October 9, 2017/ 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

Bunche Hall History Conference Room 6275

You Can Succeed, Too: media theory and kitsch in Toho's early 1960s popular song films

A Lecture with Professor Michael Raine, Western University

This presentation treats the Toho musical comedy of the early 1960s as part of an aspirational "white collar" urban culture in Japan. By the 1960s, cinema was no longer the king of mass entertainment: it was part of a leisure industry dominated by television that also included popular music and live performance consumed in "amusement zones." The growth of those forms only accelerated the tendency toward paratext and intertextuality in the high volume, low-budget film production system, characterized by the ubiquity and propinquity of familiar series and stars. Taking the musical comedy You Can Succeed, Too (Kimi mo shusse ga dekiru, 1964) as its main example, the presentation argues that the Toho musical comedies exhibit a kind of ironic "double coding" that interrogates what it also treats as entertainment. Although some critics claimed the anti-naturalist form of the musical made everyday life an objet for critical contemplation, most dismissed this film's zany pastiche of a western genre as kitsch. The presentation argues that the ambivalent copying and critique of American things in You Can Succeed, Too was a form of "irresponsible" media theory, an alternative way of thinking through questions of modern Japanese history that also occupied the Japanese new wave.

Information about the Speaker:
Michael Raine is Assistant Professor in Film Studies at Western University, Canada. He has a chapter on Ozu Yasujiro's intertitle syntax in Reorienting Ozu (Jinhee Choi, Ed., Oxford UP, forthcoming) and on the Japanese musical film in The Japanese Cinema Book (Alastair Philips and Fujiki Hideaki, Eds., BFI, forthcoming), and is currently writing a book manuscript on the Japanese "cinema of high economic growth" that includes chapters on the popular song film and on Toho's salaryman comedies.

Download file: 10.9.17-RAINE-FLYER-wp-3da.pdf