Slate: The Eleventh Hour #274. Asianization. Rec: 12/05/89. Dir: Andrew Wilk
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The Eleventh Hour graphic and show opener.
Host Robert Lipsyte standing in studio with two guests sitting in bkgd
Lipsyte talks about the topic of tonight's program
Close up on Lipsyte he welcomes viewers, introduces the show and himself.
Lipsyte continues discussing tonight's topic and cuts to an off site segment with an American commentator who works for Fuji TV in Tokyo.
"Sony" handwritten in English and Japanese overlay purple background and countdown clock
Big red "No" symbol (aka 'do not' sign) with a smiling cartoonish white ghost in the middle giving a peace sign
zoom out from "no" symbol to a blond haired male reporter out on the street holding open a newspaper with the headline "Japan goes Hollywood" and speaking into the camera in Japanese.
Cut to American reporter Bill Powell speaking in English to unseen unknown Japanese interviewer from his office - the interviewer translates Powell's English to Japanese as the English version of what he states is written in subtitles on the screen.
Powell states (with Japanese translation) "Don't overreact to this type of piece, this type of coverage. Yes it is a problem. But as Michael Armacost the Ambassador here said recently "trade is not war". the average US Citizen has tremendous respect for the success and the quality of Japanese goods. So it's not a clear cut negative backlash.
"Columbia Pictures Television" on brick wall. Japanese talking and narration "There are a lot of Americans who are uneasy about Japan's economy and it's a fact that articles which ?(obscured) this fear will sell ?(obscured)
Clip from the set of an unknown tv or movie production with translation "But you shouldn't assume that these are the feelings of all Americans.
Man looking through movie camera - outdoors and surrounded by onlookers.
On the set of a movie shoot outdoors, cameramen filming a scene of a little boy running along a white fence.
Back with Powell speaking into camera in Japanese with translation: "to pounce on stories like this one that play on Japan's own...that America really does dislike Japan
Back in The Eleventh Hour studio, Host Robert Lipsyte unseen introduces each guest on tonight's program: John Schwartz, writer of the controversial Newsweek article "Japan Invades Hollywood"; Peter Peterson, Chairman the Blackstone Group who represented Sony in the purchase of CBS Record and Columbia Pictures.
Wide shot of Lipsyte in the studio with Schwartz and Peterson.
concerned about Japanese investment in America?
John Schwartz 5:44
I'm concerned about the pace of Japanese investment. But of course being 32 years old, I don't personally remember Pearl Harbor myself find it hard to feel that that was in there in certainly the I read it in. But what what the article was about, I think was, was growing Japanese investment, and a Japanese strategy, which seems to be to buy prime by the very best, which means that the best of America is being bought up by an increasingly powerful foreign owner.
Robert Lipsyte 6:18
Do you see any concern in that for us?
Peter Peterson 6:22
Well, you know, every time this subject is discussed, it has to be discussed in two levels. If you discuss it in terms of economics, and finance, it's always pointed out that the British invest twice as much as the Japanese, we still learn three times more from our companies abroad, as foreign companies are in here, that we very much need the investment in the Japanese companies tend to invest in our economy. But this whole situation is not about finance and economics or statistics. I think it's about fear. I think it's about psychology. I don't think it's about the president. I agree with john, I think it's about our future. And in the purchase, let's say a Rockefeller Center, you finally have the graspable palpable symptom or symbol, an underlying anxiety, I think, in America, that those of us who've been railing about budget deficits and trade deficits, have never been able to get the attention of the people. So I think we finally have something that has captured the the interest of the people.
Robert Lipsyte 7:25
Yeah, but I mean, it's captured them in a xenophobic way. Nobody said, you know, the Rockefellers were looking for a tax deal. And they stuck something to the Japanese taxpayer, which in a sense, they did, I assume Mitsubishi, is is supported by Japanese taxpayers. So in terms of capturing the attention, you captured the attention through real fear. I mean, and you express that fear.
John Schwartz 7:51
I think we end up doing that. But through the article in our article on rock center, we talked about the Rockefeller family, and the way the Rockefeller generations have come now to a cash out generation, we looked at not just what the Japanese were doing, what the Americans are doing. And in the cover story on Sony, being Sony buying Colombia, we did the same thing. We talked about the problems with with American weakness. And I think by the end of it, you could see that even though the chairman of Sony criticizes American business, that that he says, Please, so far, nothing that you might not hear in the pages Newsweek.
Robert Lipsyte 8:31
You're right, I mean, but image is so important. I mean, obviously, seven semiconductors are more important than the Algonquin hotel, which is now a Japanese library, and we're gonna let's talk about semiconductors. I mean, isn't that the kind of thing that we're concerned about? I mean, wasn't the point B, I think maybe perhaps in your article, the idea that if the Japanese decided to turn around and sell their semiconductors to someone other than us, they can change the balance of power in the world?
Peter Peterson 8:58
Yeah, I think you don't need to even need to be hypothetical about that. There's Ishihara who wrote this book something about the Japan they can say no, he explicitly lays out the following logic that technology is the new weapon, that economic security is going to be the definition of real security, that semiconductors are the precise weapon. And maybe what we ought to do if the Americans don't stop bashing us and fixing their problems, is cooperating with the Soviet Union on semiconductors, well, that understandably, has got Washington and the American people very upset. So semiconductors are near the heart of national security. Most of these other purchases are not really central to our sense of future security, but they become the symbol of the American decline. In my opinion,
John Schwartz 9:48
those things tug at the American heartstrings, whereas that there might be more present danger in this sort of talk about semiconductors, especially when you consider how popular Mr. Ishihara is in Japan.
Peter Peterson 9:57
But let me ask Great Britain was the leading creditor for period. They went through a phase where First they invested in financial instruments. And then they invested abroad, the United States. And second, after the Second World War, became the leading creditor invested abroad, the Europeans were worried about our taking over. What in God's earth did we think the Japanese were going to do when they became the leading creditor? What were they going to do with their money? stuffing in mattresses are what you say. But we railed about being there being the world's largest creditor and our being the largest debtor, and with the American attention span being very limited, somehow that didn't have any meaning. But anybody that thought very long, said, you know, one of the things that happens when you get in debt is other people get your money, and they can do with it, essentially, what others have done with it. So economically, we shouldn't be surprised.
Robert Lipsyte 10:50
Well, let's back logically to psychologically, do you think that there's any feeling now that the the Cold War seems to be thawing, and we as a nation, we've always needed to hate somebody? And now that we're probably not going to be hitting the Russians so much anymore? Do we now have to hate the Japanese. And since you're only 32, I'm not going to say hate the Japanese, again.
John Schwartz 11:11
The there certainly a case to be made, that what's going on in the media is a is an Arab isation of the Japanese that, that in 1973, the oil embargo whipped up tremendous hatred against all our all our peoples Persians, anyone from the Middle East, and and that was only made worse by the hostage crisis. And that in the Arab countries were portrayed as money rich coming in to steal our resources, and being able to cut us off just by turning off the oil spigot, a lot of the same type of coverage happened. And I would hope that we're reading Oh, I know, I'm going back and reading my 1973 News weeks, and my 1973 New York Times and trying to make sure I don't fall into a lot of the same problems when I write these stories, because there's a danger to be written about. And then the challenge is to write about the danger, express the fears, but don't fall into the Zena phobic swamp that goes with all that.
Robert Lipsyte 12:06
What about those fears? Do we have anything to fear?
Peter Peterson 12:10
Well, I met last night with a bunch of CEOs at a dinner. And it was interesting to go around the table. I heard something approaching real fear. One executive said they're now spending twice as much on research and development. The Japanese economy is putting more money in plant and equipment, they got two thirds of the robots with 100 million people basically, the 5% of our kids that at the top and math and science are no better than the average in Japanese schools, four to five times as many other kids have taken calculus and computer related courses. So I think there is real concern about Japan assuming being number one and our living standards going down our ability to compete going down.
Robert Lipsyte 13:01
Are those real, real fears?
Peter Peterson 13:02
Well, they needn't be realized if we get our act together. But one of the problems is we were politically paralyzed, as well as being frightened. And one of the things we mentioned to some Washington people last night, is where are the people in Washington, whether it's the president or the senators of the Congressman, that are saying, Hey, there are real concerns here for our kids and where we're headed, and 10 or 15 years, I would let's make these choices here are what the issues are. But we've kind of been in this happy times mood, where it's bad politics for anybody's suggest that America needs to be to make choices. And I've argued that the biggest competitive weapon the Japanese have and the Germans is they have a long term economic consensus that is focused on the future. And in the 73 oil problem that hit the Japanese far more than it did not. They girded up their loins, increase productivity, improve quality, and they came out, okay. The Germans are endlessly making decisions about their future. But we rhetorically talk about investing in our future. But every time we have to make a choice between giving up something now so we can have more later, our political system seems to be saying, I want it now. So there's very little leadership it seems to make coming out of our political system. And I don't know how that's to blame the voters or the leaders or both. But I really wish that our leadership could somehow define the problem because I think many more Americans than we believe. Then they believe our I've got a feeling in their bones, they look at the streets, they look at their living rooms, they look all around. They hear the products are better, they hear the products are more advanced. I think they're ready for such a message, but our political system has not delivered it in my view.
Robert Lipsyte 14:53
Peter Peterson, john Schwarz, thanks so very much for being with us.
Interview concludes and Host Lipsyte thanks Peter Peterson and John Schwartz.
Close up on Host Lipsyte. He cuts to off-site segment and introduces Manhola Dargis, film critic for the Village Voice, who examines Hollywood's images of US Japanese relations.
Manohla Dargis, Film Critic from Rolling Stone, reporting outdoors in NYC
Zoom in on an article in the New York Times, Tuesday, September 26, 1989 "Deal is Expected for Sony to Buy Columbia Pictures", "Studio Would be 2d Sold to a Foreign Concern Recently -- Approval is Likely." Dargis narrates.
Footage of Ronald Reagan and Nancy shot from behind greeting Japanese digniitaries.
Tiltdown, crowd of Japanese men wearing suits
Wide shot of Japanese market trading floor
Pan posters of American movies but made by Japanese companies
Dargis reporting from outdoors, standing on sidewalk, peds walking by and Tad's Steak awning in bkgd.
Movie theater marquee reads "Black Rain with Michael Douglas". "Prancer" in larger letters on bright yellow bkgd, and ADon Bluth Film "All Dogs go to Heaven"
Clip from the movie Black Rain (takes place in Japan).
Dargis standing on street, traffic going by, reports about how well the movie "Black Rain" is doing here in US as well as in Japan.
Clips from the var "Karate Kid" movies, I, II & III.
Dargis reporting from Times Square, large Coca Cola billboard and large poster for the movie "Back to the Future, behind her.
Zoom in and pan on cinema marquee reads: 1. Jim Jarmusch's "Mystery Train" - "Brilliantly Funny" and 2. "Sex, Lies and Videotape" - Dargis narrating about how Jarmusch's movie was funding by a company from Japan.
Scene from the film, "Mystery Train" as Dargis narrates.
Dargis standing reporting from in front of an unidentified store in New York City.
Large banner reads: "Hungry?, Eat Your Foreign Car!!!"
Newsclip from Oklahoma City of two men with sledge hammers bashing in the side of a white automobile, people looking on.
Montage of the logos on Japanese made automobiles: Datsun 200 SX by Nissan; Toyota, Subaru, Nissan 200SX, Honda, Toyota
Dargis continues speaking about Japan's influence on American film.
Another clip from the film, Black Rain
Back in the studio, Host Lipsyte introduces two new guests, Sheila Johnson, Author The Japanese Through American Eyes and Jude Narita, Actress and Playwright.
INSERT INTERVIEW: JOHNSON AND NARITA
the kind of roles that you've been offered over the years as an Asian woman are probably some sort of litmus test to attitudes here. Could you tell us about it?
Jude Narita 19:51
Basically, if that part wasn't specifically an Asian if it was just a woman, and it wasn't an Asian I would be I would be met with I'm sorry, that's not an Asian A mother, that's not an oriental teacher, that's not an Asian nurse. But we do have a villager or we do have a prostitute that you might be right for. So that was real frustrating thing to be trained the full spectrum of an actor, and then to go into industry and find out that there was a solid prejudice against what you could be.
Robert Lipsyte 20:21
Well, then once once you might be cast as an Asian character, we're Asian women themselves put into specific categories,
Jude Narita 20:30
I would say that the majority of the majority of rules of roles that are available are either villagers are village prostitutes, or bar prostitutes in plays. And those are very there, there aren't even that many. So out of frustration, I started working myself and writing
Robert Lipsyte 20:47
your own your own woman show came out of that, that sort of expression. She'll This is in your book, I mean, this is a long history from Puccini from Madame Butterfly, all the way up the the the western view of the Eastern woman.
Sheila Johnson 21:06
Yes, exactly. And, indeed, Madame Butterfly and thinkton saying to think that this little squirrel could be my wife. At the same time, my book has been published in Japan. And they are very interested in the fact that the image of the Japanese woman softens the national image. I mean, when I talk about how you talked in the opening of this show, about the stereotype during World War Two, and one of the things that fascinated me, was how fast that stereotype dissipated. Now, I say that one of the reasons has to do with Hiroshima. And the fact that we felt an enormous amount of guilt. Once we realized what kind of a bomb we had dropped there, but then it was also books like Sayonara, and the image of the Japanese woman, that that came through to the occupying forces and the great number of intermarriages that took place. Not all bad is what I am trying to say
Robert Lipsyte 22:10
that image was an image of a either a non threatening woman subservient to us, or the dragon lady
Jude Narita 22:17
Or the dragon lady. It was it's interesting that these romances are always Asian, an Asian woman and a white white man. And it's not an Asian man or and for now, it's changing. Now, there's only been one kiss. I know, because my brother's the actor who did a movie called American geisha. But this, this idea of Asian women being portrayed as a fantasies sort of exotic little flower that's sexually available, while the Asian men are sort of goofy with cameras, or glasses, or buck teeth, sort of neutered. these are these are the same race of people, you know, that these are, there's there's marriages here there's brothers and sisters, there's, you know, sexual energy, and that's not portrayed. It's like, okay, we can we can accept that maybe they are economically they have some know how, but as far as any sort of charisma or any sexual energy, they don't, and that's interesting, because my brother's run up against this, that if the project does not demand an attractive Asian male, I mean, just to just to, you know, an attractive, powerful Asian, young man, they're not going to get cast. And you see this in, in the movies that do come out, there's this there's a definite image of, of an Asian male, and there's a definite image of an Asian female, and one is to be mocked and one is to be desired
Robert Lipsyte 23:36
I wonder if this is going to change. You talked about how quickly the world war two stereotypes dissipated. Do you think that this this attitude will change as Asian men take over American businesses Rockefeller Center Columbia Pictures, do you think they will be seen in a new way?
Sheila Johnson 23:53
Well you may be right about there's only been one screen kiss of an of an Asian man and a Western woman, Caucasian woman. But what I was pointing to is that the marriage statistics in real life are changing there. There are now more. It used to be always Caucasian man marrying a Japanese woman or an Asian woman. And now there are a fair number of marriages that run the other way
Robert Lipsyte 24:21
that that also may may begin to change reflected in terms of I mean, the the chairman of Sony's of strong and vigorous, sexy looking guy now, don't you think that's going to start changing itself?
Jude Narita 24:35
If Sony itself writes the project and, and gets it through? I think that it starts with the writers and if there aren't projects available, and if people aren't willing to back them, they won't get up. And there's this fear in the media of offending somebody and like you say there are marriages. People are are having different nationalities marry into their family, they're having mixed grandchildren. I don't think that people are offended that different nationalities are attract to each other or marry and have beautiful children, but I think in the media and film, that there's this hard line about what is acceptable, and the media does not reflect what is happening in in the world, what is happening with marriages?
Robert Lipsyte 25:14
What do you think the media reflects
Jude Narita 25:15
a white, a white attitude, I can only say it that way. White attitude and it generates a fear and it generates stereotyping. And a,
Sheila Johnson 25:24
I'm not so sure. I mean, I think Black Rain, Susan Shira wrote a very good article about it, in which she says there is a changing image all of a sudden here have a much more macho Japan depicted. And gung ho I Incidentally, you know, we talk about our own prejudices, but the Japanese have not allowed either gung ho, kinjeta, into their own country. Now that's distributors. And of course, distributors in Japan are entitled to their opinion of what Japanese audiences do and don't want to see. But I thought gung ho, is the stereotypes are rather broad, but I think they're rather funny. And certainly the American workers are as caricatured as the Japanese.
Robert Lipsyte 26:15
I guess probably, if there were 10 movies about Japanese American relations, it wouldn't matter. But when that's the only one, that's that's the stereotype that we're going to get. Okay. Now, the kind of projects that you would like Sony to underwrite now that they've got Columbia picture, I would like Warner Brothers, I would like to is anybody who has more what Would you like to see
Jude Narita 26:34
something that shows a better cross section that shows a better, you know, cross section of what's really happening of different nationalities having different Americans, black Americans, Asian Americans, Mexican Americans, Portuguese? I mean, it's very difficult. We don't say Anglo Saxon Americans,
Robert Lipsyte 26:51
do you think that if we had that kind of understanding through our media, that we wouldn't be so frightened about these takeovers, and we wouldn't have headlines like Japan invades Hollywood
Jude Narita 27:01
as we we the same trait that we say this is so American, this is aggressive, this is business Moxie, when somebody else does it, it becomes sneaky. It becomes threatening is the same quality, same trait. Courage to Americans, is something that we really pride ourselves on courage in another in another country where people are fighting for their own personal freedom. We don't and we happen to be back in the wrong people. We don't understand that we call it you know, anti democratic, maybe or we call it anti freedom, images and it's the same trait. We just we just use different words. So I think yes, it would make a big difference. We are so imprinted by the media
Robert Lipsyte 27:40
Jude Narita, Sheila Johnson, thanks so much for being with us. That's the 11th hour I'm Robert Lipsyte.
Interview concludes, Robert Lipsyte announces the show and introduces himself. Show ends.
Credits overlay show graphics.
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Description: The Eleventh Hour - Show #274 Title: Asianization Guests: Bill Powell, Newsweek Tokyo; John Schwartz, Newsweek; Peter Peterson, Chairman Blackstone Group; Manohla Dargis, Film Critic; Jude Narita, Actress and Playwright; Sheila Johnson, Author "The Japanese Through American Eyes"; Original Broadcast Date: 12-18-89
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