May 05, 2014

Avril Lavigne's "Hello Kitty"


Over at Vox, Zack Beauchamp continues the proud, pontificating tradition of getting offended on behalf of people who don't know they've been offended. "Uncomfortable appropriation of Japanese culture," he calls the latest offense.

The terrible sin in question? Beauchamp thinks this is "Japanese culture" in the process of being "appropriated." And along the way, for reasons unknown to 127 million Japanese, somehow "offending" them.

Moe Lane recommends that Vox "find writers who are a little less provincial and a little more experienced with the culture in question." Though Tokyo resident Michael Cucek points out that the real problem with the video is that it's

cringeworthingly, strap-Malcolm-McDowell-down-with-his-eyelids-pried-open bad.

Were I a cat with pretensions to singing grand opera, I might resent Lavigne for edging in on my territory. But, really? This is the kind of offense-taking that requires years of expensive education to hone to a meaningless edge.

Here's what Japan's far more watchable (and talented) pop culture ironists have to say about the subject: "Have a Nice Day" (in Akihabara) by World Order, a brief walking tour (literally) through every contemporary cliche about Japan.

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Comments:

# posted by Blogger Joe
This "controversy" is hopelessly bizarre to anyone who has paid the remotest attention to Japanese culture. The most hilarious thing is that the Japanese have a penchant for not just ripping off whatever suits them, but morphing it into weirdness which often beggars the imagination. Of course, they are just following suit of just about every other culture in existence (even the vaunted Amish) only in a less puritanical, and quite creative, way.

It almost goes without saying that the same self-appointed guardians of culture spend an inordinate amount of time dreaming up reasons they are offended by most things enjoyed by "commoners" since simply saying "I don't like it" isn't sufficient. These same snobs then hit up the government to pay for the crap that nobody else wants to pay for. (I'm reminded the debate on Yes, Minister between Sir Humphrey and Hacker. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvNw0P5ZMbA)
5/05/2014 10:37 PM
 

# posted by Blogger Kate Woodbury
Great clip! There's also this exchange; Sir Humphrey is arguing that power mustn't fall into the "wrong hands":

Sir Humphrey: Bernard, do you want the Lake District turned into a gigantic caravan site?The Royal Opera House into a bingo hall? The National Theatre into a carpet sale warehouse?

Bernard: Well, it looks like one, actually.

Sir Humphrey: We gave the architect a knighthood so that nobody would ever say that! Do you want Radio 3 to broadcast pop music 24 hours a day? How would you feel if they took all the culture programmes off television?

Bernard: I never watch them.

Sir Humphrey: Neither do I, but it's vital to know that they're there!
5/09/2014 5:57 AM
 

# posted by Blogger Kate Woodbury
So I've watched this video about 10 times now! The attraction for me is the unabashed combination between geekiness and cool. They are so cool. And they don't care if they are geeky. Which is so cool!

Of course, boatloads of talent helps.

I checked out the website. Which is also very cool. But I got to wondering--what's up with the blood typing? Is that typical for Japanese celebrity news? Not astrological signs but blood type?
5/12/2014 8:07 AM
 

# posted by Blogger Eugene
Across Asia, blood type occupies the same psychological space as astrology. Being a 20th century development, it consequently acquired an aura of "scientism" about it, the same way astrology must have in medieval times.

I see the popularity of "blood type astrology" as evidence of that deeply rooted impulse in human beings to sort, sift, and stereotype each other.

Despite being very religious and quite varied racially, most Japanese consider themselves areligious and of one race. But get rid of these criteria and people quickly invent other standards and yardsticks, no matter how goofy.

Here's a guide to interpreting blood type in Japanese culture.
5/12/2014 10:12 AM