self introduction, and a little more on censorship GavinRees
Thu Dec 17 01:58:17 EST 1998


My name is Gavin Rees, and I am afraid to say I have been lurking in the
shadows for a month listening into everybody's contributions. All this talk of
censorship and has prompted me into thinking that I should come out into the
open too. 

I am in Japan on a scholarship with the hope of working in a practical
capacity in the Japanese film industry. I have not managed to tie myself up
with  a Japanese production company yet, (any suggestions welcome), and so at
the moment I am trying to pursue my own documentary projects in Tokyo, shot by
myself on digital video. In Britain I used to work as a television producer,
and I have particular interests in documentary film making, film aesthetics,
and ethnographic film. 

Anyway, back to the censorship issue:
Shelly wrote:

>Maybe messed up differently, certainly not more so than the west.  Isn't all
>of this censorship stuff anyway a hangover from the US occupation after the
>war?  Something fairly recent and not deeply imbedded in the culture (well
>50 some odd years as opposed to centuries?)

Ian Buruma in a collection of essays called: "The Missionary and the
Libertine: Love and War in East and West." claims that the censorship issue is
one of the ways that the authorities flex their political muscles against the
Japanese artistic community. According to Buruma the police themselves are not
remotely scandalised by the sight of pubic hair. It is more question that if
you have totalitarian aspirations then you have got to ban something, and once
you have banned something, then any challenge to your authority is
intolerable. I think a lot has been written about this in relationship to the
row over  Oshima's Ai no Corrida, in the 1960s. I am sure others on the list
can say more about that than me. The Tokugawa shogunate cracked down on
pornographic wood prints, and brothels in the 17th century, because it was
afraid that licentiousness might incite public disorder. Feudal societies tend
to be scarred witless that unmarried daughters will have affairs with men, get
pregnant, and that consequently lowly suitors will be able to claim
inheritance priviliges. I think some people still see the police as one of the
last vestiges of shogunate style power. There was a conference in Europe a few
years again  in which the photograper Araki, got very upset about the issue.
In the exhibition prints he distressed the pubic regions with some form of
scapel, doing his own DIY, and quite violent looking, "bokashi".
None of that means of course that Japanese people have the same kind of
personal sense of guilt about these issues as Judeo-Christians do, but as an
issue it does seem to be embedded in the culture, even if only because there
is an attempt to impose it from above. 

My guess is that Japan probably really is sexually less confused than the
West, but I suspect that the lines are drawn in very different places. 


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