Aaron Gerow gerow
Mon Sep 20 00:27:30 EDT 1999

Thanks to Valerie for reminding us of the questionnaire.  Since it's 
vacation here in Japanese academia, that paradoxically means I've been 
swamped with work, so I'd unfortunately put that on the back burner.  
Valerie has, however, has pressed us to move it forward.

As I said the first time the idea came out, I think it might be good to 
include such a questionnaire with the welcome message everyone gets the 
first time they join the list, and ask people to fill that out as their 
form of self-introduction.  I'll talk this over with the other owners.  
The problem would be what to do with the 330 of you who already 
participate: suddenly having 330 introductions in one week would 
overwhelm all of us!  Even just having those who haven't introduced 
themselves would result in mail in the hundreds (which most would not 
read).  At least for the time being, I still think it would be best just 
to encourage those who haven't introduced themselves to do so, either 
using the questionnaire or not.

As Valerie says, knowing more about who the other members are can help us 
communicate better, not only by better knowing our audience but also by 
reassuring us that not everyone out there has a PhD.  However, I do want 
to be careful that such information does not serve to "define" the list.  
Our hope from the beginning was that KineJapan would be a flexible and 
malleable list in which both academics and regular fans could participate.

But as both Valerie and John note, the discussion does tend to be more 
academic, a fact which can intimidate some members.  That was never the 
intention, though the fact that the people who run the list and the 
institution that sponsors it (Kinema Club) are made up of academics does 
create the tendency for more academic discussions.  While I, as the main 
list manager, do try to give people lots of info and offer what I 
consider non-academic opinions on whether I like a movie or not, the 
questions I tend to ask do come from what I am interested in, which may 
seem rather academic to some.  There's also the unfortunate fact that 
academics (who make a profession of spouting on) and professionals like 
Stephen (who are often people who are used to dealing with a "public" 
audience) are more talkative by character.

I must admit that there are times that I hope the discussion could be 
even more academic because that is what interests me, but I also really 
do want to know more about events, tape availability, publications, 
screenings, and a lot of other points not necessarily academic.  I also 
sincerely want to hear what others think of Japanese movies, no matter 
what perspective they bring to the subject.  But since this is a 
discussion list, any one who gives an opinion on a film should be 
prepared to meet with opposing opinions from people who do not share the 
same perspective.  When this opposition comes from an "academic," this 
can seem intimidating, given the academic pretension of power through 
knowledge, but I for one would not like to start reining in what I write 
for fear that someone might feel intimidated.  Sure we should all be open 
minded and considerate of others opinions, but self-censorship would ruin 
the list.

The issue is thus very complicated.  Those who pretend to have specialist 
knowledge of Japanese cinema should not go around using it to put down 
others, but those who supposedly don't have such "knowledge" should also 
have more courage to speak their mind.  I think Valerie's solution of 
better knowing each other is important, and, while it is something we 
have tried from the start, it needs a greater push.  But I also think we 
have to accept that the list is going to remain complex because it's 
membership is so varied.  Many of the posts will not interest many of the 
members (that's one reason why we accept posts in Japanese--if every 
message was supposed to address some common denominator, we'd have to cut 
out Japanese posts), and KineJapan will in some ways remain a list where 
small groups of different kinds discuss amongst each other while others 
less interested watch on.  I personally don't think that's bad: 
KineJapan's strong point is its ability to acheive variety and 
informativeness without losing a certain level of quality (which is not 
necessarily defined as academic quality).  Some fine tuning is needed, 
but not any drastic changes (I hope).

Aaron Gerow
Yokohama National University
KineJapan list owner
For list commands: send "information kinejapan" to 
listserver at
Kinema Club:

More information about the KineJapan mailing list