Posts Tagged ‘Fight This Generation’

The Dangerous Fiction of Fake Breasts

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

OK Fred
Column: Fight This Generation
Vol. 4 – The Dangerous Fiction of Fake Breasts
(unpublished English original text)

I hate to ruin the fantasy, but Hoshino Aki’s breasts are not real. Back when the famed gravia idol was struggling to make a name for her self in 2001, her official bust line was a mere 82 cm. Suddenly and mysteriously, however, this critical metric expanded to an explosive 88 cm. Once in possession of enormous and perfectly-shaped mammaries, she quickly rose to the top of the bikini idol world and became a household name on TV. Her cleavage-exposing opening pitch for the Yokohama BayStars-Hanshin Tigers game in May of 2006 created one of the most sensational photographs of the year.

Her managers explain the discrepancy in the recorded breast size measurements as extraordinary and miraculous growth. She even underwent a “CAT Scan” on TV to prove the pair were not implants. This level of post-pubescent development, however, seems medically impossible. I do not think I am insane to suggest that she most likely had breast augmentation surgery.

Over in South Korea, plastic surgery is completely mainstream, and the practice has become an obvious part of celebrity culture. The same goes for Hollywood. In Japan, however, the rarity and general social disapproval makes plastic surgery the stuff of serious scandal. Direct mass media speculation on the topic is generally taboo, so most explorations are banished to spam-covered pages on the Internet.

Hoshino Aki’s handlers have used this ambivalent cloud of mystery surrounding plastic surgery to easily maintain their fantastical narrative that Hoshino has “perfect natural breasts.” If Hoshino Aki’s fame had come from some other skill, maybe I could ignore this bodily enhancement. But seeing that the two assets have become the entire foundation of her career, I can’t help but feel that her fame is based on a total lie. Like a singer using tuning technology to fix her voice on the CD and then going around and claiming to have perfect pitch. Or a famously tall 8 ft. basketball player who secretly wears two-and-a-half ft. tall shoes.

The myth of Hoshino Aki’s breasts takes advantage of the audience by creating a false “reality” in order to lower our expectations to the level of “non-fiction.” With these lower standards, we become very impressed with the fantastical phenomenon of her abundant chest in a way that we would not if they admitted the fakery. Our lower judgment standards make their job of entertaining and seducing much easier.

But this is not a good long-term strategy. We become angry once we discover that we’ve been tricked. Would we have gone to war knowing from the start that Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction were — like Hoshino Aki’s breasts — a fraud invented for to make us follow along? I do not want to equate the tragedy of the current war to fandom for a B-list celebrity, but if we do not get better at clarifying the line between non-fiction and fiction of entertainment and daily life and demanding an end to media trickery, we will never learn how to tell the difference when it really matters.

TV Told Me How to Be a Kid

Saturday, February 10th, 2007

OK Fred
Column: Fight This Generation
Vol. 3 – TV Told Me How to Be a Kid
(unpublished English original text)

I hate Brussels sprouts. And I hate liver and lima beans.

But I have never once eaten Brussels sprouts, nor liver and lima beans. Nor did my parents ever make these dishes for our family dinners or force me to eat them.

Yet I have a deep-seated, unflinching conviction that I despise these foods. Why do I hate a food I have never eaten or seen with my own eyes? I blame hours and hours of watching children’s television programming as a kid. On my favorite Nickelodeon show “You Can’t Do That on Television,” the young actors always discussed how much they thought Brussels sprouts were disgusting. For some reason, I readily agreed then, and I still agree now — even after twenty years of expanding my culinary palette and reclaiming many foods I used to despise, like broccoli and cauliflower.

This irrational dislike of vegetables is a small example of the way children-focused television and other media teaches us how to be “adolescents” – in a cultural, rather than a biological sense. Perhaps the scripts to these programs are written so that older adolescents can relate to their own problems, but young kids pick up on the message before they actually have first-hand knowledge of bad stuff like bullies, cliques, authoritarian teachers, and inedible cafeteria food. Looking back on my own youth, I find it hard to separate what I decided to dislike after a bad experience and what I learned to dislike from the media’s second-hand information.

So media teaches us how to be kids, but even weirder, the media teaches us how to create a larger dramatic narrative for our adolescence. I used to watch a show from the early 1990s called “The Wonder Years.” The show was a fictional retelling of an American junior high student in 1969 – right in the middle of the “Flower Power” era. I was a few years younger than protagonist Kevin Arnold, but I couldn’t help but project myself onto his character. The story is told in flashback with an unseen narrator who explains what Kevin thinks in his daily life and also inserts his own perspectives as a middle-aged man. From this, I not only learned how to be a teenager and the challenges that lie ahead of me, but I understood how I would look back on my own “wonder years” when I was older. I felt nostalgia for my own youth while I was living it. The show was clearly targeted towards Baby Boomers looking back on their own lives, but I got sucked into the media time warp. As a weird side-effect, I am now nostalgic for a 1960s past I never experienced myself.

Althought it seems paranoid, television also clearly influences us on a subconscious level. On one episode of “The Wonder Years,” Kevin gets two hamsters for a science experiment named Puffy and Weezer – too bands I grew to love in my teenage years. The seeds were planted early.