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thoughts & musings :: CCC

Thursday, 12 October 2000

Turning Japanese...

...I think I'm turning Japanese, I really think so.

We still seem to live in the perceived fallacy that the United States is a 10 year glance into the crystal ball. That whatever inane activities are amusing our American cousins will be promptly despatched to every home in Britain for us to meddle with as soon as a decade ends.

But there is a theory that this is a huge vat of cack.

US culture ran out of ideas back in the 1990s and has plastered over this fact by claiming ownership of the internet and therefore taking credit for everyone else's culture as it appears on the web.

But looking at the reality of the situation, the biggest culture exporter on the globe today is Japan.

This has been widely missed due to the fact that the Western film industry still present Japanese culture in its pre-world war era. Japan is shown as the world of emperors and geishas and presented as the cultural version of an NHS hospital -- all clean, quiet and sterile but seemingly dark and messy behind the scenes.

But the Japanese culture being overlooked by Hollywood is far more sinister and scary than the whispered goings on inside the emperors quarters. First of all we had Tamagotchi inflicted upon us, teaching kids to feed fish fingers to their calculators. And one wonders how many vets had to remove batteries from cats after the naïve owners decided Tiddles was looking sluggish.

Then we had Pokemon. In my day it was called top trumps, it was easy, you simply called out a category and compared the stats. The only thing you had to watch was someone calling out top speed from a formula one pack when you were football players (Unless of course they pulled Damon Hill form the pack, in which case anything would be faster.)

But Pokemon seem to involve a myriad different techniques and rules that seem to switch and change based on untold combinations of things. It seems more likely that it is designed to train youngsters up on how to deal on the Nikai index rather than triumph in the playground swaps.

So, can we maybe put western ignorance of Japan down to embarrassment. Are we simply horrified at the tacky, mass-produced neon and plastic lifestyle offered to us from the east?

Maybe it has more to do with the embarrassing guilt we feel when we realise that this kitsch culture is a result or western influence. We are completely to blame for it, it is the West from the 1980s being regurgitated into pink plastic and thrown back into our faces. Maybe it is more comfortable for us to remember dropping the bomb on Hiroshima than it is to face up to giving Tokyo its army of Elvis impersonators.

The sight of an army of quiff-endowed Japanese interrupting the morning Tai Chi with a bad rendition of 'you ain't nothing but a hound dog' is perhaps a haunting indictment of Westernised poison. Though we can take comfort in the fact that as the cheeseburger is one of the West's biggest exports, at least the Elvis problem comes provided with a ready made cure.