Monday, March 01, 2004

Lost In Translation... the missing post

The post I am working on about the Oscars brought me back to something I thought I had written before, but it turns out it was still a 'draft' and hadn't been finished or published yet... so here is the original, with incomplete thoughts, which I provide as an introduction to my next rant.

A self-proclaimed anti-racism group in the US have declared themselves to be against the film 'Lost in Translation', which it claims is guilty of a stereotypical portrayal of the Japanese... so they are orchestrating a smear campaign against the film to reduce its chances of winning an Oscar.

"The Asian-American community is abuzz with concerns that the movie's critical acclaim legitimises a film that mocks the Japanese people".

Spokesman Tom Roman told Guardian Unlimited that the campaign may have influenced voting at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards last week, where Lost in Translation star Bill Murray - hot favourite to win the best actor award - was defeated by Johnny Depp, who played Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean. The outcome confounded many critics and industry insiders, but worse could be in store for the makers of Lost in Translation. Because the guild's members make up 22% of academy voters, the SAG awards are seen by many as a good indication of the way in which voting will go on Oscar night.

It seems like people in this country are most happy when they are making others unhappy.

As usual lately, the irony is off the charts... I've noticed a steady trend in this country over the past couple of decades: critical thinking skills seem to be on the decline. No part of the movie Lost In Translation, not the dialogue or the mise en scène, or the representations of the Japanese people, or did anyone bother to think about the fucking title of the movie?, served to belittle the Japanese... it seemed to me that the film used the cultural divide between westerners and the Japanese as a symbol of the divide that was growing within the lead characters... the internal struggle with comprehension and understanding and connecting with whatever is important in their lives was mirrored by their external interactions with Japan and its people: interactions where they tried with varying success to bridge the gap and make some real connection, often failing because they didn't speak their own language (in a 'language of the heart' sense) well enough to truly understand what they wanted and where they wanted to be.

From my point of view, "The Last Samurai" is more disrespectful of Japanese people than "Lost In Translation" is, and I wish I could be surprised that people fail to think, fail to absorb the message in this film or any other, instead just categorizing ideas according to whether they are aligned with or opposed to the viewers prejudices, a process that they mistakenly call "thinking".