Archive for the ‘Nationalism’ Category

Prince Pickles

February 17, 2007

This (from today’s International Daily Tribune) is infuriating, funny and tragic all at the same moment. Moves toward militarizing Japan are being sugar-coated using a cartoon character. According to  Defence Agency official Shotaro Yanagi, “Prince Pickles is our image character because he’s very endearing, which is what Japan’s military stands for.”

Propaganda making the military, and therefore warfare, more palatable to voters and taxpayers is especially dastardly, and offensive to our intelligence too, given how we’ve been seeing the catastrophic results of war on our TV screens every night for the past few years. In the U.S., this kind of manipulation is found in appeals to young men’s (and more recently, young women’s) sense of adventure, pride, and strength (“be all you can be”) and use lots of high-powered cinematic images and hi-tech machines as bait; in Japan, they’re using an adorable little cartoon character.

Young people in the U.S. lured by these calls to adventure have so often paid so high in price (lost lives, arms, legs, minds, families, employment, dignity, purpose), for such dubious causes (Vietnam, Iraq) that it’s a wonder the ads are not illegal.

Were the massacres committed by the Japanese military adorable? Was the kidnapping and keeping of Korean sex slaves cuddly? Was Hiroshima cute? Is this the road the Japanese want to travel again?