Hollywood Stays Home

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This L.A. Times article explores the decline of Hollywood star appearances in Japanese commercials. While more self-confidence about Japanese culture and a new interest in Asian celebrities has perhaps softened the demand for Western talent, the Japanese market is no longer overflowing with the wealth to pay mediocre American actors several million dollars for a spot. French soccer players and Chinese actresses are fortunately much cheaper buys and ultimately just as effective.

I do not want to say that an increase in neo-nationalistic navel-gazing stems directly from lower consumer budgets, but if we look back on Japan’s more internationally-minded artists and citizens from the ’80s and ’90s, they were almost all rich kids — like Oyamada Keigo, Ozawa Kenji, Konishi Yasuharu, and Tanaka Yasuo — who showed a curiosity for the world through their spending habits. Japanese youth these days are not so lucky and depend upon their local mass market to entertain them. Or at most, they shallowly explore the English-speaking world’s musical acts and films already within the mass distribution channels. Japanese teens love their Nirvana, but not necessarily their Nirvana (UK). In the ’90s, consumers all strove to dig deeper, and that frenzy for completing perfect collections of knowledge has calmed down in recent years. The first song on any popular J-Punk or J-Reggae CD will tell you exact what kids these days aren’t listening to.

The media seems to think that we should all be amazed by the hanryu boom, but I don’t have to remind any of you that this influx of Korean culture has little to do with young people. Married women in their 40s love their Yon-sama, and teenagers go on with their daily lives unaffected.

The international acclaim awarded to Japan’s pop culture in the ’90s gave Japanese youth consumers more pride about domestic output, but now combined with a lack of money to pull too much from all over the world, everything is pushing towards a more monotonous local orientation. Now I don’t think the new lack of Western actors in ads will have an impact on Japanese tastes, but this and the rise of blatantly pro-Japan youth culture are cut from the same cloth. Japan is really into Japan at the moment — partly because they want to be, partly because they have to be.

(A Side Note: While visiting a college campus in America, I ran into a Japanese female professor from prestigious Hitotsubashi University. She told me that her students asked her, “Why would you go to America? Japan is the best! Why would anyone ever leave Japan?”)

W. David MARX (Marxy)
September 27, 2005

Marxy wrote a lot of essays back on his old site Néomarxisme. This is one of them.

46 Responses

  1. Jrim Says:

    marxy – what’s with this “kids these days, tsk tsk” middle-aged grumbling? Snap out of it, man. I couldn’t help noticing, too, how you seemed to slip from talking about “American actors” at the start of your essay, to “foreign actors” by the end. Careful there: the article you link to draws a distinction between Hollywood and Asia, not Foreign and Japanese. If anything, I think there are more foreign actors on TV at the moment (albeit in dramas rather than adverts) – they just don’t have white faces.

  2. Yaten Says:

    I’m mostly unbothered by many of the entries on your blog but for some reason this one rubbed me the wrong way.

    About the students asking the professor why she wanted to go to America and Japan is the best: I grew up in a small town in Ohio and would regularly go on trips to Europe and Japan. I was asked the same questions in the same tone as the Japanese students mentioned in your blog. People didn’t understand why I wanted to leave America, they all told me it was so big there was no reason to worry about different cultures half-way around the world.

    As Jrim states above, I find this post to be slightly confusing. Are you talking about “Hollywood stars”, “Western talent”, or foreign celebrities in general? Not to nitpick, but it would be nice if you could explain more.

    You seem to put down the youth of today’s Japan for being too nationalistic, yet you point out yourself that many youth can’t afford things like their older siblings could. How can you blame a population with no money for being too stuck in their own culture? How many American kids do you know who know anything about music made out of English-speaking countries, for that matter?

  3. Chompsky Says:

    I’m not sure how Marxy comes up with this idea of nao-nationalistic navel-gazing on the part of Japanese musicians. Flip through almost any interview of a Japanese band in local magazines, and the interviewees typically all list as their influences many North American or European groups.

    “Japanese youth these days are not so lucky and depend upon their local mass market to entertain them.”

    How about the Internet? And file-sharing? If, as he claims, they don’t have money to buy foreign products, it would seem they wouldn’t have much money to spend on domestic goods either? Or is he maybe making the argument that listening to expensive import LPs is the only way to ‘be international”?

    More examples on this new young Japanese fixation on itself than just one anecdote on Gen Y-ers seeing no reason to travel abroad would be appreciated (it’s easy enough to find loads of people of that age who like to travel abroad and enjoy foreign things, including music).

  4. gen Says:

    I just saw Meg Ryan shilling for some awful Japanese coffee brand on TV. The trend may be down, but Richard Gere is still all over Tokyo shilling for Japan’s largest metrosexual makeover joint too.

  5. Momus Says:

    Yes, come on, Marxy, this is just getting lazy and repetitive now!

  6. marxy Says:

    I re-edited the piece, taking into consideration the criticisms.

    Whether you believe it or not, the young generation in Japan is not particularly motivated nor interested in anything other than their own small peer cultures. I don’t think it’s “nationalistic” in the 1930s sense of the word – more like they’re too tired to lift their heads and look over the horizon. How many kids have I seen introduce themselves in class having the interests of “talking with friends, drinking, and eating ramen.” There is nothing inherently wrong in this, but I don’t think it particularly suggests an interest in “cultural sophistication” (as has been defined in the past.)

    I can’t really prove a lot of this, and most of you will be fine to not believe me until you can form a direct opinion on this yourself. Spend some time with younger kids, and you’ll realize why Studio Voice has about 5 years left in existence.

    More examples on this new young Japanese fixation on itself

    Admittedly, I am just being a critic and not an academic with this particular topic, but I’m sure that you’d find some answers by looking at foreign travel trends in Japan. Where are they going? Who is going? Are they going more or less?

    How about the Internet? And file-sharing?

    Am I the only one that is interested in how little impact the Internet and file-sharing have had in Japan compared with Korea and the US? Maybe Japan will catch up, but it’s a mistake to think that the Internet is changing culture here right now the way it is in other places.

    Or is he maybe making the argument that listening to expensive import LPs is the only way to ‘be international”?

    Over the course of this blog, we have talked a lot about how consumption is the easiest way (and sometimes only way) to do most things in Japan (“Don’t be, buy”), and perhaps, I am biased against young people myself because their lack of purchasing makes it hard to read their identity.

    How many American kids do you know who know anything about music made out of English-speaking countries, for that matter?

    Right, and that’s why America is boring. Japan was doing something right by being open to the rest of the world. I’d rather not see that go away.

  7. Momus Says:

    As so often happens, Marxy and I are singing from the same hymnbook here, but offering our hymns to totally different gods. I actually don’t disagree with the point about national narcissism. I just disagree with the suggestion that there’s anything wrong with it. Back in February I wrote a piece called “The Japanese are almost Japanese” which dealt with this same theme:

    “I had dinner on Friday night with some 20 year-old Japanese kids, students of the Future University, and asked them some questions. None of them had been outside Japan, and none of them seemed very keen to travel. They planned to spend their whole lives in Hokkaido. A recent Pop Vox feature on Japan Today saw 20 year old Komachi saying “I have no interest in the U.S. and politics, whatsoever…” and Hisamoto, 23, concurring “What Bush does is not related to me. There is no reason why I even need to think about him so much.”

    “…The young Japanese I met in the 90s–kids now aged between 25 and 35–were open to foreign travel, to collaborations with foreigners on equal terms. The Japanese I’m closest to are still these people, widely-travelled, formed in the 90s, cosmopolitan, outward-looking. But this year I’ve been very aware of a surprising new mood in Japan, an intensely inward-looking mood akin to narcissism. Japan, increasingly, performs itself to itself as ‘the other’, as an exotic tourist destination primped for internal consumption. TV here in Hokkaido is an endless advertorial presentation of winter resorts where Japanese families go to marvel at intensely, even stereotypically, Japanese wonders; to bathe in hot springs, to sit on tatami mats in ryokan hotels, to sample inevitably delicious food. It’s what deconstructionists would call “the staging of difference against the scenery of standardisation and globalisation”. But the globalisation part of the equation has been hidden.

    “Ironically, the new mood of Japanese self-obsession closely resembles the new mood of American self-obsession; in both nations internationalism has been dismantled and replaced by nationalism. The big difference is that America is aggressively exporting its currently ugly culture all over the world, whereas Japan is keeping its beautiful culture rather secret. Not only is Japan not invading and ‘reforming’ other nations, it isn’t even advertising itself abroad as a tourist destination. Its tourism is very much an internal affair.

    “Although I’m sad that the current Japanese mood of intense self-love seems not to need me in quite the same way as 90s global pomo Japanese culture seemed to, I’m generally positive about the trend to national narcissism. I believe Japan really does have a culture worth protecting, celebrating, and being proud of…

    “Love, even self-love, often starts off as a lie, but it’s a virtuous and transformative lie; a lie that might just become the truth. If you believe contentment is something good, something a nation should aspire to, you have to accept that self-contentment might be a perfectly good way to achieve it. But if the Japanese are only, like me, on the way to becoming Japanese, then perhaps we shouldn’t use the word ‘self-contentment’. Perhaps we should say ‘self-aspiration’.”

  8. nate Says:

    ah, but don’t we all want japan to be something for us that our home country was not, or failed to be.

  9. nate Says:

    momus, I really wish I had known you were in hakodate back then. I’m just across the mutsu bay from there.

    but Hakodate is even more backwater than here, and future university or no, out in the wilds of “the rest of japan”, most everyone is and was quite uninterested in the anything further away than okinawa. Its hard to face outward from japan anywhere but in kansai or kantou.

  10. Momus Says:

    In Hakodate I was staying in the house of some Japanese hippies who leave the wintry wastes of Hokkaido every winter to spend time in the warmth of Okinawa. Their house was absolutely stuffed with excellent reggae records and films (including Jamaican film “Rockers”, 1978, which is great). They planned to turn it into an Okinawa-style ramen bar when they got back.

    That’s purely anecdotal, but I think it says a lot. One, Japan is, a bit like the US, a big place that goes from wintry (Hokkaido) to balmy (Okinawa). Japanese are often very much into some “foreign” cultural thing (in this case fanatical about reggae), and, contrary to popular belief, this can actually go quite deep into lifestyle (these people I’m sure grew their own weed and had built their own house in “organic” shapes, were best friends with the macrobiotic restaurant next door, etc). But they may not necessarily ever leave Asia. So you get this very Japanese rasta vibe from people who may not ever have met a Jamaican. It’s cosmopolitan and provincial at the same time.

  11. marxy Says:

    I think Momus wrote something much more interesting than I have about the topic at hand. I am not sure, however, whether Japanese kids actually actively like and hope to protect traditional Japanese culture, or whether they’re just passively accepting it because it is vaguely “theirs.” A real nationalist would grow furious over disrepect of Yebisu beer, where a neo-nationalist navel gazer would happily drink happoshu because it’s there. (A whole Jeff Foxworthy-type book of “You Know You’re a Neo-Nationalist Navel Gazer” coming soon!)

    As someone from the Southern U.S., I tend to find the people who respect the South’s unique culture those who have escaped across the Mason-Dixon line. Until you understand that an IBC root beer or collard greens or country ham & biscuits are not universal, you cannot understand their true worth.

    My hope is not that Japanese kids would start hating natto or izakaya, but that their embrace would be actively charged – instead of an easy withdrawl into comfort. Being cosmopolitan takes effort. Perhaps we should not be angry at the new generation for disinterest in the wider world, but we should definitely salute the older generation for trying.

  12. nate Says:

    IBC is universal in the states… or at least it’s been available in california for 16 or so years. They’ve been serving it at Chili’s for a very long time.

  13. marxy Says:

    That’s a recent thing though. I wanted to say Barq’s (from Biloxi!) but they went national sometime in the 90s. Perhaps, Barq’s Red Creme Soda would be sufficiently local.

    You cannot, however, get a New Orleans style Roast Beef Po-Boy outside of the South that is authentic. Lord knows I’ve tried.

  14. (the previous) guest Says:

    I realize that this is putting “Japanese-ness” to a very Western kind of test, but I’d be curious to see what kind of answers we’d get if we asked these questions of the youth of Japan:

    Without resorting to tautologies, what is good about Japan/being Japanese?

    Can non-Japanese people/people outside of Japan embrace these qualities, learn, and benefit from them?

  15. Momus Says:

    “Our food.”
    “They can eat it if they learn the recipes. But maybe they don’t have the time. And gaijin can’t eat natto happily, I think!”

  16. nate Says:

    wait, barqs had (has?) a red cream soda? I suddenly have more respect for the south. I loved red cream soda, but it was pretty rare… sporadically available from “big red” and the supermarket generic brands (shasta, springfield).

    Hey guest, if you’re really curious, I can ask 10 of my students (aged 12-14) tomorrow what’s good about being japanese tomorrow. I’ll be teaching about 100 of the little buggers.

  17. Momus Says:

    The answer I gave above was the one I imagined getting from the stereotypical Japanese person. Hisae’s answer was “Shinto”. And yes, Shinto could be exported and could profit people outside Japan, she thought.

  18. nate Says:

    Shinto seems like it needs a little more explanation as to why it’s a good thing about being japanese.

    Not that you were asking whitey, but I think most of the best things about japan (security, food and many more) are part of living in japan, and not part of being japanese. Whitey gets to have the benefits of a disciplined and peaceful society without having to go through the tough parts.

  19. marxy Says:

    Nate: Exactly.

    Momus: Do you mean Shinto as animism? Shinto as a moral system (it is not one)? As a mask for atheism?

    On a different note, Prof. Tu Wei-Ming at Harvard is trying his damnest to make Confucianism into an exportable modern philsophical system, and it’s pretty interesting.

    wait, barqs had (has?) a red cream soda?

    Red cream sodas are very rare, indeed. For a while, you’d see the Barq’s Red Creme Sodas on TV shows oddly enough. I’ve never seen them in stores other than directly around Biloxi. Even Pensacola (2 hrs. away) did not have them anywhere.

  20. porandojin Says:

    hmm … i think you may mistake atheism with an indifference .. atheism seems to be quite a strong belief of an anti-religious kind /just like ‘mainstream’ satanism is anti-christian and only possible in environment of its’ enemy/
    and only possible in a monotheistic culture.

  21. Momus Says:

    Momus: Do you mean Shinto as animism? Shinto as a moral system (it is not one)? As a mask for atheism?

    It was Hisae’s comment, not mine. So I asked her what she meant.

    “I meant the way people behave, the way they spend their life, being in a social life… each person is an individual, but also making harmony as one. Not only with people but also with sky or mountains or trees…”

    That sounds to me like a mixture of animism and social habitus.

  22. Guest Says:

    I think we can cut Richard Gere a little more slack over his appearances here. The adverts for Dandy House and “I Love New Tokyo” say (in tiny writing) that all fees are being donated to his charitable foundation. No such out for Meg Ryan.

  23. Chris_B Says:

    Red Cream Soda rocks! Aint seen it here tho. Have seen A&W Cream Soda here and the locals seem to like it when presented with it.

    OK, now as far as the main subject goes, and I’m gonna throw in Momus’s self quotation in the same pile: y’all are either weird or nuts, I’m not sure which.

    Marxy: if we agree that most people buy what they are told to buy and buy not be, then perhaps no one is telling them to buy import music. When the kids were spoiled neveau riche then they bought import music cuz they were told to right? Does that make them cosmopolitain? My point being is that this looks like either a contradiction or inconsistancy in your logic.

    Momus: domestic tourism has always been there, dont try and paint it up as some navel gazing otherness posing as exoticism or any $5 word hoo haw. Also quoting Pop Vox is pretty much intellectual dishonesty and you should know better.

    Tha both a yaz: How bout a simple proposal: things are what they are. Young kids without alot of money either make something new or just go for whats in front of em. Aint nothin wrong with liking domestic music or not wanting to see the world.

    ok that said, Marxy said tend to find the people who respect the South’s unique culture those who have escaped across the Mason-Dixon line. Until you understand that an IBC root beer or collard greens or country ham & biscuits are not universal, you cannot understand their true worth.

    Now that is exactly what I’m talking about! I wouldna used the word “escaped” but see this is why I’ve come to understand and love my motherland so much more now that its 7,000 miles away. Blanket criticisims like America is boring are lazy. Do you mean corn fed midwesterners, California pop consumers, people in metropolitain areas? What exactly? You can’t blanketly say that no one in the USA listens to music in other languages any more than you could say some inakamon during the treasured Shibuya Kei period was likely to listen to whatever the heck that stuff was.

    Oh and as far as productizing confusianism or shinto, both those ideas gave me a laugh, but I would never bet against the willingness of suckers to part with silver

  24. Chris_B Says:

    Momus: Rockers is indeed a great movie! Its just unfortunate that the new “directors cut” DVD is exaclty the same as the old version and they didnt even bother to make it 16:9, its still letterboxed.

    If you wouldnt mind, please email me regarding those people.

  25. marxy Says:

    I meant the way people behave, the way they spend their life, being in a social life… each person is an individual, but also making harmony as one. Not only with people but also with sky or mountains or trees…

    This sounds like Confucian thinking to me, even the “one with nature” part at the end. I’m not sure where Shinto is informing this. Do ancient Shinto teaching ever explicitly talk about social formation? Or are you confusing the hybrid Confuctian-Shinto of the pre-war State cult?

  26. alin Says:

    I would guess Hisae was hardly taking a historical, analytical angle and was refering to Shinto more as a way of being, thinking, feeling, conditioning if you want, which lacking rigidity is capable of accomodating stuff buddhism, confucianism (fascism , i might add) shibuya-key internationalism, hard, modernist architecture yet not becoming overwhelmed or squared by any of these. all these come and go yet there’s some translucent something that remaing.

    In regards to previous posts.
    -Yoko Ono’s name tends to be written in Kanji, even now when when refering to the work she did in Japan in the early/mid 60s , katakana for the later work and when refered to as John Lennon’s spouse. I don’t think there’s any rules here. Kusama Yayoi, Shigeko Kubota or other artists whose carreers similarly moved from japan to nyc, or hiroshi Sugimoto now showing at the Roppongi Mori Museum, always had their name written in kanji.

    -you don’t have to ‘take on’ kanji to become a japanese national. i think it’s people like debbodou whatsoever who give that impression. (or 出比吐暴威, making love with his ego in his kansai yamamoto period)

  27. marxy (remote location) Says:

    refering to Shinto more as a way of being, thinking, feeling, conditioning if you want

    In other words, assigning random elements of Japanese culture to Shinto without any particular proof of connection.

  28. Momus Says:

    I understand Shinto as an animistic agrarian religion which does pretty much what Hisae says — links the Japanese people to nature through the seasons and the agrarian schedules (planting, harvesting and so on). People are linked to nature in a very concrete way which is nevertheless spiritual by means of the habitus of the agricultural calendar. Japan’s Shinto festivals are still tied in to the seasonal rhythms of nature. Our Western monotheistic religions tend to abstract everything; Christ told his disciples to stop fishing in order to become spiritual, whereas one suspects Shinto would have told them to carry on fishing in order to stay in touch with nature, and spirituality, and society.

    Hisae is right that Shinto could benefit other societies too, because this investment of daily working life and social practice with spiritual value is extremely important. It explains, I think, what I’ve called Japan’s “superlegitimacy”, and also that weird “medieval / futuristic” thing you feel in Japan. It pervades the whole of Japanese society, and makes a huge difference to the texture and character of everyday life.

  29. alin Says:

    In other words, assigning random elements of Japanese culture to Shinto without any particular proof of connection.

    Man, how do you prove these kind of things, you get it or you don’t. How could I have proven to you that 鬼畜大宴会 , my first post here on neo-marxisme, is actually a poignant film in regards to the 60s student movement period and after when all you see is cheap sex and blood, then poo-poo on it . I personally got heaps from that movie, (though i didn’t necessarily enjoy it; it was hailed by many japanese critics and actually got some price at Cannes or something like that as well; so i surely wasn’t the only one. it’s ok to have stuff you don’t understant, don’t like or don’t agree with but do you need to get aggressive over it?

  30. nate Says:

    marxy: assigning random elements of Japanese culture to Shinto without any particular proof of connection.

    Sheesh marxy, you could have said “evidence” in place of proof, and short-circuited the obvious objections.

    But from my experience, shinto’s like that. It’s mostly local religions cobbled together without an over-arching metanarrative to the extent of the big 5. Hell, the grave of christ is in the southeast corner of my ken, and that the locals hail that as a shinto thing. There’s nothing apocryphal.
    I’m far too lazy to crack a book, but no one I’ve asked, even the shinto priest’s daughter whom I dated for a while, thought of the “religion” as anything more than a conglomeration of essentially unrelated beliefs played out in ceremony. She still thought it was worth practicing, but not that there was any big truth behind it.

    This might not be a bad thing, but I don’t think it boils down to any particular messages, including the “in touch with the earth” ones.

  31. nate Says:

    by the way, the informal poll was pretty much a flop with the chuu-ichinensei. “nani mo nai”, “nani mo nai” and “shougatsu no tabemono”… the teacher tossed in “tea ceremony”, and I decided to wait for tomorrow, when I work with a more reflective teacher who might give me a couple more minutes, and ask the kids to write their answers out.

  32. nate Says:

    in the name of “asking questions later”, yeah… ok so there is a pretty fundamental connection to the idea of “in touch with the earth”, but that is often accomplished by means of destroying the earth.

  33. marxy Says:

    Christ told his disciples to stop fishing in order to become spiritual, whereas one suspects Shinto would have told them to carry on fishing in order to stay in touch with nature, and spirituality, and society.

    Shinto never got a chance to tell Japanese peasants to keep working on the land because the lord’s whip did the job with great brevity.

    I think, what I’ve called Japan’s “superlegitimacy”, and also that weird “medieval / futuristic” thing you feel in Japan.

    I hate to be a broken record, but can someone explain to me how Shinto informs the Japanese tradition of social-minded role performance more than Confucianism – a whole humanistic, pro-society quasi-religious philosophy obsessed with natural order through role performance? Do we all need the philosophy behind Japanese social order to be indiginous?

    in order to stay in touch with nature

    Thank god the Japanese are so Shintoist or Tokyo would be a tree-less concrete jungle!

    The one thing you forgot to mention was the Japanese obsession with cleanliness and purification, which does seem to have direct roots to Shinto.

    And then…

    Re: 鬼畜大宴会

    I’ll ruin the film for all of you: The climax has a man insert a shotgun “into” a woman and we get to see her womb explode in full gory detail. (Symbolism!!!) Can you send me a link that this film won an award at Cannes? Do they have a Cannes Horror Film Festival I don’t know about?

    t’s ok to have stuff you don’t understand, don’t like or don’t agree with but do you need to get aggressive over it?

    I understand what Momus is trying to say. I am “counter-arguing” that his reasoning is ignoring other pertinent philosophical traditions and historical circumstances that would explain some Japanese phenomena he attributes to Shinto.

    Sheesh marxy, you could have said “evidence” in place of proof, and short-circuited the obvious objections.

    So you’re saying if I watched my phrasing, there’d be harmony on this blog?

  34. Sarmoung Says:

    “Carry On Fishing” was obviously a major omission in the series: Sid James as Jesus, Kenneth Williams the Virgin Mary and so on…

    I think Alin’s right in that how most people currently identify with Shinto is as a catch-all for various concepts and attitudes. There have always been differences between local and national practice. State Shinto, as an attempt to nationalise the kami and put both them and religious practice under central control, met significant opposition in rural areas. Its success, if you can call it that, was to fracture much of the continuity between Shinto before and after the period. Moreover, it is arguably (e.g. Kuroda Toshio) through the Meiji process of separating Buddhism and Shinto (shinbutsu bunri) and suppression of Buddhism (haibutsu kishaku), not to mention local cults, that an attempt is made to establish Shinto as being something other than an element dissolved into a syncretic Japanese Buddhism.

    So, does this mean (à la Hisae and Nate’s ex) that Shinto can now return to a condition where it’s not bound up in issues of imperial legitimacy and national mythology or is it instead that people are free to imagine what they’d like Shinto to be? What the Meiji process does seem to have achieved is that people have come to believe that there is something such as a national form of Shinto, regardless of what that may constitute.

    Like Marxy, I’ve got some issues with describing this as Shinto, but if that’s what people call it, then that’s what it is. Shinto becomes a catch-all term encompassing everything superstitious, nostalgic and sensual from reading fortunes to the taste of mother’s cooking and the crunch of autumn leaves. Is this Shinto? Well, it seems like an attempt to locate aspects of Japanese culture within a spritual realm by invoking the term and therefore could be said to be continuing the Meiji practice even if it’s no longer directly concerned with the destiny of Yamato and similar.

  35. Chris_B Says:

    Lets Enjoy Heartful Shinto Together With Nature!

    Poka Presents Shinto!

    Issetan Shinto Dress Fair One Week

    Your Choco Shinto Taste!

    Shinto My Wagon by Mazda新登場

  36. Chris_B Says:

    oh I almost forgot

    This Aint Your Father’s Confucianism!

  37. Jrim Says:

    Re: 鬼畜大宴会

    I’ll ruin the film for all of you: The climax has a man insert a shotgun “into” a woman and we get to see her womb explode in full gory detail. (Symbolism!!!) Can you send me a link that this film won an award at Cannes? Do they have a Cannes Horror Film Festival I don’t know about?

    It won an award Taormina Film Festival in 1998. Not exactly Cannes but, well, at least it’s in Europe.

  38. guest Says:

    Recently spotted at HMV and Tower Records in Japan:

    A deluxe 4DVD box set of “Bum Fights” with Japanese subtitles.

    My heart really sunk when I saw this. First Vice magazine and now this. Some imports are enough to make you long for sakoku…

  39. guest Says:

    Anyone care to explain how the Japanese are playfully re-contextualizing “Bum Fights” and enjoying it in a non-cycnical way? You’ll need to be a much better bullshitter than I…

  40. marxy Says:

    BumFights are Shinto, ya know?

  41. alin Says:

    The climax has a man insert a shotgun “into” a woman and we get to see her womb explode in full gory detail. (Symbolism!!!)

    no i don’t think it was symbolism (in the way say the Panzer passing by outside the window after the masturbation scene in Bergman’s Persona), just a very concrete (ritualistic, i might add) intensity standing exactly for what it is (like in Ankoku-Butoh, which the film obviously drew a lot from, also like the films of Tsukamoto Shinya or Takashi Miike) , like the noise music of Merzbow etc . – also like in Noh etc) – a performance.
    It also drew a lot from a 50s and 60s japanese cinema which you’re probably not familiar with. You eveidently read the film as you would a symbolic Hollywood movie.

    What i found trully wonderful was the way the cd also includied the actors and crew comunally fooling together at the swimming pool in the manner of the most banal of tv shows.

    It was deeply, yet ambiguously critical of issues in japanese society we don’t even scratch the surface of here.

    And it was Shinto to the core – but that would be a whole essay in itself.

  42. marxy Says:

    I read the film as a horror tale exploiting the URA purge as its starting point. And I’ll say it again, the true story is much more gruesome – even without the gore.

  43. Chris_B Says:

    alin: dont be such a tease! smack us down with some essay esse

  44. alin Says:

    it’s this ‘us’ (or U.S.?) buddy-ism i find most disturbing in Neomarxisme.

  45. Chris_B Says:

    oh get over yourself. that “us” was just the readers of this page.

  46. alin Says:

    i got that. nevertheless…