March 16, 2006
Japan in The Simpsons

Just a quick note this morning after reading through the latest edition of The Journal of Popular Culture. I found an intriguing article on recurring images of Japan in The Simpsons.

The essay, "Mister Sparkle Meets the Yakuza: Depictions of Japan in The Simpsons, written by Hugo Dobson from the University of Sheffield in England, provides an intriguing case study into some of the very aspects of pop cosmopolitanism my colleagues and I have mentioned here on this site before. The Simpsons actually seems very interested in depictions of international culture throughout its run, and its an international popular culture phenomenon.

For Dobson, this means that tracking the way Japan has been depicted throughout the run of the show has all sorts of implications, on images of Japan in America. Considering the influx of Japanese animation in America, how might this relationship to Japanese characters in American animation be compared?

Pop cosmopolitanism has multi-directional flow, both import and export, and these have implications that are not always directly economic, although everything is an economic factor it seems. Hugo Dobson, a self-admitted Simpsons fan and a scholar on Japanese culture, is interested in the cultural implications and accusations of racism in The Simpsons, but his insights have a wide variety of implications on pop cosmopolitanism (especially juxtaposed with all the articles several months ago about The Simpsons' launch into Arabic-speaking countries).

It's well worth a look if you're interested in these issues, and I would love to spark up some debate about the essay here, if anyone else has a chance to look it over.