BCM240

Research Proposal on “Mukbangs”

Here comes the most exciting part of BCM240 course, being able to choose a topic of interest by my own for my research project. In the final 3-4 weeks of semester I will design, implement and evaluate a digital project on one of the ways that media audience research and spatial research can interact. So basically I am currently obsessed with watching “Mukbangs” and I am certain about the fact that I want to conduct my research on this type of media.

Mukbang is an online audio-visual broadcast in which a host eats large amount of foods while interacting with their audience. It’s usually done through an internet webcast, Mukbang became popular in South Korea in the 2010s (Wikipedia)

Jeff Yang, senior vice president of Kantar Futures, who said that Mukbang probably came about due to “the loneliness of unmarried or uncoupled South Koreans, in addition to the inherently social aspect of eating in South Korea.”

After the week 7 lecture on doing ethnography, I have decided to do a digital narrative story telling. I want to focus on what are the ‘reactions’ to this type of media of myself – auto ethnography and 4 other reactions of different or same culture, gender, ethnicity, and age people and finally conclude it by summing the point with the expert.

So, let’s take a deep breath and start the exciting journey. Here I present my proposal for BCM240 Media, Audience, and Place Research.

What is the Background?

Screen Shot 2018-07-07 at 2.33.29 AM
Hong Kong Youtuber: The FoodBit

 As this type of media “Mukbang” isn’t that old, there hasn’t been much academic research on it, so I will be focusing on filming reactions of myself and my participants as well as concluding the point with the expert (Hong Kong YouTuber who does Mukbangs), doing face to face interviews with them, and use some articles present online related to YouTube and mukbang to make my point.

Mukbangs or “eating broadcasts” has been so big in South Korea, that you can make a living from streaming your meals. Usually what happens is that Mukbangers sit before sprawling feasts, slurping, chewing, smacking the food and talking to their viewers over huge meals that lasts for hours. Now it’s also extending to Americans. An American YouTuber Erik the Electric says “I think people watch because they are alone and want to eat with somebody else through the computer.” While some fans do appear to crave the company of eating with someone else, if only virtually, others seem to be using the videos as a way to change their own relationships to food. Some use the videos to stimulate their appetites, and others as a dieting tool. 

From most reports, that’s what made these videos popular in Korea: having the sense of community around eating that we traditionally associate with bringing together during holidays.

While some fans do appear to crave the company of eating with someone else, if only virtually, others seem to be using the videos as a way to change their own relationships to food. Some use the videos to stimulate their appetites, and others as a dieting tool

An American YouTuber La Delicia de Linda said “A lot of my viewers have a history with having a hard time eating, so they watch Mukbang to help them induce cravings.”  

The purpose of my research is to judge the reactions to this type of media “Mukbang”

I would start of my video with the background of what is “Mukbang”, and how it started. My focus would be the “reaction” and the conclusion will have a summing point of the expert of what ‘He’s – Hong Kong YouTuber’ trying to achieve, does it match with the reaction that I got, is it what Mukbangers want?

 What is my methodology?

group interview
Source: Pinterest

 In order to collect sufficient and accurate data and reactions within the time span that I have got, I have planned to include my auto ethnography experience, examine my participants’ reactions, and I would also conduct group interviews with standardised questions. These questions will be asked after I have filmed their reactions of watching a Mukbang video.

 

A few examples of questions to ask for the interview would include:

  • How often do you watch Mukbang?
  • What do you expect from a Mukbang?
  • What emotions are stirred when you watch Mukbang?
  • Why do you think these emotions are felt?
  • How would your reaction change if the sound of eating/chewing/slurping is turned off?
  • Has watching Mukbang helped with inducing cravings?
  • Do you use Mukbang videos to change your relationship with food (e.g. stimulate appetite, restrict diet)?

These questions will be asked in order to confirm the reactions that I will be filming, I want to see how Mukbang has an effort on the participants. The data collected will then be analysed and relevant information will be included in my final video which I will be narrating. I believe my storytelling approach can have transformative potential and consequences.

How will my research be communicated to the wider community?

I will be recording videos of myself and my participant’s reactions as I conduct my research. There will be 4 participants in total, me and one expert who’s a YouTuber in Hong Kong. All 4 of them would be those who watches Mukbang regularly. I don’t mind whichever gender, ethnicity, or age they are most important thing for my storytelling are their reactions while watching Mukbang.

My stakeholders would include my Mukbang viewers, Food Lovers, Restaurants, Mukbang sponsors and Mukbangers. My research will stimulate discussion amongst my intended audience due to its catchy background tone fitting to food theme, and demonstrate my video making and storytelling abilities.

What choice of platform will I use to showcase my Research and Findings?

I believe the best platform to present my research would be to use YouTube platform and post my video over there, this would allow me to showcase my observations and my participations reactions and not to forget even my own reactions would be included, whilst ensuring that bigger audiences are entertained. Furthermore, I choose this approach as to challenge myself on improving my video editing skills as I have barely any knowledge on it. I have only recently tried experimenting with YouTube videos but that deserves a big credit to UOW’s Communication and Media courses.

What are the Ethical Issues that may arise from the research?

permission-slip.png
Source: raisingthecurtain.net

Ethical issues that might arise would be that my participants are feeling uncomfortable by me conducting the research in an unethical manner. So in order to prevent anything as such, I would need to respect the participants’ decisions. In my research participants will be 100% aware of my research being fully voluntary and I will be stating this in the consent form as well. If they feel the need to leave the interview, they will won’t be forced to stay. I will also be sure of not being bias or standardise any questions. The consent form will include the following to prevent any violation and to ensure that participants are 100% aware of their rights as a participant, the purpose and methodology of my research, and my chosen platform and the chance of them being viewed may have an increase.

Thank you for taking out your time to read my proposal for the digital artefact of BCM240 course – Media, Audience and Place. I hope you will be looking forward for the final piece. Till then I am going to start obtaining results of my research. I can’t wait to present them to you. See you soon.


Signing off,
Khan Sultana Nazish

References:

DeFabio, C. (2016). Why millions of people watch videos of strangers eating huge amounts of food. [online] Splinternews.com. Available at: https://splinternews.com/why-millions-of-people-watch-videos-of-strangers-eating-1793861391

Droumeva, M. (2015). Sensory Postcards: Using mobile media for digital ethnographies. Available at: http://ethnographymatters.net/blog/2015/06/29/sensory-postcards-using-mobile-media-for-digital-ethnographies/

Kim, M. (2017). Extreme Eating: Are “Mukbangs” Helpful or Hurtful to Those With Eating Disorders? | Students in Mental Health Research. [online] Hcs.harvard.edu. Available at: https://www.hcs.harvard.edu/~hcht/blog/eating-disorder

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