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Friday, September 13, 2013

France Pisses Off Japan

Oh those wacky Frogs. If they aren't rolling over onto their backs for a bellyrub from the Krauts, they are pulling the pony-tails of the Nips. 

I'm being stupid, by the way, by using those terms. They exist, but they are truly not part of my vocabulary.

So... what did France do to piss of Japan this time?

Check it out the cartoon above…

A French cartoon in a newspaper makes fun of the radioactive plight of Fukushima, Japan, implying that the radiation there has caused sumo to become an official Olympic event - complete with the participants having extra limbs.

Yeah... I didn't see it the first few times I looked at it. 

The first thing we should all look it, is the fact that it's not funny - even though it is clearly trying to be funny. An inability to be funny will tell you that for a satirical newspaper, they aren't very good at their job.

Though maybe it loses something in the translation - this is the Google Translate version of what the cartoonish announcer is saying: "Marvelous! Thanks to Fukushima, sumo has became an Olympic discipline".

Nope… not funny in a comedic way at all.

And... I had to tidy up the Google Translate translation, too. 

The second thing you need to know is that this cartoon - drawn as though it was done by a second-year high school student studying math - well, the newspaper it appeared in is called Le Canard Enchaine.

That translates into "The Chained Duck". Quack. This is hardly the New York Times, The Economist or even Model Railroader (good magazine!).

Of course, 'canard' is also French slang for newspaper, referring back to journals published during WWI... in fact... Le Canard Enchaine first began publishing in 1915... and while it does do satire via cartoons et al, it also offers 'investigative' journalism and leaks from within the French Government. Leaks in France? Oui-oui. 

Apparently - and I have to take other media's word for it - the cartoon shows two sumo wrestlers with extra limbs in front of the Fukushima nuclear plant.

I stared at the cartoon many times… and perhaps because it was so poorly done, I was staring at the crappy art rather than the images itself, and so it took me a while before I noticed that one sumo dude has three legs and one has three arms.

You really have to hand it to France.

Of course… this is a satirical newspaper. They do satire. That means nothing in there should be taken seriously. Ever. It's satire.

I'm not defending Le Canard Enchaine… I haven't read it and don't know if its as good as Canada's The Onion or National Lampoon, or Mad Magazine or even Cracked, Crazy, or Not Brand Ecch when they were published.

All are forms of satire, with Not Brand Ecch - published by Marvel Comics in the 1960s - satirizing itself in that comic magazine. Regardless... I will defend one's right to perform satirically.

If the Le Canard Enchaine was a legitimate newspaper, then I would be more inclined to ask "WTF?!" and then smack the beret off the publisher with a loaf of stale bread.

But it's not. It is a satirical newspaper.

Japan - I don't want to tell you your business - but I don't mind - just relax. Complain if you must, but it's satire.

If it's done right, it's funny. If it's done wrong, like this, then the creator just looks stupid and inept.

Realize it for what it is... a stupid little satirical newspaper's attempt at being funny.

Epic Fail.

At work, I talked about this with a few people, and I think we all agreed that it's a stupid piece of work. It's not racist or stereotypical racial profiling - it's just someone's sophomoric attempt at humor. And they aren't good at it. 

Of course, I would also question the Editor who thought this was funny and fire his or her ass. Look, France... I like Jerry Lewis, too... so like you, I know comedy... but this is not comedy. You are no Canada.

Japan... make the complaint - but really, what is France going to do? "Hey - Mssr. Satirical Newspaper... Non! Bad!" Then you draw more attention to the newspaper - which is all any satirist wants. Next thing you'll see is a cartoon showing crybaby Japan being beaten by a rolled up Le Canard Enchaine.

Perhaps, Japan, you could show a cartoon of a large sumo wrestler wiping his ass with a copy of Le Canard Enchaine? Oh the comedy never stops, does it? 

I'm sorry. I regret my oafish behavior. I prefer to stand in uffish thought.

Now... do you know what is regrettable? It's Japan's use of the word regrettable here:

"This cartoon hurts the feelings of those who suffered through the Great East Japan Earthquake," states government spokesman and chief cabinet secretary Suga Yoshihide (surname first), referring to the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that wrecked the Fukushima nuclear plant and triggered the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
"It is inappropriate and gives a wrong impression of the Fukushima contaminated water issue. It is extremely regrettable."

Regrettable? Didn't the Japanese use that word when they apologized for their actions during World War II?

Now... upset, Japan is going to try and extract its pound of flesh (not sure if it should now be a kilogram of flesh) from France.

Suga is complaining to the French embassy in Tokyo - mostly to ensure that similar events do not occur again.

Last year, of course, Japan was also pissed off at France when a television broadcaster used a composite picture that showed Japanese national soccer team goalie Kawashima Eiji (surname first) with four arms and the caption "Fukushima Effect" about a save he made in a game between the two nations. Kawashima was born in Saitama-ken, which is pretty close to Fukushima, but I doubt the cartoonist then was smart enough to know that. I think they got lucky.

Anyhow, the broadcaster subsequently apologized. 

Hmmm... I wonder what it is about Japan that so offends the French? Why do they care so much about what happens in Japan?

Equally as strange is that Japan cares about what is going on in France.

Having said that... the cartoon above IS offensive... and the fact that people think it was worth publishing so a lack of connectivity with the world. It's not racist, however.

Having said THAT, the thing with humor is... that whenever you tell a joke, you always do so at the expense of someone or something... a something that may matter to someone. Someone will always be offended.

Is this cartoon racist? I'm not sure it is. Is it a poor attempt at humor? Yes, most definitely. I don't find it funny at all because it's simply not funny.

Should Japan be upset? Well... fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you.

In May of 2013, France banned the word “racial” and “race” from all relevant articles of the French penal code, or they could be replaced by the word “ethnic.”

Why? Some call it a hollow gesture to quell reports that France is racist... but, it was also reported in March of 2013 by a French government advisory board that racial intolerance was on the rise... that there was a 23% increase in REPORTED racist acts in 2012.

So... who knows? Despite me believing in the right of free speech, and that satire be allowed - especially in a satirical magazine, newspaper or television program - perhaps Japan is NOT over-reacting... and feels the need to do its part in slapping the French across the face with a gloved hand or two (not three, because that's just stupid) to make them realize they have a growing problem.

Granted the French racial problems have more to do with people of Muslim religion than the Japanese... but where does it stop?

Andrew Joseph
The Belgians also did a bit of racist taunting a while back, too: HERE