Monday, December 06, 2004

Richard Gere to dansu o shimasen
(I don't dance with Richard Gere. More or less.)

There are some things that just should not be done. One of those things is most definitely this. There is absolutely no excuse for an Americanized, fluffy star-studded version of the excellent Japanese movie Shall We Dansu?

If you compare the two basic movie descriptions, they look similar enough. Bored accountant signs up for ballroom dance lessons when he sees the beautiful instructor. However, that manages to completely miss the point of the original movie. The point was not that the main character was an accountant, it was that he was a Japanese man. The entire movie is an exploration of the constraints on Japanese social behavior. Ballroom dancing was presented as the main character's newfound hobby precisely because it is so odd and practically unheard of in the context of Japanese mainstream society. The main character sneaks around, living a secret life of near-shame, not because he is in love with another woman, but because he is in love with dance, and this is not acceptable.

The impact of the movie, what made it so brilliant and charming, is entirely removed by placing it in an American context. It becomes another light, fluffy chick flick about Richard Gere, everyone's favorite romantic white knight of the silver screen, and this time he's ballroom dancing. How debonaire! *swoon*

Whatever. I heartily encourage everyone else I know to boycott this movie with me and rent the original, with subtitles. It's a better movie, and you'll maybe come away feeling like you know a little bit more about another culture.

Also on the topic of Americans who shouldn't be allowed to mess about with Asian things, today I discovered Hanzi Smatter: Dedicated to the misuse of Chinese characters in Western culture. Much like Engrish.com turned back on the West.

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