Sunday, July 13, 2014

Well, we like her at our house: Rola changing DNA of Japanese pop culture

Rola changing DNA of Japanese pop culture

Having married a Japanese woman, I get a big dose of Japanese TV almost daily.  Japanese TV is largely crap.  The culture snob in all of us might sniff, "Well, so is all of TV, no matter the country of origin.  All mass culture is crap."  But Japanese TV is REALLY crap, by just about any standard.  Even my wife thinks so, although she enjoys the game shows where celebrities try to figure out the correct kanji before a giant computer graphic ape out of a video game throws bees at them or whatever the hell is happening. 

We also both get a big charge out of Itte Q and another show staring Seiji, a big, affable galoot of a guy in loud clothes who drags his roller suitcase all over Africa looking for lone Japanese living in small towns and villages there.  I have no quarrel with J-Dramas, either.  Or anime.  Or the show with the old guy in overalls walking his cute dog around town meeting ordinary people.

What I can't bear, however, are the endless shows about people going to restaurants, or the endless shows where people sit around on a brightly decorated stage and sample ordinary Japanese dishes.  Or the shows where celebrities watch videos of other celebrities going to restaurants.  Or the shows that just seem to be a group of celebrities shouting at each other while watching videos of other celebrities going to restaurants.  Or shows about restaurants.

Many of these shows feature Rola.  Rola has a nasal voice that sounds as if she could shatter glass, but just as that article I lined to points out, she has a "carefree" charm.  We know to always bet against her in any guessing game, but there's just something appealing about her lack of pretentiousness.  Which is the opposite of me, a creature composed largely of pretentions and mistaken assumptions.  Granted, I know nothing of the real Rola, but if she has a talent beyond being approachably pretty, it's projecting an honest, open demeanor.  Certainly, there's a cloying quality about her, too, but it's largely overshadowed by that apparent honesty.  You feel with Rola you're getting a genuine person, beyond the trademark poses and pouts.

Which is to say, if you must air a show where celebrities watch video of other celebrities going to restaurants or talking about food (and if you're a Japanese broadcaster, you absolutely must or suffer the consequences), you could do a lot worse than to add Rola to your cast.  And yes, she's pretty much everywhere these days, so you just have to get used to her and not worry so much about all-Rola, all the time.  I'm pretty sure she's not losing any sleep over it, except for when she's working, which must be all the time.  You know what I mean, though, right?

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