Disclaimer: I am Asian. This node discusses the reasons I tend to hang around non-Asians more, and why I dislike the current Asian youth culture. I don't hate other Asians. Also notice I only talk about Asian guys. I did not have enough time to deal with girls while I was there to learn about their culture, so I won't talk about it. Asian teenagers who grew up in the US seem to be unaffected by this.

I lived in Hong Kong for 9 years before I moved away to Sydney, Australia. If I did not, I wouldn't be writing this. I would have been assimilated into its horrid mass, homogeneous, and digustingly shallow and trendy.

You see, in recent years, youth in Asia have decided to generate their own confused culture. For examples, they turned to the West, namely USA. Everything was copied, in the process corrupted, from West to East. That includes music, clothing, culture, everything. They were not original or smart enough to derive their own culture from what they already have, so they plagarized. The transition from West to East messed up horribly and we ended up with the homogeneous Asian youth culture.

By far the worst is the overly macho attitude that has permeated the society. In Korean culture that has already existed for centuries and has only gotten worse. In Hong Kong and Taiwan, in the short periods of time I lived there, all the young guys were obssessed with macho. But what cracks me up is their definition of macho itself. It includes its previous definition of manliness, but it has been mixed liberally with doses of the correct clothing, the correct music, and the correct hairstyle. Only when you have those can you be truly a man in the eyes of your peers.

The music. I don't think most Asiatic languages fit very well into the Western music forms. Rap for example. It just doesn't work! The way the English language is spoken makes rap possible, but in Japanese, Chinese or Korean, no. They tried. It became popular due to its Westerness. It sounds horrible. You were "cool" if you listened to this type of music. I will not even try to delve into the crappiness of Cantopop. Think Backstreet Boys and worsen it by a factor of 10 and you get that.

You say, don't listen to it if you hate it. OK I don't. I avoid that music like the plague. So I was not "cool" and socially alienated. Assholes. Don't want their company anyways.

Clothing is a big one. Go to Hong Kong. You are liable to see guys dressed in skin tight pants (!!!) and shirts unzipped to their navels, also skin tight. I find that disgusting. Maybe there was a slight time-warp and they managed to plagarize American fashion in the 1970's.

Dress however you like. I don't care. I'll snicker a bit and walk away. But what pissed me off was their unwillingness to accept me socially because of my overly Westernized style of dress and my dislike of skin-tight clothing. Not that it mattered because I went to the US for college shortly afterwards.

This one is huge. Hair. It is very very important. You MUST have the most trendy hairstyle to be "cool". Anything else is not acceptable. Last time I was in Asia, it seemed to be the "hedgehog" style (as I like to call it). Spiked up to ridiculous levels.

Again, do whatever you want with your hair. Shave it, dye it, gel it, I don't care. I don't care too much about my hair. I brush it so it looks respectable and I am on my way. I don't spend 30 minutes every morning carefully dishevelling my hair so it looks cool. Ahhh the joys of non-conformity and its ridiculous consequences in shallow culture.

My older sister and I have discussed this at great lengths (she too was too Westernized for their tastes). We have come to a conclusion of why this ridiculous bullshit has occurred.

You see, the sense of macho has always been stronger in Asian cultures than Western cultures. Once Asian parents starting earning some money, the kids acquired time to develop their own cultures (I guess poor kids are too busy working or studying). In the fashion of teenage rebellion, they looked to the opposite of their current culture and found it in the good ol' USA. Hence began the twisting of culture.

What were little American kids likely to idolize (I wasn't one so I am taking guesses)? Sports heroes? Micheal Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Mark McGuire, etc. That is all good. Asian youths, however, tend to idolize singers and bands. The problem was that artists tend to dress and act more strangely than the normal population. Masses of Asian youth proceeded to attempt to copy them signers way of dress and hair, to disastrous results. We now have a homogeneous mass of fashion misfits. For the most laughable examples of this, go to Korea and look at the boy-bands there. You won't be able to stop laughing for a long long time.

Combine this with the sense of macho that has been warped to include trendiness as a large part of manliness, and you have your disgusting alienation of everyone who doesn't follow the lastest fashions and hairstyles. Screw them. They can all go to hell for all I care.

BTW, this is a theory of me and my sister's creation. If you have your own explanation of this phenomenon, feel free to post it here.

I am not asian, but this is
A thought:

One thing that was particularly interesting in this node was the fact that you say that you prefer the company of American youth, and you criticize your fellow Asian youth for their floppy attempts at westernizing. The thing is, many of the young (North) Americans that I know are sucking down anime and sushi faster than you can say GAINAX!

I am willing to bet that, as objectively as possible, hip chyx walking down Queen Street W. wearing some Chinese printed t-shirt, (that for all they know says: I AM CHEAP AMERICAN WHORE), look every bit as ridiculous as your Korean boy bands. The West is craving Zen and Kanji at the same time as the East is going crazy for Rock and Roll and McDonald's.

This melting pot and cultural levelling effect is inevitable considering the new electric technology that wraps the earth, allowing contact between people that is independant of borders and cultures. In fact, it should be an expected result that the East is Westernizing as rapidly as the West is Easternizing.

baby, that's just how it is...
Wandering around late at night, I found this node and it seems to hit exactly whats been going on in my head lately. I was born in North America and lived there until I finished high school when I decided to come to Japan to do university. I speak Japanese well enough but English is definitely my first language. And unfortunately, I look 100% Japanese, which causes confusion from time to time.

I think a lot of what Dman says is right, especially here in Japan. But what bothers me is not the "machoness". What bothers me is the homogeneity of the culture. I think it's more to do with huge groups of people educated to be part of huge groups.

I can't say much for the rest of Asia, but in Japan, people are defined by the group they are in. The biggest group happens to be empty kids who digest asian ripoffs of western culture. If they find themselves unable to blend in to that group or they are cast out of it, then there are a few other groups they can join. The point is that you've always got to be part of a group. You talk the way they talk, about the things they like to talk about, otherwise no-one will talk to you. You will laugh at the jokes and submit jokes of your own that are variations on the pattern set by the group. You will jump when everyone jumps and go home when everyone else goes home. Sit in front of a Japanese school and watch the kids come out after the bell rings, the few that come out alone are the ones that look the saddest. So be an obedient member of the group. I was very sad to find out that I didn't know all the culture, history, and unwritten rules to be an active part of a Japanese group. I've given up on seeing Japan from the inside and I now politely correct anyone who assumes I'm Japanese.

There will probably be people who read this and think "Oh no, that's the old Japan. The new Japan is different." You are wrong. This is Japan right now. And maybe most of Asia, from what's written above.

Something of an update...

It's been just under a year since I created this write-up, and a few different things have occurred to me since then. One particular thing that I wrote --"empty kids who digest asian ripoffs of western culture"-- now seems like a huge misunderstanding of mine.

A little while ago, I had the chance to see my cousin in a Japanese dance performance. She had been studying for quite a while, and she was now moving up in the extremely traditional world of Japanese dance.

The fifteen minute performance was mesmerizing. Every twist of her head, every flick of her wrist, every single one of her movements was strictly dictated in degree, direction, and timing. The song that went along with the dance was in indeciphirable, archaic Japanese, so I was interested in hearing from my cousin what the story behind the dance was.

I expected a vast, intriguing and deep tale to match the complex and intricate movements of her dance. So I sat intently before her, making myself comfortable to hear what would undoubtedly be a long story. She began to speak: "It was about a lion and his son. To help him grow up into a strong lion, the father pushes the son down into a valley. When he tries to get back up, the father pushes him back down."

That's it?, I thought. There had to be more to all those strange actions, and subtle, almost imperceptible movements. And then I realized the importance was not in the story, but the movements themselves. All throughout Japanese culture I realized, was the placement of form over meaning. In shodou, Japanese calligraphy, the stylized form of the letters is primary to the actual words being written. In the Japanese tea ceremony, the protocol and procedure are strictly laid out and followed. I suspect something similar in Japanese martial arts. The point is that what appeared as empty mimicry to me, might actually have been a modern extension of a Japanese culture of finding meaning in the exterior form of something. This Macluhan-esque culture, where, in a way, the medium has become the message, can be seen in Japanese kids who spend ten of thousands of yen to become 60s Mods, or American Hip-hoppers, or Harajuku-Malice Mizers. This idea can probably partly explain the Japanese "cos-play" phenomenon.

While everything I've written here is written only with Japan in mind, I think it is foolish to pass off any culture as shallow, or hollow, because the driving ideas behind a culture may not always be obvious to someone looking in from the outside.

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