I was at a bar yattering on about Genshiken, and this blog with an acquaintance who had little interest in manga, and once again was trapped in the hall of mirrors. The manga is all about pr0n! In Japan, guy manga artists draw lesbian themed light (or heavy) pr0n comics for guys, but western lesbians like some of them. Perhaps Japanese lesbians like them too, but the latter ain’t saying. The most successful ones are open scare quotes SENSITIVE close scare quotes, although the one good, two better 4, 5, 6 even more fun rule tends to kick in.
Meanwhile lots of straight women read, and enough draw what looks like male gay pr0n for their own amusement. Some gay males – Japanese or otherwise like them, but plenty find them an annoying collection of the kind of clichéd bad behaviour that gay males are often accused of by straight society. Oh, and the couplings are usually rigidly monogamous.
Western fans of many persuasions swipe these things, mistranslate them, put them up for free on the net and go completely apeshit over them. It is all very confusing, and popular enough to be a self-sustaining cultural phenomena – though the economics of it all are precarious. Oh, the categories are in flux, so generalizations are iffy… Blehblehbleh!
This was getting BORING really fast, so I segued to my “conspiracy theory” about Genshiken – its a plot to develop mating (and other growth/ maturity) narratives within the otaku community to save the japanese economy! Then I added a gratuitous reference to Moonie mass weddings (Korea, Japan, whatever..) and threw in a certain western hack scifi writer who started his own religion. The urge to fuck around with things on a grand scale is always good for a short news clip.
But deep down inside, I was not satisfied. Another beer and I was listening to the band while remembering a time in the dim past when I was unreasonably hostile towards the excessive posturings of an art-school lesbian pair because “all you have to do is fuck and make art about fucking and you are fucking transgressive heroes!”
Now why did I think of that???
Uhh.. right! Considering the alternatives, it was probably enough. The world is full of reasons to jump out of windows, off school roofs and in front of trains. Taking some of those reasons apart without burning down the country is an honourable project. And, yes I said as much a bit later by way of apology. Duh!
It’s not like a few scare-the-horses art projects, or oddball manga sagas are going to set roadside bombs or stone people to death in soccer stadiums. Considering the blood-drenched historical record of past attempts to change human behaviour, a light touch, even if it looks like fail might, like dripping water, wear a hole in stone. So sad that big messy bloody solutions seem to materialise out of the mist when we face big ugly hurtful problems – hence this post’s title, from RINGWORLD.
Sometimes the evil rat-bastard stone wont wear down. The cynical side of me argues that yankee school boards never took bullying seriously until after Columbine.
All of this smells like so much raw sociology that I cannot resist.
Sociology is a Lacanian sin in my family.
Add the popularity of the genre, strong feedback loops between creators and consumers and “Houston, we have culture” – Call in the academics and let’s do some dissertations on modern japanese visual . . .
OH SHIT! Another layer of mirrors, and a tip of the hat to the S. Sensei.
Nice lampshade. Very droll indeed. Too many beer tonight. I wonder if the queer folk in Japan find the whole Fujoshi/ Otaku/ Yaoi/ Yuri thing annoying? Seems to depend on who you ask. . .
More lampshades: what’s with all the temple bells tolling for 108 sins, the all-suffering-is-caused-by-desire stuff, the self loathing, the jumping out of windows, the social isolation, unhappiness, awkwardness and shame. As others have remarked, a cruel streak that runs through the Genshiken saga. Lab animals are not pets, but then again, better to push around 2D characters than hurt solid lab animals.
All the Marvel and DC comics I read half a life ago didn’t mess with this stuff. A wonder, and a mark of restraint that S.Sensei avoided adding a Genshiken ghost – the traditional japanese plot device for introducing the taboo topic of suicide – to remind us that jumping out of windows is sometimes more than youthful dramatics. Or is a failed suicide more powerful?
Lots of people don’t fit in to their societies.
All societies have powerful and casually cruel ways of enforcing normality.
Not-quite-fitting-in shouldn’t be a capital offense, especially when our wacky wonderfull global economy can turn social outcasts into raw GNP.
Might as well make an honest living with it while tinkering, especially if you society’s government is dead blind useless when it comes to social initiatives. There are some advantages to living in a society where popular fiction is expected to be didactic, as well
Wouldn’t it be nice if a manga could help save a few lives?
NON – MANGA ASIDE:
I am grimly trudging through Will Ferguson’s Hitching Rides with the Buddha. So far he is going out-of-the-way to recycle SILVERLOCK‘s travellers’ complaints in a smaller, more miserable, abrasive and squeaky way than the original. Or maybe it was a bubble-economy attitude thing. How annoying! I am so happy I got the book for free, from a friend, who got it in the remaindered bin Grrrrrrr! There must be something useful in this pile of crap, but I ain’t found it yet.
LATER: Narrator’s inflamed roids must have calmed down a bit, because his interactions are getting a tiny bit more humane. I await the ” How are the folks in the next town?” routine.If you answer with a catalog of the failings of the people in the town you just left, the wise man will tell you that you will find the next town’s folk pretty much the same.
Much Later: One last thing that immediately ticked me off when reading Ferguson’s stuff was how he deployed the sorry trope about the gaijin in japan “”NEVER FITTING IN “”.
I have seen this one in other Gaijin blogs, and it is an automatic fail in my books. Look
here buddy boy – if you had fit in back home, you wouldn’t have escaped to become an
engrish teacher in Japan. Now here is another bit of shocking wisdom for you and all your boo-hoo-I-hawe-wivved-in-Japan-for-x-years-and-still-am-outside bullshit artists:
NOBODY FITS IN! Nobody fits in anywhere anymore!
Sorry, Elvis has left the stadium – he didn’t fit in either. Even Japanese people in Japan don’t fit in! That’s why they make such a big deal about inside the group and outside – it is a little game of perpetual nervousness, that marks everyone. (Also they like Amurricans over-value High School as a place of socialization – leads to certain bad habits.) The whole inside / outside thing is 10,000 layers deep and means nadda. Why dja think they fetishize the whole japanese-ness-thing? Tourism??? Right-wing ultra-nationalism as performance art??? DUHHH!
The messiah always arrives a day late. The secret of the center is that there is nothing in the center. Have a nice day!
One more time: fitting in died with the dawn of urban modernist society. Peasants “fit in” in their village, until they starve to death or leave. Urbanized citizens compensate. Go take some sociology 101 and make blah blah noises about anomie. Go join a university manga club. K-rist! The only reason you can feed yourself by doing this-is-a-pencil, is because YOUR difference is your marketable commodity.