Wednesday, March 7, 2007

YouTubeocalypse: For the "Japan is..." Crowd

This one is for zuzu, who unfunnied an anemic post by d--far below their usual standards. It's also for everyone who hopped on the Japanese Self-Defense Forces' manga logo meme bandwagon and who participates in the burgeoning "Japan is weird" bloggy genre.

Commenters at Feministe veered between participation in and critique of zuzu's "Japan Is Slightly Terrifying" title for a promo shot of Hello Kitty Airline (a Taiwanese outfit, as was pointed out, part of a Taiwanese multinational consortium, as wasn't). Disney came up a bit, of course--it's not like America isn't brimming with cutesy and completely corporatized cartoon characters. In fact, Disney recently bought Studio Ghibli (that's why there was that Miyazaki marathon on A&E last year). Kind of a metaphor for or just plain old example of something--but what?

But I digress. I don't claim to be a big expert on Japan or anything. I didn't even hear of this band called SMAP, which is the biggest band in the history of Japan and the biggest boy band in the history of the world (despite no longer being close to even having been boys) until She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Mentioned-on-Blogs revealed to me the heights and depth of her fandom a few years ago. (Which is not at all about being an otaku, she emphasizes--otaku are so into things few others care about they'll only talk about their obsessions, not that she has anything against otaku, having married one, she hastened to add.) OK, so SMAP is bigger than the Beatles. They've taken over Japanese media of all kinds. Kimura Takuya, Kimutaku as his fans call him, is the undisputed heavyweight of the group (although SWWNBMOB has decided she's transferring her affections to some other guy in the group, not that I would ever admit to feeling jealous of a pop icon). Which is one way of setting up this little clip, Kimutaka's version of the "para para" dance thing that was popular seven or eight years ago in Japan.

Analyze Critique Mock Beat this!



Yup, Mostly Harmless is out to start a YouTubeocalypse. (Calling all Benzons....) [YouTube publishes the embedding code to the right of the video; you just have to copy it into your post, as I did above--BB] Laughter may now commence over my screwing up the code Adrian gave us for needing help making those cute windows show up (I used ' instead of ", for crying out loud!).

11 comments:

peter ramus said...

I wish Blogger would stop freezing up my computer with its tricksy javascript ways. If I post this comment, I'll have to hit "Force Quit Application Netscape?" and restart. Can't be helped, I suppose.

Anyway, I wouldn't' call that video terrifying. Mousetastic, maybe a bit overly mousetastic, maybe on reflection even pointedly and overwhelmingly mousetastic, yes. But not terrifying. Youngsters seem to have a globally similar taste for instakitsch, seasoned to taste for their own local culture, don't they?

…Are all the group's songs in English?

black dog barking said...

This is blowback from subjecting a generation to a childhood full of Mouse™-endorsed 'jammies and lunch boxes.

Just got here from a Boing-Boing link to Dylan does Dr Seuss. Times are changin' or maybe it's a disturbance in the Force.

JP Stormcrow said...

I guess It's a Small World After All.

So heartening to see the Disney Death Rats in a different guise.

[Sorry for being so harsh, at some level I do appreciate the Disney kitsch plus Disney as an organzation is fascinating, but in general they annoy the crap out of me - I think their place in our culture is symptomatic of something deeply unhealthy. Some day I will get around to posting a story from 25+ years back entitled "A Trip to Disney World, or Why it is Doubtful that Homo Sapiens will Contribute to the Long Term Evolution of the Universe".]

The Constructivist said...

I wasn't going for "slightly terrifying," just trying to suggest that if you're going for the "weird Japan" route to actually try for something weird (which to me is the particular mix of local and transnational pop culture in different regions of Japan). I'm not in AltJapan or Patrick Macias's league, but I'd like to see American bloggers try a little harder.

On SMAP, they mix some English in most songs (pretty typical in J-pop), but they're mostly in Japanese.

So far no takers on my invitations to the YouTubeocalypse.

bill benzon said...

I've been reading Neal Gabler's current Disney biography. A bit plodding for such an interesting fellow, but still interesting. I've also been watching Fantasia and Pinocchio. Some believe P to be the best animated feature ever -- or is it that it has the best animation ever in a feature-length film? It does seem clear to me, though, that those films and the other Disney features from 37-42 do hit a high mark for traditional cel animation. And they were very expensive to make, which is why Disney never again attempted the elaborate effects and shading that he used in those pictures.

During WWII Disney spent most of its effort turning out government propaganda and training films. After the war Disney was looking for new things to do. Animation was no longer a vital concern for Disney himself; it was just a way to make some money.

peter ramus said...

I've always felt that Bambi was the greatest of the Disney cartoons, Bill, because it insists on the most dramatic experience imaginable to a child: not only separation from Mom, but separation by Death of Mom. And it has the sweetness and cuteness, too with all the cuddly chirpy Bambi-pals, which kids of an age really go for, but any kid understands the pure breathless heartbreaking drama implicit in being forever denied Mom. Wicked stepmothers sidestep the issue in a lot of fairy tales; the fundamental question of whatever happened to Mom is stowed behind the veil of what's left unsaid about those imagined worlds. But ooh, Bambi. There it is, right out there for every kid to see, the archetypal separation made manifest. It's strong stuff, really, really strong stuff.

The Constructivist said...

Plus it's not that ol' Disneyfication of European folk lore and Americanization of the ongoing infantilization of what once were tales for adults into "fairy tales." Although come to think of it, Japanifying Disney, as has been going on since the Occupation, is just doing to American culture what America did to European culture, so what comes around goes around, I guess.

The Constructivist said...

Hey, but this is good news for Disney, I think: ComicMix reports Lasseter Moving on Up--Lasseter is the Miyazaki acolyte who convinced him to sell out his style of anime to, I mean, take over Disney....

The Constructivist said...

Here's a review of the Gabler Disney bio bill mentioned--courtesy of new MH Link boing boing....

The Constructivist said...

Oh, and here's more than you'll ever need to know about SMAP (I'm avoiding the wikipedia entry for no good reason). Suffice to say my choice of a Kimutaku video (w/o the other SMAP members) has about as much street cred as zuzu's and d's Hello Kitty refs. That's part of the joke.

JP Stormcrow said...

Disney encounter of the day. Spent 2 hours (business) with a chap wearing a Mickey Mouse tie (a tasteful one) & a xtian fish tie clip - and he was one of the brighest and most informative people I have met in a while. ... I hate it when my stereotypes don't hold - all that goddamn reconsideration.

Disney good and bad:
Walt really was a visionary in the "city planning" area - way out front with the monorail for instance.

Pinocchio may have been the best animation, but Pochantas may have been the worst. When I saw it - thought the makers should have been arrested on child porn charges....

Peter, can see your point on Bambi, but for me the long string of dead/missing mother animations from Disney somewhat dulls the memory of the Bambi