My third novel is concerned with the clash of cultures, east vs west. With the decline of America and Europe, Australia is increasingly turning to Asia. As a result there has been a corresponding increase in Asian immigration and therefore an increase in the popularity of Asian culture. As I write this my TV is tuned to SBS’s Pop Asia which showcases, as the name suggests, pop music from Japan, Korea and China (especially Taiwan). A good example is Korean girl group Miss A, Bad Girl, Good Girl.
The growing influence of Asian pop culture poses an interesting problem for those concerned about the sexualisation of girls because Asian culture is far more tolerant of sexualisation in general, and far more gender and age ambiguous. It might also be fair to say that Western feminism does not have a great deal of influence in Asia.
Elsewhere I have argued that the Australian concern over the sexualisation of girls is extremely parochial and largely seeks to privilege white, middle-class Australian values. It seems that without exception the current cohort of academic critics (Melinda Tankard Reist, Emma Rush, Abigail Bray, Helen Pringle, etc) are white and middle-class. Where is the ethnic representation? Where are the young Asian voices?
I raise this issue because Emma Rush, in her article Sexed up tween advertising shows fashion needs to grow up, mentions the Japanese (and to a certain extent, Asian) phenomenon of the Junior Idol.
Japanese business is, as usual, ahead of the race in this commercial game. There is a whole industry (referred to as “junia aidoru”) that thrives on selling images and DVDs of pornified girls recruited by modelling and “talent” agencies.
Okay, so the first thing I’d like to say is that this group of women need to be careful of racism. The opening sentence suggesting that Japanese business is ‘as usual’ ahead in this commercial game is problematic. ‘As usual’? Ooops, mind the racist stereotype of the degenerate Jap.
The simple and obvious fact is that Asian culture is not Western culture and should not be judged by Western standards. This is a critical point. The West is informed by the Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian traditions. Asia is informed by a fusion of Buddhism and the indigenous traditions of Taoism, Confucianism, Shinto and other native shamanistic traditions. This difference runs quite deep and naturally affects the way each cultural matrix interprets their own and each other’s culture.
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