America, Shame, and Japan

Until America showed up, nudity wasn’t taboo, and woodblock pornography had no stigma attached to it.

Yes, I mean the sexual kind of shame.

After a lunchbreak in college, my life drawing lecturer, Bob (he was the greatest of them all), mentioned some pretty erotic Japanese woodblock prints, and I told him that the explicitness was actually quite normal in Japanese society. And the sexually explicit nature of the woodblock prints carries over into manga, in other words the naughty bliss we know today.

Way back, one of his students was fighting the Japanese in Burma, and he happened upon some very dark and erotic propaganda aimed against the Americans and swaying the Burmese on their side by convincing them that American soldiers would violate Burmese women in their homes. People in the West have never heard of that kind of propaganda, let alone imitated it.

Another story he told me was that, when American delegates came to Japan to speak with the Emperor, all the erotic artwork in the palace and the erotic graffiti on the port had to be cleaned up. Why? Just to seem kosher to the Americans. And I thought the Americans believed in freedom of expression. But I guess it’s no wonder why the palace had screen paper with warriors ready to pounce with their katanas, and trapdoors. Looks like that fantasy villain’s lair is actually possible.

I’m sure that changed when America showed up, probably after they bombed Japan near the end of World War II. After the war, America introduced Western morality to Japan, turning sexuality and nudity from a normal part of life, into something to be demonized.

Ah yes, that symbol of Western morality. Kinda pathetic, really.

In fact, this has something to do with how tentacle porn was born. To sum it up, the stigmatizing of sex and nudity lead to a pretty stupid law in which you aren’t allowed to depict male parts on camera. To get around this, porn writers decided to replace them with tentacle monsters, since tentacles technically don’t count.

The Japanese video game industry would also later be affected. Until 1994, Nintendo of America had strict censorship policies on the content of video games released for their consoles. Why? Because apparently Nintendo of America believed that video games were only meant for kids. In fact, plenty of Japanese entertainment might have been censored for American audiences. Even today, some companies sell-out their values and censor their own content for American audiences.

Lots of times America has to choose between its value of freedom of expression, and its rather pathetic religious values. Unfortunately, when they came to Japan, they chose religion over freedom, just like it would often do in the future. In fact, old-timey America doesn’t seem as free as advertised. Well who is America, a country priding itself on the values of free speech, to deny any other country freedom of expression, especially sexual? A true America would not be founded on such prudishness, especially not of the religious kind.