No-Sword on Erokoto

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I try not to do too much cross-linking here at Neomarxisme, seeing that we cocoon members all read the same blogs, but I will make an exception for the venerable No-Sword‘s analysis of the new “erotic LOHAS” one-off Erokoto. After reading his post, I saw the actual mag in a bookstore, and unless you can read Japanese, you would be hard-pressed to find the difference between a normal “woman-as-vinyl-wearing-commodity fantasy” soft porn mag and this “enlightened, Green” version. Oh wait, I see it: the naked underwater girls are accompanied by the English text “Save the Ocean.”

The magazine proudly continues the tradition of Japanese fashion and consumer culture being blissfully non-ideological. Thank god no one has to give up their out-of-touch, collectively-imagined misunderstanding of the female species in order to adopt lifestyles to protect the fragile natural environment. Piecemeal progressivism: hemp sneakers with organic rubber sole created by twelve year-old slave laborers.

The choice quote from No-Sword:

I’m sure there were good intentions all round, and there are a few pages where women appear without the objectifying treatment, and just under half of the editorial staff is female &c. &c., but it is depressing to see so much of the same old male-centric approach to sex positivity, where women are expected to just sort of come along for the ride.

I understand the enticement for free-minded Americans to go pro-porn because of its automatic destructive opposition to that fun-hating philosophy of Puritanism. But back to a point I have made several times before, why is porn liberating in Japan — where it has always been a part of the hegemonic, paternalistic system and not a movement away from it? Where it serves as a way to protect “virtuous women” — passing off the scourge of the male libido onto unimportant people’s daughters. Just because you take the same lower-class, unhappy women nice enough to materialize their escape from consumer debt through baring all and put them in front of some trees and Shinto ornaments does not mean you have somewhere gone “beyond” the normal business. If you want the Japanese birth rate to increase and the country to move to a more Euro balance of work-life-and-earth, why don’t you make a magazine about the sexiness of women who don’t exist solely to please the whim of infantile men? Oh yeah, that’s too much like real life: LOHAS and porn both as whimsical dreams far from the groans of the concrete world.

W. David MARX (Marxy)
October 4, 2006

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

39 Responses

  1. Carl Says:

    In a way, LOHAS porn is redundant. I suppose they could just send out mirrors every month, but it would get harder to justify the size of editing staff for that to the bean counters.

  2. Chris_B Says:

    Wouldnt LOHAS porn be out of shape people with lots of body hair?

    (sorry but filthy lazy hippies of any sort are such easy targets)

    Anyways, on a more serious note, and I’m sure some smart people have already written this, but have you ever looked at those books of ancient erotica? Notice that pretty much since human kind learned to draw dirty pictures, the predominant subject matter is either women by themselves or couples? That the solo nude male as an erotic subect (not counting David and such) is pretty much not the dominant theme ever?

    Could that possibly be because the human norm of eros is dominated by the female form or the perceived intamacy/extacy of the act of coupling? I’m sure that someone somewhere has made the counter point that art has historically been male dominated, yada yada yada, but since its pretty darn well impossible to do have a control group of humans who are not part of some society to which an objection could be formed, I’m gonna go with the historical record on this one as well as my emperical observations of lots of conversations with men and women from different places which say that for the most part people dont perceive the naked male on his own as erotic.

    All that to say that it seems perfectly normal for any publication on the matter of eros to mostly feature female models. Oh and my other point is filthy lazy hippies should be mocked at every opportunity.

  3. Brad Douglas Says:

    I won’t comment due to a conflict of interest, but I will say that I know at least one of the major contributors to that magazine who would disagree with some of your conclusions.

  4. alin Says:

    human norm of eros is dominated by the female form or the perceived intamacy/extacy of the act of coupling?human norm of eros is dominated by the female form or the perceived intamacy/extacy of the act of coupling?

    yes chris , or as deluze/guattari would say the erotic act itself supposes a ‘becoming-woman’ of the man (and a becoming-animal of the woman i think it goes until they both, if they followed the ‘line-of-flight’, might ‘become-imperceptible’ ;-).
    I agree though, regardless of standpoint, i don’t think there has been yet a succes depiction of ‘eros’ using a male symbol that doesn’t simply reproduce/copy the female model, signify by absence/lack/suggestion etc, etc

  5. marxy Says:

    I won’t comment due to a conflict of interest, but I will say that I know at least one of the major contributors to that magazine who would disagree with some of your conclusions.

    I’m sure.

    And I am sure the porn industry would get mad at me for suggesting that Sora Aoi is anti-environment. These girls should be used in every single magazine from now on! From Vogue to OK Fred.

  6. Chris_B Says:

    disagree regarding filthy hippies or eros?

  7. Chris_B Says:

    Whoah marxy! if the girls are used everywhere then they are recycled and thus they save energy by not using up the gasoline and electricity required to find new idoru.

  8. Brad Says:

    Disagree regarding the “woman-as-vinyl-wearing-commodity fantasy” part.
    Perhaps especially with the “women are expected to just sort of come along for the ride” part.

  9. Brad Says:

    BTW, she would disagree with Marxy, not you Chris.

  10. Chris_B Says:

    right then. I would expect that r also knows some ladies who would disagree with that as well. the amazing thing about humanity is you can always find someone who enjoys doing just about anything you can imagine.

  11. marxy Says:

    I don’t think anybody here agrees that women should just come along for the ride, but mainstream (Japanese) porn and semiporn and soft porn and ecoporn are built upon the premise that women are semi-human objects created for the sole purpose of serving us men, which for me, strikes a little too close to what the traditional idea about women actually was.

    But I think a magazine that generally tries to sell an explicitly “progressive” or “politically forward” philosophy is running into some serious murky water by stating that sex=porn (which equates to porn in the standard industry mold) and porn=ecolifestyle.

    The point of the magazine, however, is to sell copies and not to piss off the Sora Aoi handlers, so they are not actually going to take on the bigger questions here. They are going to sell the questionable porn model with some eco-green condiments on top as Erokoto. We do not get anything beyond that.

  12. Momus Says:

    You tell us all the girls in AV are from the country, and then when they’re actually depicted in the country you grumble!

  13. nate Says:

    They scored the good point in saying that sex is a generally non-consumptive activity, and then pulled a fast one telling us that gobbling up LV girls, just like the bags on their skinny arms, is good for the earth. The object here isn’t to change the products consumed, just the motivations for consuming them.

    ku-neru never fundamentally questioned the way we sleep, or presented to us foods we wouldnt normally eat. They mostly tell people each month that such a lifestyle, the one they are already leading, is good, and lohassy. Why expect hame-ku-neru to do something big?

    btw, maybe someone stole the idea from a previous exchange here where marxy and momus both concurred (then it must be true!) that slow life/lohas needs to be “sexier”.

  14. Chris_B Says:

    OK ethics of eros/porn aside, your points on sales and marketing are correct. I guess this is a marketing test to see if “normal” sales methods will sell product to people who think they want to be filthy hippies (but only as long as its fashionably filthy)

  15. junior Says:

    mainstream (Japanese) porn and semiporn and soft porn and ecoporn are built upon the premise that women are semi-human objects created for the sole purpose of serving us men, which for me, strikes a little too close to what the traditional idea about women actually was.

    But doesn’t Shinto justify this or make it ok or something?

    Momus is asleep at the switch today. It’s almost like he’s conceding that mainstream japanese porn is bad.

  16. nate Says:

    momus’ gf is back. his porn sniffer is out of commission.

  17. Andy Says:

    “But doesn’t Shinto justify this or make it ok or something?” -I think, at some level, confucianism does…

    I see my mistake now; when the salaryman sitting next to me on the shinkansen started flicking through his porn mag and breathing heavily, I shouldn’t have been feeling physically ill, I should have been congratulating him on his choice of consumer lifestyle. My bad…

  18. Rory P. Wavekrest Says:

    Did that magazine SmartGirls go away?
    I kinda liked that one.

  19. Brad Says:

    Again, I don’t want to get too much into the details, but I don’t think my friend would agree that women are depicted as coming along for the ride. I did not read every article, only the ones I had a vested interest in, but none of the ones I read depicted women as passive participants. In fact, they were at least on an equal footing with the men, if not in control.

    I will readily admit that the articles I read were written from a very particular slant, though, so my view of the magazine might be colored…

  20. K Says:

    Chris, I have to disagree. The Ancient Greeks, for example, were quite keen on the erotic male nude.

  21. marxy Says:

    I will readily admit that the articles I read were written from a very particular slant, though, so my view of the magazine might be colored…

    Hey, I don’t read ecoporn “for the articles.”

    Bonus question: if you were an eco-conscious misogynist, would you dislike Erokoto?

  22. jed Says:

    “Bonus question: if you were an eco-conscious misogynist, would you dislike Erokoto?”

    Exactly

  23. Momus Says:

    Quite frankly, all this “Ryuichi Sakamoto is a much bigger misogynist than I am because, instead of mocking Can Cam and its readers on a regular basis, he edits an erotic environmentalist magazine” stuff is absurd. If you quoted a single Japanese person objecting to this magazine, rather than Americans talking about the Japanese, or a single female, rather than males talking about females, you might let yourself off the charge of rampant cultural projection.

    But that’s not Neomarxisme’s technique, is it? “Never ask the participant” is your motto, right? Someone in this comments thread knows someone in the magazine and tells us she takes a very different view. But we’re not interested in that scoop, are we? That’s an avenue we don’t intend to follow: a direct route to how the people we’re judging actually feel about the things we’re condemning them for.

  24. marxy Says:

    Wait, you are telling me Sakamoto doesn’t hate women? All the stories I’ve heard always seemed to paint that picture…

    But we’re not interested in that scoop, are we?

    I am not digging further in that because I am pretty sure we are talking about a reader’s own girlfriend writing the actual stories in the magazine…

  25. marxy Says:

    But that’s not Neomarxisme’s technique, is it? “Never ask the participant

    I think the “technique” in this case is me asking high-pitched, slightly-annoying rhetorical questions based on a historical reading of Japanese sex markets that extrapolates current philosophies from the Meiji period. I am not sure that anyone would mistake my opinions for those of the Japanese public, the particpants, the writers, the editors, or the pimp-businessmen behind the scenes. When I write my anthropological analysis of porn instead of my (possibly deluded) anti-elitist, anti-conservative rant against it, I will take your criticism into account.

  26. Momus Says:

    Your sources are, as usual, peculiarly at odds with normal perceptions of reality. Sakamoto notoriously loves women. In a recent interview he said that wanting to attract women was the basic reason he worked. He’s also attractive enough to have coaxed Miki Nakatani, usually a lesbian, over to heterosexuality for a while. (Not to mention many, many other well-known female actresses, musicians, etc). Combining ecology and sex is perfectly logical for him: these are his two great themes.

    The fact that you consider your anti-sex, anti-environment stance (you’ve consistently attacked Slow Life on this blog, telling us, quite wrongly, that it died in 2002, and it’s a given that any photo of a woman that appears here will be accompanied by disapproval) “anti-elitist and anti-conservative” is hilarious.

  27. marxy Says:

    “Loving to seduce women” and “loving women” are different, right? Sakamoto loves women so much that he yells at women he picks up at bars the next morning when they are still at his apartment.

    I think SLow Life is a trend. I don’t hate it.

    Later, everyone.

  28. der Says:

    notoriously loves women

    Isn’t that normally part of an obituary of someone who died of liver cirrhosis? It goes something like this: “xy notoriously loved women. Unable to stay faithful to one, he had stormy relationships with famous actresses, waitresses, writers, often several at the same time. Despite being frequently abusive, he had undeniable charme. `His appetite for life was just too big’, his friend zy said.”

    And the bit about being attractive enough to make a lesbian see the light, my goodness…

  29. Chris_B Says:

    Momus: you as a non japanese owner of a penis might perhaps be interested in the conversation between my cookware.

    Did Sakamoto ever get a divorce or not? Not that it matters one way or the other. I regard philadery as a personal matter. I voted for Slick Willy twice knowing darn well he couldnt keep his pants on.

    Oh and for the record, I think its been me thats had the most bile towards slow life. Damn filthy hippie wannabes.

  30. Momus Says:

    the bit about being attractive enough to make a lesbian see the light, my goodness…

    I think that if you go back and read both our statements again, der, you’ll see that it’s your statement, not mine, which implies that being hetero is superior to being homo or bi.

  31. check Says:

    Chris: Oh me, oh my! Such vitriolic vituperations against the lifestyles of Japan’s benevolent hippy-kind! You act as though an individual who parasitically secures themselves to the breast of society is something malign!

    But think! Think of the pretentious, pseudo-intellectual commentary said individual must have with their fellow masterminds in subsistence! The tremendous adversity they face in designing wardrobes, semi-ironic songs, and, of course, new, derogatory names for hoi polloi!

    You know, if aspiring towards self-indulgent, puerile wankery isn’t progress, well goddamn it, I hope society falls into the face of the sun!

  32. nate Says:

    I thought check was talking about marxy, then momus… then I wasn’t sure anymore.

  33. check Says:

    ambigious, baby. amibigious.

  34. abeshinzoshairpiece Says:

    “Oh and for the record, I think its been me thats had the most bile towards slow life.”

    Nobody noticed because your posts are so f***ing boring! “The janitor of neomarxisme” you were once called, it suits you. And nate is the maintenance man. YAWN

  35. Chris_B Says:

    check and mate!

  36. Luke Smith Says:

    in a row?

  37. alin Says:

    the sole purpose of serving us men,

    wrong, wrong, wrong. study closely the way even the philthyest salarii-gyoza-man looks at, say, saaya irie (i said this at the time as well), and you’ll see that much more than nailing her down as a thing (standard crass american porn) a (damn this) becomming-girl, becomming-saaya-irie of the gyoza-man is also taking place. Now while this might not cancel your point (the sole purpose of serving us men,)it surely does make it more complex.

  38. mouchette Says:

    Reminds me of the new Evian ad…

    http://static.flickr.com/44/148683523_6b96f871ce.jpg?v=0

  39. alin Says:

    i recall reading these surveys (can’t remember where) with salariimen and to the question what/who would you like to be, the number of answers like ginza hostess, schoolgirl etc was uncanny.