The Japanification of Leah Dizon

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The March 2007 issue of Nikkei Entertainment! playfully warns that “black ships” (黒船) — a reference to American Commodore Matthew Perry’s 1853 opening of Japan — have arrived in the Japanese gravure (gurabia/gravia) bikini model world. Out of nowhere, a foreign model has stepped foot on sacred soil to displace the pre-existing domestic army of half-naked gals to win the hearts of hard-working Japanese men. In just the last few months, Leah Dizon has gone from the fringes of the industry to the becoming a ubiquitous face on the subway ads for weekly magazines.

Dizon — half-Caucasian/half-Filipino-Chinese — had been working as a relatively-unknown and slightly-naughty model back in the West Coast car circuit before somewhat miraculously being picked up by the Japanese talent complex and thrust into stardom. She is neither Japanese by blood nor speaks the local language with much fluency, but her success proves that such properties were never actually necessary to fit into the plastic fantastic world of selling visual fantasy to the male of the species. She’s a Weekly Playboy regular now, and Japan’s nerds started salivating once they realized she looks quite similar to Maetel from Galaxy Express 999.

Dizon’s cross-cultural journey gives a rare chance to peer into the differences in sexual-aesthetic between the two sides of the Pacific. She has gone from looking like a throbbing orb of aggressive sexuality to a demure and well-groomed model out of Can Cam.

leahdizon1.jpgleahdizon2.jpg

Dizon’s handlers appear to have tailored her public image to attract female fans as well as male (check out her ridiculous nail art and trademark Japanese girl cross-hand pose in the aforementioned Nikkei Entertainment! if you have a chance), but we should not assume that she has been “cleaned up” at the expense of male tastes. My contacts in the female fashion trade have argued that Japanese women need to maintain a certain amount of “class” and moderation in order to attract Japanese men. Over-sexualized fashion in Japan is strictly for “unattractive” women to feel good about themselves — not to reel in men.

In such an environment, Dizon’s American persona and images are way too aggressive as a female product in the Japanese market. She first must become cute and adorable in a slightly infantile way to establish a non-threatening demeanor. Only then can she show off some skin. Otherwise her curves and sinister smile are an attack on non-confident male sexuality rather than a reward for it.

Here again we come to the psycho-sexual underpinnings of American and Japanese porn. Cast into simplified binaries deduced from the dominant tenor of the pornography, American men want women who echo their own hawkish and callous approach to casual sex; Japanese men are interested in reluctance rather than a predictable submission. Sex in Japan should be a sphere in which the man is the only warrior — where the hawk devours the dove.

So, Leah Dizon becomes the dove next door whose clothes accidentally fall off once and a while.

W. David MARX (Marxy)
February 15, 2007

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

57 Responses

  1. a Japanese Says:

    Doing someone who says No but doesn’t necessary mean No is much more erotic and therefore fun than doing someone who is obviously willing to do it. American way is too straightforward so it appears just like sports, not erotic at all. That’s how Japanese men see. They know they are pervert but not being pervert is not the goal at all. The goal is to enjoy it. Seeing almost naked but not quite naked woman is million times nicer than seeing complete naked woman, can you agree?

  2. Adamu Says:

    At least Dizon is half Asian, so she can pull off the Can-Cam look a lot better than a more white-looking foreign model ever could. And to her credit she at least seems to be trying to learn the language, which may be another of her endearing features as long as she never tries to break into TV.

    She explains in a Yahoo “Music Charger” interview that Japanese fans of her US website helped introduce her to her current production company, and she chose to come to Japan rather than HK or Korea, where she also received offers, because she studied Japanese in high school. It’s an interesting story if it’s true since in that case Japanese men can do the gravure agencies’ scouting for them thanks to the Internet.

  3. marxy Says:

    Hey, I am not taking sides. I can see the high points of both. And there have been eras in the West where the Japanese approach was standard, no?

    Whether there are underlying assumptions about the social relations between men and women inside of those sexual feelings… that’s the deeper question.

  4. Aceface Says:

    There is a magazine sold in the name of 団塊パンチ、parodying 平凡パンチ60’s and 70’s legendary male magazine.It has a picture of Agnes Lum,Hawaiian girl said to be the first Grabia bikini idol on the cover.Dizon craze is not entirely new phenomenon.

  5. marxy Says:

    “Dizon craze is not entirely new phenomenon.”

    I don’t want to state as such, but the Japanese media – with the “black ships” analogy – seems to be suggesting that they don’t have much sense of history.

  6. nate Says:

    she’s been on london hearts already, so, I have to think that she is being groomed for tv. Her linguistic shortcomings add to her girlish gentleness in the same way that bobby’s (faked) shortcomings accented his well-intentioned stupidity, and bob sapp’s, his monstrousness.

  7. pamutron Says:

    is casual sex an acceptable activity for can cam girls? i thought the whole premise of the can cam persona was to be able to bag a rich husband. dizon’s makeover just seems to point out that the idea “some girls are for fucking and other girls are for marrying” exists both in japan and in the u.s. perhaps it just so happens that in the states there isn’t a substantial market for images of the “marrying type”, and if Dizon appeared exclusively in prim white dresses it would be the case that you’d more likely find her in sears catalogues rather than national publications. so i don’t think Dizon’s crossover really has much to say about japanese vs. u.s. male sexuality, it’s just that Dizon has 2 markets in Japan to exploit – the disciples of can-cam as well as the weekly playboy club will both shell out their yens. in the states, her odds of randomly landing the cover of playboy or FHM are far greater than the chances of her showing up as the face of Cosmo or Elle.

  8. marxy Says:

    “it’s just that Dizon has 2 markets in Japan to exploit”

    Maybe, but take a second to scour Google images and compare her US sexy pose shots with her Japanese ones. (I used a relatively tame shot on the left.) I don’t want to deny that Dizon does erotic shots in Japan. But I still think there is at least an aesthetic difference in what constitutes “sexy.” The Japanese gravure show off the body, but in a softer way.

  9. Aceface Says:

    All I can say is Leah is more of a girl for all seasons compare to Ebi-Chan!

  10. pamutron Says:

    hmm . . . i just did a search for “leah dizon” and “leah dizon グラビア,” and the latter search even gave me a few raunchier shots on the first page of results. but i dunno, save for the odd picture of her in a dress shirt with her navel exposed, for the most part it all looks the same to me. maybe because i’m a chick? maybe my google skills are crap? how does one handle regex with japanese fonts anyway?

    also, i totally agree with Aceface. ebi-chan looks eerily like hamasaki ayumi – being that they both look like aliens to me. anyway, mad props and best wishes to dizon, hope she breaks some ground for us american women of indistinct asian heritage out here.

  11. marxy Says:

    A lot of the images online seem to be pre-Japan “takara shots.”

  12. Aceface Says:

    “hope she breaks some ground for us american women of indistinct asian heritage out here.”

    What exactly do you do here pamutron?
    I’m curious….

    Anyway what you said may reconfirm “black ship”
    analogy used in the media.

  13. marxy Says:

    I find the “black ships” an odd analogy, because it kind of takes away the negative/fear-based part of that historical experience. It’s not like anyone out there thinks the coming of Leah Dizon is a bad thing. Kurofune has lost its teeth – it’s now just “foreign vistors.”

  14. Brown Says:

    Hey folks, on a related note, Ai Iijima is legitimately cool, right? She’s got a no-nonsense attitude to safe sex, labor, money, and power that I really appreciate, from what little I’ve seen of her on TV. Haven’t read her book “Platonic Sex,” or seen the movie. Anybody know what feminist academics make of her? Does she have Madonna-like cache among (post-)feminists?

  15. Brown Says:

    Ah, OK, I see Marxy doesn’t like her…

    http://www.pliink.com/mt/marxy/archives/000211.html

    …but isn’t she infinitely cooler than Ebi-chan, at least?

  16. Momus Says:

    “dizon’s makeover just seems to point out that the idea “some girls are for fucking and other girls are for marrying” exists both in japan and in the u.s.”

    I think it would be more accurate to say that the same girl is for fucking and marrying at different ages — or different career stages. The pattern in the West currently is that you break through to celebrity by being fuckable, then do charity work, helping children or protecting heritage landmarks or something. J-Lo, for instance, was just honoured by Amnesty International for her latest film, which draws attention to the murder of 400 women in Mexico. How long before Paris Hilton becomes a cultural ambassador for the UN?

    If being sexy in photos, videos etc is the public equivalnt of fucking, charity work and good works are the public equivalent of marriage. Of course, we have to remember what fucking leads to — the ultimate social improvement, in the form of the creation of new people. Porn is just the candy around the medicine of social regeneration.

  17. Brown Says:

    Never thought I’d say this, Momus, but excellent point! Iijima seems to have followed the Western pattern: Now she’s doing AIDS awareness charity work.

  18. Brown Says:

    Sorry Momus, didn’t mean for that compliment to sound so back-handed, it’s just that I had assumed I’d never agree with you on anything related to the politics of sexuality…

  19. Mulboyne Says:

    Santos26 also wrote on Leah Dizon:

    http://santoslove.exblog.jp/6481618/

    “And at last, this is the first time for this blog to introduce this person in this blog, but Leah Dizon, a 20-year-old Chinese-Filipino American, who became the most famous gravure idol in this country debuted musically and released a song titled ‘Softly’…Leah’s boom is very traditional one. An advertisement agency picked up this girl in the United States, and made her debut in Japan. It was true that it was geeks that who found out her web site with a lot of pics in the beginning, but it is apparent it was not Internet geeks which spread her name. For example, it is AFTER the ad agency began to puff her with a copy saying “Internet Gravure Queen From America!!” or something that the even a geek like me noticed her name. And this kind of ‘gaizin idol’, who wasn’t famous in her own country but became famous in Japan later is very traditional way of Japanese entertainment business. (Remember Coconuts Musume)…

    “…And now I’m very sad: Japanese are still ignorant. I admit this gaizin is a kawaii person, but Japanese admire gaizins just because they are gaizin, and purchase her CD copy without knowing that she was actually a kinda porn actress in the United States, and she is just an amateur singer who never been trained musically, as well as Shokotan. I suppose a certain number of people bought her song thinking that she is a famous genuine foreign singer like Norah Jones.”

  20. Aceface Says:

    ” I find the “black ships” an odd analogy, because it kind of takes away the negative/fear-based part of that historical experience. ”

    I don’t think “the black ship”analogy is all that bad metapher since it is not always attached to negative meaning.It means pretty much like “the revolution” OR “the ultimate weapon” or something.
    “It’s an interesting story if it’s true since in that case Japanese men can do the gravure agencies’ scouting for them thanks to the Internet”.
    I mean if she could truly be as what Adamu had described(Although somehow I doubt that),which is spawn out from usual production factory line but genuine import freshly caught in the wild, then she could really be a sensation.

  21. trevor Says:

    the 2nd photo cracks me up. it says so much, without really saying anything at all..

  22. Aceface Says:

    “which is spawn out from usual production factory line”
    correction:spawn out not from usual production factory line.

  23. alin Says:

    have a good, close look at the picture on the left, ignore the obvious signifiers that are so worn off they’re ready to drop off anyway and what you have is far from ‘aggressive sexuality ‘ . it’s actually far more passive then the one on the right. similarly , for all i now, strip away the top layer of codes, and generally speaking the ‘asian bitches’ of american porn ultimately come across as far more passive creatures than in J porn which as a plus also tends to lay bare its own mechanism, its social contract, etc.

    Meteru of the anime/manga is quite an authority figure isn’t she?

  24. alin Says:

    i think my last comment is somewhat biased and maybe a good counterpoint to trevor’s comment. from where he’s positioned he can find meaning in the first picture. i can’t , at least not the way he seems to do.

  25. Brown Says:

    Alin said: “Meteru of the anime/manga is quite an authority figure isn’t she?”

    Yes, and isn’t anime/manga in fact quite well-populated with “powerful” women? Not all of it, I know- take a look at any of that salaryman sex fantasy stuff or the moe stuff- but lots of it, especially action-adventure genres like SF and fantasy? Would I be a total simpleton to bring up the question of the disconnect between fantasy and reality? Or, the disconnect between line-drawn/cell-animated fantasy and photographic fantasy?

  26. Brown Says:

    I’d mention Tomb Raider and try to find some analogous Japanese anime-to-live action to compare it to, but I don’t know anything about Tomb Raider…

  27. marxy Says:

    “it’s actually far more passive then the one on the right.”

    And gravity actually makes objects ascend! At least Momus explains the logic behind his outrageous contrarianist statements…

  28. Brown Says:

    Can’t believe I’m defending Alin, but I think he may be referencing the evil fantasy of “Dude, she totally wants it, she’s such a lusty slut, just look at her” But unless he elaborates, we’ll never know…

    As for me, I was trying to add another problemtaic to the mix by bringing up the differences in performance of gender/sexuality in three different spheres: the drawn, the photographed, and “real life.” For example, Dizon vs. Maetel would be a difference of sphere.

    I’m suggesting that performativity moves around on mutiple axes, not just the East-West one- Though I’m not claiming that that’s what’s happening here. I think American pin-ups are, while not exactly the same, closely analagous to Japanese pin-ups, so the differences observed in Dizon vs. ディゾン may be indeed be cultural rather than differences of sphere.

  29. Brown Says:

    Sorry Alin, didn’t mean to back-hand you either- sometimes I write this stuff straight from the Id!

  30. Aceface Says:

    the resident bookworm speaks.
    Brown:
    Should read 四方田犬彦Yomota Inuhiko’s「クリテイック」冬樹社.
    There is a piece called ”the rhetorical study of the pin-upsピンナップの修辞学”.Which is just about what you’ve said.It is the analysis of the transition of PlayBoy pin-ups from 60’s to 80’s.

    Wondering whether the world with Google is better place than before.
    Imagine.
    You are some teenager in some Anytown,Japan and collecting your-girl-next-door-pinups of Leah.
    Oneday your know-it-all-buddy in the class will tell you the primary color of imaginary sweetheart.With the photo of provocative look with thong bikinis and all.
    That’ll be the day of the end of your adolescence.There is undoubtedly something poetic about this scenery ….

    Now with 5 minutes of googling you’ll know more than you’ve ever wanted to know about Leah.
    But then again there is no way we would’ve know her whole existence without the net….

  31. marxy Says:

    “Dude, she totally wants it, she’s such a lusty slut, just look at her”

    I am not saying one fantasy is less misogynistic or less evil. I am just saying that one sexuality is based on the girl “wanting it” like the guy wants it and the other is based specifically on the girl NOT wanting it or at least pretending as such.

    “Now with 5 minutes of googling you’ll know more than you’ve ever wanted to know about Leah.”

    My guess is that her jimusho Sky Corporation is not going to have pictures of her rubbing her breasts against another naked Asian model. Not yet, anyway.

  32. marxy Says:

    Also, I need to start reading Santos26 more regularly. Thanks for bringing that info in. I agree that this “Japanification” is not so new in terms of finding unknown talent abroad and selling it in Japan. From what I have seen, however, I don’t get the sense that Sky Corp is lying about her popularity overseas. It’s more like: she has come all the way from America to join our little gravure world.

  33. marxy Says:

    “Porn is just the candy around the medicine of social regeneration.”

    Except when it becomes a substitute for procreation or it hinders the social relations between the sexes that is necessary for procreation.

  34. trevor Says:

    alin>
    i don’t remember talking about the first picture in anyway.. i must have. since you said i did.. i just.. can’t find where.
    maybe you could tell me where i talked about the image on the left? i mean, you seem to already know what i’m thinking and how i understand things. so, if you could help me find my comment, that would be great! thanks for your help.

  35. Brown Says:

    Marxy said: “I am not saying one fantasy is less misogynistic or less evil. I am just saying that one sexuality is based on the girl “wanting it” like the guy wants it and the other is based specifically on the girl NOT wanting it or at least pretending as such.”

    Yes, that’s precisely it! I completely agree, sorry if I was unclear before.

    “Except when it becomes a substitute for procreation or it hinders the social relations between the sexes that is necessary for procreation.”

    Can you point us to studies on porn consumption vs. procreative sex, especially cross-cultural comparative ones? Forgive me for sitting back and asking questions and leaving the heavy lifting- or Googling (almost wrote ogling!)- to others…

    Aceface, thanks for the great recommendation, as always! I just bought「気分はもう戦争」on your recommendation. I’m currently reading Chizuko Ueno’s 「スカートの下の劇場—ひとはどうしてパンティにこだわるのか」very, ve~ry slowly. Also quite germane to our present discussion I think, but sadly, I’m certain I won’t be able to get through it in time to comment due to my poor Japanese language ability! Oh well…

  36. J Says:

    This is interesting – I briefly met L. Dizon when she was an import car model dating an acquaintance. Her image then was hyper sexual and raunchy (google some interviews from a few years ago) so it was very shocking when we all found out she was remade into an idol in Japan. It was great to see this strange transformation noted by one of my favorite Japan blogs.

    As for your comparison of Western and Japanese treatment of female sexual desire…
    You wrote later that “one fantasy is [not] less misogynistic or less evil. I am just saying that one sexuality is based on the girl ‘wanting it’ like the guy wants it and the other is based specifically on the girl NOT wanting it or at least pretending as such.” Not to jump on the knee-jerk-Orientalist train that some posters drive but, your seemingly noncommittal comparison of “sexual aesthetics” still does not step away from a kind of uncomfortable judgment.

    Your post suggests that American sexual fantasy celebrates the willing, eager participation of a female “warrior” but that Japanese fantasy completely obliterates the woman. And somehow you’ve drawn a link from this to the lack of “procreative” powers in Japan? But both A and J porn is about power and both can be misogynistic. So…what is your point?

  37. marxy Says:

    “And somehow you’ve drawn a link from this to the lack of “procreative” powers in Japan?”

    I didn’t draw this link.

    “Can you point us to studies on porn consumption vs. procreative sex, especially cross-cultural comparative ones?”

    I also don’t think that porn alone is responsible for any serious deficiencies in procreation. I worry more about the inverse relation between how much free-market sex there is in Japan compared to the total amount of non-market sex, which is some of the lowest in the world. And I would at least offer a plea for someone to research whether state-wide single-sex education makes many one gender have to depend on (false) market images to figure out the opposite sex. Maybe porn is not to blame at all, but certainly, does the fantasy of porn help men learn to relate to women?

    “Not to jump on the knee-jerk-Orientalist train that some posters drive but, your seemingly noncommittal comparison of “sexual aesthetics” still does not step away from a kind of uncomfortable judgment.”

    I don’t think everyone in either countries has similar sexual tastes, but if you want to look at your “average” porn or sexual image in both countries, I do think you can draw some conclusions about differences. Surely there are S&M fans in Japan who like strong women, but I think we can all agree that something different is going on between the two markets. I think the word “raunchy” fits more with the American market, and I think there is something deeper behind that.

  38. J Says:

    You DID draw that link, even if unconsciously.

    After laying out evidence of USA vs Japan sexual aesthetics, you questioned “Whether there are underlying assumptions about the social relations between men and women inside of those sexual feelings” and responded to Momus that porn is not simply a ‘candy’ but can be “a substitute for procreation or it hinders the social relations between the sexes that is necessary for procreation.” So you’re saying that there is something deeper being said about the differences in the markets that have to do with the assumptions and obstacles in the procreative social relations between men and women.

    I think you’re right on one level – there is something odd about the differences. Initially, it seemed like you thought porn fantasy was epiphenomenal, registering existing male anxieties. Both American and Japanese porn (for men) operate under similar, often misogynistic, fantasies of male power – the diff details would suggest something about those local anxieties.

    But, the link you made to “procreation” threw me. You began to mention “obstacles” – suggesting that porn fantasy actively shapes interactions in so-called reality. I’m still waitig for more evidence/explanation…but you’ve already seemed to have an strong attitude about how those differences actively (and negatively) impact Japanese gender relations. Hence, uncomfortable judgment.

  39. marxy Says:

    I did not bring up the porn-procreation link originally in the essay. I just thought that Momus’ candy analogy had to be questioned a bit. It could be that the countries that consume the most porn have the most sex and the most babies, but I don’t think the evidence bears that out. At the same time, I doubt you could make the case that porn is the main reason why the Japanese birthrate is so low.

    Perhaps porn does not even reinforce a misogyny as much as provide an easy substitute to actual sex. If the one measure of action in Japanese these days is – how mendoukusai is it? – then porn is way less work than actual women. Whether involving real women or cartoons, fantasy could be getting in the way of reality, but boy this would be difficult to measure or prove.

  40. Brown Says:

    Nah, Marxy, I think you called it already- it’s the relatively easy and stigma-free access to market sex that encroaches on non-market sex.

    Though I will also say that I think we need to problematize the idea of their being a clear line between “market” and “non-market” sex, especially in a country like Japan where women have so little direct access to economic capital. Just because people aren’t having sex in immediate exchange for cold hard cash doesn’t mean they’re not in a “market” of sorts.

    [This just in: The imperfect but unjustly dismissed Andrea Dworkin’s “Intercourse” is back in print, with a new introduction by Ariel “Raunch Culture” Levy and a cool Constructivist-inspired (pakuri?) cover. Radical femi re-up!]

  41. Momus Says:

    It’s interesting to bring Ariel Levy into this. I discussed her a while back on Click Opera:

    http://imomus.livejournal.com/148296.html

    She would make short work of any claim that raunchy American Leah was any more “liberated” (as if “liberation” were a useful description of a co-dependent relationship, anyway) than demure Japanese Leah. Raunch is a performance in which you convince the other that their goals are totally — but, like, TOTALLY — yours too. If that other is a man, you convert your whole perception of yourself and your whole perception of the world into man-perception. Your woman-ness slips entirely from view. Even your hip thrusts are phallic.

    If the American woman has to enact being a man, the Japanese woman has to enact her womanness in a similarly performative way, encoding, as Marxy has noted, a reluctance. But note that this reluctance is met by a corresponding need for extensive clitoral stimulation, with mouth, vibrator, and so on. Only when the enacted reluctance has been thoroughly overcome by an expert stimulator will this “demure” woman be penetrated. Being — or pretending to be — demure obviously has its advantages.

  42. Brown Says:

    I’m pretty much with you on this one, Momus, but is all that intense clitoral stimulation in J-porn really (performed as) pleasurable? Sometimes yes, but I think at least as often it is (performed as) pretty torturous. Makes me think of Gitmo/Ghraib electrodes-on-the-balls.

    And then after enduring some perverse hardship over which she had no control, broken and reduced to “bare life,” the female in question is commended for her gaman. Reminds me of descriptions I’ve read of new employee brainwa- *ahem* “training” at Zen temples or JSDF bases.

  43. Brown Says:

    This bears historicizing too, as Marxy is fond of pointing out. Is it my imagination, or do the women in Dentsu’s classic 70s “Discover Japan” JNR commercials (well analyzed in English in Andrew Gordon’s “Postwar Japan as History”) appear much more self-confident and, yes, lusty than most young women on contemporary J-TV? Dare I say they seem, to my admittedly Western eyes, more “adult” than the likes of Ebi-chan? Am I making an unfair comparison?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QBHwPP6Xuo

    Also notice the impulsive leap into public sphere in the second clip:

    ふいっとどこか行きたくなったら、ふいっと出かけるのが好き。知らない所で知らない人たちに「こんにちは」するのが好きです。

    Reminds me of Yoji Yamada’s “The Yellow Handkerchief of Happiness,” which is slated for a Hollywood remake. Interestingly, both “Discover Japan” and “The Yellow Handerkerchief” have US roots: Dentsu was copying a successful American ad campaign with their commericals, and the Yamada movie is based on a novel by Pete Hamill.

  44. Slim Says:

    ” compared to the total amount of non-market sex, which is some of the lowest in the world.”

    Huh? Is there a study to back this up? I am gaijin of course, but I did play in a band and thus most people I hung out with in my six years in Tokyo were Japanese, and it sure appeared to me that there was much more ‘free’ sex going on in Tokyo than back here in California where sex is part of some sort of emotio-financial game in which it is routinely withheld until the woman gets something she wants, be it expensive meals and gifts or suitable time of longing to prove one’s loyalty (sometimes withheld even until marriage!) or whatever bs reasons women come up with. I never experienced anything of the sorts in Tokyo. None of the girls saw any reason to not have sex on the first date. If they were going to go out with me, they were going to sleep with me. I didn’t get the impression this was because I was a gaijin, and its certainly not because i’m bradd pitt. It seemed to be standard practice amongst my japanese friends as well, and doesn’t seem odd in the least as there is no religion trying to convince women that there is a difference between kissing, say, and intercourse.

  45. marxy Says:

    “Dare I say they seem, to my admittedly Western eyes, more “adult” than the likes of Ebi-chan? ”

    The whole infantile Japanese girl thing is all post-Matsuda Seiko early 80s. I meant to do a whole essay on that, but all your 14 year old singers before that all sing sad romantic ballads and sound like their 40 and have cirrhosis already. Japan was a fucking serious country until everything went crazy in the 80s.

  46. alin Says:

    –whole infantile Japanese girl thing i

    not really. typically you pick on one trend you know analyse it rather insightfully but then harden it into a theory of everything.

    include here Matsuri culture, Kawabata Yasunari, the history of the sailor uniform fetish – way back to meiji, Taisho era Shirley Temple-ism etc etc etc and a more complex picture emerges

  47. marxy Says:

    You may have had adult attraction to 12 year old girls, but those girls were maybe preferred to act like adults. Now they should act like they are around 5 or 6. At least in the pop landscape, the intentionally infantile came in hard in the 80s and has just gotten stronger. If it used to also exist before the war, you have to at least explain where it went for 30 years.

  48. alin Says:

    wait, wait, this is actually quite messy and i often don’t quite understand what’s the problem or why we always have to talk as if there’s a problem.
    take just this so-called infintilism. what exactly are we talking about? On one hand there’s the ongoing complain that japanese grown-ups are acting infantile (and ironically marxy’s very partner gets the same rather marxian critique. here for example http://jeansnow.net/2007/01/29/4-little-joeys/#comments ) , then the situation seems to worsen when it’s actually infants acting infantile. Then a gamut of adult sexual politics gets thrown in the whole thing becomes the ground for basically western academic speculation and it gets messy, messy, messy.

    it’s not that there aren’t sexual politics and problems but that the motive behind the whole thing here seems to me to come from an irritation when faced with difference.

    On a similar note I dare infer that Marxy’s REAL PROBLEM with pakuri is not that say Flipper’s Guitar or early Cornelius stole from so-and-so but that they took it to a different place – a place that he himself can not access (enjoy).

  49. Chris_B Says:

    pamutron said “ebi-chan looks eerily like hamasaki ayumi – being that they both look like aliens to me.”

    You go sister! Finally someone else has spoken the truth!

    Momus: Your first post in this thread was great. No sly meaning at all.

    Marxy: I detect you dont like porn or commercial erotica and you tend to paint all of it with a broad brush of classical 70s feminism, but its interesting to see that where you started out with what read to be a sledgehammer condemnation of US porn and male attitutes, you seem to get a bit softer down this thread. at least in terms of realizing that the issues around problematic gender relations are probably not caused by porn or erotica.

  50. marxy Says:

    “a place that he himself can not access (enjoy).”

    Yeah, but the hypocrisy seems to be that the pro-pakuri faction loves the concept much more than the product. I don’t hear anyone ever saying that Orange Range’s “Locolotion” is a great song or that Noda Nagi took Aida Makoto’s work to a new level.

    I like pastiche. I have no beef with reference. My problem with what I call “pakuri” – which is a very specific subset of this kind of referential art – is usually there is no addition of creative material. The problem is not, hey this is interesting, but it’s philosophically wrong. The problem is, this is boring because they are just “covering” it without admitting as such. The Flipper’s Guitar songs that still have value at this stage are the ones where they actually had to do songwriting.

    Wait, what does this have to do with Leah Dizon?

  51. Brown Says:

    Alin, that complexity cuts mutiple ways. Which is more evocative of Taisho, Shirley Temple or モガ? These women are Amazons!

    http://www.hanga.com/bijin-ga/moga.cfm

    And speaking of moga, I just happened upon this interesting passage about the semiotics of short hair on women in Japan (from Jennifer Robertson’s “Takarazuka: Sexual Politics and Popular Culture in Modern Japan”):

    “Moga had sported short hair since the 1920s. … Before then, short hair announced a woman’s withdrawal from secular and sexual affairs; the italic moga turned hair symbolism on its head, and short hair became the hallmark of the extroverted, maverick, sexually active woman.”

    What are we to make of the Showa era bob/bowl cut and monpe pantaloons? It seems the same powerful men who were outraged by women in flowing, low-slung “boyish” flapper dresses in the ’20s didn’t hesitate to order women into pants (and factories) as part of mobilization for imperialist total war…

  52. Brown Says:

    PS: Temple’s movies were a Showa era phenom, not Taisho…

  53. Brown Says:

    PPS: But, OK, they were contemporaneous with the moga pictures I linked to, which were also Showa era, I now see, looking at the dates on the individual pictures…

  54. alin Says:

    –that Noda Nagi took Aida Makoto’s work to a new level.

    she surely did, if you ask me – as much as i love and respect Aida’s work. (i actually get the feeling you don’t seem to care that much about either Aida’s or Nagi’s work, rather just dropping their names every so often because it fits your agenda). I haven’t followed the case but i feel Mizuma’s court stunt had more to do with drawing attention to the idea of (contemporary) Art in this country rather then the actual content. if that was really the point then plenty of people, dead or alive could take Aida to court for similar reasons.

    i also believe that ‘First Question Award’ is Cornelius’ best album but that’s a personal matter.

    there is no such thing as “no addition of creative material.” there are differences in degree and context.

    –Wait, what does this have to do with Leah Dizon?

    i don’t know, didn’t mean to hijack the topic.

  55. Brown Says:

    Sorry, I think the pakuri digression was my fault…

  56. alin Says:

    brown, sorry i didn’t see all your comments and sorry marxy for going on with the digresion.

    yes, i tend to call early, pre-mobilization, showa taisho because i guess showa’s got too much going as it is. incorrect as it is it seems neater that way :-)

    i’m glad you point out the dual currents in taisho/showa as it’s something quite relevant even now. i’m not sure about:

    ‘ .. powerful men who were outraged by women in flowing, low-slung “boyish” flapper dresses in the ’20s didn’t hesitate to order women into pants (and factories) as part of mobilization for imperialist total war…’

    you’re de-subjectifying and making those women look like empty victims incapable to generate their own (evil or not) nationalism. (check out an average photo of a wife saying goodbye to a pilot and the picture that comes across is generally that of complices, partners rather. or joyful, enthusiastic factory workers etc)

  57. Brown Says:

    Excellent point, Alin. I didn’t mean to convey a vulgar populist-pacifist line like “the people don’t want war, only the leaders do.” Can we consider the “voluntary servant” a full subject? Certainly we shouldn’t reject that hypothesis a priori, just because it’s unsettling. Issues of responsibility, guilt and coercion vs. consent seem to come up on here a lot, eh?