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Studying Japan with Hollywood Films: Showing Mr. Baseball in Class

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108 MINUTES. VHS/DVD. 1992

Where do most of our students get their information about Japan? While I have no empirical data to address such a question, we can speculate on several sources. From actually traveling to Japan? From parents and friends who have been there? From classroom instruction including, perhaps, documentary films? From Japanese restaurants? Or from forms of popular culture including such sources as National Geographic, television shows, or feature films?

As educators, we must face the reality of an expanding mediascape—with direct relation to affecting the quantity and quality of information about Japan—information and ideas that students bring to our classrooms. But are we offering sufficient training in critical media participation? Are we conscious of alternative representations and, as Stuart Hall suggests, alternative readings of the “same” thing? Or are we insisting that only “our” versions of Japan (read: academically sanctioned or canonically accepted models) are worthy of examination? Is there a chance that if instructors were familiar with popular forms of information, and could create critical assessments based on “common ground,” that they could become more effective in their classrooms?