Sunday, May 11, 2008

Incorporation vs. Excorporation (East vs. West)

I have not made as many blog posts here as I should have, but one of the things I did want to draw a comparison on was how different musical subcultures view incorporation. Mainly, the differences between Western and Eastern musical subcultures.

(See: Incorporation)

The United States has been a capitalist society for a long time. Music subcultures like punks, emos, grungers, ravers, new wavers, mods, goths, skankers, and rockers are all based on quintessentially "sticking it to the man". All of their fashions are based on excorporation. They take what's available in society and make it their own. When it comes to mainstream pop and rock in this country much of it is incorporating. Everyone should have a t-shirt of their favorite band, posters, albums, novelty items, etc. The excorporators might even take some of these items and make them their own. Especially if they are vintage. Newcomers to America often have a need to fulfill their American Dream, and incorporate their families. It's the second generation that often has a need to make their own way and cut their own paths through life.

The Westernization (Americanization) of Japan however has created a similar effect in that they also strive for the American Dream. Capitalism has been ingrained into their society. But they also keep the Japanese ideals of conformity. Every Japanese person should act and look the same as the next. When it comes to those who decide they don't want to conform to the general Japanese ideals, they still conform within their own subcultures. It's completely acceptable for goths, punks, and rockers in Japan to shop for expensive clothing and all wear clothes from the same line. And they all buy the merchandise their band sells. Public Domain laws are also different in Japan, so the fans also create and buy unofficial merchandise from each other.

S.K.I.N. Piano Duet + Violin + Shamisen (Traditional Japanese Instrument)

An example of a rock subculture in Japan is Visual Kei. The whole point of this subculture is to have the right look and have a great performance. No need to create an amazing sound as long as the performance is good. And if you've ever been to a Japanese concert, its very likely you'll see many people in the standing room doing just that. Standing. Still. Though more recently I've seen more screaming girls at the front than usual. I did get the chance to see the new band S.K.I.N. last summer and I've got to say that the band loved the reactions they were getting from the crowd. The lead singer really milked us for as many callbacks as he could.

When it comes to pop performances in Japan, the audience might participate in Para Para, a form of synchronized dancing that mostly consists of arm movements. Every fan memorizes the movements so that they can participate during the performance. It's similar to memorizing the dance moves from your favorite music video.

The westernization of Japan has lead them to believe heavily in capitalism and incorporation. Obviously the only ones really pushing these things are the business interactions between our two countries. There needs to be more human interaction rather than just mainstream media being passed between us.

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