Over the weekend, a New Hampshire state representative, Nikolas Levasseur made some ridiculous commentary on Facebook, saying that “Anime is the reason just 2 nukes wasn’t enough.”
Now, of course, for some, to be upset over this comment will be another example of oversensitivity and politically-correct responses to an ill-thought out, idiotic statement. But looking deeper, we can see that this is more than purely foolish rhetoric. Many people think Facebook is private and safe, but anyone who has been to “Failbooking” will recognize that what you say on Facebook may not stay among your close network of 500 friends. Indeed, we forget just how public the internet is. So perhaps Mr. Levasseur was just making an idiotic comment that one might make at a bar with friends, where some of his actual meat-space friends would say, “Nick, come on, that’s not cool.” And perhaps, he would have relented thinking that maybe “jokes” about thousands of people instantly dying are not funny in the least.
Perhaps this statement is also an example of someone simply being uneducated. As any Tom Clancy fan will know, a highly-charged Russian insult is to call someone Nekulturny, meaning “Uncultured.” A boorish, loud person might be prone to say such things. A person without deeper historic, or cultural appreciation for Japan might think it OK to say something like this. Maybe a way to prevent this kind of thinking is education.
Sure, there are things in anime that I find detestable, and I would not advise people to pick up and enjoy those titles. But, there is a huge variety of excellent, deep, moving, refreshing content within the anime genre that deserves to be seen and enjoyed. Most anime that we might find objectionable in the west is created for a subset of a purely Japanese audience, who has a different sense of what it means to enjoy something versus acting out on it. (We Americans seem to act out our violent fantasies, rather than leaving them in the realm of fantasy…just look at the murder/rape rate and compare to Japan.) But, to say anime is a reason a country should have been wiped out, and that a state representative is saying such things, is really inexcusable. If he read up a bit, he might realize, as Takashi Murakami posits, anime and the otaku subculture is really in response to the atomic vaporization of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
So, I humbly submit a short reading list for the state representative, and hope he will begin to do some homework before shooting of his mouth again.
- Dower, John. Embracing Defeat
- Drazen, Patrick. Anime Explosion
- Gravett, Paul. Manga, 60 Years of Japanese Comics
- Hendry, Joy. Understanding Japanese Society
- Ibuse, Masuji. Black Rain
- Kelts, Roland. Japanamerica
- De Bary, Keene, Tsunoda, and Varley. Sources of Japanese Tradition, vols 1-3
- Napier, Susan. Anime: From Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle.
- Schodt, Frederick L. Dreamland Japan
- Schodt, Frederick L. Manga, Manga, Manga
- Sugimoto, Yoshio. An Introduction to Japanese Society