Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney

  • Music:

Seasonal question

I don;t know why it is, but people never normally clasp me manfully by the upper left arm, or jovially punch me there, in any other season but this. In the four or five days immediately following a flu jab. Just wondering.


I am not going to post at length yet, but great as is my love for Dexter it is as nothing to my love for Heroes which is, I think, my new show in a way that I had hoped Torchwood would be. The Welsh show is something I will always watch, of course, because it is family, but all the same.

Whereas Heroes has the wonderful Hiro and Ando, who ought to be offensive stereotypes and are so much more, and there is future Hiro, and the sense that he becomes cool, and creepily in control Nathan and his improbable response to blackmail, and the Cheerleader, who must be saved. I really am going to have to do a Superheroes on television companion volume, aren't I? Because now there is a really good show to write about.


I haven't forgotten my fic promises - something will turn up soon, just watch this space...


And a review BEAUTY UP by Laura Miller
( University of California Press 256 pp. ) reviewed by Roz Kaveney

Everything is potentially a commodity, but you still have to find a way to sell it; Laura Miller's refreshingly intelligent book on the Japanese beauty industry demonstrates just how hard it is to influence taste. Sometimes you need to claim that you are reviving an old folk remedy, and sometimes you need to use the appeal of the exotic - which in Japan often means ancien regime France - and sometimes you lie, and claim the one is the other. Spas, creams and surgery are as much of a money-maker in Japan as in the USA; similarity, though, is the site where we perceive radical difference.

Earlier studies have assumed that changing standards in beauty in Japanese culture were solely and wholly the result of American cultural influence - Miller demonstrates conclusively that most of these were based on misunderstandings of Japan. For example, most cosmetic surgeries performed on the folds of the eye were intended, not to make clients look more Western, but to look more elegantly and aristocratically Japanese. Miller argues that, quite often, to represent Japanese culture as the helpless victim of American hegemony itself involves some quietly racist assumptions. There are quite radical differences between the hyperhygenic beauty shops of the USA and the often quite shady aspects of their Japanese equivalents, staffed with superannuated bar girls who know more about high-pressure sales than they do about the safe use of their equipment.

In the end, Japanese culture is as obsessed as America with good looks, but in radically different ways; no matter how many American films they have seen, young Japanese women find male chest hair repellent, preferring men who are sharp-faced and willowy. When Japanese beauty culture draws on America, it is as liable to draw on Black and Hispanic styles as it is the white mainstream. From an eclectic collage of tradition, and foreign influences, the Japanese beauty industry has created an aesthetic that is trashy, perhaps, but entirely its own; Laura Miller's strength here is to grasp this simple point, and celebrate its rich weirdness.
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