Paper – Performances Impact on Asia
Paper 1 – Performances Impact on Asia
Narratives and History
National identity relies on its history, but with globalization, the world has become more and more connected. We are developing a global identity and losing the ancient history that each individual possesses through their isolated culture and family background. One way to preserve this history has been narrative, through literature, plays, song, and now film and photography. But as with other forms of film and literature, we cannot rely on these stories to tell the whole truth or to even be accurate. Even films that state they are based or inspired by real events, we take with a grain of salt. We assume that the basic story is there but the details have been exaggerated and inflated in order to make the story epic, grand, sensational, or just visually stunning. As far as historical narrative is concerned, film is a jumping point in which identity and history can be created, not recorded.
But let’s focus on film, specifically as a form of entertainment. In its simplest form, it is just telling a story. The purpose is to entertain and delight the audience. This is not a new concept as all story telling has this aim.
In post war Japan, film became a way of expressing the artist’s visions and political views. These films are very vivid and tend to convey some sort of a message. Even if it’s destroying their own historical symbols in the process. An example would be their portrayal of geisha and samurai to the world. We now know that these films were inaccurate in how they represented these Japanese historical figures, but the misconception has been in place for years and many early generations refuse to believe them incorrect.
In Confronting Master Narratives, Napier examines the differences between American and Japanese film in the form of their two most notable directors. Walt Disney for America and Myazaki Hayao in Japan. Both are culturally iconic for their own country, and have a similar audience but extremely different style. Disney tends to take stories from other cultures and places American attributes on each of the character. They simplify the concerns and tend to end the day in a childlike happy ending. Myazaki takes the opposite stand in addressing real world current problems or potential problems if we continue in the direction we are headed, and giving a potential way of solving the issue. Very rarely is a truly happy, everything is completely fixed, ending occurs in Myazaki’s work. And very rarely does he take stories from other cultures and makes them Japanese; he tends to keep them rooted in the originating culture. These are very different but distinct styles and worldwide Myazaki tends to be seen as honest and realistic to our current world problems, whereas Disney sugarcoats a basic story with American overtones. But even Myazaki was criticized in his own country with his early work but has since beyond a worldwide figure. (Napier)
What is Manga
Manga has been a part of the Japanese culture for decades. It’s become so popular that it’s overflowed into other countries, creating new sub-cultures in the process. From manga sprung anime, which is a completely different genre but is still a part of manga. Think of manga as a Japanese version of comics, but the subject material and viewer audience can range from very young children to people into their thirties. The subject matter is varied as well. Most manga are serialized and are roughly the size of a paperback novel, but can be read in a day. Manga is very much a part of the Japanese culture, but it’s certainly not limited to it.
Women and How Entertainment Portrays Them
Women have struggled for an equal footing in Western cultures but have not been as progressive in their fight in Japanese culture. Since the majority of Manga originate in Asian culture, women are portrayed in a different light. But not as different as a Western woman might hope. There are manga which portray the females as the main character, the protagonist, or hero. But they tend to be dressed in school girl uniforms by day and even skimpier high heel boots, skirts, bare mid-drifts, and tops that are more to flatter their anatomy than to protect it from a physical battle. They are portrayed as eye candy, completely relying on their sexuality rather than potential power or skill to fight or think.
This is fairly common in Western comic books and super hero stories as well. One can only name a few female super heroes; the first of which that comes to mind is Wonder Woman, clad in a bathing suit, which comes from a planet in which there are no men. Or the more modern version of female super heroes; Rogue or Jean Gray, both powerful but unstable women. Rogue is incapable of physical contact with anyone or risks killing or severely injuring them. While Jean Gray is mentally unstable, turning into Phoenix, the deranged killer second personality. There is a distinct, ‘but’ to their power and their limitations. That is not to say that the male super heroes are flawless, they too have baggage but none so damaging or causing severe limitations in their daily life.
In both cultures, the female form is the object of attention, with potential mental issues underneath. Or the females are reduced to sex objects.
Violence and Entertainment
In Western and Japanese culture, violence is prevalent. There have been many studies to find out why humans have such a fascination with violence, many times blaming modern entertainment. But that’s unfair, we’ve shared this fascination with many generations, well before the invention of television. Look at the Gladiators, the crusades. Where there is human development, there is violence. But does reading Manga that contains violence put someone at a higher risk of later contributing to real world violence? Some say yes, some say no. That there are many who understand the difference between real world situations and view the violence portrayed in their manga as a form of entertainment, one that should not be emulated. And that those who would want to bring the violence from their books and television into the real world have a pre-existing fascination and seek out those forms of entertainment regardless of how it’s portrayed to them.
Fandom and Obsession
In the Manga fan world, to be called an Otaku is a point of pride. In simple terms the word ‘Otaku’ means fan, so there are many flavors of fandom and Otaku is not limited to Manga. These fans go to great lengths to honor their favorite topic, character, story, or movie. It inspired other avenues of entertainment, such as Cosplay and Anime conventions. At these conventions Otaku go into great detail and expense to purchase or hand make replica costumes and accessories to appear like their obsession. It can be entertaining to watch or participate in. But some will take it to extreme but not as often as it’s portrayed. The Otaku is considered an obsessed individual who does not understand the difference in reality and the imaginary realm they cherish, but this may be a misunderstanding from the outsider’s point of view. The title of Otaku could be misapplied to any type of fan, at any level of fandom. Ranging from casual to dedicated to only one avenue of entertainment. There may be a misconception of the term and who qualifies, although some freely label themselves as Otaku and have no negative attributes associated with the term, many do feel that the word conjures negative stereotypes and is unappealing. At the same time, the number of self-proclaimed Otaku has risen over the years and celebrate their fandom.
In conclusion, in Japan art is highly regarded. Japan has found a place in film, animation, and manga. Reaching into other countries in a way that many cultures have not. It is rich throughout their history and will continue to be far into the future. As long as it holds a fascination with other countries, Japanese art will continue to contribute to their out ports and commerce. And will allow the industry to continue to thrive and change as the consumers interests and needs change.
Susan J. Napier. ‘History As Vision in Miyazaki Hayao’s Cinema of De-assurance’. Web. Aug. 30, 2013.
Raechel B. Callahan. ‘Perceptions and Use of Graphic Novels in the Classroom.’ Web. Sept 17, 2013.
Jeffrey Goldstein. ‘The Attractions of Violent Entertainment.’ Web. Sept 17, 2013.
Sarah Kornfield. ‘Comics For Girls? A Study of Shojo and American Girlhood Culture.’ Web. Sept. 17, 2013.
Matt Hills. ‘Transcultural Otaku: Japanese Representations of Fandom and Representations of Japan in Anime/Manga Fan Cultures’. Web Sept. 17, 2013.
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