Departmental Bulletin Paper When Life came to town : seeing Doubles after Cocktail Party

Shea, David P.

(70)  , pp.17 - 38 , 2017-12 , 慶應義塾大学日吉紀要刊行委員会
Recently, the noted American film director, Regge Life, came to Keio University as a guest speaker to talk about his films, particularly his newest feature, Cocktail Party, an adaptation of the award-winning Japanese novel by Tatsuhiro Oshiro. The film suggests that harm is an inevitable part of the U.S. military presence in Japan, in spite of stated policy intentions. Further, by making the protagonist from Tokyo, the suggestion is made that all of Japan is implicated in the relationship with America – and, by extension, the larger world and its languages, cultures, and ethnicities. In his talk, Mr. Life also spoke about one of his first documentary films, Doubles, which introduces multiracial children who have rights and allegiances to two languages and two cultures. In this essay, I discuss issues raised by Mr. Life, with particular reference to student response to Cocktail Party, as well as my personal experience raising bilingual, bicultural children on the one hand, and dealing with being defined in racial terms as a outsider in Japan, on the other. I argue that while race is fundamental to understanding American society, it was not until I came to Japan that I understood what being white (or colored) really means. The issue is relevant for Japanese who, like the young protagonist in Cocktail Party, are caught up in global events and struggle to assert agency and responsibility in an increasingly multiracial, multilingual world.

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