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Discussion Paper Week 2

Discussion Paper Week 2 - outcast or they end up saving...

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Discussion Paper (Ross Avilla) April 12, 2007 Japanese culture has fascinated me for years now. I found the article by Kanagawa, Cross and Markus (2001) particularly captivating, because it made me realize one of the reasons (probably the main reason) why I how I became so captivated by Japanese culture to begin with. A major reoccurring theme in Japanese stories and cinema is the incredible hardships Japanese people must endure if they fail to live up to social expectations —particularly if they cannot find their proper place in life. So often, the protagonist is portrayed as someone inherently better than their peers, naturally outshining everyone in everything they do. While they may be publically revered by their fellow classmates (these stories do often feature teenage leads), the pedestal they are placed on invariably leads to social isolation. Deep down, these characters often want nothing more than to be just like everyone else. Fortunately, they usually either find someone they can be with (usually another bright and talented
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Unformatted text preview: outcast) or they end up saving their poor witless peers from complete destruction… or embarrassment (oftentimes portrayed as the worse fate of all). These types of stories, of course, spoke to the brainy, lonesome and terribly awkward teenager that I once was (not that I’ve made much progress since) and they still fascinate me to no end. I think depictions of outstanding, but exiled teenagers have such an enduring appeal in Japan because they poignantly exemplify the unspoken tension that is so pervasive in Japanese culture. This tension arises out of a fear—a constant neurotic (bordering paranoid) fear that one could be cast aside by their friends and co-workers at any moment—that is just as malignant as it is crucial to the Japanese way of life. Fail to stay in your place, fail to meet expectations or, worse yet, fail to avoid embarrassment, and you could be facing the cold, hard fate of unremitting public ostracism. Now that’s enough to scare any Japanese teenager....
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