Sunday, August 05, 2012

Hashimoto’s Bunraku Argument in a Nutshell

Sorry, I failed to produce a full-fledged tract on Mayor Hashimoto’s take on Bunraku. You’ll have to be satisfied with my following summary of his July 26 tweets, plus a very brief comment.

1. Bunraku is a popular art form. As such, it must reach out to masses.* If the cultural elite disagree, it should not ask for public handouts. Maintaining Intangible Cultural Assets is the national government’s business.

2. The current script for The Sonezaki Shinju, which was Hashimoto’s second Bunraku experience, is actually a 1955 adaptation. Maybe they should try something new that appeals to contemporary tastes or go back to the original.

3. It’s hard for the novice audience member to ignore the dressed-up, in-your-face, head-and-right hand puppeteer. They should do something about that.

I have one criticism that may seem trivial to you, one that Hashimoto actually should accept if I put it to him. Otherwise, I have no objections to his arguments.


Brian B. said...

So what is the criticism?

Jun Okumura said...

I’ll do my best to remember to reveal my answer later, but for now, I want to leave it to folks who pass by to think about it and come up with their own ideas. Let me just say that Hashimoto makes a point that is not an integral part of what is otherwise a consistent outlook on Bunraku as an art form and leaves him open to a line of criticism. He, in turn, would have a robust rebuttal, though. And that’s really my broader point when I take him up as a subject of scrutiny. Some people think he’s a helicopter parent gone wild, obsessing about tattoos on civil servants and a minor subsidy to Bunraku. But Mayor Bloomberg has been far more intrusive regarding life in New York—and even forced a change in the state constitution to serve a third consecutive term—but people still think of him as a moderate independent and not a crazy Jewish super-mom. So yes, there’s certainly something a little obsessive about the man that makes you think, I’d rather not be his next-door neighbor. But he’s obviously someone that you can have a meaningful dialogue with on a wide range of topics around his public persona, and the reporters who cover him and the people, including some prominent intellectuals, who communicate with him appreciate that.