blind, a film by Shoda Yukihiro
September 6, 2011 4:32 AM   Subscribe

blind is a short film (5:17 - in Japanese w/ English subtitles) set in post-nuclear Tokyo. The film may be viewed at the blind website, at Vimeo or at YouTube. Parents please be advised: although the film features a young child, viewing by young children is not especially recommended, as they may be frightened.
posted by flapjax at midnite (29 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Very nicely done. Funded through Kickstarter, which is interesting.
posted by Hogshead at 5:07 AM on September 6, 2011

Haha, an entire short film designed to induce fear. It's like watching a Republican Party recruiting video.
posted by shii at 5:20 AM on September 6, 2011

funded by international contributors to Kickstarter because I think you'd be hard pressed to find enough funding for it here, right now. Why? Perhaps because a) there are already a vast number of people that believe the Fukushima meltdown has left much of the country counting down to a thyroid cancer "epidemic", and b) there's nothing to be done even if it has.

Fatalism or simply culturally-ingrained Buddhist stoicism? Potato, potato. Either way it's hard to induce fear in a society that, at the very core of its value system, sees life as suffering.
posted by squasha at 6:00 AM on September 6, 2011

Can we instead watch another example of Japanese cinema? Perhaps something more cheerful, like Double Suicide?
posted by Nomyte at 6:13 AM on September 6, 2011

(sorry if I come across as all negative above,'s a visually stunning little work, I'm just in a foul mood because of this lingering sore throat that I--and, well, everyone I know--seem to be suffering from....)
posted by squasha at 6:49 AM on September 6, 2011

Oh, no need for any apology, squasha! Actually, I didn't find your comment especially negative.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:53 AM on September 6, 2011

Fatalism or simply culturally-ingrained Buddhist stoicism? Potato, potato. Either way it's hard to induce fear in a society that, at the very core of its value system, sees life as suffering.

I'm not sure if I agree with this. I think for many people in Japan, the scale of the disaster is hard to comprehend. It's also difficult to get accurate information about radiation levels and food safety.

I think this video perfectly describes how people are feeling in Japan (Tokyo) at the moment. Something is wrong, things may get worse in the future, but what can one realistically do?
posted by KokuRyu at 7:02 AM on September 6, 2011

Does anyone know what the symbolism of the cut/sewn neck was? My guess would be something like "you've cut off the head of the next generation" or something like that? Does it have some specific meaning in Japanese culture?
posted by delmoi at 7:31 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thyroid cancer
posted by KokuRyu at 7:37 AM on September 6, 2011

Thyroid cancer surgery.

Nope. Nothing like that. More like a reference to thyroid cancer surgery.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:37 AM on September 6, 2011

Whoops. Don't know what happened there. meant to copy and paste delmoi's question.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:38 AM on September 6, 2011

And some of the pictures in this Google image search for thyroid cancer surgery (not for the squeamish) will clue you in further.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:41 AM on September 6, 2011

Hmm, that is pretty creepy then.
posted by delmoi at 7:54 AM on September 6, 2011

Reminds me of similar visuals from Nicholas Roeg's Don't Look now, a haunting story of a distraught father in pursuit of his symbolic dead child. The 'ghost' of his daughter is running away from him in a splash of red coat in a city in collapse with lots of dream sequences while a blind prophet predicts the future
posted by growabrain at 8:08 AM on September 6, 2011

(Rhaomi or somebody, please compose a multi-link mega post about the early work of Nicholas Roeg)
posted by growabrain at 8:11 AM on September 6, 2011

It is worth noting the mural in the film is "Asu no Shinwa," (Myth of Tomorrow) by Taro Okamoto. It is currently on display in the Shibuya subway station, you can view a zoomable image here.

This is a particularly historic mural, it was painted for the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, which had monumental murals everywhere. It was removed after the Olympics and lost for decades. It was rediscovered in a scrapyard in Mexico City in 2003, brought to Japan, and restored. After its re-emergence in a museum, it kind of became a hot potato, nobody wanted to display it permanently. I am glad to see it found a prominent home.

Unfortunately, that video was such crude propaganda that it does not deserve to piggyback on such a historic painting.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:06 AM on September 6, 2011

Unfortunately, that video was such crude propaganda that it does not deserve to piggyback on such a historic painting.

charlie don't surf, after the disaster you described Fukushima as a "miracle of engineering" for withstanding the earthquake so well. You wrote:

while the entire world is freaking, I am certain that the GE Mark I was designed and built by the best nuclear engineers of the time, and the Fukushima incident is being attended by the best nuclear engineers in the world.

How's that working out?

I have a lifelong friend in Japan with a two-year-old son. I don't think she would agree with your opinions. I would happily have contributed to this film.
posted by namasaya at 9:34 AM on September 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

Oh Jeez. My mother's had two thyroid cancer surgeries, and neither of her scars looked that gruesome even immediately after surgery.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:13 AM on September 6, 2011

namasaya, that is not the point. Regardless of the merits of the issue being discussed, it is obvious that the mural is several orders of magnitude more subtle, and has more impact than that crude propaganda film. Well over 30 years after its creation, tens of thousands of people still see the mural every day, and it is controversial enough to require a security guard to prevent vandalism.

But I figure that video will be forgotten within 30 days, let alone 30 years. The crude montage of images of innocent sleeping children flash cut against hideous scars and scary gas masks is an insult to the audience, and trying to associate it with Okamoto's work is an insult to the artist.

It might be worth noting that Okamoto's mural was displayed in 1968, 2 years after Japan's first nuclear power reactor went online, and was painted at exactly the same time that Fukushima Dai-ichi was being built.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:26 AM on September 6, 2011

People attempting to communicate and persuade others through art, for non-commercial gain: that's propagandizing. Do you consider Picasso's Guernica outrage-porn or manipulative propaganda, too?

Commercially-motivated communication and persuasion for purposes of marketing, PR or advertising? We call that protected free speech and go to the mat in the courts to protect it. But let somebody without a commercial interest ever once use language or art in a way that's meant to be persuasive, then suddenly "free speech" becomes "propaganda" (or it's relevance is marginalized)?

Please. At least use a more subtle cudgel.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:32 AM on September 6, 2011

Please. At least use a more subtle cudgel.

I'm not sure if that's what you meant, but that's exactly my complaint with the video. It bashes viewers on the head with scare tactics, as if they weren't capable of making their own judgement. It is crude manipulation.

Okamoto's mural has been described as the Guernica of Japan. These paintings express pain and grief, rather than cause it. They appeal to our sense of morality, not our baser instincts of hate and fear.
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:16 PM on September 6, 2011

not our baser instincts of hate and fear

Hey, call me crazy, but I think it's perfectly acceptable to hate and fear nuclear power.

Anyway, I didn't come into this thread to pile onto the ignorant statements made by charlie don't surf (although, lord knows, most of his contributions to Fukushima-related threads deserve it).

Rather, I found this article in Japan Focus that provides some context to the film here. Aera, a Japanese news magazine published by Asahi, has published an article about radiation exposure in children in Kanto:

a mother in Saitama Prefecture who, in the absence of direct government support, arranged to have a sample of her daughter’s urine tested. The test indicated that despite stringent efforts to protect her fifth grader from exposure to contaminated food and airborne radiation, the result was 0.4 Bq of Cesium 137 per kilogram of urine. Cesium 137, with a half-life of just over 30 years, is one of main radioactive isotopes released from the Fukushima Daiichi plant. “I felt a mixture of shock and a feeling that of course this is the case”, laments the girl’s mother.

Japan Focus has prepared an English summary here.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:01 PM on September 6, 2011

I showed this video to a 7 year old. He said it was "Pretty Awesome".
posted by delmoi at 3:39 PM on September 6, 2011

Hey, call me crazy, but I think hate and fear will kill you faster than 0.4 Bq of Cs-137 in your urine.

You left out the part where the body naturally contains over 4000 Bq of Potassium 40 in its bones. Or maybe you could convert that .4 measurement Bq into BED for me.

Do I have to remind you? Japan has been subjected to the much larger and more widespread radiation contamination and it has been studied endlessly with no conclusive documentation of effects on cancer rates. There is documented evidence that there have been no genetic effects.

This is not to minimize the unnecessary release of radiation from Fukushima, but jeez, people are panicking over radiation that is near the lower threshold of measurability, for almost all but a few people.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:03 PM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't have a real opinion RE: the nuclear debate, but I am curious how this is being perceived in Japanese language discussion forums / other media.
posted by codacorolla at 7:33 PM on September 6, 2011

It is crude manipulation.

As much crude manipulation as we're all subject to know on a daily basis, by far more economically powerful actors, motivated by far less laudable aims than keeping the world safe for current and future human beings to live in, I just don't see why this would be the place to draw that line.

charlie, I think you obviously must have a dog in this hunt on the issue of nuclear energy, beyond merely academic interest in the rhetorical strategies this particular film uses. Your reaction can't really be all about the crudeness of the persuasive methods used--or else, I assume, you must already be near catatonic from outrage over the excesses of the crude, manipulative propaganda we find ourselves awash in on a near-daily basis in the US.

And your subsequent comment above about people in Japan being too worried about what in your completely inexpert opinion constitutes insignificant amounts of radiation also make it clear you have a position you are arguing for, crudely, beyond your original ostensibly technical critiques. How is your current argument any less crude propaganda than the film is? You have a definite position a priori and are trying to convince others of it, using crude manipulative arguments that shift attention away from the actual subject matter of the film presumably because you think it would be a more winning rhetorical strategy in this case to shoot the messenger.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:57 AM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by saulgoodman at 8:03 AM on September 7, 2011

saul, as a painter, I have a strong bias for the loftier goals of art as represented by Okamoto's work, and using it as a launch point for crude propaganda seems to me to be disrespectful to Okamoto and the role of art in society as a whole. Yes, it could be said that Okamoto's work was polemic propaganda as well, but I am sure thousands of people walk by it each day and don't even notice what it represents. That cannot be said of the video, and I do not think that is a virtue.

As a Japan scholar, I am engaged in the history of Japan, which is strongly influenced by nuclear politics. But I also have personal experience in Japan with more subtle aspects of nuclear issues, for example, I was invited to Futamata Radium Onsen and did not realize I was soaking in a hot spring of radium solutes and breathing radium decay products like radon until after the fact. My hosts did not even consider the radiation worth mentioning until I asked why the water was cloudy with minerals, they considered it healthful. These radium springs are fairly common in Japan, but would be generally banned in the US as a health threat. There are a few rare "radon caves" in the US that are occasionally tourist destinations for "radiation hormesis" treatments but have been checked out by government regulatory agencies to be such a negligible exposure as to be insignificant and unmeasurable.

But ultimately, it is my belief that this is a complex issue and crude propaganda like the video is not helping anyone, it is just more noise that makes paralyzes people with fear and makes them unable to act, even to act in a way that the video's creators desire.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:39 AM on September 7, 2011

Thanks for the clarification, charlie. Seems like your position is more nuanced and reasonable than I was giving credit. Not to say I necessarily agree still, but that's a thoughtful and interesting take on it, at any rate.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:33 AM on September 9, 2011

« Older The Great Bank Robbery   |   Painting the Forth Bridge Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments