C. Jacqui Chen jacqui_chen
Tue Dec 7 08:29:12 EST 1999

> At the talk she gave here, she argued that in the past only the 
> United > States has been able to create global culture. At the same
time, she 
> allowed > that even McDonald's gets localized wherever it lands. To
> this, she > drew on a Japanese author whose name was something like
Iwabuchi. He 
> uses a > catchy phrase, "cultural deodorizing," to describe this kind
> process. > This is particularly true of products from non-American
> because > their success in most markets is based on the erasure of the 
> original > culture.

You're probably thinking about Koichi Iwabuchi (University of Western
He describes the success of Japanese AV products, particularly the
of idol dramas and pop idol singers in places like Taiwan, as culturally
I think he makes the distinction that these pop phenomena do not so much
erase their Japanese and Western sensibilities as they mask them when 
presenting themselves to the glocal audience (non-Japanese and

> I also had the feeling that the idea of deodorization is less useful 
> than > she thinks, because it radically simplifies a messy reception 
> context > outside of Japan. Figuring this out will be the most
difficult task 
> of the > book. Just a Nichibei scope would be rough, but she casting it
as a 
> study of > the globalization of play. One hint at the complexity of
this part 
> of her > project came in the discussion of "deodorization" when she
used the 
> word > "corny" to describe her object of study. The word is revealing 
> because it > points to a reception that has little use for deodorized
> It's a > kind of camp sensibility that has co-existed with the
> and geisha > version of "our" Japan.

Right on. Deodorization may only explain part of the reception process.
Taiwanese fans, the ones I'm familiar at least, embrace Japanese
idol dramas and pop singers both for their sameness (as opposed to
the difference of western products) and difference (an image the
may aspire to.) Fans engaging in this culture of play should be as seen
anything but corny. If anything, the play is pleasurable because it gives
fans a chance to negotiate the power relations attached to products
of similar categories from Japan, West, and the domestic market.
Audience reception is definitely an important and difficult area of


> I'd like her to step back and consider the reception context in 
> which she is > writing, publishing and teaching.  If area studies
relied heavily on 
> the > Richie version of traditional Japan in the past, what does it
> to shift > to a camp sensibility that has been the domain of cultish
> culture > before? What does this imply for the power relations
circulating in 
> this new > academic culture?
> It might be interesting to go back to Paul Schrader's work, because 
> one of
> the most interesting things about him is his ability to combine 
> both. When
> he was writing criticism, he kept them separate (consider the 
> difference
> between his introduction to the yakuza film and the 
> transcendentalism book),
> but his film on Mishima was a curious, fluid mixture of the two 
> modes of
> reception.
> Markus

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