TokyoQuickie

Hey guys, it’s the Andy-San here with a quick post.

I made a comment on my favorite vlogger/blogger TokyoCooney’s site. Here’s the link to his page so you can be edumacated about Japan: http://web.mac.com/tokyocooney/HereIsJapan/Home.html. This is the blog I commented in:

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Of An Offensive Nature

So I am waiting with some amount of certainty for my latest video on YouTube to be flagged. I guess it’s to be expected when you do a video about a phallus festival but I’m not sure if it’s appropriate. If the video is flagged, it will have zero total effect on the video or me except to make people slightly more excited about what they may be about to see when they click the little button to assert they are over 18. Obviously this is a fool proof way to protect kids from viewing and possibly being scared by a giant pink penis statue. I mean, how could teenagers possibly get around that kind of security.

It’s interesting seeing how people react to my videos. Im not really sure entirely who watches my videos (or why for that matter), except I know about 60 percent are American. I’m fairly certain the person who flags the video will come from my home nation. Without getting too deep, it is interesting to note how different the priorities are when considering what “children” need to be protected from. American media is glaringly awash in sex in violence but it always seems to be the sex part that gets the most fixating. While Japanese media is undeniably tinged with the erotic it has very little violence in it. For me an episode of CSI is far more disturbing than a pair of bear breasts.

Obviously there is nothing in the festival that merits flagging anymore than a renaissance nude portrait does. But YouTube is limited in the way it can case by case approve what is or isn’t appropriate. It’s just a logistical impossibility to expect the website to judge individually the thousands of videos flagged each day. Especially since Im sure 98% of them probably deserve the flagging. I think on the whole they’ve done a good job of keeping porn off the website. Thats something they should do.

I was spotted on the street in Shibuya once by an American family staying in Tokyo and introduced to their three young boys aged about 8 to 16. They are apparently fans of my weird ice-cream eating wacky Vlogs. I had those kids very much in mind as I was editing, considering and reevaluating this video. I haven’t come up with any deep answers but I kept thinking, is this something I’d want my 8 year old to see. Then I reflected on the many many families at the event itself. Kids eating penis lollipops and singing with a band while a man in a penis costume dances.

This is NOT a mainstream event in Japan. Its a fairly minor but infamous festival. However what is mainstream in Japan is a lack of awkwardness about the human body. Some of the comments I’ve already seen appearing note how ”crazy” the juxtaposition of children and penis iconography is. And I’ll admit its something Im not entirely comfortable with. But that is the whole point of living in a foreign country. It challenges your assumptions about things.

This festival is not about sex as much as it’s about the male body. I suppose in my native culture these two things are inseparable, but this is the same reason I still blush at onsen baths as the locals strut around entirely comfortable in their own skin. People of all ages regularly bathe together without any awkward tension because being naked isn’t inherently sexual, its inherently human.

I suppose the thing to consider if you are blushing in a room full of naked people is that you are the only one preoccupied nudity. What really is so offensive about nature? After all, half the population is looking at one of these things every day… well Ok, maybe more than half depending on the woman.

2 Comments

Phleborrhagia
Personally, I don’t see what the problem is – why is it that The Discovery Channel or National Geographic Channel can show the nudity -or at least bear breasts – of african tribe people, but when it comes to something like this, the FCC would probably blur everything out…or we’d see a large black bar jumping up and down, lol.

I don’t see the point in censorship at all, it’s not like you can’t go through your whole life without being exposed to the types of things that become censored “to protect others” – and if you did, you’d have to live your whole life with your head burried in sand or the sort. I just don’t get the FCC’s mentality – ok, it’s alright to show a group of people beating the crap out of somebody and all the blood that ensues on tv, but it’s not alright to show human anatomy. And it’s not like I’m talking about showing hardcore porn movies on public tv either – look at the Janet Jackson nipple “slip” or the like, or whenever someone gives the finger, or whenever someone says shit/fuck/asshole/etc; something like that happens and all hell breaks loose like society is about to crumble and fall to the ground because something like that happens on tv. Same thing goes for profanity – to which I believe SHOULD be on tv ALL the time, because it’s not the governments job, nor should it be their position, to instilling the social values for children to learn and reflect upon. That duty is for the parents of said children to get off their asses and teach them what they think is wrong or right – if they’re too lazy to even do that, then they should not of had the kid(s) in the first place. What REALLY bugs me is when some parent says that they don’t like to talk to their kids about “uncomfortible issues” but then go around expressing their view on those same issues when it comes to the public eye.

If you teach kids about this stuff at an early age, then latter on it’s no big deal – but if you wait until later in their lives to “get around to it,” then it’s not going to be effective at all. Look at how sex-ed and safe sex is taught to kids in the US – it’s all based on dogmatic values instead of by way into which it’s beneficial. And while condom use is taught, why NOT talk about masturbation as an alternative instead of having sex instead of just abstinence. Did you know that Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders was FIRED for her for comments on this issue?

The same thing goes for nudity in general within the US – kids are taught that a nude body is “wrong.” This is probably why japanese people are more comfortible with nudity within a public confine such as a public bath house (sento 銭湯) or hot spring (onsen 温泉.) YOUR blushing cause you see someone nude and acting the same way as if they were clothed, while they’ve gotten that out of their system at an early age – not trying to be harsh or attak you or anything like that Cooney, but it supports what you’ve stated before; I’d LOVE to hear about your expressions at going to a mixed bath (konyoku 混浴) as I’m sure others would too, lol. Also, I believe the japanese have a concept about public bathing called hadaka no tsukiai (裸の付き合い)- which is about breaking down barriers and getting to know people in the relaxed atmosphere.

All in all though, good job Cooney – great video, but I wished there was more than what you only showed/filmed.
Monday, April 14, 2008 – 02:57 PM

Andy-San
I’ve been a long-time watcher of your videos and I’ve got to say that you’re my favorite vlogger on YouTube. When it comes to deciding whether a video about a penis festival is inappropriate, I think you did the right thing by putting up a short disclaimer. I do agree with Phleborrhagia in that it’s ultimatly the parents’ responsibility to explain the content in question so that the kids understand it instead of just filtering out what their kids can and can’t watch. Doing it at an early age really eliminates problems later on like culture shock.

For example, I live in a fairly small town (about 10,000 people) in the Midwest. Because I’ve lived here for so long, I was uncomfortable around people of different races and sexual orientations. Obviously I knew that there were people different than me out there, but I wasn’t exposed to them on a regular basis until I went to college. Had I been exposed to these different kinds of people, especially early on, I would have been better prepared to deal with them.

In closing, I’d like to say, “keep making educational and funny vlogs.” I’ve learned so much about Japan from you and I can’t wait to learn more.

Andy-San
Thursday, April 17, 2008 – 09:39 AM

Well, that’s it for today. Now, I’m gonna help my mom and bro tear out his carpet cuz we’re getting new carpet put down on Friday. Peace!
Andy-San