Another long, long, long essay about Japan April 14, 2010 12:52 AM   Subscribe

A followup to the now-closed thread about Tim Rogers' essay, "Japan: It's Not Funny Anymore": "The Life of Game: Why I Live In Japan".
posted by armage to MetaFilter-Related at 12:52 AM (42 comments total)

OK, that's a pretty good way to come back and erase all the hurty words with raw entertainment. I'm over it.
posted by circular at 2:21 AM on April 14, 2010


I clicked on the link to check the length. I'm not a huge fan ot tl;dr, but, uh, is it worth it? Is it in any way a cogent, concise read? Or is he still afflicted with Sportsguyitis?
posted by Ghidorah at 2:26 AM on April 14, 2010


God, how much of a slimeball do I sound like, right now? I'll admit I have liberal (and maybe weird) tastes, and that a lot of the things I said I didn't like about Japan are things that you'd think only a psychopath would rant about, though I wish to assure you that the maniacal tone was something of a stylistic choice. I was just playing around.

Nevermind, I was wrong to hope. Man writes column, is widely mocked and ridiculed for asinine views, tries to make up for it by saying he was just ACTING!

If you want something to hate about living in Japan, it's Hulu, and the fact that you can't access a single freaking SNL clip to make your point.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:33 AM on April 14, 2010


Based on the section headers in the first linked article, which I reproduce here up until the point where I couldn't be fucked to bother anymore,
  • ANIME SUCKS
  • SO MANY PEOPLE SMOKE
  • EVERYTHING IN JAPAN HAS MEAT IN IT
  • THE MANDATORY PARTIES
  • SOME JAPANESE OFFICE TRADITIONS ARE GENUINELY TERRIFYING
  • SCREAMING IS THE MESSAGE
  • THE COPYCATS, THE UP-GIVERS
  • JAPANESE COMEDY IS NOT FUNNY
  • THE PASSIVE AGGRESSION
  • SHIT BE EXPENSIVE UP IN HERE
I estimate that I've met several hundreds of Mr Rogerses in my own 15 years in Asia and I suspect he's not a person with whom I would enjoy having a drink. That is, of course, a wonderchicken's most virulent condemnation and expression of disapproval.

But at least, unlike most, he can string words together in an amusing way. A LOT OF WORDS. Would that I still had that kind of energy.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:41 AM on April 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, if you watch the Youtube video he made, the situation becomes a bit more clear. He likes to experience new things by walking around cramming Japanese square blocks into his triangular American template and then discarding whatever doesn't immediately fit. Well, that's not true. He tries the pentagon-shaped Nintendo Gamer template from time to time too.

I guess this latest article is him returning to the pile of discarded square blocks and deciding maybe a few of them just don't fit, but he likes them anyway, but they're STILL SO WEIRD AND LIKE, CRAZY.

It's like watching one of those kit-robots that bumps into something, turns a bit, and tries another direction. Funny to watch the bumps for a while, but it's not like it has the capacity to suddenly fly into orbit. He's just gonna keep bumping into things and completely missing any life-changing nuance until he humbles himself a bit. See also: "CEO" self-title...
posted by circular at 2:45 AM on April 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


I read it, don't do it, it's a trap, &c.

Something awoke in me the day of my triumphant story: A man, probably the hundred and fifty-fifth, sat across from me grunting and clicking his tongue, staring me in the eye. I thought I was dressed pretty well that day. I felt good about myself for some reason or another. I didn't want this guy pissing in my Coca-Cola. So I leaned forward, put my hands on my knees, maintained eye contact, and spoke with the accent of a Japanese cartoon badass: "You see these glasses? It's not my fault that these glasses cost more than your suit." The expression on the old man's face was amazing. I can't even describe it. It was like a priest had just presented him incontrovertible proof that he'd be a trillionaire if he'd been raised Catholic. I'm not implying that my words had hit a soft spot or shamed him in any way, true as they might have been (the glasses had, for sure, cost at least six times as much as his suit (I rock the 24k gold up in here (I am blinged the hell out (so lonely))) — just that he had perhaps somehow made it through his entire life without ever encountering a line of human dialogue of which he had no clue in hell what to make. Then I held a fist out in front of myself, shook it furiously for about three seconds, and made my index finger pop up like a bean sprout. I then pointed in the direction of the next car. He stood up near-immediately and raced away.

What the hell? He's proud of this? I ... what? A guy sits across from him in the train, he interprets it as a the old man judging him silently, so the author, in his best, heavily accented Japanese, tells the old man his glasses cost more than his suit, and the old men stares at him and leaves.

Yes, that's quite the triumph there.
posted by Comrade_robot at 4:45 AM on April 14, 2010




I've been reading it bit by bit, but so far I've gotten to about where Comrade_robot quoted. He seems inordinately proud of flouting social conventions either for a laugh, or because he knows that by causing discomfort to people, he can cut corners and make his own life more comfortable at the expense of others. Unfortunately, a good number of Japanese people, young and old, have caught on as well, and exploit those opportunities, knowing that the culture dislikes open confrontation (which is often confused with politeness).

Where I come from, in my native language, we have a word for people like that. We call them assholes.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:13 AM on April 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


It's not my fault that these glasses cost more than your suit.

"what? someone put a gun to your head and MADE you piss away your money?"
posted by pyramid termite at 7:03 AM on April 14, 2010


I didn't want this guy pissing in my Coca-Cola

Seriously? He said that? Please tell me he set this up earlier in the piece (which enough posters have warned me away from that there is no way I'm reading it) and he's not just referring to the playground rhyme. Which is anti-Chinese anyway
posted by jtron at 7:13 AM on April 14, 2010


I was that old man on the train across from him - I remember it well. I was not judging him silently. I was trying to get his attention to tell him that his zipper was down.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:13 AM on April 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I had forgotten about this joker.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:16 AM on April 14, 2010


guy sits across from him in the train, he interprets it as a the old man judging him silently, so the author, in his best, heavily accented Japanese, tells the old man his glasses cost more than his suit, and the old men stares at him and leaves.

Pssh, who hasn't quoted Glengarry Glen Ross to an old dude on the shinkansen? I thought it was like a national past time.

"doko wa leads desu ka? Motherfucker! DOKO DESU KA!"
posted by Think_Long at 7:25 AM on April 14, 2010


errr. leads wa doko desu ka. or whatever.
posted by Think_Long at 7:31 AM on April 14, 2010


*reads comments instead of 15k screed*

Still an asshole.
posted by graventy at 7:46 AM on April 14, 2010


This guy reads like a really bad writer who thinks he's a really good writer.
posted by Aizkolari at 8:06 AM on April 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


This guy reads like a really bad writer who thinks he's a really good writer.

The jokes on him, writing for a Gawker blog. They pay shit.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 8:17 AM on April 14, 2010


I was a train, and two men were sitting in me. From within my bowels, I sensed the raw tingle of open conflict as one insulted the other. One remained seating, and the other walked away. I continued moving. Always moving. The thrum of the tracks was a comfort to me.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:18 AM on April 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


He is a good writer who often writes badly.

Quinns from RPS recently penned an appreciation.
posted by empath at 8:22 AM on April 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


god, there's a part of me that really really hopes that Tim Rogers grows up, as a writer.

I know nothing about him as a human being, despite his repeated attempts to inundate his audience with unnecessary details about his personal life, including how often he gets laid and how his workout produces results.

but as a writer, the dude needs to grow the fuck up. It's like he has an issue of Harper's in his closet, and he keeps taking it out and going "huh. so a writer fills pages and pages with tangential ruminations about his personal life." but didn't actually get that there's more to it than that. He's self obsessive, as a writer, and basically sees the columns he does as opportunities to ramble on about whatever.

But I do get the feeling that if he actually worked at his craft a little bit, leaving whatever sheltered comfort zone he writes in that allows him to think shit like this is quality work, he might actually produce some good stuff. Instead of pathos or human interest, he just drops these shallow turds generalizing an entire culture and at the end of the day, he might as well end every sentence with "amirite?" But there's room there for better, and I hope he manages to explore it. I suspect he'll need to try writing for something other than a blog, though, to see what happens when someone who isn't aware of his cachet within game culture gets a look at his work. I worry that his reputation will continue to allow him to stagnate, and he'll just keep writing shit like this.
posted by shmegegge at 8:28 AM on April 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks for reminding me why I had kotaku blocked in my hosts file.
posted by hellojed at 9:37 AM on April 14, 2010


Tim Rogers is the least funny writer on the internet. Which is saying a lot.

And that's the funniest (weirdest) part of reading his stuff. He actually knows a moderate amount about video games -- his top 25 or top 30 or whatever list at actionbutton is pretty well-thought out -- and he brings up, if you wade through the absolute dreck, some very interesting points. Most are probably out of chance, since he brings up so much other shit. But back to how unfunny he is:

He's a parrot. He's the popular expatriate television actor who has to memorize his lines phonetically, because he can't read and it's all in a different language, anyway. He's the dude sitting behind you in the cheap seats at a late-season hockey game with his two friends, telling jokes nonstop, trying to "riff" on the action and the players, not listening to the words other people are saying, or even the words he himself is saying, just more, more, more. It doesn't matter that nothing he is saying is making his friends laugh -- and is ruining the environment for anyone in the vicinity -- because he's just doing what he is convinced funny people do, and he is convinced that he is a funny person.

I really don't like to make fun of people who don't have a sense of humor, any more than I like to make fun of other types of disabilities, but he really brings it upon himself: when it comes to humor, he is not just colorblind, he's monochromatic. When I first started reading his reviews, a few years ago, I thought "Oh hey, his schtick is that he's intentionally writing like a 11-year-old at the starting edge of maturity." But then I quickly realized, well, no, that's who he really is.

Most of us, maybe all of us, we're pretty similar to this when we're young. We're still learning how complex social interactions work, still mimicking adults and older kids, and through this mimicry we learn actual social skills, and these skills allow us to experience -- or put to word and thought -- the full spectrum of human emotion. And humor, of course, is one of those very nuanced things: we copy it, then we discover it, then we explore it and create it. Then, all of a sudden, we pick up a Woody Allen movie or an old Dave Barry book or something when we're 12 or 13 or 14, and realize, my god, this is amazing. Where we previously laughed at a funny movie because of almost-instinctual reactions -- a man slipping, a dog biting someone on the butt (both still favorites of mine) -- we're now laughing because the source material inflames that great, new intelligence we've developed.

I don't think Tim ever got that far. I think he got stuck on copy, and faked the rest. There's no other explanation for someone who can write intelligent commentary being so, so, so unfunny. Which maybe explains all of the other posturing in his work -- as a reflexive response to his medical-level lack of a sense of humor, he sets himself up as the edgy, gonzo antihero. If he had an actual sense of humor, he wouldn't spend 14 pages desperately hinting at it in every fucking sentence. Game Pro Pro Tip: Whenever someone past the age of 20 claims that they are too sarcastic, too abrasive, too abstract, too cynical? They are, of course, projecting; telling you they are too much of what they wish they were at least a little. In reality, they are probably very boring.

And it must be lonely, being stuck in that adolescent mode of humor -- not juvenile, as in farts + pie fights, mind you, but as in "completely undeveloped" -- because so much of life is very, very funny. Even the tragic parts! So when I read about a guy whose big hilarious story turns out to be a time he bragged about the cost of his glasses to an old man on a train because it reminded him of anime, I really can't feel any sympathy. Just confusion and brief pity at someone devoid of joy, who can no more reliably tell a joke than a cat can replace a car battery, and for whom life is some endless "let's take ourselves seriously" contest.

Which, ironically, I've apparently entered. So let me finish by linking to a great Yahoo answers.
posted by Damn That Television at 9:42 AM on April 14, 2010 [14 favorites]


New games journalism y'all!!!
posted by naju at 9:57 AM on April 14, 2010


Where we previously laughed at a funny movie because of almost-instinctual reactions -- a man slipping, a dog biting someone on the butt (both still favorites of mine) -- we're now laughing because the source material inflames that great, new intelligence we've developed.

The football! His groin!! It works on so many levels!!
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:08 AM on April 14, 2010


His review of FFXIII is pretty outstanding, though.

I'm confused by FFXIII reviews. A surprising number claim that there's no way to see the enemies' total hit points, and make arch comments about how that renders the glossy numbers that pop up when you hit them redundant. But you can see them, very easily, which leads me to believe that these reviewers are either lying to make a point, or not very observant; neither option inspires trust in them or their review. At least when that Zero Punctuation git reviewed the thing he was honest about how little he played.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:45 AM on April 14, 2010


Which, ironically, I've apparently entered.

Was this whole thing intentionally a parody of his style?
posted by empath at 11:58 AM on April 14, 2010


But you can see them, very easily

Really? Where? I don't see them in this picture for example.
posted by naju at 12:03 PM on April 14, 2010


Was this whole thing intentionally a parody of his style?

;)
posted by Damn That Television at 12:08 PM on April 14, 2010


His review of FFXIII is pretty outstanding, though.

Seriously? I got 5 or 6 pages down before I quit. Personally, when I read a review about Final Fantasy 13, I expect something about Final Fantasy 13, not about what Marty McFly thinks about the characters' hair in Dragon Quest 9. Even the "80% shorter 'short version'" of the review was too unfocused by half. Someone get this guy an editor, please!

P.S. hope you can pay the editor enough to put up with his horrid writing...
posted by vorfeed at 12:41 PM on April 14, 2010


If you're curious at all, I recommend just reading the headings.
posted by Kimberly at 1:05 PM on April 14, 2010


naju: "Really? Where? I don't see them in this picture for example."

I'm pretty sure each enemy has a status screen with the number on it, if you've scanned them. It's not like it's very important, though.
posted by graventy at 1:18 PM on April 14, 2010


Really? Where? I don't see them in this picture for example.

Press R1. Or possibly L1. I do these things by muscle memory and can't tell you which finger it is without the PS3 controller in my hands, and it is currently busy being in someone else's hands.

why does my mefiquote not work any more, I downloaded it again and everything
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:43 PM on April 14, 2010


Ah thanks ArmyOfKittens! Somehow I got through 25 hours of the game without knowing that.
posted by naju at 1:53 PM on April 14, 2010


Being able to see the HP isn't the most important thing in the world -- I need to know maybe once every few dozen fights, usually where the mob has put up a shield or similar and the choice is between nibbling away at it cautiously or taking every character's trousers off and throwing them at its face -- so it makes sense that they moved it to the info screen; it just boggles my mind that so many video game reviewers, whose jobs revolve around careful observation of just this sort of thing, completely missed it. That Tim Rogers is apparently among their number does not surprise me in the least.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:03 PM on April 14, 2010


ArmyOfKittens:why does my mefiquote not work any more, I downloaded it again and everything

Dunno. It's working fine for me.
posted by joedan at 2:12 PM on April 14, 2010


Does he really think he's the only foreigner living in Japan?

Still a douche. And a really predictable one at that.
posted by bardic at 9:39 PM on April 14, 2010


His review of FFXIII is pretty outstanding, though.

That review is actually longer than the fucking game.
posted by eyeballkid at 1:46 AM on April 15, 2010


I enjoyed reading that, and it had some tidbits in it about a foreign culture I've only seen from the outside that I haven't read any place else so it was definitely worth the read.

Don't have the energy to join the party to piss on this guy today, sorry kids.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:30 PM on April 15, 2010


Yura Yura Teikoku have quit! Holy fuck that sucks... oh well, there's still gadzooks of their stuff I haven't listened to... but still :(

And what a weird way to find out.
posted by Kattullus at 6:31 PM on April 15, 2010


Oh damn, I can't believe I missed one half of Afrirampo playing in Providence in March. I fail at life!
posted by Kattullus at 7:25 PM on April 15, 2010


Kattullus, that post was my first taste of Yura Yura Teikoku, and while I wasn't thrilled, might I offer up Go!Go! 7188? Or Bloodthirsty Butchers? Perhaps Brahman? I'm always on the lookout for good Japanese music (preferably punk- Ellegarden/Nicotine or ska- Muremasa/Oreskabando/Kemuri/Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, but I'm open to others), so let me know if you've got any must-listens.

Also, I have a sweet spot for Halkali.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:38 AM on April 16, 2010


I couldn't find any of my favorite Yura Yura Teikoku songs online, but this is I quite like.
posted by Kattullus at 1:56 PM on April 16, 2010


« Older End the "Brand New Day" Policy?   |   Help me find this old AskMetafilter thread Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments