying these two women went where no “man” has gone before are arguably problematic:
“Ladies Room is the raunchiest Y-Films series featuring its wildest leads, Dingo and Khanna.
This is a story of two besties and the mental adventures they go through in six different loos over the six-episode series. It is a show about modern young ‘girl bros’ struggling to grow up even as they grow old. These girls are mad, bad and completely unapologetic about it!
Dingo and Khanna boldly take you where no man has gone before.”
Y-Films, Ladies Room, 2016
I think the biggest reason I was left a little disappointed was because I wanted this show to reshape my assumptions about India and I’m not sure if it did in the ways I was hoping it would.
Next post I will delve further and provide an autoethnographic analysis of my experience watching Ladies Room.
Ellis C, Adams T.E., & Bochner A.P. 2011. Autoethnography: An Overview, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1., available from http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095
Y Films. 2016. Ladies Room Episode 01 | Dingo & Khanna Get Caught With Pot, Youtube, available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HT5S-axdp9k&index=1&list=PLEDnP0ud0ZBiS2kgW9-MKKnzZclgDpzgK