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February 2010
Wed, Oct. 29th, 2008 11:12 am
Toshiki Okada and Japan's "lost generation"


Thu, Oct. 30th, 2008 01:33 am (UTC)

Umm... You've greatly confused things by making the "lost generation" everyone from 18-35. I don't think anyone has ever claimed that those in their mid-to-late 30s are uncreative. In fact, in the past I was accused of being too praising of this generation. Okada is classic Gen X age, born in the late '60s to early '70s, just like Cornelius, Nigo, Jun Takahashi, and the people who made up the bulk of the Relax culture that impressed the world. Hats off to Okada, but he's not exactly an exception to the rule.

My point has been that those in their 20s — whom I shorthand as "Gen Y" — are a totally different "breed," with very little interest in spending money or participating in cutting-edge global culture. The best part of this can be that it's a total anti-commercial "slow life" where no one consumes anything, but so far they have not wrapped this behavior in the upper middle-class Kunel aesthetic that you love. They just don't consume — not as an aesthetic action, but an economic reality — and when they do buy things, they go very much for mass market tastes: J-Pop, J-rock, fashion brands that very much reinforce ideas of "docile" dolled up femininity and "strong" bad-boy masculinity. The anti-progressive, hostile tone on 2-Ch isn't a good sign either.

Not to say that no artists in their 20s are interesting, I definitely like some, but the mass consumer response to them has been extremely tepid and this changes the dynamic you saw (and most celebrated and got paid from) in the 1990s

I have to wonder why someone like Patrick Macias was chosen to comment on Japanese youth culture.

Why not? In my professional judgment, I think he was qualified to talk about the topic at hand. Please provide other alternatives and perhaps I will consider them next time.

"And what exactly have you achieved, Mr Marxy? You're working in marketing, at the heart of the Death Star!"

Oh, come on. I thought we cleared this up earlier. The title on my official business card is "Chief Editor." I guess that means, "hedge fund manager while selling cigarettes to kids on the weekend." If only I wrote for Conde Nast, that would liberate me from evil corporate interests!



Thu, Oct. 30th, 2008 11:08 am (UTC)

Mascias is an OK japan writer for a tourist

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Thu, Oct. 30th, 2008 11:08 am (UTC)

Thanks for the clarification, Mr Marxy! By the way, it was Macias who said you were working at the heart of the Death Star, I was only quoting him! And it's Jean Snow who works for Conde Nast (though I used to). The New York Times is its own thing. Anyway, yes, we all have salt on our fingers from the glamor gulag.

I've watched the 5 Days in March play twice now, and it kind of reminds me of the slacker meme that, in early 90s American culture, produced Beck and the Clerks movie. Except that Okada is much more formalist. One of the points I was making in the piece was that even unambitious and uninteresting recessionary youth can be the subject of ambitious and interesting culture. I don't know if that makes it the creator of such culture, but I don't think there's quite such a hard-and-fast line between the 35 year-olds and the 25 year-olds as you and Patrick seem to.

For a start, people generally haven't quite got their act together in their 20s. It takes some of them a while to develop a distinctive and original voice. Secondly, are you sure that Cornelius wasn't a bit of a slacker in his time? He definitely did his fair share of pakuri, knocking off Primal Scream and Beastie Boys riffs. As for the contribution of Hiroshi Fujiwara, the less said the better. I think you've put that 90s generation too high, and the 00s generation too low. Where's the 90s Chim↑Pom? Is the 90s castrated because they don't have a Chim↑Pom?

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