AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 440

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Session 440: Media Flows II

Internet Piracy in Japan: Lessig’s Modalities of Constraint and Japanese File Sharing
Shirley Gene Field, Independent Scholar, USA

The rise of new digital technologies and the Internet has given more people than ever before the ability to copy and share music and video. Even as Japan has adopted stronger copyright protections, the number of Japanese peer-to-peer file sharing network users has multiplied. Though the distribution of copyrighted material online has long been illegal and, as of 2010, the download of copyrighted material is now a criminal act, illegal file sharing continues apace, with the majority of people active on Japan’s most popular file sharing programs remaining unaffected by the new legislation. Clearly the law alone does not work to constrain file sharing behavior in Japan and, in fact, it is not the only way Japan strives to enforce copyright law on the Internet. What strategies are industries and government taking to curb illegal file sharing and are these strategies effective? How is unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing cast into an act both immoral and worthy of criminal prosecution? Of particular interest are the evolution and growth of architectural and social constraints on online behavior alongside these legal constraints.

In the realm of Yuru-Chara®: a look at the flourish of ‘cute’ mascots in Japan
Eddy Y. L. Chang, Independent Researcher, Japan

Japan is a country where ‘cuteness’ is a vital socio-cultural element. It is also a cradle for a proliferation of ‘cute’ mascots created for all sorts of purposes—from product promotions to government official campaigns. Many of these are quaint characters that require an acquired taste to appreciate even for the Japanese. This consequently led to the coining of the word ‘yuru-chara’, now a registered term literally meaning ‘loose characters’. As the name suggests, yuru-chara are ‘loose’ because there are virtually no boundaries in why they are created and how they are used. Even a serious organization may very well have one of these to act as their spokesperson. It may not an overstatement to say that the yuru-chara subculture has become a sociocultural phenomenon today, given the fact that there is even an association for the summit of yuru-chara known as The Society of Organized Yuru-Chara, where yuru-chara around Japan come together and meet, as if the mascots have a social life of their own. By peering into the world of yuru-chara subculture and studying the purposes of organizations, institutions and other social bodies for employing such mascots, we may be able to get an insight on the mentality of the Japanese and the Japanese society today. This paper will examine the types and purposes of yuru-chara and analyse what possible socio-cultural factors and meanings may lie behind this phenomenon.

Malaysia's troubled cyber-capitalism
Greg B. Felker, Willamette University, USA

For over a decade, Malaysia has pursued an aggressive program of information technology (IT) development as a key instrument of national economic development. The government’s dominant leadership role is epitomized by its much-touted Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) in a purpose-built zone outside the former capital, Kuala Lumpur. The development of this and other IT projects in Malaysia contradicts the stylized model of radically liberal capitalist development inspired by Silicon Valley. At the same time, Malaysia’s cyber-capitalist project has seemingly reached a plateau, and the prospects for state-guided IT development are in doubt. Malaysia’s state authorities have grappled with the dilemma of when and how to yield key IT dynamics to market and civil society actors. This paper will review IT-based development in Malaysia, with a focus on the relationships between government leadership, multinational investment, and local private enterprise. Malaysia’s experience suggests that late-developing countries may catalyze cyber-capitalist development, but face particular forms of institutional lock-in whose reform poses acute political challenges.

An analysis of representation of “beauty” in Okazaki Kyoko’s Helter Skelter
Shogo S. Sugimoto, University of Tsukuba, Japan

The purpose of this paper is to analyze OKAZAKI Kyoko’s manga, Helter Skelter, as a case representing symptom of “feminine desire to consume” in 90’s Japan. OKAZAKI made her debut in the middle of 1980’s, and gained fame with her work such as Pink (1989), Tokyo Girls Bravo (1990-1992) and River’s Edge (1993-1994). Unfortunately, she is no longer producing her art after 1996 due to a tragic traffic accident. Her protagonists are women living in a large city such as Tokyo, where capitalism and consumerist society are highly developed, and she focused on their desire to consume. In Helter Skelter, this desire is closely interconnected with the notion of ‘beauty’. Ririko, the protagonist, is a top model who has radically altered her face and body through plastic surgery. She has to maintain her ‘plastic beauty’ with a massive dose of chemical supplements, technology and capital. Therefore her body is an accumulation of exchangeable artificial parts, rather than an organic whole, and as such, it symbolizes (post)modern society where even human bodies are exchangeable commodities. This paper aims to analyze ideology of ‘beauty’ surrounding Ririko’s “plastic body,” by historicizing this manga in the context of culture and society in (post)modern Japan (a boom of plastic surgery, representation of the body in the media, etc). I would argue that Okazaki is not simply representing consumerist society, but she is giving voices of resistance and dissidence against it.

Trans-nationality of K-pop in Post Hallyu (Korean wave) Era
Dong-Yeun Lee, Korea National University of Arts, South Korea

This paper will focus on how hallyu (Korean Wave) that spread out through the Asia in 1990’s has been transfigured in the late 2000’s. Hallyu has begun with popularity of Korean drama, movie and music all over the Asia. It actually started with TV dramas and was extended to popular music. The Pan-Asian phenomenon of hallyu proves the trans-nationality of Korean popular culture in the cultural globalization era. The term hallyu first mentioned in Chinese media, and as time passes on, it progresses into the new stage. The cultural characteristic of hallyu showed a new phenomenon from 2005, and the representative examples of criteria that divide before and after 2005 can be witnessed in the global pop singer, Rain’s entry into American pop market, Pan-Asiatic popularity of idols such as TVXQ (Tongbang singi) and the change of trans-Asiatic distribution market of TV dramas. Furthermore, in these days, hallyu disperses into B-boys, online games, food and life style beyond the popular culture and entertainment area. I would like to define this kind of phenomenon as Post-Hallyu phenomenon and use the term K-Pop to refer it. Often the term K-Pop is limited to refer the popular music, but it will be used to refer Korean popular culture in this paper since the hallyu is a discourse that designates the cultural phenomenon of specific period, but it does not necessarily represent the national singularity of Korean popular culture. It seems the Korean popular culture of Post-Hallyu era can be seen as cultural identity that can replace the J-pop and Canto-pop (Hong Kong popular culture) of the past. K-pop is not a mere phenomenon; rather it indicates the production, distribution and consumption system of Korean popular culture. In this paper, I would like to emphasize the special features of K-pop in Post-Hallyu period which are: trans-nationality narratives, globalized production and distribution, local entertainment production system, and formation of global cultural capital. Furthermore, their cultural background and conditions will be carefully examined. Hallyu will be examined from mutual interchange and influence stepping aside from the cultural-nationalism perspective which will explain how local popular culture is produced under certain historical and cultural background.