Japundit gets it wrong on MOAG

Japundit is celebrating its comment-generating post about the “controversy” over the Memoirs of a Geisha movie with a victory lap. But really, who cares? The blog, I assure you, is just playing into marketers’ hands.

What no one seems to be mentioning is that putting a Chinese woman in a Japanese role was more than likely an intentional decision by the filmmakers to generate buzz. Or even if the initial casting decision wasn’t made specifically to ruffle feathers, the race mix-up angle has been played up way out of proportion for that reason. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the race-sensitive Asians and their apologists (at Japundit, MutantFrog.com, or other public forums) would get their panties in a bundle if those ignoramuses in Hollywood confused Japanese and Chinese people, so why not exploit that to get people talking about a movie that would otherwise not be very appealing to an uninitiated audience?

Because realistically, a movie about a “geisha” probably couldn’t sell itself. Enough people in the States are vaguely aware of what a geisha is to the point of it showing up in the dictionary, but are Americans dying to see a tragic tale of star-crossed love between two stiff, unemotional Asians? Most people would understandably say, “Geesha what?” And as we all know, Japan isn’t nearly as sexy as it once was, and with Japan-China tensions being the hot-button issue that they are, a good bit of controversy never hurt anyone.

So when you go see this movie, enjoy — but just remember that your thoughts on race relations, your expectations of artistic authenticity, and all else you hold dear are all being carefully manipulated by well-paid and savvy hucksters.

Curse you, yen!

When I was packing up to leave Japan at the end of the summer, I checked the forward rates to see if it would be worth it to change my leftover yen (a pretty big chunk of money) back into dollars. The 6-month forward was pretty stable back then, so I took my Japanese cash home with me and stashed it away.

Well, that was one hell of a mistake. The yen is now down from 110 to 120 to the dollar, with not much sign of coming back up, and Finance Minister Tanigaki and BoJ President Fukui don’t seem to have a problem with the situation. Bastards.

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch, or Don’t Teach English in Japan

This story from Japundit was pathetic enough to finally end any illusions I had as to whether teaching English in Japan is “real” work. It is the best argument I’ve yet seen against ever considering English teaching in Japan as a career option.

There are thousands of people like David who come to Japan expecting a free lunch. This guy did even worse than most, starting close to the bottom because of some sort of hipster condemnation of “the man” and working his way down from there.

Of course, he learns his lesson at the end of the story, right?

Then why is he still in Japan working as an underqualified “teacher” of English?

Let’s get one thing straight: Eikaiwa is not teaching in any meaningful sense of the word. Since Japanese society has a backwards, racist view of language learning the vast majority of people are convinced that the best way to learn a language is to sit in a room with any random native speaker of that language. This is WRONG. The eikaiwa schools’ “learn-language-quick” approach to something that always requires motivation and years of patient hard work is nothing less than a scam. And just because the suckers are all too happy to part with their money that doesn’t make it right! Doesn’t it make you sick to your stomach to know you’re a fraud? David’s bad attitude toward the students speaks volumes:

I’ve been teaching English to children from ages three to 10, or at least trying to do so. Ah, children! They’re not just our hope and future, they’re also gaseous balls of snot and flatulence filled with demonic energy out to leech the very life from our bones. No, seriously, this experience has taught me to love kids, especially in lemon and butter sauce. Accompanied with a light Chianti, they can’t be beat.

Now, I don’t mean to pick on David. There are tons of other eikaiwa teachers out there who are bitter at their lot in life but are too chickenshit to do anything about it. It can’t feel good to be approaching 30 and still not have any marketable skills under your belt.

(On a side note, I don’t get why he doesn’t seem to have a problem when small-timers scam people out of their money but chafes at “the system” if a business is successful and grows large. Jealousy perhaps?)

More boats, please

Quoth the Bloomberg:

Japan’s Coast Guard has sought a 68 percent increase in its budget to buy additional boats and planes to boost patrolling in the East China Sea and Senkaku Islands, the coastal defense agency said in a statement today.

The coast guard plans to spend 24.2 billion yen ($201 million) on new patrol vessels and airplanes and on increasing inspection in the year ending March 2007. Next year’s plans include buying 21 new patrol ships, 3 airplanes and 4 helicopters, the statement released in Tokyo said.

The Sankei newspaper today said the coast guard will spend 350 billion yen during the seven years starting April 2006 to conduct more patrols, including 24-hour monitoring, in the East China Sea and around Okinotorishima Island, the nation’s southernmost island.

Quite a turn considering that the JMSDF has been slowly downsizing over the last decade, thanks to the end of the Cold War and a perceived lack of nearby threats. Assuming this budget increase is approved by the government, it could signal that Japan’s Asia policy is harder than just uncompromising words. They’ve got seaman ship, too!

I really like this photo

BV(Source: Washington Post)

For those of you who don’t know, that’s Chiba Lotte Marines Manager Bobby Valentine following his team’s first victory in the Japan Series for 31 years. For some reason, footage of the Japan Series after-celebration always makes me smile.

I love that the players are so happy. I love that the cameramen always come prepared, wearing rain slickers and having wrapped their cameras in plastic. I love that the players actually put on goggles to keep the beer out of their eyes. And I love that no one whines about the fact that they actually use real beer instead of Gatorade.

Memoirs of a Geisha: If it isn’t one inauthenticity, it’s the other

Curzon pointed me toward Tom Barnett’s take on the new movie, citing it as evidence that Barnett “is a complete git.” Let’s quote:

Unfair to have Chinese playing Japanese? About as unbelievable as having Brits and Aussies play Americans? Or Americans playing English? Or Canadian Mike Myers playing Austin Powers?

Puh-leeze. Marshall went with these three ladies because they’re simply the biggest best stars available. Globalization, baby.

The hubbub over Chinese actresses playing Japanese characters is a bit misplaced, I think. It’s not directly comparable to Mike Myers playing Austin Powers: it’s closer to, say, Patrick Stewart playing Jean-Luc Picard. When it comes down to it, almost all of the visible differences between Han Chinese and Japanese are in language, mannerisms, and (often) dress. A well-coached Chinese person could play a Japanese person convincingly enough, but probably not with their default skill set. So Barnett’s take… not quite “git” in my book.

What bugs me more than the movie’s lack of racial purity is that the characters, who are supposed to be in old-school Kyoto, speak horribly-accented English for hours on end. And the Chinese actresses are speaking in Chinese accents… totally different from Japanese accents. I can’t foresee sitting through the whole movie without throwing things at the screen. Maybe it’ll be tolerable on mute.

On a related note, this is a snippet from a conversation I had with Adamu concerning the HBO series “Rome,” which, I should add, Curzon really likes.

[10:20] Adamu: does everyone have a british accent
[10:20] Joe: yup
[10:20] Adamu: good then its authentic

Lady Goes Crazy on Trading Spouses

Awesome! DARK SIDED!!!

Reminds me of when I went to Baptist services with my friends when I was a kid.

As shocked as I am to see such a misguided and hateful person, I have to admit that it’s a dream of mine to one day appear on television shrieking so violently that I need subtitles to be understood.

Taken from AndrewSullivan.com.

After some thought, I have decided that you can keep reading this blog even if you don’t believe in Jesus.