Asian Invasion

A.M. Nornes amnornes
Wed Jan 17 08:23:13 EST 2001

At 10:19 AM +0900 1/18/01, Aaron Gerow wrote:

> One is that, during a conference in Fukuoka I was attending, Madhava
> Prasad from India was trying to argue in a panel on Asian film melodrama
> that melodrama was a local imagination in some ways resistant or
> alternative to the more colonialist currency of realism (for example, the
> Hollywood code of realism).  If we accept that argument, what does the
> American appropriation of Asian melodrama imply?

Actually, I think Aaron is onto something by being slightly off. Prasad has
an interesting point, even if it makes the most sense from someone grounded
in the Indian cinema. It seems clear that Kehr winnows his selection out on
other criteria: Hong Kong's super-charged spectacle, Korea's newfound sex.
Sure Edward Yang is in there, but this appears to engage his art film
sensibility. It is precisely the popular melodrama that people don't watch,
that rarely gets exported, whose directors stay at home.

> Second, what is also interesting is that Japanese film, if it is being
> consumed in the United States, is being consumed precisely as that
> "postindustrial, postmodern" culture represented by anime and other cult
> movie appropriations...But we can also ask what different
> processes are involved in this other kind of appropriation of Japan as
> subculture.  This is precisely the question I raised back in November,
> but no one responded (shiku shiku...).  Any one care to respond now?

Morley and Robbins acknowledge at the end of their book that the Japanese
economy appeared to be in trouble (it certainly was), and that this had
implications for their argument (it did). Writers who have picked up on them
since have never adequately accounted for this, including Ueno.

In any case, the techno-Orientalism idea is pretty interesting, but it still
accounts for only a small slice of the anime pie.

More importantly, a close look at anime fandom in the US will reveal that
there are diverse pleasures being had there---relationships to textuality,
to narrative and to drawing, that make the Techno-Orientalism take feel
mechanical itself. There you go, Aaron.


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