Friday, January 12, 2007

From Slate, Yakuza Photos

Here are some photos of yakuza from the late 1990s. The caption says "Members of the yakuza, Japan’s mafia, are some of the country’s top corporate earners ". Maybe so, but the photos tell a story of at best a lower middle class existence for the rank and file, reminding you of the story about "Why ... Drug Dealers Live With Their Moms". They "model their appearance on American gangsters of the 1950s" because, frankly, US movies depict the American gangsters of the 50s. Their affectation is secondhand, evoking images of Palestinian rap groups.

For the more glamorous and lurid side of the yakuza world in the post-war years, turn to Robert Whiting's Tokyo Underworld.

Incidentally, George Abe, the "celebrity writer" in a couple of the photos, is one of two yakuzas who became genuine celebrities, the other being Noboru Ando. Of course all entertainers had to make nice with the local yakuzas, since there was no way they would be able to put on their shows at the local night club, cabaret, or theaters near you without their "help". Then there's the hardcore por… but I digress.

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