June 5, 2007

Cute little Asian girls

Filed under: asia,China,culture — Kim @ 5:18 pm

A recent post over at Sinocidal has this charming depiction of a prototype modern Chinese chick…

You little minx. You teasing little tart with your pink mobile phone plastered with stickers of you and your gal pals in silly poses taken at the local photo booth arcade and festooned with dangling Hello Kitty charms. You in your shorts worn with black stockings that run up to mid thigh and your t-shirt with cutesy but bizarre English phrases splashed across your budding chest. You’re 23 but you look and act 16 all while living with mommy and daddy and going to your mind numbing day job

Which strongly reminded me of my early impressions in Japan.

I went to Japan to teach at a small private university, near Tokyo Disneyland, and was quite taken aback in the beginning by the difference between Japanese uni students and their English (and Hungarian) counterparts. They seemed immature and innocent, and the girls especially so.

So I wrote a rant which I am hereby offering for your inspection and for your cross-cultural comparison with China. Dozo/Qing…

Have you ever wanted to blow up Disneyland and kick Mickey Mouse in the balls? If you’re a well-adjusted individual then of course you have. But this kind of healthy reaction to the hype and sickly sweetness of the Disney dream seems to be lacking in Japan. Even cynics and tough guys lap up Disney here. The culture of the cute, of which Disney is surely the most successful exploiter, is big in Japan.

Puppies and babies and the like are popular the world over, of course, and only the grumpiest of cynics would remain unmoved by cuteness. A little bit of cute can be…well, cute. But in Japan it is all too often much too much, like adding ten sugars to a mochachino.

It’s the women who bear the brunt of it, it’s the young girls who at birth are chucked in at the deep end of this pink and sparkly (Disney) sea. Japanese shops are stuffed with Kitty Chan, Miffy, and Disney characters. The average girl’s bedroom is stuffed with fluffy toys, and her mind is stuffed with cute.

Many Japanese young women are cute to the point of appearing seriously retarded to Western eyes. These J-girls wave with both hands, say “bye-bye” in squeaky baby voices, and run with turned-in-toes and spacky knock-knees as if they were still 6 years old. The average specimen will have innumerable little photos (purikura) in which their dappy smiles and raised two fingers are digitally fringed with brightly cheery images, and kitschy figures will dangle from their mobile phones – often so many its a wonder how they carry them. Journals I get as a teacher are adorned with smiley faces and cutesy cartoon stickers, and I teach at a University.

Japan is a cocoon in which Japanese girls are cosseted and coddled to an extraordinary degree. Outside of Japan is dangerous, so best not to go… hearing bad news is upsetting, so best not to read the newspapers. Jaunty J-pop has maybe the world’s most banal lyrics. The occasional sarcasm and cynicism that does crop up in the culture will fly right over their pretty little heads. All of which adds up to a thorough infantilisation of the Japanese young female, and all of which makes her the perfect construct for late capitalism: the type of person whose main hobby is shoppingu.

But look around a little and you can find a subculture that is reacting to and brutally subverting this culture of the cute. It is a male thing, of course, and it is in every high street conbini (convenience store) and video store. It is Japanese porn. J-porn can be split into two main types, one involves real women and one involves Manga figures, and it is the Manga porn that is maybe the more disturbing.

Mainstream Manga is enormously popular with the teenage consumer and is populated by feisty young crew-cut boys playing their hearts out at various sports and cutesy little girls with wide eyes and delicate bodies who simper around. With Manga porn, it is middle aged salarymen who are the main consumers, so what happens to cute little Manga girl when she’s subjected to a lusty male gaze? Brutal defilement, in case you’re unsure. Where else in the world, I wonder, can you walk into a corner shop and flick through rows of comics that depict teen – and pre-teen looking – girls being tied up, tortured, beaten, and raped? Sometimes by men, and sometimes by aliens with intruding tentacles.

In most pornmanga there is so much lovejuice spurting from every orifice that the pages seem to squelch. It is pornsex taken to comic extremes and that is what manga can uniquely do perhaps. It would seem that the sight of a young girl covered in come is something that really appeals to the Japanese consumer of porn. Perhaps it’s cute. In a genre known as bukkake, a woman is tied up or held down and squadrons of salary men will cover her with come.

What is all this juice and all this joy?” asked Gerard Manley Hopkins of the coming of spring and the rising of the sap of sexuality. So in manga, what is all this juice and all this pain? A subversion of procreative sexuality where there is never any impregnation because the semen is splattered all over the body and there is no pleasure for the female, only pain.

Well, it’s not exploiting women because these are only lines on a page, after all, but isn’t it degrading to everyone to have endless images of women being trussed up and savagely violated for sale in the local high-street store? This kind of thing is a part of the adult video market too, and Japanese porn-actresses certainly earn their money. The average video store will have a very large porn section and if you indulge in some “anthropological research” and rent a video, then it’s odds on you’ll hear a lot of high pitched squealing that sounds more like pain than pleasure and be treated to a lengthy gang-bang rape. The women cry dame (don’t) and yammette (stop), but usually end up enjoying it.

Here, of course, Japan is not so unusual….de Sadean tastes and nasty porn can be found easily enough in Europe and America, but in Japan all this sicko-male brutality is in symbiosis with the sickly sweet female cuteness.

And it’s not just the occasional otaku type, it’s mainstream. My small commuter town in Japan has no less than 7 adult video/sex shops. One of the mainstream video stores has an entire upstairs section devoted to porn.

Simone de Beauvoir would bring in “the gaze” here. The male (media) gaze is what turns the Japanese woman into an infant or a rape victim. I mean, on a very simple level, women don’t get raped unless men are around, and most women won’t try to act cute/retarded unless men are around. The male stare, the male gaze. The lascivious look and the approving attitude towards lovely little girls with sweet smiles and empty heads.

The mixture of the cute and the cruel can be seen as two extremes that have become intimately connected. Cold cruel Yang beating up on cute and cuddly Yin. Sex and Shopping. Shopping for fucking. Fucking the shoppingu. All part and parcel of a profoundly patriarchal and thoroughly materialistic society.

Old rant over.

Reading this again with the wisdom of a few more years I can see how sweeping it is in its generalisations and how downright silly it sometimes is, but hey, it’s a rant. And I wasn’t that happy in Japan for the first few months so I needed to get some stuff off my chest…to unbosom myself…and I needed to get a girlfriend! I ended up with my Chinese wife, we met in Tokyo during my second year in Japan.

Now I’ve been in China a few months I feel China is going that way a bit. More porn, more cutesy stuff, more money, more materialism.

More Japanese.

That should wind up the nationalists a bit 😉

December 2, 2008

Sick Japanese Porn

Filed under: culture,Japan — Kim @ 3:39 pm

This is a warning. The following post contains descriptions of a truly disturbing nature. Those of faint heart or weak stomach should cease their perusing here.

Veteran travel writer Paul Theroux has a new book out called GHOST TRAIN TO THE EASTERN STAR On the tracks of “The Great Railway Bazaar”. In which he more or less retreads the trail of the book that kicked off his writing career “The Great Railway Bazaar”. Age has not mellowed him much and Theroux is still an outspoken and grumpy guy who doesn’t pull his punches. Here is a part of a good review from The Times

he reserves his distaste for China and, to a lesser extent, India. He quickly flees the former (“ugly and soulless, China represented the horror of answered prayers”) but retains a sickened fascination for India, which he perceives as trapped between hypermodernity and medievalism.

Also, now that Theroux is a Grand Old Man of Letters, he has a fair few celebrity literary friends to hook up with on his travels. One of these is the deeply cool Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, and here’s another extract from The Times review…

In one of the book’s more eyebrow-raising scenes, Murakami and Theroux embark on a tour of Tokyo’s sex industry. The two authors stroll around, examining gag-balls, dildos and French-maid outfits. It is unclear how often the Japanese author indulges in such sightseeing, but for Theroux it is integral to the travelling experience: “a country’s pornography offers the quickest insight into the culture and inner life of a nation”. Tokyo, it seems, is all about bondage with schoolgirls (“young women whom . . . nerds could dominate”)

Well, I’ve written before about the Japanese porn scene and what I think it says of the yin-yang dynamic in Japan. But anyways, when I was living there, one of the first things that surprised me was how much porn was around. I lived in a small commuter town near Tokyo and not only were there 3 porn shops but every video store (5 of them) had a substantial porn section. Indeed one of them had a whole upper level dedicated to the hard stuff. But it wasn’t just the quantity that was surprising, it was the kinkiness and the cruelty. An awful lot of J-porn caters to the rape fantasy and is pretty violent and/or weird. And since I left Japan I occasionally take a peep at some Japanese porn sites to keep my finger on the pulse (so to speak) of what those pervy Japanese are up to. Well, I can hardly bring myself to watch some of this stuff (no really) but a few sites give descriptions of the films, and these are often hilarious/disturbing. How about this for an example of some real sick porn:

Mayura Hoshitsuki and Yuka Osawa are truly kinky girls. Here, together, they push every boundary to the extreme engaging in vomit-enema play! They splash vomit over each other and drink each other’s puke before administering vomit enemas to each other, engaging in lesbian sex, throat-fucking and a threesome. This film includes some of the most extreme sequences in the history of Dogma such as ‘Direct Consumption of Vomit-Juice in which a rubber tube is inserted into the stomach in order to drink bile direct from the body. In ‘Vomit-Enema Play an enema syringe full of vomit is injected into the rectum. And, finally, the most dangerous and deadly of all, ‘Drinking A Cocktail of Vomit and Shit Juice’. The point at which all inhibitions and moral sense is destroyed becomes a revelation of ultimate eroticism!

Hmmm…surely some mistake with the last word of that review! Maybe “vileness” or “absurdity” might be closer. Call me quaint, but it seems to me that vomit enemas, drinking bile direct from the body, and ‘Drinking A Cocktail of Vomit and Shit Juice’ is closer to a revelation of gratuitous depravity than “ultimate eroticism”.

And how about this squirm inducing review of a J-porn film with the charming title: “Make me a Urinal”

This is pretty much nothing but non-stop pissing. The girls in this movie open their mouths and the men just piss in them. This one girl swallows so much piss that I can’t understand how someone would do that or want to. If you like pissing movies (I don’t) this is a must have. Just a word of warning, there is this scene at the end that is just so sick and wrong that I had to fast forward it because I didn’t want to watch it. The Japanese porn industry does some of the most depraved and sick things there is.

But anways, that’s porn for ya! Give the punters what they want!

Although I wouldn’t quite go along with Theroux in saying “a country’s pornography offers the quickest insight into the culture and inner life of a nation” I guess there is some kind of strange “car-crash of the psyche” fascination to be had from some of this twisted Japanese porn. Of course sick porn is not unique to Japan, but I do occasionally hear Chinese say that the Japanese are a rather strange and cruel people. And some of the J-porn titles do hint at more than just being kinky or gross…the following two J-porn movie titles suggest they are about getting thrills from traumatizing people.

Widow Raped in the Mourning Ritual

Shark Raped Deep Wound to the Mind

Hmmm….disturbing stuff. But are the Japanese just more honest in catering to absolutely every fetish, or do they actually have a more twisted side to their national psyche?

I’ll end with a couple of quotes; not that they necessarily provide an answer to that question above, but they do provide evidence for one side of the case quite well. The first is from a Japanese porn director called Tanaka:

“The Japanese audiences,” Tanaka explains, “like darker and immoral themes, more so than the upbeat, action porn films found in the U.S.”

And the second is from a rant about Japan by British TV critic and journo AA Gill. He had a trip to Japan, didn’t like the place, and really let rip in a now quite notorious piece. Here are a couple of paragraphs:

I started off this journey by saying the Japanese were weird. Well, weird is an observation, not an explanation. By the end, I was absolutely convinced that the explanation is that they are not eccentric, not just different, but certifiably bonkers. Japan is a lunatic asylum built on a hideous history, vile philosophy and straitjacket culture.

And

I want to finish back in Hiroshima. After the war, the survivors of the atomic bomb were ostracised. People would hire private detectives to ensure that prospective spouses weren’t from Hiroshima. So the survivors lied and hid their guilty secret and trauma. Imperfect, embarrassing and tainted, they should have died. It’s the absence of the western idea of love – of brotherly, charitable love or sensual love, that finally explains Japan’s appalling, lunatic cruelty.

This is by no means the whole story and I am aware that I am not “being fair” to Japan, indeed I like Japan. But anyways…anyone want to argue back?