Graham suggested the new magazine Tokyo Graffiti — NewGeneration Magazine as a democratic antidote to the soft-authoritarianism of standard Japanese fashion catalogs. The magazine is essentially a collection of photos of people on the street holding white boards on which they’ve written answers to various questions, such as what is their hope for the next year?, etc. I took a look at it today, and sadly, found it to be a different methodology for the same gambit of “creating” reality rather than reflecting it.
For example, the magazine has a “local style” section with photos taken on the streets of different neighborhoods. Every single photo from Shibuya was a young man in full hip hop gear. Nearly every photo from Shimokitazawa was a young man in full punk-rock gear. The Harajuku section contained only pictures of ten Lolita-Goth girls (of probably the twelve that reside in front of the Meiji-Jingu shrine.)
These are indeed “photos from the street,” but they’ve been curated and edited to such an extreme degree that the overall collection no longer resembles anything approaching real life. Shibuya can be hip hoppy, but never more than 5% of the total crowd. Shimokitazawa has a reputation of being a “rock” hangout, but maybe only 5% of the people around are actually wearing head-to-toe neo-punk chic. I know Harajuku isn’t the hot spot it was five years ago, but is it only that baker’s dozen of little drama queens who are a relatively recent addition to the neighborhood? Is Akihabara all anime geeks all the time?
There is still a substantial amount of obsessive dress coding about, but if anything, the distinct youth neighborhoods are becoming more and more mixed up. Shibuya alone probably holds every specimen of subcultural fashion look. Tokyo Graffiti, however, creates a separate reality through selective focusing of chaotic objective evidence into a neat order for public consumption.
The other part that bugged me was a page of resident Tokyo foreigners who wrote their thoughts on white boards — in English. Was there not a single foreigner who chose to write in Japanese? Are all the gaijin in the city such hopeless colonialists that they can’t write in the local language? Is it that or more selective editing of reality?