Monday, July 28, 2008

A Wager on the Future of Japanese Cultural Influence

So duvall and I recently went to see the Murakami exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. Murakami is a Japanese manga-style cartoony pop artist who earned his place in the art world by

1) In a Duchamp/Dada/Warhol fashion had the audacity to put it there.

2) Further, had the audacity to embrace crass commercialism to the extent of putting a Louis Vuitton handbag store not just at the gift shop, but within the exhibition itself.

To his credit Murikami's work are beautiful examples of excellent manga-style craft, and beautiful to see.

Our debate was what this exhibit signifies about the future of Japanese manga influence on Amerian pop culture.

Duvall contends that this is only the beginning. As the current generation of American tweens obsessed with mangas grows up, they will be the culture creators and mangas will ascend, just as comic book super heroes have recently dominated summer movies.

My contention is the opposite. That cultural influence tracks economic influence. That what Japan inspired culture exists today is merely the aftershock of the '80's Japanese economic powerhouse, and that with Japanese economic power on the wane, so too will its cultural icons. Instead, we should look to Bollywood and China to rise.

Of course, only time will tell. Our 10 year wager begins now.

We will reexamine in July 2018.

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