Sunday, August 18, 2013

Kaze Tachinu, Barefoot Gen Involved in Protests

The Studio Ghibli film, "Kaze Tachinu" has become involved in a small scandal over smoking scenes. An anti-tobacco group, The Japanese Association of Smoking Control Science, issued a protest to Studio Ghibli over the number of smoking scenes in the movie. The smoking scenes included ones where university students smoke in a professor's office and where the main character encourages a foreigner to smoke with him. In response, the Smoking Culture Society fired back with a response of their own, declaring the freedom of expression in movies. 



On tonight's (Aug. 18) Mr. Sunday, there were interviews with both sides. The smoking supporter representative was taped, of course, smoking...what else? Mr. Sunday looked at smoking in movies from abroad and noted that in American movies, smoking scenes, which accounted for 60% of movies 50 some years ago, only account for 20% in movies today. South Korea also blurs out any tobacco instances. France, on the other hand, doesn't seem to give a fuck.

The Mr. Sunday reporters were obviously sympathetic to the smoker's side. What else would I expect from Japanese men in their late-50s/60s? One lady even equated the decline of smoking scenes in Japanese films to the "Americanization" of Japan. What bull. I hate...HATE sitting in cafes breathing in disgusting tobacco smoke. I hate how smoking is idolized here. And I hate hearing people bitch and whine about PM2.5 coming from China, but don't care that they are poisoning the people around them. 


Next up is Barefoot Gen, a manga written by a Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor about a boy who survived the atomic bombing. This was also covered in tonight's Mr. Sunday. However, Mr. Sunday's report differed from Asahi Shimbun's. What happened? Well, Matsue City in Shimane Prefecture has pulled Barefoot Gen from public school library shelves. Mr. Sunday says it's because the school board decided that the scenes were too violent for children. Asahi Shimbun, on the other hand, reports that the manga was pulled because concerns were raised about the level of violence depicted by Japanese troops towards other Asians. 



So...it's OK to show the suffering of the atomic bomb victims, but it's inappropriate to show the suffering of victims by the Japanese army? The book was written with the hope that war isn't repeated. That those that were victims of war wouldn't be forgotten. But, does this message only matter if your side is the one that is the victim? Some Japanese feel that anything that paints Japan in a bad light is anti-Japanese. Slavery. Discrimination. Japanese-American internment. These are all awful crimes committed by the US Government. But, I don't hate being American because of it. I look back at the past and try to learn. There's nothing anti-anything about acknowledging that your country did bad things in the past. *sigh* 

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