This past week, I got caught up in other things and never go around to returning to Lost in Translation. I was asked if the movie suggested stereotypes, and I would say, “sorta, kinda”.
The massage/prostitute scene (Oh, Mr. Harris, lip my stockings, lip them!) was perhaps over the top, and perhaps is an reflection of one stereotype some American’s have of Japan: Japanese will provide sexual opportunities for important guests. However, it is also true that there are many people and places that provide sex in Japan in ways that make this particular scene tame in comparison. Role-playing prostitution has been popular in Japan, and it isWAY over the top. Also, the interpreter during the Suntory commercial filming may have been a bit to incompetent. While the best interpreters charge $300 an hour, this is not a sum that Suntory could not afford, and there are many who can provide better English than that they showed in the film. But other than that, I think the movie was pretty straight-forward in portraying Japan.
Some Japanese I have talked to have said, “That’s not Japan”. And they are right, it is not Japan. But IT IS the Japan that many foreigners come across when they go for the first time. The Japanese rarely entertain at home, so when business men go to Japan, they are usually treated to the nightlife by their host. That’s why in the film you see: Bob Harris and Charlotte going to clubs and karaoke. The rest of their time is spent in the hotel, since their hosts do not associate with guests outside the business context. Unable to speak Japanese, they are isolated from the rest of society and so spend their time in the Hotel pool or hotel bar. On the other side, they see the typically “oriental” Japan: Bob golfing in the shadow of an aesthetically misty–and hence, appropriately mysterious–Mt. Fuji; Charlotte visits a shrine where a wedding ceremony is being held. So I guess the film does focus on stereotypes, but in a way, its a stereotype created by the Japanese, because this is the Japan–fun nightlife and the mysterious orient–that the Japanese themselves present to overseas guests.
On a side note: Watch how Bill Murray separates his wooden chopsticks at the sushi bar. He doesn’t hold them at the top or middle and break them in the V-shape manner. Rather, he holds it towrd the bottom and separates them in parallel fashion. This is typically Japanese, and shows that Murray has done his share of eating at Japanese establishments. Actually, there was a restaurant in West LA, near UCLA, where my friend was a bartender–I went there to get drinks at significantly reduced prices. At the sushi bar, Bill Murray was a regular customer–Gawd, but I can’t remember the name of the restaurant.
Today, UCLA hosts Cal at the Rose Bowl. The main concerns for the week are the defensive backfield and, as usual, quarterback. Matt Ware, the Loyola Cubbie, sprained his ankle is will not play, breaking a string of 30 consecutive starts since he was a fresheman. Indeed, he is the only Bruin in history to start every game from his freshman year. It is unfortunate that this record will come to an end, but his ankle needs to be solid against the stronger opponents down the road. Of greater concern is his replacement, Keith Short. Will he play like everyone expects him to or will he play short? We will see. Expect Cal to throw his way often. The other problem is the quarterback situation. Drew Olson is improving and maturing week to week making it harder for Matt Moore to return as the starter. HC Kar Dorrell has stated for the record that starters don’t lose their job because of injury–and Matt was the starter at the beginning of the season. However, he and Drew were virtually neck and neck. After Matt’s injury in the first game, Drew has gained valuable game experience, while Matt, anxious to return as starter, is making decisions on the field in his few opportunities that may not please the caosching staff. And he is doing a poor job of masking his displeasure at not being the starter. Anyway, We’ll see what he does today.