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A View on Japanese Customs as Depicted in Films and Figurines

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Gojira, Hello Kitty, and other forms of Japanese culture have been integrated through popular culture in such things as movies and toys. The aspects that can make these mediums fun and interesting can make them popular which gives a lot of credit to the culture that it is behind. These two forms although representing popular culture, are still able to draw towards representations of everyday life, and Japanese culture. Christine R Yano explains how the consumerism of Hello Kitty has shaped Hello Kitty, and it has become an obsession of a sort. “Hello Kitty expresses herself through disarming, benign mouthlessness, while Godzilla is dark, and oversized (Yano,153).” The characteristics which Gojira, and Hello Kitty have are important because Hello Kitty’s characteristics of being cute appeal to many people’s senses, and can be the reason why Hello Kitty Goods earned a hundred million from products and an additional four hundred million in licensing fees. Maybe it has to do with the fact that Hello Kitty is described as being “Irresistable” (Yano, 154). Japan threw elements like these has been able to show other areas of the world their culture, which has prompted integration, but their culture can still be closely derived from the elements represented in these movies, as well as a representation.

From looking at elements of media, such as Hello Kitty, and Gojira we are able to see Japanese culture embedded. Though Hello Kitty may be looked at by most people as just simply Japanese cute, it has aspects that help define culture as well. The kitty is small, does not have a mouth, and seems to be staring into a distance. This can be tied into the fact that females in the Japanese culture, are regarded as being passive. We were able to see this aspect while viewing Gojira, in the character of Emiko. In the movie she seems to display a passive role, by crying, and seeming to have a frail personality. Emiko’s role was important in this movie because rather than just making a storyline only it was important to integrate culture so that as the movie is exchanged between different people they can get a feel of Japanese culture. By looking at the overview in Gojira we can also see this well. After the postwar period which Gojira was filmed around, it was a very destructive time, and the whole city was ruined. The movie represents Japan during the postwar period showing some of the suffering which they went through. It helps to show Japanese people’s fear of nuclear attacks, which makes the movie a symbol. Japan does a good job of doing this, but we are also able to see aspects of American culture from some of the media we have looked at.

Them! shows the same relationship between popular culture, and culture as do Hello Kitty, and Gojira. The movie which came out in 1954 takes you on a path of monstrous ants, who are trying to take over the world. Them has also been regarded as an important medium in American popular culture as it was integrated in video games, and television shows such as Zombies ate my neighbors, and Invader Zim respectively (Them!) Through the ants conquest which resolves the city is taken over, and many aspects of American culture ensue, and are described. For instance towards the end of the movie the firefighters want to burn the cave because they feel that everyone who is in it must be dead, and it is not worth risking the whole city for. The police officers tell them not to do so because they said they believe two young little boys are in there, and it is not worth risking their lives. This is an important part of the movie because it demonstrates a part of American culture. This illustrates that in American culture children are deemed as being very important. The cops made sure that they saved their lives because even two people’s lives were important to them, and they wanted to make sure that everything was ok. The police force was also shown as being very important in the movie which is an aspect that can be true as well in real life. Them did a good job of displaying cultural elements of Godzilla it was able to do the same thing. Them also does a good job of mentioning the atomic bomb which America happened to be testing at that time, and referencing this to the Cold War. This helps a vivid picture of the time period that this movie was made because factual events are being used.

Godzilla was derived from Gojira as we have been told many times, but at the same time it has many special elements of its own that illustrate American culture, and popular culture. Through the many versions that Godzilla has been changed it has been able to have many interpretations especially through the different roles that Gojira has taken. In some movies we see Gojira destroying the nation of Japan, but in other instances we see the American version showing how Godzilla is a hero. This has a significant importance because this was probably done to help display a positive image form American culture rather than being the enemies. For this reason Gojira was really important for this reason because it helped bridge the gap, and this was just one of the lasting impacts the cultures had on each other.

Through the Pacific Century series we are able to identify different parts of Japanese culture, and see just how exactly Japanese culture evolved. Although at first not everyone was happy about the fact of the U.S. occupying Japan, it had some certain positive characteristics. During the time of their occupation they gave credit to America for the fact that they were able to help them unify Japan, and give them a strong sense of government. America had many intentions of creating positive standards for Japan’s culture whether it was dress, music, or cartoons, but through the two cultures you are able to spot many differences.

Coming from an American point of view there were initially many differences between Japanese culture, and American culture. Americans believed that Japan’s technology was different, and a lot more inferior. On Commodore Perry’s conquest to America he brought to them many different types of tools, and toys which fascinated the Japanese. Along with the tools they also introduced Japanese people to western culture by showing them new clothes, education, and music forms. The Americans also did not approve of the governmental system that Japan was run by, and made them change this as well. The Japanese on the other hand saw American people as barbaric, and did not approve of some of their practices. The Americans were surprised to find out that the Japanese regularly took baths (The Pacific Century). Through the close contact that ensued between both cultures we see how each was able to modernize, and use each other’s ideas. By starting off from modernizing during the time of Perry we see that Japan, and America would have a lot of similarities which would continue for a long time. This would include Japan exchanging anime with America, as well as seemingly all of America’s electronics. Looking at the two cultures we see so many of the aspects that Japan and America share, but if you look more closely you can see some of the differences they possess as well.

Through Gojira, Godzilla, and Them, we are able to see differences between Japanese, and American culture. We see how in Gojira the women such as Emiko are given the scared submissive role, but this is very different from Them, when Joan Weldon is one of the main scientists on the team, and conducts the experiments which may be needed to ultimately save mankind. When you look at Hello Kitty as well you see it as being referred to mainly a cute, furry, fuzzy creature that is irresistible. The emphasis of children is taken into great consideration when it comes to looking at American culture, but this differs when you look at Japan. The hydrogen bomb which was used to kill Gojira was thought to be dangerous, but at the same time the larger picture was what many people were considering, rather than the life of just two people. As the cultures of America, and Japan differed drastically this can explain the paths that they took to become more alike, and exchange cultures. It could explain the paths that they took in order to be modernized as well as aware of other cultures.

Modernity is the idea of discontinuing with the past through a process of social, and cultural change, and most importantly it helps to redefine tradition (Crisis of Modernity). Japan and America were both able to be modernized, by adapting new forms of culture, and seeing ways of life. This can highlight the fact that the Meiji Reform had such significant importance because it was a way for Japan to see how the outside and western world was rather than being close minded, and not seeing all it had to offer. The reason why modernization was so important to these two nations is because it was able to help them fend for themselves, as well as learning new ideas. For instance as Japan entered conflicts with America, they needed to modernize to overcome modernity, an idea which we have been presented with in this class. If they did not modernize then they would be subject to attacks, and other consequences that could have ensued. Modernization was popular to them in this way, and it was also important to the Americans as they tried to have contact with other parts of the world. Looking back at the information I have now I would be able to make revisions on how I look at modernization.

Modernization is able to be integrated into pop culture, but it cannot entirely define one culture, just by itself. The reason that this hit me is because a couple weeks ago, I would have thought that the insights that Japan gained from the Meiji Restoration entirely defined their culture, and that is false. Modernizing your culture serves to add layers to the foundation that has already been established. Gojira was a movie produced by the Japanese, for the Japanese, and it helped to convey meaning, and display Japanese culture. This was the same way how Them gave a picture of American culture. This is very important to know because when a country is modernized, such as Japan was and tends to adopt jazz, watch movies, and watch certain movies, their core ideals are still the same as they always are. The way people think does not change just because of new things that they have experienced it just means that they have experienced closer contact with other groups, and people. Gojira was founded in Japan, which had a thriving movie industry before America came into contact with them, and this movie was essential to Japan. When certain culture has elements that make it popular it becomes popular on a world scale leaving room for the discussion of globalization.

Globalization can be in ways tied to modernization, and ultimately affects the relationship on how Japan and America, are similar or different. Globalization is human societies having close contact, and being shaped through global integration, whether it be politics, culture, or anything (Global Policy). Popular culture is important in making cultures such as Japan, and America have close contact because so much can be exchanged. From an American point of view you are able to see just how much we have comes from Japan. Whether it is the anime, Hello Kitty, and most importantly Gojira many things are taken from Japan to America in the great cultural exchange. Some of America’s popular culture has gone to Japan as well in the acculturation process by Japanese being enthralled by some American socialites, and movies as well. Globalization plays a big factor in all of this because without popular culture mediums such as Gojira, and Them there would be no standard that would be trying to be met.

Culture, and pop culture are so important for so many reasons. They effect globalization as well as, modernization, and everything in between. Without clearly defining one, another one may not be defined. The reason that this comes to be is because culture is the underlying precepts which people have been tought to live by, but at the same time this can mingle with culture. The reason that this crosses in with pop culture is because pop culture is a way that you can at times directly relate to other nations. If you are able to relate to them by the mediums you watch, listen to, or however then they can exchange ideas, and other influences with you allowing them to assimilate them to your culture. At times through assimilating your culture through popular culture this allows you to modernize to keep to the standard which the world is embracing. After you are kept to this standard you are ultimately globalized because everyone is sharing ideas from this point, and afterwards it just becomes a natural process.

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A View on Japanese Customs As Depicted In Films and Figurines. (2018, December 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved November 30, 2021, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-view-on-japanese-customs-as-depicted-in-films-and-figurines/
“A View on Japanese Customs As Depicted In Films and Figurines.” GradesFixer, 11 Dec. 2018, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-view-on-japanese-customs-as-depicted-in-films-and-figurines/
A View on Japanese Customs As Depicted In Films and Figurines. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-view-on-japanese-customs-as-depicted-in-films-and-figurines/> [Accessed 30 Nov. 2021].
A View on Japanese Customs As Depicted In Films and Figurines [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Dec 11 [cited 2021 Nov 30]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-view-on-japanese-customs-as-depicted-in-films-and-figurines/
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