Japanese vs American cultural influence in Asia

Michael Raine mraine at umich.edu
Thu Dec 9 16:06:00 EST 1999

The New York Times article on Japanese cultural influence in Asia that
someone mentioned recently also pointed to Utada Hikaru as a particularly
successful Japanese import. It might seem odd to cite a performer whose
image so depends on her biography -- born and raised in New York -- and
whose style is so obviously borrowed from US soul/R&B.  But I think the
reporter's point was that Japanese culture was successful in Asia because it
mediates US culture: not so sexually explicit and housed in more familiar
bodies. It certainly seems like a lot of Japanese pop music is the
"kokusanka" of american style now: Hikki, Dragon Ash, Bird, etc.

On the other hand, I have been wondering about a relaxed-narrative "asian
style" recently: a film such as Dil se (directed by Mani Rathnam with
Santosh Sivan as cinematographer) seems to have more in common with Wong Kar
Wai / Chris Doyle or Iwai Shunji / Shinoda Noboru than with the mainstream
of Hindi filmmaking. Does anyone know if the "asian cultural connection"
that Stephen proposes extends as far as India?


----- Original Message -----
From: Stephen Cremin <asianfilmlibrary at hotmail.com>
To: <KineJapan at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu>
Sent: Thursday, December 09, 1999 2:40 PM
Subject: Japanese vs American cultural influence in Asia

> I guess this follows on from the Pokemon debate in some way, cultural
> deoderant and all that...
> I had dinner the other night with some list members, and there was the
> assertion that Japanese culture is now more dominant than American culture
> in Hong Kong.  Would anyone agree with that or have points to make about
> position of Japanese influence in Taiwan, Korea, etc?
> What's very clear is that Japanese culture is quite "distorted" in Hong
> Kong.  Perhaps "filtered" is a better word ... not "adapted".  For
> one couldn't imagine Toyokawa Etsushi or Asano Tadanobu being cultural
> in Hong Kong.  Its a certain kind of Japanese culture that travels: Utada
> Hikaru, etc.  And is it purely teen culture or something more lasting.
> also amazed that Japanese fashion doesn't have such a strong influence in
> Korea: at least loose socked schoolgirls and cowgirls don't prowl the
> streets of Myungdong or Hyehwa.  Fashion being a cultural form that can't
> easily be blocked by quotas and other government regulations.
> Of course, culture always adapts when it travels, but any specific
> relating to film!  I do sense a turning point this year in terms of
> "inter-Asian film culture influence" ... if that phrase makes sense.  And
> are there models within Asia that foreign festival programmers and
> distributors can pick up on when presenting Japanese film abroad?  I also
> sense a generational shift this year in terms of who's "controlling" Asian
> film internationally, something that was particularly clear during Pusan.
> Stephen Cremin
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