July 25, 2006

Tora Tora Tora

First off, let me apologize if any of your kids have been affected by that Shimajiro the Tiger toilet training video I posted last week. We have banned it in our house, starting today.

Both the animated tiger and the real live Japanese kid at the end seem about ready to pop a hemorrhoid when they're sitting on the toilet, and after a few days of celebratory Shimajiro-watching, the kid started getting all dramatic in her poo-ing, too. She was literally learning from and mimicking the behaviors and reactions she saw on television.

As an armchair cultural studies follower, it was amazing, but as a parent, it was chilling. And as a longtime Japan-watcher, it was all too depressing. Ridiculous over-acting is not just a problem of Japanese TV, it's an intrinsic element of the Japanese cultural identity, the flipside of the supposed Inscrutable Asian Reserve. It's entirely artificial, and here this stupid video was, instilling it at the earliest stages of a child's life.

The only worse scene I can think of was when I was a missionary there, back in the day: we were at a playground with some friends, and there was a mother pushing her 4-yo or so daughter towards a small group of same-aged boys. The girl was in a dress and was was holding a tray of little juice cups, and the boys were in shorts and baseball jerseys and caps. Here was this mom, training her daughter to wait on her peers on the playground.

And then there was that time when we were getting off the train, and this high school girl, upon seeing two 19-yo American guys, actually put her hand to her forehead, swooned, and stage-fainted carefully onto the sidewalk in front of us. And one time--

The moral here is, this stuff sticks, people, so watch out.

Previously: Japanese Toilet Training Animation-palooza [fwiw, the other five videos caused no discernible problems.]

3 Comments

You were a missionary? I don't know if I can read this blog anymore.

[what's the matter, are you a fundamentalist? ;) -ed.]

D'uh, who else has time for full immersion Japanese BUT a LDS missionary?

[now I'm wondering if us Mormons are as naive as people think; I just figured it was kind of obvious. -ed.]

Actually my favorite pastime in my freshman year of college was sexually harassing (you really can't call it anything but that) this Mormon sister that had the guts to pass through the art department. The funniest thing is that when I talk to later missionaries and mentioned her they'd all say "Oh yeah, Sister Farmer" with sheepish, longing grins.

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