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 Sam

ETCHI エッチ

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Back in Brisbane, I used to work in a video store (ONLY THE BEST ONE EVER AM I RIGHT GUYS) and, like all other self-respecting audio-visual rental establishments, we had a porn section, from which people occasionally took DVDs and attempted to hide them at the bottom of the pile when they brought them up to the counter like I wouldn’t notice the single Paradise XXX in among the Two And A Half Men when I scanned them all in.

Anyway, when they returned these movies I would have to put them back on the shelf, which allowed me to OK LOOK everyone had a good look at the covers of all our porno DVDs OKAY. The POINT IS. The point is. I went into the video store by Komazawa station today and wandered through the curtain with the big 18+ sign printed on it, as you do, and holy whaaaaaat? It’s so different?

Point one: PUBIC HAIR. All the women featured have it. The Western mind boggles.

Point two: CUTE?!?! Half of the DVD cover models weren’t even making sexy-face. They were making little-girl face. Eww?

Point three: CENSORED?!?!?! Then what is the point of porn??? I hear you ask. Yes indeed, Japanese porn has those annoying pixellated blurry things over all the… important stuff (not boobs or, funnily enough, buttholes, as I was quite suddenly confronted with, in prime position on a COVER). In fact, according to some of my male friends, the first time they saw Western porn they were horrified–horrified–to be able to SEE EVERYTHING. AUGH.

It has become clear to me that there is a completely different concept of sexy in Japan.

If prompted, I would probably say that, based on pure sex appeal, the number one Sexy Lady of our time would be Beyonce. I don’t think many Japanese people would agree with me.

My search history & spam box are going to suffer for this, BUT:

This is the number three result when I search “sexy girl” on Google.com.au:

And this is the number two image result when I Google “sexy Japanese girl”:

I get scroll-down cognitive dissonance with these two. It’s all in the face: when I think ‘sexy’, I think, you know, sexyface. But imagine putting the Japanese girl’s face on a fully-clothed body, and put her in an ad selling, I don’t know, health insurance. Works, right? Now do the same with the white girl.

Yeah.

Continuing: here’s an example of what I think we can all agree is a pretty sexy video clip (don’t make me put ‘Dirrty’, please, you get the idea) [Sorry, couldn’t embed the Beyoncé ‘Video Phone’ video that Sam originally linked to – it’s not allowed in Australia. But I think you get the idea with this one – Ed]:

Compare and contrast that with… Okay, let me give you some context: this is AKB48, the band with 48 members (many of them DEFINITELY NOT 18), and this song was all I heard all fucking summer. Shit is POPULAR, y’all. 18 million YouTube views & primetime TV popular.

And it’s still probably not safe for work. [Sorry, seem to have picked up an advert at the start of this one! – Ed]

Did that give you the heeby-jeebies, too?! I see this & I go ‘ick, stop it!’ Japanese girls see this and go ‘KAWAII!!’.

It appears to me that the Japanese concept of sexual attractiveness is inextricably conflated with the concept of ‘kawaii‘. As in, ‘kawaii’ and ‘sexy’ are the same fucking thing. Most of my male Japanese friends agree that ‘kawaii’ is what you want in a lady. And most of my female friends use the fucking word for everything from Winnie the Pooh to my English-made leather satchel to me (always, god damn it). Which I guess means you can get away with a lot of girls kissing in your music videos if you’re flying it under the kawaii banner. It is fundamental to Japanese pop music, which, coincidentally – OR IS IT – all sucks.

Korean pop music on the other hand, looks like this:

OK, those are guys & obviously it’s apples and oranges but you needed to see that hip-thrust at 0:54 because GOOD LORD

THIS is Girls’ Generation:

Oh yeah, this feels much more familiar. They’re still boy- and girl- bands, they’ve still got crazy dance moves that everyone does together, but they’re hot, not adorable. And don’t get me wrong, Korea can do adorable; it just doesn’t seem to have kawaii built into its national identity, and–I’m gonna say it–their music is better for it. Sorry AKB, but I just don’t think the cutesy I-rub-yuuu thing can compete with that fierce Korean rap break.

Aaand wouldja look at that: I started an entry talking about porn and ended up talking about music. It’s like I’ve spanned my entire spectrum of interest in under 800 words.

2 Responses to ETCHI エッチ

  1. Tim Footman February 2, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Just as John Ruskin was supposedly startled by the sight of his wife’s pubes, because his understanding of the female form came from hairless classical statues (apocryphal, but still a good yarn), so young Japanese must be dumbfounded that the instrument of their cherry-popping doesn’t look like a soft-focus tartan rug.

  2. Everett True February 7, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    (from Facebook)

    Bianca Rosemarie de Valentino
    my friend came back from Japan recently and brough me a paper cup featuring them on it.
    02 February at 09:49 · Like

    Neil Griffin
    it’s an interesting one, producing more questions than answers (for me, at least) – like: is the influence of kawaii (‘be childlike’) there comparable to cool (‘obey yr peers’) here..?
    the AKB48 video is a weird inversion too – like pre-pubescents in older sister’s or even mother’s clothes – seemed almost naively explicit rather than insidiously suggestive..?
    last: the girls generation song is STRONG.

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