Disney XD has a new Japanese-style game show called “Japanizi: Going, Going, Gong,” and not unlike many foreign media outlets who have tried to recreate a Japanese theme in their variety TV shows, the trailer of Disney’s new Oriental-themed output seems to be full of particularly uninformed generalizations about Japanese pop culture and lifestyle in general. When the Japanese do it themselves, it looks normal. But there’s just something that feels inherently wrong when Americans, or whoever else for that matter, tries to imitate it.
The television show’s trailer features what most Westerners think the most known Japanese cultural elements are, and these include a Japanese man in an outrageously loud outfit, sumo wrestlers, ninjas, and a gong that is featured all throughout the show, it seems. We submit that being inspired by the Japanese culture is actually flattering for the Asian country, but there are ways to execute that inspiration in such a way that it doesn’t come out as just plain ignorant. Unfortunately, the latter is what comes out in Disney’s new show. Japanizi, as Angry Asian Man puts it, is “mostly built on the premise that Japanese people/television/culture are weird! And wacky!” It seems that this stereotype runs through the whole show, and it demeaning to the core. The idea that is espoused by the show is that Japanese pop culture is outlandishly crazy – as opposed to normal Western pop culture.
There have been as of now a number of voices speaking out against Disney’s Japanizi. The Atlantic’s Patrick St. Michele points out that the “Japanese game show culture” represented by the show hasn’t been prominent in the large cultural landscape of Japan for roughly 15 years now. And, even then when the “weird” shows were popular, plenty of Japanese people were shocked by them. “The show claims to double as an introduction to the Japanese language and Japanese culture, and as a means to spread that language and culture far and wide,” writes St. Michele. “It’s too bad it’ll also be spreading a woefully outdated stereotype.”