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Japan on American TV: Screaming Samurai Join Anime Clubs in the Land of the Lost (Alisa Freedman)

View the AAS Digital Dialogue book launch webinar for Japan on American TV featuring Alisa Freedman, Anne Allison, Jan Bardsley, and Bill Tsutsui with moderator, Maura Cunningham.

Listen to the podcast from New Books Network.

9781952636219. 202 pages.

Japan on American TV explores political, economic, and cultural issues underlying depictions of Japan on US television comedies and the programs they inspired. Since the 1950s, US television programs have taken the role of “curators” of Japan, displaying and explaining selected aspects for viewers. Beliefs in US hegemony over Japan underpin this curation process. Japan on American TV takes a historical perspective to understand the diversity of Japan parodies. These programs show changing patterns of cultural globalization and perpetuate national stereotypes while verifying Japan’s international influence. Television presents an alternative history of American fascinations with and fears of Japan.

Written in an accessible style that will appeal to scholars, teachers, students, and anyone with an interest in Japan and popular culture, as well as an ideal text for classroom use, Japan on American TV offers a gentle means to approach racism, cultural essentialism, cultural appropriation, and issues otherwise difficult to discuss and models new ways to apply knowledge of Asian Studies.

“Whether in Sesame Street or Gilligan’s Island, The Simpsons or Tidying up with Marie Kondo, Japan has powerfully figured in the post-postwar US imaginary through ‘cutification.’ Freedman traces this lineage with an astuteness that is both sharp-edged and arousing, considering how these parodies and stereotypes of ‘cute Japan’ work as affectively as politically. This is a wonderful book to think with, teach with, or just enjoy.” — ANNE ALLISON, author, Millennial Monsters, Precarious Japan, and Nightwork

“This smart and revealing study of the stereotypes of Japan created, circulated, and perpetuated on American television is fun and funny, eminently readable, and occasionally unsettling. Freedman’s insightful analysis will ensure you never look at John Belushi or Marie Kondo, The Flintstones or The Simpsons, Sesame Street or Portlandia, in quite the same way ever again.” — WILLIAM M. TSUTSUI, author, Japanese Popular Culture and Globalization

“Exploring old favorites and new hits alike, Japan on American TV takes on Sesame Street, South Park, SNL samurai, Marie Kondo, and much more. Freedman has us chuckling, cringing, and most importantly, thinking critically. Original, fun to read, and superbly researched, this timely book leaves no doubt about the cultural power of TV.” — JAN BARDSLEY, author, Maiko Masquerade: Crafting Geisha Girlhood in Japan

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