Thursday, January 22, 2015

kowtowing to those who kick and scream

Via a tweet from Robert Koehler of the Marmot's Hole, I saw this Kotaku article on how the new animated movie "Big Hero 6" (titled "Big Hero" in Korea) is upsetting Koreans who, upon seeing the movie's trailer, were chagrined to see Japanese rising-sun iconography popping up in several scenes.

To some extent, I sympathize: imagine being black in America and seeing the Confederate flag which, for almost all American blacks, represents racism, slavery, and oppression. And for much of the world, memories of Nazi depredations mean that the swastika, despite its more benevolent association with Indian religious traditions, is thought of as a symbol of evil. Flags can be legitimately offensive. Koreans, meanwhile, certainly have a right to feel great bitterness toward the Japanese for what they did to Korea and to other countries, and Japan's constant attempts at rewriting its own history to cast itself as a righteous victim, instead of as the victimizer, have done nothing to improve the collective Korean mood.

At the same time, though, the problem with finding oneself in the victim role is that one starts to see racism and oppression under every rock and behind every tree, and the fact of the matter is that Japan has, since World War II, conducted itself in a manner very unlike the imperialistic Japan of old. The country deserves some credit for that, even though it does have a long way to go before it matches Germany in its ability to face its own past maturely.

If you read the Kotaku article, you'll see examples of what are supposedly rising-sun images that Koreans see as evidence of an attempt to signify the dominance of Japanese culture. These examples are, to put it mildly, a bit of a stretch, and I wouldn't be offended if you thought my Korean fellows were hallucinating. Besides: seeing as the story of "Big Hero 6" takes place in a future metropolis known as San Fransokyo, Koreans who are worried about the appearance of tiny Japanese tropes and motifs should be even more worried about the big picture. I wonder whether Koreans complained with equal vigor about 1989's "Back to the Future Part II," which also featured an America dominated by Japanese corporate culture.

A coworker of mine said that, for the Korean release of "Big Hero 6," many of the Japanese signs and symbols have been digitally blotted out. Where possible, Japanese words have been replaced with English—all this in an attempt to soothe the weak, oversensitive, easily bruised (read: pussified) Korean psyche. That's a real shame, and it's a sinister reflection of the kowtowing that's been going on in the West as Western news sources have reported on the Charlie Hebdo massacre and its aftermath. In the West, as cynics have noted, the bloody interior of the shot-up offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine are shown in colorful splendor while the image of Muhammad adorning the cover of the magazine issue that so offended Islamist sensibilities has been mosaicked out. To such cynics, the "Je suis Charlie" slogan rings hollow because these folks seem unable to grasp the essential point: if you're fighting for freedom of speech, you're going to have to show the offensive magazine cover.

Will offended Koreans rise up and behead the people who allow Japanese imagery to show on Korean TV and movie screens? Doubtful. But people in the Korean media will cower, bow, and scrape all the same—in this case because freedom of speech takes a far, far back seat to the power of money. And how stupid is that?


1 comment:

John (I'm not a robot) said...

Sadly, I fear this hyper-sensitivity is a world-wide phenomenon. I know you read Instapundit so you likely saw the article about the black woman who is tired of "suppressing herself to get along with white people."

Jesus, what is wrong with people.