From: Shannon Stoney (email@example.com)
Date: 03/01/03-10:23:21 PM Z
>There is something going on, I don't know if I would
>call it a difference in art / porn distinction but
>what you mentioned in my view is a combination of
>Japanese narcissism, immaturity and self-exploration.
I was talking about it with my partner this morning. We were
thinking that it has something to do with the picture of Hiroshima,
levelled to the ground. He said that the Japanese had believed their
culture to be one of the most ancient and finest in the world, which
it was. Then it was destroyed, completely, and MacArthur was sitting
on the Emperor's throne. So they picked up the pieces and became a
great commercial rather than military power. This involved imitating
the West in part, and sometimes, it seems, almost parodying the West,
almost as a way of revenge.
On the one hand, you have this very subtle, restrained traditional
Japanese aesthetic, which is to me very beautiful in a sort of
minimalist way, but very sensual, not as cold as American minimalism
can be. On the other hand, you have Tokyo, as Tom said. Naturally
younger people over the last fifty years have been fascinated by the
West and want to imitate Western styles, in clothing and lifestyles.
I read in the New Yorker that Japanese teenagers love dressing up in
hiphop clothes and pretending to be black.
Perhaps this extends to the business of erotica also. There was a
tradition of Japanese erotica--I have seen reproductions of the
woodblock prints in this genre--but the figure in Japanese art is
rarely completely nude (that I know of). There is not a tradition, it
seems, of the Art Nude as there is in the West and in Europe. The
nudes in the contemporary photographs I saw were actually very
beautiful, though, and not especially erotic. There was a rather
formal portrait of a family--mother, father, teenaged daughter and
son--but they were all nude. The parents were kneeling in Japanese
fashion facing the camera and the two teenagers stood behind them.
So I guess what I am thinking is that when Japanese girls want to
make erotica, they have two traditions to look to: their own
Japanese woodblock prints, which show people in kimonos copulating on
futons on straw mats, and the mass market porn of the West. They
seem to be almost parodying the latter. I'm not sure if they mean to
be taking it to a level of camp, mocking it almost, or if they are
just imitating it. In the books, these campy porn shots are
interspersed with more serious photographs of their families and
friends involved in daily amusements and work.
I think the Japanese attitude toward porn may be different from
ours, in that they don't have a Christian culture that frowned on all
things sexual as we did. Certainly they had a very formal,
repressive society in some ways, but maybe sex was not the main thing
they worried about. I have heard that Japanese businessmen don't
mind being seen looking at anime porn on the subway, and that
respectable middle-class men consume this sort of porn openly. So,
in the same way, it may not seem odd to Japanese girls to intersperse
pornographic pictures of themselves with more ordinary snapshots.
There was one very large photograph that seemed to sum all this up.
It showed a woman (I think--or a man dressed as a woman) with very
long blond hair but Asian features, in a sort of S and M outfit of
leather and garters etc, on a Harley Davidson motorcycle, leaning
back with her mouth open. But not in an erotic way especially.
She seemed to be parked in one of those very narrow, very neon
streets in Tokyo. It was like an ad, but it wasn't. It was very
slick and glossy and commercial and colorful on one level, and sort
of edgy and disturbing on another level. Tom pointed out that the
Japanese motorcycle industry wiped out every other kind of motorcycle
in the world except for Harleys. So this seemed like some sort of
hommage to the Harley, the one machine they couldn't beat. But also
a sort of mockery of Western commercialism. It's as if the
photograph was trying to both adore and mock Western culture at the
same time. I wonder if the girl-produced home-made "porn" is
something like this too.
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