fredag, september 21, 2007

Lost in translation?

Several people have asked me, Tokyo/Japan, is it like in the movie? The answer is yes and no.

First off, as a film LoT is definitely solid work, nice visuals and the charms of Miss Johansson do not hurt either. Recently watched it for the second time, this time after having visited Japan. Which naturally made for a quite different reading.

As a representation of Japan? Not good. But, as a representation of Japan seen from the viewpoint of a fresh-off-the-boat Westerner, it is quite accurate. The crazy J-TV channel switching, the karaoke-scences and the club Air are all right on the money. Bewildering alienation and the situation of being adrift in a very strange country, it is all there.

In my opinion however, you can be allowed this feeling for max 2-3 days, and then you will start understand how things work (using the subway, taxis with automatic doors, the no-tip system etc). Japan is different yes, but not *that* different. Being totally lost after more than one week means only having your own close-minded ineptitude to blame. Harsh but true!

Also, the film overly exoticises Japanese society but understandably so. I am certainly guilty of the same. After all, not very interesting telling people stuff like "you know traffic lights back home? In Japan they are exactly the same". So it follows that one focuses on the odd bits. And indeed there are plenty to go around, particularly on the margins of day-to-day life.