Japanese-bashing movie karate-chops Americans

ROGER SIMON

August 01, 1993|By ROGER SIMON

The North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a complex but vital . . .zzzzzzzzz.

Whoops. Sorry. Dozed off.

Actually, I don't know anything about NAFTA.

I think it may have something to do with Canadians and Mexicans coming here to live in our houses, but I'm not going to worry about it until it actually happens.

So instead of learning all about NAFTA today -- let's go to a movie!

The first trick in going to a movie during working hours is getting out of the office.

You can't just say to your boss: "Hey, I'm going to a movie!"

Because then he might say: "Hey, take me with you!"

So what I said was: "Hey, I'm going to go do some more research on NAFTA."

To which my boss said: "Zzzzzzzz."

I decided to go see "Rising Sun" because it has social significance, great controversy and considerable nudity.

I was not planning on seeing it at all because some people have accused it of Japan bashing.

And a few weeks ago, I got a fax from the Japanese American Citizens League complaining about it.

"There are no likable Asian main characters," League Acting National Director Carole Hayashino said. "The Japanese are one dimensional evil gangsters or businessmen intent on taking over the U.S. by nefarious means."

And so I figured I would not patronize a movie such as this.

But then Hayashino went on: "The Japanese men are portrayed as enjoying perverse sexual practices, particularly with blonde American women."

So I had to go to find out if this was actually true. Investigative journalism might be out of fashion with some, but not with me.

In fact, I was even thinking of asking the movie's producers for a videocassette so I could watch the movie really carefully, stop it as certain points, replay it and use slow motion to make sure I did not miss a second of the perverse sexual practices with blonde American women.

I went to the movie on Friday, which was opening day and there was a long line.

"So what if it is Japan bashing?" the guy in front of me said to his girlfriend. "Maybe it's our way of getting back for Pearl Harbor."

"Wasn't Hiroshima our way of getting back for Pearl Harbor?" she said.

"Good point," he said.

During the movie I took notes. I drew a line down the middle of my notebook.

On one side I wrote down the ways in which Americans were depicted. On the other side I wrote down the ways in which Japanese people were depicted.

The movie, which is a murder mystery, opens with a complex business negotiation. The Japanese businessmen were depicted as crafty, cunning, wily and arrogant.

The American businessmen were depicted as slow, dim-witted, dense and gullible.

As the movie developed, the Japanese were depicted as efficient, focused and ruthless.

The Americans were depicted as bumbling, stumbling and ruthless.

Later on, the Japanese businessmen were portrayed as rich bribe-givers who are racist.

The Americans were portrayed are poor bribe-takers who are racist.

The Japanese women in the movie were portrayed as subservient.

The American women in the movie were portrayed as stupid sluts.

After the movie was over, I reviewed my list. And I wondered:

Just who is getting bashed here? Japan or America?

There is one woman in the movie who is not subservient nor stupid nor a slut. She is forceful and brilliant and she is half-Japanese and half-American.

And how can you get more fair than that?

[I also could find only one "perverse sexual practice" in the movie. And, to be honest, I didn't think it was very perverse. I thought it was dumb, dangerous and painful, but what else is sex about?]

There is one last point I can't write about without revealing the ending of the movie, so cover up the next paragraph with your finger if you don't want to know it.

OK? Finger in place? Here it is: The murderer is not Japanese, but an American yuppie.

Why did the American yuppie commit the murder?

I have no idea.

I find yuppies inscrutable.

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