Cosmetic Japaneseness : cultural erasure and cultural performance in Japanese film exports (2000-2010)
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Since the introduction of film to Japan in the 1890s, Japanese cinema has been continually influenced by transnational processes of film production, distribution, promotion, and reception. This has led inevitably to questions about the inherent nationality of Japan’s film culture, despite the fact that Japanese cinema has often been subjected to analyses of its fundamental ‘Japaneseness’. This study seeks to make an original contribution to the field of Japanese film studies by investigating the contradictory ways in which Japan has functioned as a global cinematic brand in the period 2000 to 2010, and how this is interrelated with modes of promotion and reception in the English-speaking markets of the UK and the USA. Through textual and empirical analyses of seven films from the selected period and the non-Japanese consumption of them, this thesis argues that contemporary film exports are culturally-decentred in regards to their industrial and, to some extent, aesthetic dimensions. This results from contradictory modes of ‘cultural erasure’ and ‘cultural performance’ in the production of certain films, whereby aesthetic traces of cultural specificity are concealed or emphasised in relation to external commercial interests. Despite strategies of cultural erasure, explicit cinematic representations of cultural specificity remain highly valued as export commodities. Moreover, in the case of contemporary Japanese film exports, there are significant issues of ‘cultural ownership’ to be accounted for given the extent to which non-national industrial consortia (film producers, financers, DVD distributors, film festivals) have invested in the promotion and in some cases the production of Japanese films. Thus, both in relation to the aesthetic erasure of Japaneseness and their non-Japanese commercial identities, recent film exports can be viewed as non-national cultural products that have a commercial and cinematic identity connected to external influences as much as internal ones.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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Embargo Date: Print and electronic copy restricted until 13th May 2019
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations
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