It's been ages since I last read a blog post by W. David Marx, but this examination of Japan's Visual Kei music business is a good reminder of why I used to be such an avid reader of Neomarxisme (and no, it's not because I have a fondness for "Das Kapital" ...). Anyway, getting back to the Visual Kei post, let's just say that all those kids who've latched on to "Dir en Grey", "X Japan" and co. as representative of some sort of "edgy", "alternative" counterculture are just as deluded as the millions who fail to realize that "Lady Gaga" is the product of the most soulless and calculating corporate focus-testing. Seeing young people express their "rebellion" and "individuality" against "The Man" by collectively blaring his music and wearing his clothes provides endless fodder for amusement to cynics such as myself; at least the "J Crew" and "Abercrombie" clones know that they're mindless conformists!
And he's written a mega-rant explaining precisely why he doesn't like the country. I can't say I entirely agree with Tim Rogers' arguments (though on certain points, e.g. the rampant smoking, and the invariable "oishii/umai" uttered by talentless "talento" on variety shows, I think he hits the target dead center), but I'll give the guy credit for something very important: Rogers - unlike many an anime nerd disillusioned to discover that life in Japan isn't just an unending sequence of Dragon-Ball Z episodes - actually happens to know something about the country he's writing about.
PS: The (mostly negative) responses on Metafilter are also interesting to read. The gist of the criticism directed at Rogers is that he's a whiny b*st*rd who would obviously be unhappy anywhere, but while this is very probably true, and the guy also seems to be suffering from a severe case of delayed culture shock, not everything he complains about can be dismissed as mere whining: for instance, office life in Japan really is incredibly stifling and conformist, much of Japanese TV really is rubbish (though in my opinion British TV is even worse), and the impunity with which Yakuza affiliated types pollute people's eardrums with their loudspeakers really is infuriating. Japan does have plenty of good points which go entirely unmentioned in Tim Rogers' long rant - it is an extremely safe, clean and orderly society in which a keen appreciation for hard work and aesthetics plays a prominent role - but it doesn't hurt to have the occasional reminder that the Land of the Rising Sun is not some sort of paradise exempt from the usual foibles of human societies, a fact often overlooked in the breathless reporting done by uncritical Japanophiles.
Reading this story, as much as I'd like to say that the mistreatment detailed therein took me by surprise, the truth is rather different: the Arab nations have long been notorious for the horrible treatment dished out to foreign workers from poorer countries, even when they happen to be fellow Muslims and not just "kufr" (infidels). In fact, this abuse of servants is so routine that it even occurs with wealthy Arabs living in Western countries; so ingrained is the "servant as slave" mentality that legal considerations seem to play no role in their thinking.
An Australian medical study, carried out on 6,400 women over the course of 10 years, has managed to establish what many men already long believed: that there's something about getting married and having children which stimulates women to pack on the pounds, even when compared to single women of the same age group. The article manages to throw in some quotes from some nutritionist called "Jennifer Sygo", who offers two alternatives: either married women care less than single ones do because they've already managed to snare a sucker partner, or they're fatter because they have less time for "exercise and healthy eating", but it doesn't take a genius to see which of the two possibilities is far more likely, does it?
An article on The Local about the prevalence of same-sex activity amongst young Swedish women gives birth to the mother of all Fark threads, and leaves me wondering yet again: what is it about lesbianism that other men find so damned fascinating?
That's the only thing I can gather from watching this travesty of an advertisement. This is obviously a spot with high production values, shot for use with a mainstream audience, so the fact that its message is thought acceptable says a great deal about how Indians see the world.
Reminds me of the (far from) good ol' days in America: "if you're white, you're all right, if you're brown, stick around, if you're dark, stay back!" Except Indians would seem to be even more restrictive than that, going by this advert: Michael Jackson would probably have been seen as a hero for his (allegedly) vitiligo-inspired transformation ...
A Brazilian university has publicly expelled a woman who was heckled by hundreds of fellow students for wearing a short, pink skirt to class, taking out newspaper ads today to publicly accuse her of immorality.
The private Bandeirante University in São Bernardo do Campo, outside of São Paulo, said 20-year-old Geisy Arruda disrespected "ethical principles and academic dignity and morality".
Arruda made headlines last month when she had to be escorted away by police after she tried to go to class wearing the mini-dress. She put on a professor's white coat and left amid a hail of insults and curses.
Something isn't right here: one would have thought most young Brazilian adults incapable of batting an eye to something as mundane as a miniskirt, so ordinary a sight it would be for them. There must be another angle to this story that has yet to be told, e.g. is this university some sort of religiously motivated establishment, a Catholic Bob Jones University or something along those lines?
When I wrote a while back about certain Westerners taking Japanese niceness for granted, one (of many) incidents I had in mind at the time was the notorious Yamanote Halloween Train Party, on the annual occasion of which certain foreign residents of the Tokyo region took it upon themselves to test the patience of their Japanese hosts to the limit by getting drunk and behaving obnoxiously on the Yamanote subway line, acting on the presumption that the "gaijin pass" Westerners tend to get in Japan were actually a licence to behave like assholes.
There's something about traveling abroad that seems to turn many a Briton into a complete asshole; whether one can attribute this to a mental hangover from the days of Empire or to some other cause is unclear to me, but nevertheless, a great many British people seem to go out of their way to annoy the locals they encounter. Sometimes this attitude can lead to rather ... unfortunate consequences, take the charming gentleman in this video, for example.
Lesson of the day: just because the locals you're dealing with tend to be soft-spoken doesn't mean you get to run your mouth off at whomever, wherever. Not all the people of the world are like the conflict-avoidant Japanese, who tend to give far too much leeway to Western morons with no respect for others.
Have you heard about Youtube's "Karen26", a young Danish woman who decided to teach a foreign visitor just what "hygge" means, only to land with a bun in the oven for her efforts? Would you be willing to help her find the father of the child resulting from this one-night stand, a man of whom she remembers neither his nationality nor even his name? What if I then told you that this charming little video was actually cooked up by an ad agency, and paid for by VisitDenmark, the country's official tourist board, in the name of "viral marketing"?
Personally I think it's a little strange to sell one's country to the world by advertising that its full of promiscuous blondes, but what do I know? Then again, the Danes themselves don't seem to be too keen on this sort of branding (related article in Swedish here).
I can't vouch for the "promiscuous" part myself (not yet having the chance to find out), but I can verify that the streets of Copenhagen are impossibly full of tall, slender, gorgeous blonde women, the average Western heterosexual male's fantasies brought to life, in fact: hopefully they're a bit keener on contraception than the fictional "Karen26" supposedly was though ...