American Otaku – Cultural Slummers?

20080902mog00m200013000p_size5After writing about the “4 Gregs,” I got into a conversation about American Otaku culture as “Cultural Slumming.”
There may be something to this. Slumming can be loosely defined as the people of a particular cultural group, usually a higher socio-economic class patronizing an area or establishment that belongs to a different socio-economic class or culture. The incoming group has no context for the lives of the people that they seek to interface with for a short while, and then leave.

A good NY Times article from 1996 discusses this phenomenon in regard to the romanticization of the poor, the AIDS victims, the homeless, and the downtrodden found in those who were raving about the broadway musical, Rent. Solidarity with the poor and sick, is it really authentic when someone runs in, tries to live the life for a day, and then leaves? It’s like the young women who want to be Yamambas for a day in Tokyo, taking on a cultural persona for a day, and then going back to their “ordinary” lives.

Is it a form of escapism, perhaps akin to playing a video game, or indulging in some type of fantasy movie or novel. When the game is over, you go back to whatever you were escaping from.

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