Comments

  1. Anastasia Rivera says:

    There was a lot that you covered here and I look forward to your presentation!

    In your article, you claim that the West smuggles Japanese media as a form of escapism from its issues (by Othering and claiming superiority over their ‘baseness’), but is this mainly attributed to youth participation? Also, internet usage is necessary. Do you think Japanese media is prevalent enough in the Western/American consciousness?

    You also mention that the West is trying to deal with its own complex issues, but are they significantly different from those that face Japanese society? For example, racism is a problem within Japan itself among its ethnically Korean residents, Brazilian nikkei population, and other marginalized groups. Both modern nations have also been struggling with economic downturns recently. How effective is this escapism?

  2. Andrew Kim says:

    Khauri, this was a great article! It really encompasses a lot of big issues like the fact that we still look at Japan as a “weird other.” And it even encompasses some core issues internal to Japan such as “B-style.” On that specific point, I’ll throw you an article written by Kotaku’s Brian Ashcraft that covered an April Fool’s joke by Warner Bros. Japan that happened this very April. I figure it might help as another piece of evidence or research:

    http://kotaku.com/will-smiths-new-movie-promoted-with-blackface-in-japan-1694962531

    It seems to me that at least towards Japan, we “other” them in a different way than we other say countries in the Middle East. While it’s true that both cultures elicit a kind of “Whew, glad we don’t have that here!” response, the cultural othering of a Middle Eastern culture appears to have much deeper implications than othering Japan.

    In our present day, we can look at the othering of the Middle East as a way of weaponizing our national identity and baseline cultural knowledge against a current political enemy. In the past, I can see how Japan was othered in a similar way, but what about now?

    Are we still weaponizing nationalism against Japan because we see them as a threat? How say does our view of a “weird Japan” compare to that of other western nations such as say “weird Romania” or “weird Germany?”

  3. tdmcknight says:

    Ooh, I’ve never thought of Japan purposefully presenting an image of itself in popular media to get Western consumers in-the-know regarding the country’s struggles. That’s pretty clever.

    As another example of (horrifically bad) deflection, I may be remembering this incorrectly, but there was an article a while back about North Korea condemning America for its police brutality (specifically, Ferguson) that exploded on the Internet and lasted a couple of weeks.

    I know that among the language learning community, there are plenty of people learning Japanese who idolize Japan way more than they should, to the point where they make it sound like a paradise on earth that can do no wrong.

  4. Victoria says:

    I enjoyed reading you article! It’s definitely fascinating to see this seldom vocalized argument for escapism as a way for Western/American consciousness to get away from its own issues using Japan. We always hear about how Japan, and its youth especially, use escapism to deny the various social and economic issues plaguing Japanese society, but it’s very interesting to see another nation taking this same method and turning it around to project certain ideas on another nation for the purpose of making itself feel better (the ultimate goal of escapism).

    I wonder if the demographics are the same in Japan as the US regarding who uses this form of escapism, or whether escapism in the US is just simply inescapable (no pun intended) because of multimedia coverage of this stereotypical, and purposefully negative, portrayal of Japan. I also wonder whether or not the nature of the issues have a noticeable impact on the use and effectiveness of escapism.

    At the end of your article, you say that Japan is trying to export its own brand of escapism to combat the brand the Euro-America world is forcefully taking. Anime and manga like Bleach are supposed to remind the world that Japan in still struggling with issues itself, while also presenting a better and truer image of the Japanese people. I, having watched/read Bleach (in its entirety), can see these elements in the work. It’s actually one of the most well-known and popular anime/manga in the US still, so I think it (and others like it) could definitely reach a large number of people to spread the message. Ultimately I do wonder though, how seriously it can be taken (given that it’s fantasy and uses a number of cliches and tropes), and how effective the whole method has this been so far?