Sunday, July 18, 2010

The fine Japanese tradition. (素晴らしい日本の伝統です。)

So, since yesterday's post was on the rather more serious end of the spectrum, I thought that I'd come up with some lighter fare for today's theme.

And since I mentioned both Eddie Izzard and Monty Python, I was in the mood for a little comedy.

And since I know where a certain comedy group's routines are to be found with English subtitles, we all win!

Oh yes, remember that mastery of the internet I mentioned? Confirmed and with a lengthy bibliography.

...I don't know what it says about me that my boastfulness comes out in research terminology.


I'm fairly sure that I have spoken about the ラーメンズ (Ramenz) before, if only to demonstrate their hi-larious interpretation of the common Japanese conception of Americans.

...I doubt that anyone will actually care enough to click that link and look at the previous entry, so for your convenience, I'll simply post the video again.

Also because I find it, as mentioned, hi-larious.

Americans, as you know, carry firearms with them at all times. We also love to shout obscenities, even in academic settings.

And if you don't have a flag on your head, how dare you call yourself an American? That's not just a Ramenz concept, either. Look:

We even do it to ourselves.

...Well, it wouldn't be so funny if it didn't have some basis in truth.

But this is the series that I really wanted to talk about today.

(Look, subtitles! Huzzah!)

(Yes, so the word they translate as "tradition" is different than the one I use, but I plead difference in translation philosophy and thus we move on.)

Indeed; not only do the Ramenz make fun of other, distant cultures, they very much enjoy poking fun at their own as well.

But, and this is the important part, they do it partially from the view of Western types.

This, I think, is pretty cool. They've seen all of that exoticization, "tradition" nonsense we tend to bandy about when speaking of Eastern Asia in general, and have run with it. Far, fast, and hilarious.

... I really shouldn't mix metaphors.

But I suppose that, in order to realize how funny this is, you must also realize how very exaggerated it is. I have a very high opinion of you, my readers, and have every confidence that you realize that no one takes themselves or their chopsticks this seriously, even in Japan.

And certainly, if you're spending that much time playing around with your eating utensils, it doesn't speak very well of the food and ambiance at your chosen dining location.

I suppose, really, this is half poking fun at the sometimes stiff and silly qualities in Japanese traditions (which are often, in fact, invented, as so many "traditions" are) and also at those outsiders who love to parade Japan around as so full of "ritual" and "tradition" the like of which is unheard of in the West.

And really, the fact of the matter? Japan is simply different from what most non-Japanese are used to. Not so much so as to be alien, and not in such a way as to be "superior." Just different, and different ways of living always seem strange at first.

...Also, they make great fodder for comedy.

(I really did mean for this to be a light-hearted post, you know.)

Remember, guys. Comedy. Please don't eat the salt. Also, feel free to be bold and have a nice solo dinner, though I suppose that's sort of uncomfortable for people everywhere... unfortunately enough.

(Translating 義理と人情 [giri to ninjou, duty/honor and humanity/kindness, the two conflicting forces in most of romantic Tokugawa literature] as "manners and obligation"...hmmm.)

Ok, ok, one more, and then we're done for the day.

(I apologize for the lack of subtitles on this one, but... well, apparently people are only willing to sit down, interpret and code so much.)

As you can see from the handy ending bit, there are plenty more of these available, so simply take a cruise around Youtube for more Ramenz goodness.

I myself prefer their school-room sketches, but what are you going to do.

This is Edo, signing off and wishing that moving from one country to another wasn't so difficult.

PS- Goodness gracious me, did I ever say "tradition" a lot in this post. This is what happens when you go to a liberal arts college, guys.

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