Thursday, November 09, 2006

Enough is enough.

I can't beleive I've gone this long without going off on a rant about this. I've managed to supress it for some time, but I just have to let this out.

I don't understand everyone's fixation with Japan. My confusion goes beyond being irritating at this point, and is now nearing rage.

Now, I do understand that fads, in their nature, tend defy all reason, and are as such, inexplicable. I mean, they generally have to be fickle, flashy, and relatively entertaining in a way that doesn't make you think too much.

Just think back to fads long past:

*Pet Rocks

*Tony Danza


*Having Go-Go Dancers/a Tambourine Player for anything

*Being on any medications

*Boy Bands

*Jean Claude Van Damn movies

*Being fashionably emo

*Bashing Nirvana

*Voting at elections

*Going to college

*McAuly Caulkin

*New Wave

*Being depressed

*Club Kids (take that Michael Alig)

*Outwardly being nice to Jews while secretly still hating them

But what is it about this small Pacific Rim nation that we find to endlessly fascinating? Is it their sense of national identity, especially after a politically, socially, and economically crippling War in the 1940's? A sense of guilt on the part of the allies for being singhandedly responsible for the deaths of millions of Japanese civillians? Is it Pocky?

I think it has more to do with their use of cartoons. Much like Ciggerette companies, Japan has been using cute memorable characters to hook the youth of America. Joe Camel has nothing on these shifty God damned Asians.

I think this is all Walt Disney's fault. I'm fairly certain that in the 1950's he captured small sects of asian workers to be in sweatshops and produce cartoons (probably in accordance with some treaty signed at Yalta or something) and I'm sure a few managed to escape and took what they learned and created anime. If he'd been less of a cheap asshole and hired security guards with better aim, we could have dodged this bullet entirely.

What this boils down to is that I remember a time when cartoons were great. When Bugs Bunny faught the Nazi's and introduced us to classical music. The first time I heard Wagner was on Merry Melodies. I play songs in the symphony now that I recignise from when I was 3 years old, watching Bugs Bunny running around getting shot at by Elmer Fudd while it was playing in the background. You all should know by now that I'm all for cultural enlightenment, and I encourage myself and anyone to experience as much of different cultures as we can, but don't lose your own in the process.

Now I don't know if this is intentional or not, but this has been their greatest revenge on the west. How do you think FDR would feel if he knew that his great great great grandchildren know the all the words to the "Sailor Moon" theme song, but probably don't know that he and Teddy Roosevelt were related. 50 years after we beat them in the battle, they've won the war by taking the minds of our youth.

The thing I hate most about this Japan fad is that the most fickle frivillious aspects of Japan are being objectified. The parts that I find resemble America more than anything. Their fashion, their television, their music (though Ryan G has sent me some pretty cool Japanese bands) but I mean music that is either terrible J-Pop or punk/post hardcore/indie bands with Japanese singers. Bands that are so terrible, the only thing they have going for them is they're Japanese.

Japan has a rich history, epic, in its scope of art, music, tradition, religion, mythology, and horrible tragedies both acted out by them, and inflicted upon them. In this nation is a strange and wonderful culture, and above all, an influence that reaches all of us, but is understood by so few effected by it.

But forget all that crap, they have Pocky, right? How silly of me.


xoxo said...

Oh, Japanophiles.

I'm taking a course in the history of philosophy, art, and religion in china and japan, so I know how you feel. The culture was one of the last to industrialise and yet when they caught on, they managed to industrialise at a pace so quickly, the world was left in shock (just look at the Russo-Japanese war). They never quite slowed down, perhaps its the faced-paced culture that makes everyone want to jump on board. Tokyo, Milan, New York and Paris -- the prefered copycats for people with not enough money to live there. There's just as many wannabe Frenchies and wannabe N'Yorkers as there are white girls with hello kitty backpacks.

Gah, I wish you would come to Victoria and rant with me on the DIY, thrift shop pretention culture down here, you'd have a field day.

Anonymous said...

"*Voting at elections" you'd damn well better vote, Naomi, or I'll be pissed at you.

On a side note, are we actually any more fixated on Japanese culture than we are our own culture? You mention that we glorify trivial aspects of their culture, but we do the same thing here, in my opinion.

There were definitely a handfull of anime cartoons I enjoyed watching while growing up (Transformers, Saber Rider and the Star Sherrifs, Robotech), but the series were all changed so much that they hardly resemble their former Japanese counterparts, so I hardly think they count.

I just don't see too many people doing what you describe, so I guess I can't really say that it's such a big deal. You might know far more people like this than I do though.


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