Tuesday, March 29, 2011

If I say "Don't think about elephants". . .

If I Wrote the Sailor Moon Movie #22: Oh, that? That's my pet elephant, Fukushima. Yeah, he craves attention. Just ignore him and he'll go away.

Christ, I'm already regretting this.

It's been less than three weeks since the earthquake off of Japan's coast. I discussed it here already, but it's becoming ever more clear that this event is going to have consequences far beyond anything a single blog post could deal with. In many ways, the Japan that existed before the earthquake-- the Japan where I lived for three months-- has vanished.

It's the height of selfishness to look at a tragedy like this and ask, "how does this affect me?" In no sane, meaningful does this affect me. Or rather, the ways in which it DOES meaningfully affect me are either so abstract that they don't hold any emotional meaning-- Canada's economy will have to readjust as Japan invests in cleanup and reconstruction efforts! Leaders will have to reconsider future energy plans following increased concerns over nuclear power!-- or are so separated from me, in the Kevin Bacon sense, that any emotional connection seems shallow and somehow. . . insufficient: my teacher had family members in Tokyo during the quake. . . my friends have family somewhere. . . a distant acquaintance was teaching English in Kansai. . .

The biggest and most immediate effect that this earthquake has had, on me, is to inconvenience a hobby, to complicate an overambitious creative writing exercise. And that is nothing. I know that.

That having been said. . . any story that takes place in Japan after March of 2011 will have to deal with the earthquake in one way or the other. It's just too damn pervasive to ignore. Everyone in Japan, literally or not, felt that quake. The people of Tokyo definitely did. Even if it's never mentioned, the earthquake will hang in the air for years to come.

So how will it affect the screenplay? I don't know yet, except to say "as little as possible". It will never (or almost never) be spoken of in the story; to mention it explicitly would not only be exploitative, but would ring false-- even after a disaster, people have their own lives to focus on, and THAT'S what they'll be talking about on a day to day basis. At the same time, it would be just as wrong to ignore the quake outright. People may not speak of it, but they will remember it. It will live on in daily rituals, in the economic and political fallout. It will live on in the memories of the characters, and to one degree or the other it will affect their behaviour. For one, it may even become an unspoken turning point, one that affects her up until the beginning of the film, in ways that even she doesn't understand. . . or doesn't want to accept. I'm gonna keep that to myself for now, partly because it dovetails with another plot thread I was already developing before the earthquake (and thus don't want to spoil) and partly because of how much I still have to figure out.

More is coming, though. I've been at this too long to give up now. I considered not posting any new screenplay snippets, but a talk with my sister has convinced me to keep going with the first draft. Expect the next part of the screenplay. . . sometime.

Oh, and bonus points for people who get the joke about the picture.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Shut the fuck up, you piece of shit.

Tokyo governor and ultra-rightist loon Shintaro Ishihara calls the March 11 earthquake "punishment from heaven" for Japan's greed (source).

Other gems of Ishihara's wisdom(from wikiquote):

On the Naking Massare: "They say we made a holocaust there, but that is not true. It is a lie made up by the Chinese."

Speaking of the Chinese:

"The Chinese are ignorant, so they are overjoyed. That spacecraft [Shenzhou 5, which carried China's first astronaut] was an outdated one. If Japan wanted to do it, we could do it in one year."

"China holds no value at all for human life and can start a war without any concerns. . ."

On Terrorism:

"A bomb was planted [at the private residence of Deputy Foreign Minister Hitoshi Tanaka]. I think it was deserved."

Asshole thinks he's hot shit because he used to hang out with Yukio Mishima.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


I feel obliged to say something about the earthquake that has hit Japan, but I really don't know what. Honestly, I've never known what to say in the wake of tragedies like this, and have preferred instead to say nothing at all. This hasn't been so much out of overwhelming emotion as it has about simply feeling like I have nothing worth saying. Do I wish for the continued well being of the survivors? Offer condolences to the families of the dead? If I do, so what? What could the obvious platitudes of a distant observer possibly matter?

But for me, this is different than the Indonesian tsunami, or hurricane Katrina, or earthquakes in Haiti or New Zealand, or 9/11. I lived in Tokyo for three months. I used to walk by the skyscrapers which can now be seen swaying "like palm trees in the wind" on videos all over the internet. One of the cities I most wanted to visit was Sendai-- my M.Sc. thesis work on molecular quantum tunneling is based on research that began at Sendai's Tohoku University. Now it looks like that city, like New Orleans and Port au Prince, has been more or less destroyed. I have friends and teachers from Japan-- thankfully, though, their families seem to be alright. I was connected to all of this, in my own very minor way.

I find myself contrasting my feelings right now with how I reacted to the 9/11 attacks. Back then, I didn't have friends from New York (hell, I still don't), and to this day the closest I've ever come to the city is spending a night in Albany. Maybe that's why, in the weeks following the attack, the strongest emotion I felt regarding 9/11 was. . . irritation. I was just sick of it. I was sick of the constant news reports. I was sick of the flag waving and the fear mongering and the beating of the drums of war (of which there was plenty in even in Canada). I was sick of hearing that The World Has Changed. I was sick of the "oh! those poor souls" and "oh! what a terrible tragedy" that I kept hearing from people who, like me, had probably never been to New York or Washington, who probably didn't know anyone from those places and were falling to pieces over nothing more than images on a screen.

In other words, I was a cynical prick. A little cynicism is, and was, good thing (there are too many examples of post-9/11 irrationality to list, but one that sticks out for me is the "Death of Irony" that was supposed to have happened. . .and of course, these were pretty appalling too). But when cynicism blinds you to the fact that, maybe, just maybe, there are people out there who really do care and really are trying to help in whatever way they can. . .

Well. . . maybe I'm finally feeling the way I was supposed to ten years ago. Maybe that's what needed to be said.
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