Sunday, July 11, 2010

Won't Miss #200 - lack of cultural sensitivity

The flip-side of the previous post about a lack of political correctness is that there is also a lack of cultural sensitivity in Japan. The same attributes which stop Japanese people from overreacting and applying hysterical political correctness to certain words or issues fuels their lack of understanding about what can be seen as or is an offensive portrayal of people from other cultures. Stereotypical views of foreign people that reflect ridiculous accents, big noses, hairy faces, bushy Afros, and thick lips can be seen in costumes sold in Japan, product packaging designs, and advertising. The grossly stereotyped versions of foreigners in Japan which I see in the present day are the equivalent of the buck-toothed, bespectacled, yellow-skinned cartoons of the Japanese from around the time of World War II. We are sensitive to showing them in such an offensive manner, but they are clueless about how offensive their portrayals of us are. Attempts to draw the attention of persons in authority have met with defensive reactions which are the equivalent of, 'these images aren't for foreign people to see, but are for we Japanese.'

I won't miss this lack of sensitivity about the portrayal of other people and cultures.