Friday, May 22, 2009

Snap judgment

I was tempted to open my big mouth when the swimsuit issue came out (oh joy!) and I didn't, but you all know I can't keep quiet for long. What were they thinking with the cover for today's Metropolis issue? For the cover article on roof top shit in Tokyo, they chose to depict a white man enjoying some cheap champagne with an even cheaper woman. OK, I didn't actually mean that. He is enjoying a drink with an ecstatic-looking Japanese woman. Why oh why must Metropolis rub it in our faces that they either a) cater to a white male audience or b) think the only audience they have is white and male? How about putting an Indian guy or a black guy in his place? They have drinks with Japanese women and there are a lot of them in Japan too, and I would hazard a guess that many of them read Metropolis. Or how about a Japanese guy and a foreign woman, because we know some of them have drinks together too (not looking at any one in particular). I know I am playing into the angry foreign woman stereotype and this may make some of you want to vomit (hell it makes me want to vomit) but it just frustrates me that when Metropolis thinks "expat community," they think of a white guy with a Japanese woman on his arm. There are so many different kinds of expats in Tokyo and yet white guys are the most often depicted. Or catered to, as in the swimsuit issue that made me want to puke. This isn't Sports Illustrated, what the fuck am I going to do with 8 pages of Japanese women in swimwear?! If guys want to "look at" Japanese ladies in swimwear a quick google image search or trip to the konbini will suffice would it not? Or if that is too much to ask how about some hot guys at the beach photos for those of us who like them? I'm running out of steam with this and should probably quit while I am slightly behind but just one more question for the road: demographics aside, who the fuck chose that photograph from the cover shoot proof sheet?!?! Neither of them are looking at the other and they both have these funny smiles, the woman is scratching her shoulder and doing a look-to-the-side laugh. What do you want to bet in the moment before this was taken she said, "Do I know a love hotel around here?"


jellybeanzkelly said...

You have just hit on the reason that I no longer bother with that publication. It IS catering to a very small section of the expat community; white guys here in Japan to score on Japanese chicks.
A few friends and I have been thinking of starting an alternative emagazine that is made for EVERYONE in Tokyo.
Pardon the caps. I'm turning into Kanye West. =P

RRabano said...

I feel u'r pain. It's just about marketing and selling rags. As for the women. They'r tougher & savvier than u think they r. They know exactly what they r doing.

I know I'm married to one.

Pj said...

"This isn't Sports Illustrated"

Well, it's Metropolis, what do you expect ?

For me this magazine is everything I don't like about the expat community with little small little tiny bits of interesting infos - just not worth it, and available somewhere else...

The signal / noise ratio is just too bad.

Lisa said...

Hahah! I love you.

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

Kanye - count me in on the alt mag.

RRabano - Are you talking about Japanese women or women in general? Because I know the ladies here are savvy and probably more scheming than I give them credit for!

Pj - You're right, I should lower my expectations when I prepare to flip through a new issue of Metropolis. I just wish they were less obvious about it like they used to be.

Lisa - (^ ^)

jenlovestokyo said...

Heheh... I have that Metropolis magazine in my loo; the one with the J-lady and the W-dude. I'm glad they are happy I suppose, everyone needs a little love, but ummm...

I love your blog so much by the way. Not sure why but the elevator button bitch post resonated with me a lot. I'm totally sumimasen'd out. I have the body language of a small, nervous rodent after 3 1/2 years in Tokyo...


Green-Eyed Geisha said...

jenlovestokyo - thanks for the comment! I wish I could read your blog but I'm one of those bad Canadians that doesn't speak French :( I agree with the body language thing, I am ashamed of some of the body language I have picked up here!!

Sarah said...

Hey, to be honest I felt the same way.. why always a white dude and Japanese girl, why all the naked chicks, etc., etc. But in all actuality, it was the idea of a very down-to-earth Japanese staffer (Hiroko Fukazawa, a close friend of mine) to not only have a swimsuit fashion article, but to use Japanese girls as models. I cornered her about why she didn't pick girls of another nationality, and she admitted embarrassingly that the thought hadn't even crossed her mind at the time.

Re: the white dude and Japanese girl on the cover, same deal, Hiroko was looking for models to put on the cover, she had a friend whose wife was willing to be on the cover for free. The dorky kiwi guy in the pink shirt is actually MY boyfriend, who works for another company in the same office and was just conveniently around when Hiroko was looking for a man to model for free.

Let's not forget things like the Christmas fashion article with Rebecca Milner and her Japanese boyfriend, or the "Daikanyama Style" article with Leila in it!

Fact of the matter is that Metropolis has almost no budget for photo shoots, and what ¥¥ they do have goes to pay the photographer. Their models are more often than not just friends or friends of friends, chosen based on coincidence or availability more than any thing else.

I may be partial because I've been involved with Metropolis for about a year and a half now, but I watch them struggle and try to put together content on an extremely limited budget every single week. They are not purposely biased, and contrary to popular belief they're not doing it for the marketing or to sell more mags--it is a free magazine!

If you have an issue--and I think this is a very valid one--send a letter to Steve Trautlein. I know he's extremely open to criticism and would like more feedback from readers, but has a difficult time getting any. Or, why not volunteer to model for the magazine yourselves?

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comment Sarah. Good on you for questioning your co-worker about the decision and how interesting that she not only didn't consider non-Japanese women, but didn't consider the magazine's (Japanese and non-Japanese) female readership!

As for your boyfriend, 2 things: 1) I'm glad there are still foreign girls disproving the much-held notion that we can only date Japanese or not at all! 2) I have a special place in my heart for kiwi guys, having grown up down there.

I understand Metropolis is a free weekly and it must be quite a feat to put it out. However, free or not, I think its content and cover photos are a reflection of the magazine, whether or not it is consciously being biased.

As for a letter, maybe I will consider sending one next time if writing on here doesn't absorb most of the shock. Anyway, thanks again for stopping by.

GOYW said...

Your stories always make me laugh because it's so similar in Thailand (or worse :-P We have the same contingent of loser dudes here to score Thai women, except with Third World poverty added into the already charming mix!

I once opened a perfectly normal looking Thai-to-English dictionary for expats/travelers, inside was an ad for another book published by the same company "Speaking Thai with Prostitutes" with a drawing of a white guy in a Thai brothel as the ad. I mean, W. T. F. What makes the publishers assume that, I, a random normal person learning Thai, would want to see this shit?

I'm not a prude, but it's this weird cross-over of prostitution into every day life that I find so gross and disturbing.

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

GOYW: I think it must be worse in Thailand. Here people may have questionable reasons for having relations with each other, but for the most part, it's not because they are trying to survive. It must be surreal living where such an ugly sex trade is so out in the open. I'm all for legalized prostitution but I still have trouble dealing with the casualness some people employ here when going to BJ parlours or soaplands. What's the dating scene like over there?