See the introduction to this series here: Letting The Chips Fall Where They May
Tip #1: “You is a very Fluid Concept”
Tip #2: “Man the FUCK up!”
Tip #4: Let Your Smile Be your Guide!
Tip#5: Be A Baller!
First a little food for thought from our friends at Pixar:
Yes, it’s hilarious, but it speaks volumes, doesn’t it? I could probably write a whole book about just this clip.
…About the sharks trying to dispel heavily ingrained stereotypes about their breed.
…About the fact that they chose a minefield in which to hold their meetings.
…About the almost slapstick absurdity of Dory’s fearlessness, and Marlin’s ability to overcome his fear amid these mindless eating machines with the love of his missing son.
Love that movie!
Anyway… let’s get started!
The original 2008 series’ tip #6: Avoid Gaijin focused primarily on the complainers and the haters, the scornful and the disenchanted living here, and advised readers to avoid these people.
I even went as far as to confess that, “complaining is my favorite vice. Or, at least it used to be. Everyone complained back in Brooklyn so your own complaints would more than likely get drowned out in the sea of complaints around you. To be heard you had to complain louder (which was not attractive at all) or raise yours to the level of art form (which was potentially attractive.) The idea was to be creative by finding a fresh angle on the complaint, something that made it compelling to listen to. Or, find the funny in it. Make it clever and witty and make people laugh so hard they almost forget you’re complaining. I wouldn’t say I was an artist but among my friends I could hold my own.”
However, though I never said this in that 2008 post, the main reason for avoiding such people is because spending time with them will make it that much more difficult to convince yourself that much of the unsavory shit you’re experiencing in Japan is a direct result of your own failings and shortcomings and thus, to some extent, within your sphere of control.
So, yes, I went ahead and advised readers to avoid hobnobbing with complaining ass gaijin for (in addition to distracting you from your efforts at self-bamboozle-ment) I’d found these people often crossed or weren’t even aware of that fine line between constructive complaining and angry venting. While some would have valid grievances and reasonable expectations that were not being met, others did not. What was most troubling about some of these gaijin was that sometimes they were not aware of certain unusual or extenuating circumstances not within the conscious control of the target of their derision, and also, unfortunately, in many cases surrendered to the notion that these issues were beyond resolution and so the complaint itself became a sort of weapon of retaliation as opposed to what a complaint has the potential to be when utilized properly; that is, a tool for initiating change.
Though they were the focus of that post, I’ve since learned that they aren’t the only gaijin I’d come to avoid when possible.
Initially, I thought of Loco in Yokohama as a place where I could complain…ahem…vent some of those harmful combustible thoughts and feelings in a creative and entertaining way, while honing my ability to tell (true) stories. It evolved over the years into a place where others could come and do the same, a sort of community where ideas were shared. So, naturally, I began to think of my blogging as a type of activism — not so much by taking it to the streets like we did back in the States, but just raising awareness by sharing my experiences here, both personal and impersonal, with readers so that we can compare and contrast them and find common ground, and as a result a sort of coalition of the concerned would be forged. From there, the skies the limit, I think. Coalitions of this nature have changed the world numerous times.
But that community remained under siege…and not by Japanese. The assailants were foreigners who insisted I too would be experiencing the Japan they were experiencing if only I: weren’t paranoid, were more positive, weren’t attracting or provoking this behavior with the negativity I must certainly exude based on the tone of some of my posts, were more (or less) observant, less emotional, less judgmental, less sensitive, left your feelings and opinions out of the equation altogether and focused on data/statistics/and academia, thought shit through, stopped thinking so much, were more tolerant, more patient, weren’t suffering from a victim’s mentality or delusions of persecution, didn’t envy japanese privilege (and/or even white privilege), made Japanese friends, made a more concerted effort to assimilate, understood Japanese culture /customs/people/behavior/thoughts/and feelings better, spoke Japanese fluently, cut the Japanese the slack they’re entitled to cuz they’re a justifiably xenophobic people living on a homogenous island, stopped seeking offense, stopped looking for shit to complain about, stopped taking everything personally, stopped thinking about and talking about shit I can’t change, were more proactive in bringing about change, focused on more consequential matters (like real racism and discrimination), accepted the fact that experiences are the natural order of things rather than an artificial social construct based on fear and/or hate, made the best of the situation on the ground here (or packed my shit), put that crack pipe down, got laid, got laid some more, weren’t a pot calling the kettle black, weren’t an angry black man, weren’t a whining ass uppity ass nigger, listened to other blacks/Americans/foreigners who don’t see what you see, didn’t listen to other blacks/Americans/foreigners who do see what you see, never visited Debito’s website, weren’t a racialized American, weren’t American period, weren’t a racist…
…And the list goes on. That’s all I could think of off the top of my head but, suffice it to say, in four years of blogging, publishing (and speaking out), I’ve heard it all.
In a series I did earlier this year called: Why Do Gaijin Clash Over The Issue of Racism in Japan (My second most successful series to date. If you haven’t read it Part 1 is Here, Part 2 is Here, Part 3 is Here, and Part 4 is Here) I offered my take on why there is so much disharmony in this community of ours and this tendency of some Gaijin to take sadistic pleasure in lambasting other gaijin.
It’s enough to make you want to turn your back on the entire lot, I swear — Gaikokujin and nihonjin alike –which is probably the whole point. Regardless, it’s one of the worst feelings in the world. Fuck avoiding just gaijin…it makes me want to avoid most people and devote my time and attention to my little circle of friends, my loved ones, and write that YA novel that’s been pinging me for a year now…the one about the ハーフ half black / half Japanese High School girl, bullied in school by her pure-blooded classmates, who is one day savagely molested on the train by a gang of Japanese Chikan. She’s saved, well into the assault, by a black expert martial artist (with a checkered past and a troubled life of his own) hiding out in Japan these past 20 years, who proceeds to train her to be the cutest most lethal little vigilante killing machine (think Gogo Yubari and Hit Girl meet Stacy Dash) and proceeds to singlehandedly eliminate the need for women-only subway cars as well as the plague of bullying in Japanese schools with an assortment of…fuck, it doesn’t matter. It’ll sell ten thousand copies just by putting some buxom tanned Japanese chick with slightly “foreign” looks on the book cover.
Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, coalitions, advice, right…
So, if you’ve come to Japan to stay for the long haul, chances are you’ll be exposed to foreigners here with opinions about Japan that range from it’s “Heaven on Earth” to “Hell on Earth.”
I don’t subscribe to either of those extremes.
In my posts, I tend to lean more towards a well-grounded perspective, I’d like to think. Though a school of Japanophiles or a nest of apologists are easy prey and could easily be used as fodder for a hundred entertaining posts, search my archives, of late, and you’ll find very few if any posts taking advantage of this. To paraphrase Bruce in that Finding Nemo clip above, “It has been months since I lambasted my last Japanophile, on my honor!” As is a communion of complainers easy pickings, for most are so apt to rant about foolishness and are so averse to discussing their positions with those who see things differently, that the legitimate gripes of others often get drowned out in their squawking and open-minded people wind up maligning them. They really irk me, but still I don’t (or rather I no longer) advocate ostracizing or avoiding them.
There has to be a better way, for believe it or not, accept it or not, like it or not — and anyone who lives here can attest to this — we are all discernible minorities, and pre-judged by the majority under one global epithet: Gaijin.
In many ways, we are all in this together,and I for one believe that one way we can all reach our individual goals here is through unity.
No, I’m in neither heaven here nor in hell.
I’m in Yokohama.
Stay tuned for part 7, coming soon.
PS: And if you haven’t read Hi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist yet, what are you waiting for? A personal invitation? Get yours now…don’t let the days go by! Find out why it was number #1 in The UK yesterday, and number #1 in Germany last week! It’s available in paperback and E-book version here).