February 04, 2016

Don't make a federal case out of it

Yaoi manga is far more prevalent and "mainstream" in Japan than slash-fiction is here in the U.S. and yet (especially male) homosexuality--despite the lack of Victorian taboos--is far less accepted in Japan as a matter of accepted practice (in real life) and statutory law.

Japan is a "Don't ask, don't tell" kind of place. Or rather, you can tell all you want as long as don't expect people to spring into action. So actual social change takes place slowly, but "stuff that doesn't have to be taken seriously right away" gets a lot of latitude.

More latitude than even western liberals would be willing to grant. The opening scene in the anime Denki-Gai (about a manga bookstore) has a officious-looking lady browsing the stacks in the hentai section. It turns out she's from the town council, and is making sure that the NC-17 titles are properly sealed (can't be read in the store).

She's not there to ban anything, only to make sure the rules are being followed. As long as social disorder isn't in the offing, then the sky's practically the limit. Thus "gay marriage" becomes a topic tabloid TV shows in Japan love to discuss precisely because nobody is drawing lines in the sand.

As Justin Sevakis observes,

Modern Japanese society has a lot of red tape and is very slow to change, but people also aren't as in-your-face about their personal beliefs--so the end result is a place where there's simply no provision for anything like gay marriage. But there are also barely any hate crimes.

Japan's far left is about as ideologically threatening as Bernie Sanders, and its far right is basically a tossed salad of rabid historical reenactors hopelessly trying to resurrect the late Meiji period (when the Imperial Navy clobbered the Russians and annexed Korea), obnoxious but mostly harmless.

Alas, the downside is that well-established bureaucracies and social institutions (like those governing agricultural policy) that made sense fifty years ago are still barreling along on pure momentum and the only way to derail them now would be to tear up the tracks.

This makes the whole idea of "coming out" much more difficult, since there's often a lot of guilt involved in what's perceived to be to shirking your own responsibilities as a member of society and having a "normal" family.

But it also means that every blessed disagreement in life doesn't immediately get polarized and politicized in the public square. The First Amendment should include a clause defending the right to like (or dislike) something without turning it into, well, a federal case.

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# posted by Blogger Katherine Woodbury
2/09/2016 8:25 PM   
The lack of politics is precisely why I enjoy yaoi manga so much! Instead of worrying about the political implications of a particular course of action, one gets to watch characters dealing with relationships, personalities, day-to-day challenges, and the impact of their choices based on circumstances and personal integrity. It's the same reason I found the ending of Person of Interest, Season 4 far more palatable than the ending of Person of Interest, Season 3. Although both involve politics, Season 4 is more about different minds interacting than the bandying about of a political philosophy. Control as a woman who wants to perform a particular job without interference is far more interesting than the most strident political diatribe ever delivered.
# posted by Blogger Joe
2/22/2016 11:34 PM   
Thought of this: