Sunday, 6 February 2011

Irrationally missing Japan

There's this tv show that started last week. Justin Lee Collins 'goes native' in Japan, ostensibly to find the 'real Japan', the one beyond his stereotypical notion. I've seen a fair few shows of this type, where the presenter goes around experiencing various aspects of the culture, getting access to the local world that a regular tourist never enjoys. In this case, things are a little different, and I'm not sure how I feel about it.

The usual stuff has come up - host clubs, weird-flavoured food products, karaoke, theme bars, a sex dolls. What I find weird about it is these little pieces to camera that Collins does after encountering some of the stranger aspects. Now, Justin Lee Collins is best known as a kind of hyperactive presenter-comedian who doesn't take things seriously. But in these pieces to camera - and they're not even to camera - the camera looks at him while he talks to someone diagonally behind the camera, as if it's filming a secret conversation - he suddenly puts on his judgemental hat and talks about how disturbing and awful whatever he's just seen is, in a very serious tone.

I don't know what to make of it. His reactions seem genuine, but it annoys me that he thinks that that's all Japan is. His researchers and producers have no doubt gone to every effort to ensure he sees the most messed up aspects of the country. What he probably doesn't realise is that if you showed the average non-city dwelling Japanese person most of this stuff, they'd have a similar reaction. You'd probably surprise a few Tokyoites as well. It would be fine if he'd said he was deliberately trying to find the craziest aspects of Japanese culture, but instead he's claimed to have gone in search of reality, and stands in judgement of what he's found. Shame on you, JLC.

I almost always avoid watching TV shows about Japan, because they make me want to be back there. Most of the stuff on TV is a Japan I never went to, or at least never lived in. It's not all bright lights, hi-tech gadgetry and maid cafes. But still, seeing all that stuff reminds me of my visits to the cities, which were always some of the most fun times in my overall more sedate time in the country. I don't want to lose my connections through the people I knew and the language I learned. I'll go back some day.

1 comment:

Anji said...

I see how you feel. I get annoyed when people think that France is represented by Parisians. Most of my friends are horrified at the thought of eating frog's legs and so on...

I hope that you get to go back and visit often