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Subject: Curutural Diffrance. rss

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Asili Eiliaz
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OK, so I'm watching this Japanese show... and there's this scene at the beginning of one of the episodes... now I'm no member of PETA and have no problem with scenes like the bull-slaughter in Apocalypse Now and various other animal death scenes in movies and TV, but this scene was disturbing...

It was a scene of a little girl beating a bird with a stick and yelling at it for stealing her fried tofu. Very off-putting and weird. Not like a cartoonized scene either, although the show itself is fantasy. The little girl wasn't a sympathetic character, and I applaud any show that accurately showcases the viciousness of little girls, but still.. a BIRD? There's just something particularly helpless about the image of a bird that can't escape its tormentor. I dunno, it struck me as something that would have been way beyond the pale for American entertainment even in its tougher days.

And yet, I can think of instances in American material, even during the Hayes code, where violent images got presented in such a simplistic way that they are quite shocking even though the content is not shocking in and of itself. This usually things that happen to humans, though. I am thinking of the 1940s era stuff, such as the fall from a power pole in 1941's "Manpower." (possibly pre-dates Hayes code? I don't think so but maybe)

The opening credits of the Akira Kurosawa movie "Stray Dog," a cop movie, are superimposed on the image of a panting dog which is laying on the ground. Curiously the American release version of the movie omitted the credits imagery on the grounds that Americans would presuppose the dog to be injured!

Where does this stuff come from? This particularity of shocking imagery? All of these cultures utilize livestock and hunting, so the image of animal slaughter is not entirely unfamiliar to any of them. It's all weird.

The show in question, by the way, was "Spider-Man."
 
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Boaty McBoatface
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In the east we do seem to have now developed a more sanitised view of the world. We eat meat but we don't know what goes into producing it. Japanese society seems to still be capable of admiting there is viciouness in the world (though it also seems as if they do enjoy it more, if their game showes are anything to go by). By teh saem token much of what we find acceptable they find beyond the plae.
 
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Spacejack wrote:
OK, so I'm watching this Japanese show... and there's this scene at the beginning of one of the episodes... now I'm no member of PETA and have no problem with scenes like the bull-slaughter in Apocalypse Now and various other animal death scenes in movies and TV, but this scene was disturbing...

It was a scene of a little girl beating a bird with a stick and yelling at it for stealing her fried tofu. Very off-putting and weird. Not like a cartoonized scene either, although the show itself is fantasy. The little girl wasn't a sympathetic character, and I applaud any show that accurately showcases the viciousness of little girls, but still.. a BIRD? There's just something particularly helpless about the image of a bird that can't escape its tormentor. I dunno, it struck me as something that would have been way beyond the pale for American entertainment even in its tougher days.

And yet, I can think of instances in American material, even during the Hayes code, where violent images got presented in such a simplistic way that they are quite shocking even though the content is not shocking in and of itself. This usually things that happen to humans, though. I am thinking of the 1940s era stuff, such as the fall from a power pole in 1941's "Manpower." (possibly pre-dates Hayes code? I don't think so but maybe)

The opening credits of the Akira Kurosawa movie "Stray Dog," a cop movie, are superimposed on the image of a panting dog which is laying on the ground. Curiously the American release version of the movie omitted the credits imagery on the grounds that Americans would presuppose the dog to be injured!

Where does this stuff come from? This particularity of shocking imagery? All of these cultures utilize livestock and hunting, so the image of animal slaughter is not entirely unfamiliar to any of them. It's all weird.

The show in question, by the way, was "Spider-Man."


For one thing you have to account for the entertainment medium and want level of censorship it is subject to. I don't know about Japanese television but we definitely have limitations on what hits the airwaves. That said, the views and interests of an organization or two should not be taken to represent the whole of a nation. If you look to other formats, like physical releases never meant to air or even just online-only video, you can easily find scenes that match that level of viciousness and many, many more that exceed it.


slatersteven wrote:
In the east we do seem to have now developed a more sanitised view of the world. We eat meat but we don't know what goes into producing it. Japanese society seems to still be capable of admiting there is viciouness in the world (though it also seems as if they do enjoy it more, if their game showes are anything to go by). By teh saem token much of what we find acceptable they find beyond the plae.


Humans everywhere in all time periods have enjoyed viciousness. Not every individual, obviously, but you never really have to look too far. Especially if it's against one of those lowly non-human animals. If it's ugly it may not even get sympathy from the people that aren't into viciousness.
 
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Asili Eiliaz
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The Message wrote:
Spacejack wrote:
OK, so I'm watching this Japanese show... and there's this scene at the beginning of one of the episodes... now I'm no member of PETA and have no problem with scenes like the bull-slaughter in Apocalypse Now and various other animal death scenes in movies and TV, but this scene was disturbing...

It was a scene of a little girl beating a bird with a stick and yelling at it for stealing her fried tofu. Very off-putting and weird. Not like a cartoonized scene either, although the show itself is fantasy. The little girl wasn't a sympathetic character, and I applaud any show that accurately showcases the viciousness of little girls, but still.. a BIRD? There's just something particularly helpless about the image of a bird that can't escape its tormentor. I dunno, it struck me as something that would have been way beyond the pale for American entertainment even in its tougher days.

And yet, I can think of instances in American material, even during the Hayes code, where violent images got presented in such a simplistic way that they are quite shocking even though the content is not shocking in and of itself. This usually things that happen to humans, though. I am thinking of the 1940s era stuff, such as the fall from a power pole in 1941's "Manpower." (possibly pre-dates Hayes code? I don't think so but maybe)

The opening credits of the Akira Kurosawa movie "Stray Dog," a cop movie, are superimposed on the image of a panting dog which is laying on the ground. Curiously the American release version of the movie omitted the credits imagery on the grounds that Americans would presuppose the dog to be injured!

Where does this stuff come from? This particularity of shocking imagery? All of these cultures utilize livestock and hunting, so the image of animal slaughter is not entirely unfamiliar to any of them. It's all weird.

The show in question, by the way, was "Spider-Man."


For one thing you have to account for the entertainment medium and want level of censorship it is subject to. I don't know about Japanese television but we definitely have limitations on what hits the airwaves. That said, the views and interests of an organization or two should not be taken to represent the whole of a nation. If you look to other formats, like physical releases never meant to air or even just online-only video, you can easily find scenes that match that level of viciousness and many, many more that exceed it.



Oh, yeah. No question about that. I wasn't saying one culture is more vicious than the other--rather I am interested in the bizarre particulars of why one thing or another, presuming equal viciousness for the moment, produce different reactions. I'm not sure where "the views and interests of an organization or two" fit into the picture--I was talking from a point that started with MY OWN reaction to the bird scene. This was a scene from children's television in the 1970s. I'm not comparing it to "I Spit on Your Grave," because it WASN'T there for shock value, except in the most minimal sense. I had an inappropriate reaction to the material because of my own cultural distance.

But it's the particulars--why did a bird, in particular, seem (on a character level) to indicate such viciousness? In the west, we usually invoke a "pet" image when trying to indicate that a child is torturing an animal, because that's the way we perceive it most sharply on an emotional level. If the emotional impact is to be blunted in some way, the choice will usually be a cow or some other livestock which (western) humans think of as "dumb" or sufficiently non-anthropomorphic but still mammal. Or, sometimes based on setting, it might be a lizard (in actual cowboy type western movies). But it would never be a bird. As a westerner, I lacked the tools to casually interpret the level of emotional involvement expected of me as a viewer in the scene... I was left feeling nonplussed and disturbed by a scene which I think was intended to present a much lower level of discomfort.

But it's no problem finding similar viciousness in western material. I can remember in particular a bus safety film from elementary school (it was quite old) that left scars in my brain that I still have to comb around... it's the particulars that interest me. Where do they start, how do they grow, etc. (This is kind of why I'm watching Spider-Man in the first place)

edit: It occurs to me that there IS one circumstance where a bird would be used in such a manner in the US: to indicate the derangement of a serial killer. This would be presented, though, using corpses of birds, not actual footage of hitting or torturing a bird.
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Spacejack wrote:
The Message wrote:
Spacejack wrote:
OK, so I'm watching this Japanese show... and there's this scene at the beginning of one of the episodes... now I'm no member of PETA and have no problem with scenes like the bull-slaughter in Apocalypse Now and various other animal death scenes in movies and TV, but this scene was disturbing...

It was a scene of a little girl beating a bird with a stick and yelling at it for stealing her fried tofu. Very off-putting and weird. Not like a cartoonized scene either, although the show itself is fantasy. The little girl wasn't a sympathetic character, and I applaud any show that accurately showcases the viciousness of little girls, but still.. a BIRD? There's just something particularly helpless about the image of a bird that can't escape its tormentor. I dunno, it struck me as something that would have been way beyond the pale for American entertainment even in its tougher days.

And yet, I can think of instances in American material, even during the Hayes code, where violent images got presented in such a simplistic way that they are quite shocking even though the content is not shocking in and of itself. This usually things that happen to humans, though. I am thinking of the 1940s era stuff, such as the fall from a power pole in 1941's "Manpower." (possibly pre-dates Hayes code? I don't think so but maybe)

The opening credits of the Akira Kurosawa movie "Stray Dog," a cop movie, are superimposed on the image of a panting dog which is laying on the ground. Curiously the American release version of the movie omitted the credits imagery on the grounds that Americans would presuppose the dog to be injured!

Where does this stuff come from? This particularity of shocking imagery? All of these cultures utilize livestock and hunting, so the image of animal slaughter is not entirely unfamiliar to any of them. It's all weird.

The show in question, by the way, was "Spider-Man."


For one thing you have to account for the entertainment medium and want level of censorship it is subject to. I don't know about Japanese television but we definitely have limitations on what hits the airwaves. That said, the views and interests of an organization or two should not be taken to represent the whole of a nation. If you look to other formats, like physical releases never meant to air or even just online-only video, you can easily find scenes that match that level of viciousness and many, many more that exceed it.



Oh, yeah. No question about that. I wasn't saying one culture is more vicious than the other--rather I am interested in the bizarre particulars of why one thing or another, presuming equal viciousness for the moment, produce different reactions. I'm not sure where "the views and interests of an organization or two" fit into the picture--I was talking from a point that started with MY OWN reaction to the bird scene. This was a scene from children's television in the 1970s. I'm not comparing it to "I Spit on Your Grave," because it WASN'T there for shock value, except in the most minimal sense. I had an inappropriate reaction to the material because of my own cultural distance.

But it's the particulars--why did a bird, in particular, seem (on a character level) to indicate such viciousness? In the west, we usually invoke a "pet" image when trying to indicate that a child is torturing an animal, because that's the way we perceive it most sharply on an emotional level. If the emotional impact is to be blunted in some way, the choice will usually be a cow or some other livestock which (western) humans think of as "dumb" or sufficiently non-anthropomorphic but still mammal. Or, sometimes based on setting, it might be a lizard (in actual cowboy type western movies). But it would never be a bird. As a westerner, I lacked the tools to casually interpret the level of emotional involvement expected of me as a viewer in the scene... I was left feeling nonplussed and disturbed by a scene which I think was intended to present a much lower level of discomfort.

But it's no problem finding similar viciousness in western material. I can remember in particular a bus safety film from elementary school (it was quite old) that left scars in my brain that I still have to comb around... it's the particulars that interest me. Where do they start, how do they grow, etc. (This is kind of why I'm watching Spider-Man in the first place)

edit: It occurs to me that there IS one circumstance where a bird would be used in such a manner in the US: to indicate the derangement of a serial killer. This would be presented, though, using corpses of birds, not actual footage of hitting or torturing a bird.


To be honest, either this sort of thing concerns the personal level rather than the cultural or I'm way out of touch with my culture. I haven't put nearly as much thought into this and prior to this thread I probably wouldn't have registered a different reaction depending on the animal, nor would I have thought that the animal chosen was intended to instill a particular response. Have you considered that they just pushed one of your inherent buttons rather than one of your culturally instilled ones?
 
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slatersteven wrote:
In the east we do seem to have now developed a more sanitised view of the world. We eat meat but we don't know what goes into producing it. Japanese society seems to still be capable of admiting there is viciouness in the world
There is truth to this. In a Western world where people happily subsist upon Grade-E meat, we still harbor a very strong reaction when we see images of what we deem animal abuse. Americans and Britons especially are pet-loving cultures with fairly strict laws barring animal abuse that would be laughed at in other (poorer) parts of the world. We would call it "enlightened," if it weren't for the whole hamburger/McNugget culture thing.

 
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Asili Eiliaz
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The Message wrote:

To be honest, either this sort of thing concerns the personal level rather than the cultural or I'm way out of touch with my culture. I haven't put nearly as much thought into this and prior to this thread I probably wouldn't have registered a different reaction depending on the animal, nor would I have thought that the animal chosen was intended to instill a particular response. Have you considered that they just pushed one of your inherent buttons rather than one of your culturally instilled ones?


It's certainly possible, but I think there's probably a reason the trope is called "Kicking the Dog" over at TVtropes and not "Beating the Bird." In western entertainments we usually reserve animal abuse for making a particularly strong point, whether indicating extreme psychosis in a character or to provide a strong emotional parallel (such as in Apocalypse Now). Needless to say, such instances are -usually- faked, especially in this day and age. There are of course exceptions (Apocalypse, Walkabout, etc). We allow comedic abuses of cats, but of course they are faked and are primarily audio-only (the classic throw-an-object-offscreen-and-hit-a-cat). There are other details, but it seemed... I dunno... curiously... realistic? Like, maybe not coming from any kind of iconicized perspective at all, but just literal--but in an environment which is otherwise almost entirely iconic? It seemed very practical in intent, but there was some kind of clash there.

It might have been me, as you suggest, or it might have been a more self-contained thing with the show, but I do not think western entertainment would have played this scene the same way--I think the animal would have been a dog or cat, maybe a rabbit, the hitting would not have been shown on-camera, it would be briefer, and the motivation of the character would have been different (would not have had the revenge element). Given a similar level of children's entertainment, that is. An R-Rated serial killer movie might handle it differently, but this is a kids' show with a giant robot in it.

Did I mention that this was a real bird in the scene? I guess that's kind of important.

The scene was not there for shock value (as in "OMG NOT A BIRD!"), but merely to establish the childish assholery of a young bully. I do NOT think that the animal was chosen in particular to induce a particular response, certainly not the one I had. It does seem meant to surprise on a more mechanical level in that it is the teaser for the episode, and goes to an abrupt title card during the bird-bashing.

I should probably just link to the video:
http://marvel.com/videos/watch/966/japanese_spiderman_episod...

The scene starts around 2:20.

This is just one aspect of the overall differing etymology of images that exists across cultures... and yes, that extends even to the individual or the "culture of one," although the value of mapping down to that level seems minimal. It's just kind of a point of fascination for me, I guess.
 
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