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Monday, April 10, 2017

Smile - You're On Candid Camera

After living in Japan for three years, I was quite happy to report that the so-called Japanese stereotypes were, for the most part, stereotypes.

Unfortunately, for a stereotype to exist, there has to be evidence to back it up.

I had originally though that the Japanese - per television and movie stereotypes - were these boring, unsmiling people in blue pinstripe suits... everyone had bad haircuts and wore glasses, and god help me, no one had a sense of humor because they were all too busy thinking about ways to make money in some salaryman type job.

Upon my arrival in Japan, while I did find plenty of guys wearing blue pinstripe suits, glasses and bad haircuts, I found the Japanese to generally be quite jovial and quite willing to share a smile and a laugh - especially when I was around, or alcohol. I was also around alcohol quite a lot so there is that.

I had also heard (pre-Japan travels) that all Japanese students were super smart and studious.

That is only partially correct... just like it is in every country. Were they smarter than kids in Canada? Not as a whole. No.

Some were as dumb a student as I was. Some hated studying. Others didn't mind it. But... at least when I was around them, I found them to be quite animated and fun young people... who, after all these years are probably parents of kids who are NOW as old as their parents were when I first met them.

And then I find the above photo online... and it reinforces the dull, serious stereotype that has afflicted Japan for decades.

I believe this is a high school gathering of students. Interestingly enough... no one is wearing a suit, of course, but no one is wearing glasses.

While there are a LOT of bad haircuts/styles in the photo above, I am heartened enough that at least one kid is flipping the peace sign, and one other has some dyed hair - and it's long!... I'm pretty sure that's a guy, too!

Plus... someone is wearing plaid!

But the lack of emotion in the photo sets the sterotype machine in motion.

Do they take a class to learn how to NOT smile in a photo?

Everyone has the exact same straight-mouthed face.

This can't be the norm... I saw evidence to the contrary... though it was a generation ago... 

Andrew Joseph

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