Japanese vs American cultural influence in Asia

Lori Hitchcock lohitchc
Thu Dec 9 18:45:49 EST 1999

By way of giving the Kinema Jumpo citation that I mentioned earlier, I'd
just like to add that, as compelling as the NYT article is (it's nice to
see people writing about this at all), what it doesn't really address much
is Japan's complicated role in an Asian context.  That is, while it raises
issues of Japan's history in Asia, the argument that its influence in Asia
is a largely as a more palatable America seems to elide Japan's role as a
"successfully" modernized Asian nation - or, at least, Japan's 
presentation of itself as a successfully modernized Asian nation.  In
other words, I'd be interested to learn how these trends (which, on a
smaller scale, are also occurring in Japan in reverse - esp. w/ relation
to Indian film?) work w/in the context of Japanese discourses on
"Asianization," as well as the pre-existing discourse on Chinese
transnational cultures?

The Kinema Jumpo issue is #1217 (14 March 1997) "Honkon den'ei mankan
zenseki"; an interesting discussion of "Asianization" is Tochigi Akira's
essay, "Commercial and Ideological Factors in the 'Asianization' of the
Japanese Film Industry" (Asian Cinema 5.2 (1990)), as well as Funabashi
Yoiichi's problematic "The Asianization of Asia" (Foreign Affairs Nov/Dec
1993).  One other very interesting essay is "Staging the New Asia:
Singapore's Dick Lee, Pop Music, and a Counter-modernity" by C.J. W.-L.
Wee (Public Culture 8 (1996)), in which Japan-as-consumer is discussed
w/in the Asian cultural sphere.

Lori Hitchcock

On Thu, 9 Dec 1999, Michael Raine wrote:

> 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?
> Michael
> ----- 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
> the
> > 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
> example,
> > one couldn't imagine Toyokawa Etsushi or Asano Tadanobu being cultural
> icons
> > 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.
> I'm
> > 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
> so
> > easily be blocked by quotas and other government regulations.
> >
> > Of course, culture always adapts when it travels, but any specific
> comments
> > 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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