Can you make sense of the following video?
Unless you speak Japanese, you probably can’t understand its true meaning. However, is it really that hard to figure out what is going on? I would argue that it isn’t. Clearly, this excerpt from Tokyo Love Story shows two people who are falling in love (as shown by sequences in the introduction and the absolutely wondrous 90s theme music).
I found that the excerpts in class (with the help of English subtitles) were extremely interesting. This is at least partially due to the fact that I’ve never watched a Japanese television show before (except for Pokemon, if that even counts). However, I think the main reason is purely because I have never had a good insight into Japanese culture.
I found that by watching the parts to this series that I could better understand the Japanese culture. Now, I know that this is probably an idealized version of what really happens in Tokyo, but I can still gather what the values are of the culture and the overall ways for which it operates. I find it like a piece of history to explain the culture and the time period for which it was made. This can be argued for really any television show really, but its even more interesting purely because of the fact that I’ve never seen it before.
The way television shows are made in general is very interesting in the sense that it caters to the audience in each geographic area. For example, there are certain societal ideas that are geographically specific for which another geographic region of viewers may completely misunderstand. There are probably multiple different interpretations of Tokyo Love Story, and mine is probably much different than of a Japanese person.
Culture in each respective geographic area plays an extremely big role in the way that television programs are made. Due to this, people who watch these programs must be emerged in this culture in order to understand and gain the most pleasure out of watching a specific television program.
Using the Tokyo Love Story example again, someone watching in Japan will have much more pleasure watching the television show than someone who doesn’t speak the language and someone who lives in a completely different culture, such as in Australia. It can be argued that, like me, an Australian/non-Japanese speaking person would enjoy it purely because they’re gaining insight into the culture of Japan. However, overall, the Japanese will gain the most pleasure and gratification from watching it out of anyone else in the world because it is made for them and made to pertain to their society.
The idea of the whole show Tokyo Love Story is pretty much centered around two people who eventually fall in love with each other. This is something that is quite universal among all cultures. So, it can be said that television shows geared to a specific culture can cross-cultures and bring some gratification to others. They understand the basic idea of love, but they don’t have the past experiences in their life in the Japanese culture to fully understand the whole situation of what is occurring and why they do certain things in that culture.
A more basic idea of this whole principle can be exemplified by looking at a show such as Nine Network’s Underbelly: Badness.
I have watched excerpts of this show a few times, and while I don’t think it’s that great of a series, I understand it for the most part. However, there are times when unfamiliar Australian terminology come up and I do not know what is meant. Even details as small as this make a big difference in the amount of pleasure and gratification that is attained by the viewer. Australians who watch the show will definitely understand the show the best out of anyone else, because it is simply aimed to do that.
This effect is probably the same for Australians while watching American television shows. Since I am American, I cannot fully say for certain that this is true. However, I would guess that it is simply because I’m sure there are some terms, culture differences, and accents that are difficult to understand and impede attaining maximum gratification from watching. As we all know, these little misunderstandings does not stop the American shows from being shown in Australia.
Stephen Moynihan, in his article “Australia faithful to US television,” confirms this fact by speaking to some Australian network staff.
“…Channel Nine program manager Len Downs said US shows had not lost their viewer appeal. He said Australia was not following the international trend for US shows to be cut from prime time. Ratings, not where a program was produced, were what mattered. The trend defies a longstanding assumption that US dramas and sitcoms would continue to overshadow local shows.”
American TV shows are not the only ones being exported. Japanese TV dramas are very popular in East Asia. Koichi Iwabuchi’s article, “Discrepant Intimacy: Popular Culture Flows in East Asia,” explains this whole idea very well.
“The most receptive market to Japanese TV drama is Taiwan, in which there are four cable TV channels solely broadcasting Japanese programs.”
Due to this infiltration of Japanese culture into Taiwanese culture, many popular Japanese icons and popular culture have become prevalent in Taiwan. As more people in Taiwan watch these television programs from Japan, the more they feel as part of that culture.
I would say that this is true for anyone watching a television show that originates from another culture. For example, when I watched Underbelly: Badness , I felt like I was assimilating in a way into the Australian culture. By watching this show, I was almost practicing and learning about the culture to become part of it. Due to the fact that the show most resembles the idea of Australian society, those who watch from outside the society are likely to become more versed in the culture and may believe that they’ve become part of the culture.
With the continued expansion of material on the Internet, this is quite easy to do. As you can see in the clip posted at the beginning of the post, a person in a country where Tokyo Love Story was broadcast recorded the show and uploaded it to YouTube themselves. This is something that is done for almost any semi-popular television show. For someone who lives in Australia who wants to see an episode of an American television show, it is much easier than it used to be to watch it. With a quick search of YouTube, it should be extremely easy to find a clip of the show.
The fact that television shows from different cultures are available online is awesome. This makes it even easier for people of different cultures to gain insight into at least the popular culture of others. This is something that truly interests me and Friday’s lecture on the topic has sparked my interest to look further into new and lesser-known television shows from other countries.
- Iwabuchi, Koichi. “Discrepant Intimacy: Popular Culture Flows in East Asia.” Discrepant Intimacy: Popular Culture Flows in East Asia (2005): 19-36. Print.
- Moynihan, Stephen. “Australia Faithful to US Television.” The Age [Melbourne] 6 Jan. 2012: n. pag. The Age. 6 Jan. 2012. Web. 22 Aug. 2012. <http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/01/05/1041566310362.html>.