Why do you keep on pointing out that the Fire Nation is not Japan? Do you hate Japan?
No, I do not hate Japan.
The reason I keep on pointing that something in ATLA is not Japanese is that, too often for comfort, things get attributed to Japan that are not Japanese. That Japan get’s treated as a default for Asia.
It’s easier to show then to explain. Let’s try it this way:
It will only take a few minutes! Please only use your memory.
- Start by taking a minute or so to make a list of countries in Asia you know. There’s a list examples at the end, but please try by yourself first.*
- Start with Japan. Under the header ‘Japan’ write down (in bullet-points) things you know about their culture, music, recent events, literature, TV, movies, pop-stars, movie-stars, clothing, politicians, history, cities etc. You get the idea. The more the better. You’ve got two minutes.
- Now try to match the number of bullet-points you managed to make for Japan for each of the other countries you wrote down. Please only use your memory, looking it up on the internet defeats the points I am trying to make.
- When you’re done I want you to go through the list you just made and mark which ones are positive things and which ones are negative ones. Ignore neutral ones. (Non-Asia example: Germany: Goethe-good, Nazis-bad).
Please look at the results.
Now, I cannot -and do not- speak for everyone, but there is a very high chance that the list on Japan is by far the longest and that there are quite a few countries that have next to nothing or nothing associated with them.
Our perception of Asia is skewed towards Japan - this is not a value judgment of any kind, but a fact- be it due the popularity of manga and anime, J-pop, history lessons on WWII or news coverage (etc.), and I agree, a lot of cool stuff comes from Japan, but that is not the point. The point is that there are quite a few other countries out there who also have cool stuff and attributing their culture to Japan because Japan is the first country that comes to mind is not okay. China is more than Mao, Foxconn and lead-toys; Korea is more than a dictatorship in the North and Samsung in the South; Thailand has more to offer than beautiful beaches and harsh drug related prison sentences. The list is long.
To put it in a nutshell: The Eiffel Tower is not in Moscow and Italians do not wear kilts. All countries deserve to have their culture recognized as theirs. And this is why I keep on pointing it out.
* In no particular order, nor exhaustive: North Korea, South Korea,Cambodia, Indonesia, China, Taiwan, Japan, Mongolia, Macao, Laos, The Philippines, Nepal, Tibet, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, East Timor.
Hey I'm a big fan of your blog and I have a request.. . I was wondering about the fortunetelling techniques shown in The Fortuneteller, 1:14. Do these techniques have any basis in Chinese history, or are they taken from contemporary practices? If you already answered this, sorry. Thanks!
Aww, thank you, and sure!
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