Posted by debito on July 24th, 2007
Hi Blog. Friend Justin just sent me something interesting, from a Japanese TV drama called Hana Yori Dango 2.
On TBS on Friday nights (see information on TBS here and on Wikipedia here), it’s apparently popular enough to spawn sequels and special shows (although I wouldn’t know–I don’t watch Japanese dramas any more for the most part, as I find them low-budget hammed-up affairs with contrived plots).
But one segment is of interest to Debito.org:
This has all the elements I really dislike about J dramas: Hammy acting (the protagonist’s voice is high and squeaky enough throughout that I wouldn’t bring any wine glasses near her), contrived plots (someone the protagonist asks on the street for help gets offended when she says “I am a bus” and walks away; yeah, right), and bargain-basement (more money was spent on the “Japan-nightclub-host” styled hero’s clothes and shoes than on the camera crew, it would seem). Even the gun used is an obvious squirt pistol, yet it scares away the muggers. Yeah, right again.
But what gets me is not just the stereotypes of crime in NYC: It’s the fact that all the criminals are black (from the bag snatcher to the gang of four), using random profane jive talking, and assailing our heroine with a basketball (yes, a basketball, with added sound effect when it hits her).
Why isn’t this worthy of assigning to the scrapheap of bad Japanese TV? Because you just know that if an American TV show were to do this sort of thing–make all the [fill in the blank] into Asians, Chinese, or Japanese (with accents or stereotypical features to boot)–there would be complaints from either the local anti-defamation leagues or even the Japanese embassy (cf. New York Senator Alphonse D’Amato making fun of Judge Lance Ito’s Japanese ethnicity in 1995–Time Magazine Monday May 18, 1995).
And definitely a brouhaha on 2-Channel about how the West is oh so racist towards us Japanese, even sometimes used as an excuse to justify racism in Japan as a form of tit-for-tat (by people who would rather explain away rather than run a self-diagnostic and change their behavior).
So fire with fire. If you feel like raising awareness about something like this, here are the contact details for TBS:
I don’t know the broadcast date for this segment, but if you describe the scene, your point would probably sufficiently be made.
FWIW, Debito in Sapporo
UPDATE: JUST TALKED TO TBS’S SHINSA BU （審査部) MR KATOU ( 03-5571-2265)ABOUT THE ISSUE. HAD A NICE CHAT. HE’LL PASS IT ON TO THE PRODUCERS OF THE PROGRAM AND WILL GET BACK TO ME IF THERE’S ANY FEEDBACK. DEBITO
UPDATE TWO JULY 25: MR KATOU CALLED ME YESTERDAY AFTERNOON (JULY 24) TO SAY HE’D TALKED WITH THE PRODUCER IN CHARGE OF THE SHOW, A MR SETOGUCHI. HE SAID THAT HE SAID THE SHOW WAS UNAWARE OF THE POSSIBLE IMPLICATIONS OF THAT PORTRAYAL OF BLACK PEOPLE AS CRIMINALS, AND WERE GRATEFUL TO RECEIVE THIS FEEDBACK ON IT. THEY SAID THEY WOULD TAKE CARE ABOUT THAT SORT OF THING IN FUTURE.
WHEN I ASKED HOW PEOPLE WHO WERE COMMUNICATIONS PROFESSIONALS WITH A DECENT ENOUGH EDUCATION LIKE MR SETOGUCHI COULD NOT SEE THOSE POSSIBLE IMPLICATIONS IN ADVANCE THEMSELVES, MR KATOU GAVE ME A THOROUGH BUT ESSENTIALLY LAME EXCUSE ABOUT HOW PEOPLE WHEN THEY GO OVERSEAS TO FILM KINDA FORGET THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT. MY READ IS THAT TBS DIDN’T THINK ANYONE WOULD FIND FAULT WITH THE PORTRAYAL (HOW MANY NJ WOULD WATCH THEIR SHOW, AFTER ALL?) I SAID I HOPED OUR FEEDBACK WOULD CAUSE SOME AWARENESS RAISING WITHIN TBS, AND HE SAID IT WOULD.
OKAY, THAT’S ABOUT AS GOOD A REPLY AS WE’RE PROBABLY GOING TO GET. NOT A WASTE OF TIME. THANKS TBS. UPGRADING THIS TOPIC TO AN ANTI-DISCRIMINATION TEMPLATE. DEBITO