Upcoming lecture: Jason G. Karlin, associate professor in the Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies at the University of Tokyo, on Precarious Consumption after 3.11: Television, Charity, and the Semiotics of Tears
The Contemporary Japan Group at the Institute of Social Science (ISS, or Shaken), University of Tokyo, welcomes you to a lecture by Jason G. Karlin, Associate Professor in the Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies, University of Tokyo, on "Precarious Consumption after 3.11: Television, Charity, and the Semiotics of Tears," Thursday, September 26, 2013, 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Akamon Sōgō Kenkyūtō Room 549, Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo, Hongo Campus, University of Tokyo.
The Japanese mainstream mediaís relentless promotion of idols in the period after the triple disaster in Fukushima is a reflection of the importance of consumption to Japanís precarious post-industrial economy. Rather than a sign of economic prosperity, the intensification of the idol industry in recent years, after a period of decline in the 1990s, is a product of Japanís unsustainable consumption-based media system thrown into crisis by globalization and convergence. In modern societies, institutionalized systems of risk, such as consumer markets, are highly unpredictable and unstable, since much of what we consume is defined more in terms of its exchange rather than use value. Like all institutionalized risk cultures, consumer culture too in Japan engages in the reflexive monitoring of risk. Just as the Hollywood star system provided a guarantee, or promise, against loss on investment for the film industry, idols are an immunity against instability since they regulate and ensure regular consumption in post-industrial society. For the media industry, idols colonize the future by dispersing risk into a more manageable system for regulating consumer desire. This presentation will examine television advertising and the role of Japanese celebrities in charitable activities in the wake of 3.11. Through spectacles of mediated suffering, the Japanese mass media have sought to re-constitute audiences who have become cynical and disillusioned with its disposable, tabloid culture. Just as the distinction between labor and leisure, paid and unpaid work, and production and consumption have disappeared, charity (jizen) and self-promotion (gizen) have also become indistinguishable in todayís capitalist society. This analysis will reveal how the Japanese media is clinging to power through the domestication of suffering, sacrifice, and spectacle in the period after 3.11. In the process of national recovery, anachronistic appeals to traditional values of perseverance and sacrifice, which echoed the rhetoric of wartime conservation, have confronted the reality of a post-industrial economy that increasingly thrives on affective consumer economics.
Jason G. Karlin is an associate professor in the Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies at the University of Tokyo. He specializes in gender and media studies, and is the co-editor of Idols and Celebrity in Japanese Media Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) and author of the forthcoming Gender and Nation in Meiji Japan: Modernity, Loss, and the Doing of History (University of Hawaii Press, May 2014).
CONTEMPORARY JAPAN GROUP
The ISS Contemporary Japan Group provides English-speaking residents of the Tokyo area with an opportunity to hear cutting-edge research in social science and related policy issues, as well as a venue for researchers and professionals in or visiting Tokyo to present and receive knowledgeable feedback on their latest research projects. Admission is free and advance registration is not required. Everyone is welcome.
For more information, please visit our website: http://web.iss.u-tokyo.ac.jp/cjg/
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