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The Decline of Japan Through The Simpsons
The hipster cries, "Japanese culture was so 1980!"
I noticed something peculiar when walking around Busan.
There’s not that much of The Simpsons in Korea.
Maybe a few cardboard stands and some keychains in a Korean Daiso. But their image is the same as a Japanese advertisement for the 1991 arcade game by Konami.
A holy family, all smiling together.
What makes this variant of the Japanese Simpsons so special? Just look at them. They don’t even look American.
A “peace sign” or “the V sign” is a unique symbol of post-war Japan. I can imagine a Japanese crying, "Please! Don't nuke us! We are not that bad!"
Koreans have their symbolism which is exclusive to their culture. Such as the “finger heart” or “with two hands, to make a large heart, by raising and curving both arms above the head.” This Korean symbolism is incompatible with the Japanese, who proudly took the V sign during post-World War II. Did the Koreans ever use the V sign?
As a reminder of their hostility, Korean President Moon Jae-in openly said in September 2017 in front of US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, "The United States is our ally, but Japan is not our ally."
This 1991 Simpsons advertisement would soon fade away into obscurity. Because The Simpsons ultimately changed their own opinions about Japan, as they too would proclaim that they are not their ally.
No longer does The Simpsons mean anything to Japan.
But now, to Korea.
Consider this 2010 pop article about The Simpsons. A wonderful “intro” about how the show is animated. Of course, any Korean would find this offensive. Animator Nelson Shin thought it damaged the Korean character. This was the final straw.
Rewind a bit, a decade earlier, The Simpsons in 1999 had an episode titled, “Thirty Minutes over Tokyo.” To America, it was all about the playful fascination of Japan. Back then, you could get away with some decent race realist jokes and mockery. The episode didn’t go too well in Japan. As noted,
Following the tenth season's home video release, "Thirty Minutes over Tokyo" received mixed reviews from critics. Because of a scene in which the Emperor of Japan is thrown into a trunk filled with sumo thongs, the episode has never aired in Japan, as the scene was considered disrespectful. Likewise, the episode is unavailable for streaming on Disney+ in Japan.1
The episode is an arrogant display of cliches and stereotypes projected by the Boomer and Gen-X generation “what Japan is” to the American eye. The model minority of Asians back in the 1990s was the Japanese. Koreans were associated with the no-good and evil empire that is the DPRK. And the Chinese? Likely they ate cats and yelled at minorities. Nonetheless, Japan is still celebrated as that “wacky” and “cool” civilization that is bound to do more in a postmodernist future.
That is if you consider that Japan can only offer Pokémon, Hello Kitty, Godzilla, Robots, anime, and bad English as this future commodity.
Meanwhile, as of January 24, 2022, “all foreign visitors are banned from entering Japan, including business people and students”2 because of “the pandemic.” Pandemic? Or that Japan never liked foreigners to begin with?
Coming back to Korea, we see that their culture and economy has surpassed their fads of anime and Japanese video game. The Japan fad died when Korea eclipsed their success.
Korea didn’t like the Japan episode either,
This episode was also originally banned in South Korea due to its policy of restricting Japanese culture on television at the time, following Japan's past colonization of Korea. The ban for the episode in South Korea was lifted sometime before 2007 when it was available to Koreans for the first time on the Season 10 DVD boxset. However, the episode remains banned in Japan.3
Moon Jae-In means it when he says “Japan is not our ally.”
So how did The Simpsons react to the Korean drama in 2019? Twenty years later from their funny Tokyo episode? And almost a decade later from admitted, “Yeah, Koreans slave away animating our episodes.”
They made a Seoul episode.
This time, the family went on a trip to Korea, and they had to make sure to say nice and sensitive things about Korean people. The jokes are not racial and condescending, but acknowledge how “cool” and “interesting” a “multicultural” society is.
"Korea is special," the neoliberal state proclaims. But is this a farce to hide the fact that Korea’s success has invaded liberal hegemony?
Just look at the time-lapse from 1999 to 2019.
In 1999 when they went to Japan:
"Wow! The future is strange and cool!"
And after the blunder in 2010, and towards the end of 2019:
“This is also a cool society we forgot to mention years ago. I know we invested all that time in Japan, but this time, we have to give a voice to a new, different voice from our assumptions!”
Could this be forced worship? Absolutely.
I’m pretty sure every major network has been forced in the last decade to do a mandatory “Korean episode.”
Is this Zombie Simpsons at its neoliberal peak?
If you are to treat Korea with respect, they also demand that the liberal power structure push Japan aside. That means letting go of all that interesting “cyberpunk” culture and fascination the Gen-X generation was obsessed with. No more anime-realism. If there is going to be one Eurasian Futurism, it must be Korean Eurasian Futurism.
This is a society without the Japanese. The Simpsons have to acknowledge that Japanese society is in decline. There is a new kid in town who deserves all the popularity.
I ask, where is the Korean advertisement of The Simpsons? Where is the family showing finger hearts? Perhaps, The Simpsons in America is a Korean advertisement. Do I need to explain the Korean lore behind Steven Universe or Overwatch? Too much of this reeks of Korean supremacy.
As another critical example, Family Guy also had a Korean episode, “Candy Quahog Marshmallow!” Many of the jokes were both agreements and stabs against Korean modernity. For example, a full clip of Sistar’s Touch My Body was played without context.
Exactly, what was the joke about?
As Peter said watching the Sistar music video,
“What is this? And how can I make the rest of my life about it?“
Peter openly admits that desire is crucial to one’s purpose in life, and purpose is motivated by sexuality. We now must ask if identity politics is also a sexual urge, and fight and defense towards defending women certain men desire.
But even more insidious, is that what if this so-called “joke” is nothing more than an advertisement to promote and advocate that Americans should just,
"Enjoy the K-pop, or else!"
In other words,
“Eat the bugs, stay in the pods, and don’t have kids.”
Sistar is directly channeling an "Asiansexual" energy, but more specifically, a "Koreansexual" desire that is politicized and ideological, something that Jacques Lacan would argue.
No longer the traits of Japanese beauty, of certain Japanese physical features, and genetics, are desired in our neoliberal society. There is a forced political maneuver to desire the Korean traits of "long legs, diamond cheeks, and round rumps," all traits the Japanese do not possess.
The "cyberpunk" hypothesis has been debunked. There is no Japanese imperium of the future. The ideal Asian beauty has surpassed that of the Japanese woman, and soon enough, will surpass the anime woman. Anime women are simply caricatures of Japanese women. But once Korea takes power, the anime woman will shift toward Korean desires. The Overwatch character D.Va best represents this slow transition.
Looking back on 1999, one must ask how the future ended up now in 2022.
By looking at the past, the electronic music genre of "Digital Hardcore" was the biggest perpetrator of Eurasian futurism, punk rock, and Japanese worship. A future where anime and hentai are real, and cyberpunk is a norm. The significant investment that "1999" was going to be the turn of a new Eurasian century. Complete Japanese rule with avant-garde art.
The concept was celebrated on a D-Trash compilation album, simply titled, “1999.”
They were all in for a surprise.
They didn’t get the cool anime babes of the Asian Aesthetics movement.
Instead, they got westernized Sistar and the gamer girl D.Va. Two Korean plants.
We can conclude that the Japanese fascination, the "miracle," was a Boomer and Gen-X fad of liberal pandering, and feeling guilt about World War II. It was the first time an "Asian" country made whites feel inferior. It was nothing but a Eurocentric trend to find authenticity in the other.
“Asian Art,” of Shonen Knife to Cibo Matto, was utterly fleeting.
All of it is dead.
The Simpsons never translated well in Korea. What the hell does a cartoon dysfunctional family mean there?
The Simpsons never made Korea accepting of “Western values.” Instead, Korea turned America towards “Korean values.”
As Korean values invade, Japan is further shunned from any global development. The Japanese population shrinks as the Korean Eurasian population grows. There are not enough Japanese Eurasians to fight an incoming swarm of Korean Eurasians.
They may say “We are all American.”
It’s going to happen.
The Simpsons threw away Japan, just like an entire generation is doing to the country and its people.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty_Minutes_over_Tokyo (Accessed 1-24-2022)
https://www.insidekyoto.com/can-i-travel-to-japan-now (Accessed 1-24-2022)
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty_Minutes_over_Tokyo (Accessed 1-24-2022)