Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

Lost in Translation Again.

a few weeks back, people might remember me writing about the film lost in translation, which stared bill murray and scarlett johannson, and has recently received a bunch of award nominations. to briefly recap, i enjoyed it, but i couldn't help feeling that running through the film was an american voice, lamenting that the world (or in this case tokyo) wasn't like home. i didn't think this was the intent of coppola when she made the film, but rather that it was a way in which the film could be seen. i wasn't quite sure which way i swung on it back then--maybe the film, even unintentionally, was racist, and then again, probably not. after all, when you go to a different culture/country, there is some loss of identity, of, as someone said, losing yourself.

(actually, that was catherynne valente, whose book the labyrinth is coming out this year from prime.)

so it was some interest that i read this article, which talked about lost in translation being a racist film. here's a quote: "But it's the way Japanese characters are represented that gives the game away. There is no scene where the Japanese are afforded a shred of dignity. The viewer is sledgehammered into laughing at these small, yellow people and their funny ways, desperately aping the Western lifestyle without knowledge of its real meaning. It is telling that the longest vocal contribution any Japanese character makes is at a karaoke party, singing a few lines of the Sex Pistols' God Save the Queen."

(actually, this article was sent to me by deb biancotti, who is a fine writer of short fiction, and who i recommended the film too. she liked it, but wondered what japanese people thought of it.)

i've still not decided on what i think. probably won't, to be honest. i liked the film and i don't really think it was intentionally racist. but the link is interesting as it is written from a half japanese, half american fellow, and because there is a poll down the side that has been voted on by over three and a half thousand people, and which shows an even spread in the four choices, without one 'big' winner.

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