I have many times during the early years of this blog been surprised and appalled by how little research CNN puts into its articles about Japan. I’ve noted before that there seems to be a belief somewhere that “everybody knows about Japan”.
There are a lot of people who have spent a few months or a year or two in Japan and return with observations that happen to fall right in line with the preconceptions they had before coming.
People who have been in Japan longer, who bothered to learn the language at a depth beyond “kiddie pool” level, who have made real friends and learned a bit more about the real Japan behind the “tatemae curtain” know a little better.
CNN has s history of writing flippant articles about Japan and summing up a very complicated issue with comments about “saving face” or other non-sense explanations for complicated human behavior.
The latest article is especially misinformed and is titled, believe it or not, “Halloween Craze Started in Gay Culture“. You can see how many groups are going to be misrepresented just by the title. I will give a little screen shot of the part about Japan, which is of interest to us, but I’m sure people who read the article will spend a good amount of the time with question marks floating above their heads.
Here’s what David Frum, CNN Contributor, says about Halloween in Japan.
Well, I’ve seen people dress up in costumes and have a good time on Halloween. I’ve seen recipes for Halloween bentos, and although I am sure that some supermarkets (especially those frequented by non-Japanese) carry Halloween themed Bentos, they are not a ubiquitous site. Most of the Halloween fun I’ve seen among the Japanese population has been among people that have lived abroad or are otherwise connected to life or situations outside of Japan.
If our friends at CNN had downplayed the “over-enthusiastic” part, and mentioned just the bentos and pumpkin flavored Kit-Kats (highly recommended, though I am partial to the kinako or soy powder ones), I would not be writing this article.
Yes, the attempt to in any way associate cos-play (costume play) or the “national pastime” of wearing sexy or bizarre costumes with the American or Western tradition of Halloween is just silly. Silly, bad journalism and bad research.
I’m also sure though that I am for the most part preaching to the choir when I say this to readers of Newzjapan (who tend to be extremely knowledgeable about Japan). At least now, when one of your friends in Japan knowingly nods and in all seriousness says “because, you know, all that manga costume stuff in Japan comes from Halloween.” You can be forgiving and know where to place the blame. (That is, CNN.)
Just for reference, here are some of the other posts I’ve written about misinformed articles by CNN and other major media outlets. These are by no means the number of misinformed articles I’ve seen! I actually gave up doing it so that I could focus on more fun things with the blog. I just couldn’t let this particular article go.
As I’ve said before, it’s a good thing we have Twitter, Blogs, and other independent media in this day and age so that the truth can at least be out there, even if it is often over shadowed by the giant factory type news media juggernauts.