ORBIS Occupy Vanderbilt has established itself in front of Kirkland Hall. Your move, Vanderbilt.
[OCCUPY] Vol XI No VI 5.2012
Orbis / In This Issue / May 2012
Inside Orbis match up along lines of liberal/ conservative Maria Ochoa
IMPACT Symposium speakers explore how the war on drugs in Mexico and America affect each other, making the discussion of marijuana seem more like an economic factor of a market, rather than an issue of moralistic concerns.
05. Occupy Vanderbilt encamp-
ment is established in front of Kirkland and awaits response from administration Andri Alexandrou
otaku, oh my!
Sae Lyun Park
Our writer takes a look into the continously developing interest in Japanese animation and comics in the United States, displayed through the increased prevalence of anime conventions.
Amplifying Vanderbilt's Progressive Voices
Commentary 06. Obamacare case heightens in importance as elections near As the presidential election nears and Governor Romney threatens to repeal ‘Obamacare,’ the Supreme Court could set a dangerous precedent over the balance of the three governmental branches and whether decisions will be made along partisan lines.
Volume 11, Number 6
students in national issue
from global warming to
Orbis is a forum for social and political commentary relevant to the Vanderbilt, Nashville, and greater communities. By providing a voice for alternative viewpoints at Vanderbilt University, Orbis creates a platform where diversity can be a unifying force in the community. Visit us at www.vanderbiltorbis.com.
Editor-in-Chief Andri Alexandrou
Features Editor Steve Harrison Designer Ricky Taylor Web Editor Matt Joplin Editor Emeritus Jon Christian
I mages C over //A ndri A lexandrou //2//A ndri A lexandrou //5//A ndri A lexandrou //6//US S upreme C ourt //7//MTAC O mega
civil rights, student debt to
Associate Editors Carol Chen
A heat wave throughout the country caused Spring to come quickly and briefly. Photo: Andri Alexandrou
Blair student’s musical is a product several years in the making
campaigns on critical issues
What is Orbis?
Vanderbilt University delays its response to Occupy Vanderbilt’s concerns by claiming a need to wait for the union contract conversation that will come up late next fall. Meanwhile, they stifle Nashville news stations from publishing about the event.
07. Anime and cosplay and
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Review of Grounded, the Musical
Published with support from the Center for American Progress/Campus Progress Online at http://www.campusprogress.org
Features 04. Marijuana proponents don’t
Orbis / From the Editor / Commentary / May 2012
Visit CampusProgress.org/issues for more.
a note from the editor The semester comes to a close, but the tasks presented to us here at Vanderbilt are not over. I discuss the developments seen over at the Occupy Vanderbilt camp, including efforts to bring together workers. Sae Lyun Park visited the anime convention here in Nashville and reports back on the cultural vocabulary that belongs to a community once underground, and now surfacing in the mainstream. Maria Ochoa discusses the complex issues surrounding legalization of marijuana in Mexico and in the United States. Finally, Steve Harrison reviews precedent which is informing the current Supreme Court consideration of the threatened healthcare act. I’d like to also especially welcome next year’s new editors-in-chief, Maria Ochoa and Sae Lyun Park, and wish them a successful year. Thanks for reading, and stay safe this summer. Andri Alexandrou
On Friday, March 30, “Grounded,” the first musical ever written by a Blair student, premiered in Sarratt Cinema to an eager audience. The show, written by senior Ryan Korell, has been several years in the making. Directed by sophomore and first-time director Jessica Ayers, the musical focused on seven people awaiting a delayed flight in an airport terminal. Andrea (Laura Payne) and Sophie (Molly Snead) are a type-A control freak and a free spirit, respectively, trying to make their relationship work while negotiating the contrasting paths they each have chosen for their future together. Trish (Madeline Fansler) is struggling to raise her son Ben (Laurie Nordlund), who is very vocal about missing his jailed father. Dave (Ben Edquist), a stay-at-home dad, is having difficulties with his wife’s lack of involvement in their children’s lives and her lack of interest
in making their marriage work. Chris (Michael Greshko) is a playboy who sleeps around constantly and compulsively womanizes, but is secretly depressed about being without a loving partner. George (Steven Fiske) is an aging widower, watching the lives of the others intersect as he waits to join his late wife in the afterlife. Though the characters were somewhat stereotypical in their personalities, “Grounded” brought them together in unique and entertaining ways. A highlight being the song “How to Be a Stud,” in which Chris tries to give Ben advice on how to be a real man, with George and Dave doing their best to counteract his lessons in sexism with advice on being chivalrous and caring. The ending, which did not turn out as happily as I expected, was perfect in bringing a sense of realism to the play. Loose ends were not necessarily tied, and the audience was left not knowing exactly what was in store for these seven passengers as their flight boarded. It lent the musical an incredible sense of realism and believability that was extremely enjoyable. Musically, the show was bittersweet. It had minor and sparing technical difficulties (slight feedback sometimes), as most shows in Sarratt do. And the singing was somewhat of a rollercoaster: a few flat notes, and generally average, save for a stellar vocal performance on “The Bad Guy,” a potential anthem for single parents everywhere, from Madeline Fansler, and the entire cast’s beautiful harmonies and touching solos on “Fight or Flight/Postlude.” The so-so vocal performance, however, was contrasted by the impressive musical composition on every song, and the especially moving lyrics on “Hey, Honey,” “The Bad Guy,” and “Alone.” I was astounded that such professional work could come from an undergraduate student. Overall, I thought “Grounded” was an amazing show, and those who didn’t attend really missed out on something special. I would not be surprised to see the musical on Broadway one day, and I really hope the soundtrack is recorded sometime soon, because I cannot imagine going through life without being able to listen to this wonderful story at least several times more.
Orbis / Feature / May 2012
Orbis / Commentary / May 2012
Blurring Party Lines and the Legalization of Drugs
Spending Time with Occupy Vanderbilt
IMPACT Symposium speakers address the changing landscape of marijuana debates
Students have presented their case to the administration, so far without response.
Maria Ochoa staff writer
George W. Bush, Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney; when you hear these names you don’t imagine them associated with legitimization of any vice, let alone pot. If you pay attention though, you will notice that the groundswell of support for the legalization of marijuana comes from an unlikely source—the Republican Party. According to the Tennessean, during the first week of April, a surprising Republican-led vote in favor of reviewing a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in the State of Tennessee unleashed a week of campaigning for the Safe Access to Medical Cannabis Act. Although the bill was struck down early on Wednesday, April 4, a sub-committee in the House Health Committee agreed to have a hearing on behalf of it after it was voted down. Constance Gee, the ex-wife of former Vanderbilt chancellor Gordon Gee and a widely known user of medical marijuana, spoke about the impact that medical marijuana has had in her life for the first time since knowledge of her use appeared on the cover of the Wall Street Journal six years ago. According to advocates of the bill, it is not a matter of whether the bill will pass in the future, but when it will pass. This may seem like a naïvely hopeful statement to make in a historically red state. On a national level, though, a surprising number of Republicans have come to the defense of medical marijuana. Granted, it was opposition from Republican leaders concerned with the already existing problem of prescription drug abuse in the state of Tennessee that led to the rejection of the bill. It was also, however, a deal struck with Republican Health Committee Chairman Glen Casada that allowed Gee to speak on behalf of the bill. This is not the first instance where legalization of marijuana receives some support from Republicans. Much of that support in the 21st century has come from the
executive branch of New Mexico. Gary Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico, campaigned enthusiastically for the decriminalization of marijuana. In 2007, his Democratic successor, the former Governor Bill Richardson, signed a bill into law that made this state the twelfth one to legalize marijuana for medical reasons. In this way, medical marijuana has become an issue whose support and opposition is beginning to cross party lines and challenge preconceived notions of what it means to be a conservative and a liberal. In February, the traditionally leftist Rolling Stone published an article on the unprecedented scale of the federal crackdown of legal medical pot dispensaries under the Obama administration. According to Rolling Stone, the executive director of the Medical Marijuana Policy project believes Obama is the worst president on medical marijuana. The magazine also stated that his crackdown on medical cannabis exceeds any efforts ever undertaken by the Bush administration. The legalization of medical marijuana and the decriminalization of drugs was a widely discussed subject amongst political leaders during the IMPACT Symposium series at Vanderbilt University on March 21. Bill Richardson, former governor of New Mexico, and Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico, spoke on the issue that served as an interesting basis to examine it beyond its effects on a national level. According to Mexican newspaper El Universal, since Mexico unleashed its “War on Drugs” in 2006, it has claimed around 48,000 lives. Deaths and violence have not deterred the drug cartels from engaging in their criminal activities, but have further incited them. While Mexico suffers from this battle, the drug cartels are supported economically by demand in the United States. The United States has publicly acknowledged its role in this problem and has thus attempted to take responsibility for it through the Merida Initiative, signed by Mexican President Felipe Calderón and George W. Bush in 2007. This initiative, however, does not address the main problem, which is American demand for illegal drugs. It only provided funds for equipment and intelligence to prosecute drug cartels and stop them from illegally smuggling weapons from the United States into Mexico. For this reason, Calderon’s predecessor, Vicente Fox, is very critical of the deal. Although Vicente Fox is part of the Partido Acción Nacional (PAN), translated into English as the National Action Party and one of the Mexican right-wing parties, he would not be considered a conservative as measured by traditional American political standards. During his conversation with Bill Richardson at the Impact Symposium, Fox firmly stated his support for the legalization of drugs, stating that “at the very end, prohibitions do not work. Even in the Garden of Eden, prohibition did not work.” On the other hand, although Bill Richardson legalized medical marijuana in his state, he established that he saw no real solution in de-criminalizing drugs in the United States to stop the violence of the War on Drugs in Mexico. He acknowledged the American responsibility to address the problem of illegal drug demand but did not propose legalization of the drug market as a solution. Rather, he stressed an increase on the emphasis of drug rehabilitation and education.
On a national level, though, a surprising number of Republicans have come to the defense of medical marijuana... The issue of legalizing marijuana makes sense from a conservative standpoint. Conservatives argue for regulation of markets by economic forces rather than by government. Once again, while Richardson and Fox’s stakes on the issue of the War on Drugs are very different, the fact remains that a traditionally conservative figure is advocating for the legalization of the drug market while a traditionally liberal one is arguing against it. Looking at it from an economical rather than an ideological perspective, however, the issue of legalizing marijuana makes sense from a conservative standpoint. Conservatives argue for regulation of markets by economic forces rather than by government, which is what Fox supports in arguing against the governmental repression of the drug market. According to him, it is a $50 billion dollar industry, so there are no economic incentives for cartels to stop trafficking, as has proven by the incessantly thriving Mexican drug cartels. On the other hand, there could be a more leftist intervention in the market through taxing drugs, which could be used to indirectly regulate the drug market not only by raising monetary costs for consumers, but also by using the taxes to prevent the use and abuse of drugs. In this way, the legalization of marijuana is shifting from an ideological to an economic discussion. According to the Tennessee legislature’s Fiscal Review Committee, the program for legalizing medical cannabis in Tennessee would only bring in $300,000 in local revenue per year, which is not a significant enough increase from a fiscal revenue standpoint to justify legalizing the drug. Examining other economic factors such as the social costs of having a black market economy, it may be possible that the legalization of medical marijuana would be economically efficient. The risks of abuse, however, could present an even bigger social cost, which is where the argument is falling in the state of Tennessee.
Photo: Andri Alexandrou
Andri Alexandrou Editor-in-Chief
When I first started talking with Zach Blume about Vanderbilt Students for Nonviolence, The Responsible Endowment Campaign, and plans for the upcoming Occupy Vanderbilt encampment, he said this wasn’t what he came to Vanderbilt to do. “I spent the last two years as a Neuroscience major,” Blume said. “This stuff has changed my life.” What Vanderbilt University administrators likely view as a pestering annoyance, many more students like Zach take very seriously. Two other such students are Vanderbilt graduate student Tristan Call, who studies land rights and rural communities in Guatemala, and Vanderbilt alumnus Benjamin Eagles, who organizes community union OUR Vanderbilt. On any given night you can meet them at the Occupy Vanderbilt camp—which, if you haven’t seen it, is perched right outside of Kirkland Hall where Chancellor Zeppos and Provost Richard McCarty can witness from their office windows the protest below. At night, camp is lit up by periodic roamings of police car headlights, as well as by a string of Christmas lights hung up on a tree to provide light for the picnic table. This little picnic table, painted with various messages, serves as the focal point for discussion. One of the times I visited, it was Tristan and Ben discussing what the doctrine of “nonviolence” means, and with what means a community might protect itself against outside force should that community express nonviolent dissent. The Occupy Vanderbilt movement has set two primary goals, and one more abstract goal. The first controversy,
which came to light just about a year ago, centers around Vanderbilt’s investment in a company which allegedly “land grabs”—stealing peasants’ subsistence farmland in subsaharan Africa for profit. It amounts to a new rendition of colonialism that threatens indigenous populations by encouraging local governments to steal land from its own people, and to then turn around and sell it to outside investors. Occupy Vanderbilt’s other central focus is to change how Vanderbilt treats its employees. Dining workers, for example, face seasonal layoffs when students leave cam-
If Vanderbilt wishes to hold true to its altruistic image, they’ll pay serious attention to these discrepancies. pus, but are provided with no alternative by Vanderbilt. As Ms. Anne of Last Drop Coffee Shop has pointed out, Vanderbilt exerts too much influence in Nashville and in Middle Tennessee to let almost 200 employees go without pay for three and a half months. And then, workers that are guaranteed full year work are discouraged from applying for higher positions through a complex point/status system, and are not eligible for unemployment checks in
the summertime despite a lack of income. With typical healthcare bills amounting nearly a thousand dollars just for the summer, these workers are barely scraping by. More abstractly, the Occupiers are petitioning for community members to be the ones that actually have the power to make decisions about the community, rather than administrative officials. They’ve cited a necessity for there to be an infrastructure for evaluating new investments, so that it isn’t discovered after the fact that a company is engaging in unethical practices. At the March 19 rally that kicked off the occupation of lawn in front of Kirkland Hall, students and workers spoke to a crowd of over 120 people. Despite there being multiple film and news crews from various Nashville networks, an in-depth story never ran. When no stories surfaced in the next few days, students again contacted the networks. At least one had a story on the press until the last editing check, when it was entirely pulled. “They were just waiting on a quote from Vanderbilt,” Eagles said. “So we can guess what happened there.” Indeed, only one of the crews that showed up to the rally published anything after the rally. There had been short previews published before the rally when students had notified them very last minute, forcing them to publish short Internet blurbs before contacting Vanderbilt. Despite multiple news crews showing up to the rally and filming several student and worker testimonies, only one station ran a short package on their network. Vanderbilt has been responding in a variety of ways. Dean of Students Mark Bandas appeared at the March 19 rally. He spoke in one focus group with students about how the timing of union contracts conflicts with any immediate desire to change the infrastructure of dining employment. Students and workers note that a proposed solution, nominally reclassifying workers as “fulltime” workers, would allow them to receive unemployment insurance and requires no contact modifications. Chancellor Zeppos spoke during what he calls a “state of the university address” at the Spring Faculty Assembly, one of two formal addresses to university faculties in the year. “We have a village of tents with faculty, staff and students participating to protest our endowment investments and other matters,” Zeppos said. “We’ve had a robust and open debate over our principles of nondiscrimination.” He continued, saying that this was expected in “a community of active and thinking students, faculty and staff who are passionate about their views. But rarely will these differences seem stuck at impasse, because dialogue, debate and listening occur here every day.” Vanderbilt has made some good moves toward opening up its university, namely with the newly reinforced nondiscrimination policy. If Vanderbilt wishes to hold true to its altruistic image, they’ll pay serious attention to these discrepancies in employee treatment, and in the general discrepancy between image and action. Vanderbilt must be a place governed by its community members and those who are aware of the true interactions on campus, not by distant decision makers and limiting bureaucratic systems. Come on, Vanderbilt. We know you can do it.
Orbis / Commentary / May 2012
Orbis / Feature / May 2012
Healthcare Investigation Sets Dangerous Precedent Steve Harrison features editor
Tackling its most high-profile case in years, the Supreme Court heard arguments against President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on March 26—even before the majority of the law’s components will actually come into effect. This case has liberal and conservative partisans clamoring for a decision that will undoubtedly be contentious and confusing in terms of what it means for the changing relationship between the legislative and judicial branches. By striking down the law, the justices potentially create a dangerous domino effect. A law from Congress, extremely difficult to pass in and of itself, would then become subject to a much more powerful process of judicial scrutiny that effectively scrambles the entire federal system of government. In this scenario, the legislative branch would lose much of its legitimacy in favor of a federal judicial system that gains the arbitrary power to effectively dictate policy rather than weigh in on it. Such a decision would act as just the beginning of a new governmental era of court supremacy, according to some legal analysts. Simon Lazarus, a notable proponent of the healthcare act and counsel to the National Senior Citizens Law Center, said, “Is the court going to become a dedicated foe of all manners of social legislation? If anything amounts to micromanaging rational choices by Congress, it’s this.” The individual mandate aspect of the law that requires nearly every American to either buy healthcare or pay a fine serves as the inflammatory source of opposition to the law. Advocates ag ainst the so-called “Obamacare” legislat ion a rg u e t h a t t h e f e d e r a l g o ve r n m e n t h a s o ve rsteppe d i ts bo u ndaries in forcin g cit izen s to engage in a commercial interaction against their
will. They point to a different slippery slope method of argumentation that wonders what else the government might compel its citizens to buy. An interesting counter to this line of legal thinking has surfaced in the past month, as healthcare detractors repeatedly state that the law is antithetical to the founding fathers’ constitutional intentions. Rep. Steve King (R-IA), for example, denounces the law for precisely this reason and insists, “To mandate that everyone must buy a health insurance policy is a huge reach and this is exactly the kind of government the Founding Fathers wanted to limit.” Yet King might do well to investigate a bit more into the actions of the Founding Fathers before speaking on their behalf. Advocated and signed by President George Washington, the Second Militia Act of 1792 mandated that every able male between the ages of 18-45 join a militia and to buy a gun in the interest of national security. The act thwarts the notion that legally permitting compulsory purchase for safety purposes throws the government into chaotic disarray and necessarily entails huge government overreach. This law, amongst others like it, demonstrates that Congress possesses certain powers that should be deemed necessary in the nation’s best interests. Providing for the safety and welfare of a projected 32 million Americans fits neatly under this purview. The Supreme Court must weigh this case carefully and apolitically since the U.S. still remains skeptical over the court’s impartiality from cases like Gore v. Bush. An April 10 Washington Post/ABC News poll revealed that 50 percent of Americans believe that the justices of the Supreme Court will rule according to personal ideological and partisan viewpoints rather than legal precedents and interpretations. This staggering percentage shows a waning level of respectability for the judiciary branch that may seep over into impor-
tant decision-making. Though a decision on the case is not expected until the end of June, constant media coverage ensures that this law will be a crucial rallying point for both sides of the political spectrum during an increasingly revved up election cycle. Governor Mitt Romney has already spoken out against the law and presses for its swift repeal, despite approving a similar healthcare system with an individual mandate during his tenure as the governor of Massachusetts. Even if the law is upheld, Romney, if elected president, states that he will issue an executive order on his first day of office to waive Obamacare in each state and convince Congress to immediately repeal the law. This bold strategy relies heavily on the law’s unpopularity and healthcare serving as a primary, all-important issue for American citizens. But President Obama has not shied away from the legislation and touts the law’s health and economic benefits, making it a focal point of his campaign. On his official campaign website, the Obama team lists passage of healthcare reform as one of the president’s primary achievements. The administration pointed to several benefits
Advocated and signed by President George Washington, the Second Militia Act of 1792 thwarts the notion that legally permitting compulsory purchase for safety purposes throws the government into chaotic disarray and necessarily entails huge government overreach. of this piece of legislation. Some of them include how 34 million more Americans will eventually be able to gain coverage, In addition, the law will make healthcare much more affordable for families. Furthermore, the act will prevent insurance companies from taking advantage of their consumers. Regardless of which candidate wins or how the court rules, one thing can be asserted with confidence—the mere fact that this piece of legitimately passed social legislation is even being considered by the Supreme Court represents an unprecedented high mark in partisan divisiveness.
MTAC Celebrates Japanese Animation and Cartoons Once a small subculture occupies a space now within the mainstream. Sae Lyun Park staff writer
The 12th annual Middle Tennessee Anime Con v en ti on (M TAC), k n own a s M TAC Omega, t ook pl a ce f rom Apri l 6 - 8 i n the down town Na shv i lle Con v en ti on Cen ter. Thi s yea r’s th eme wa s s u rvi v i n g the en d of the worl d a n d post-a poca l ypt i c s e t ti n gs a s a gen era l theme i n a n i me a n d ma ng a. I t f ea tu red sev era l gu est spea k ers, of v a ryi n g ki n d s of i n v ol vemen t i n the a n i me a n d ma n ga i n du s t ry, a s wel l a s mu si ca l a cts. Anime conventions started to take place in the Un i ted Sta tes i n the 1990 s a n d a re cu rre n t ly h el d a n n u a l l y i n va ri ou s ci ti es. Accordi n g t o i t s web si te, M TAC i s a n on -prof i t orga n i za ti on t hat produ ces ev en ts rel a ted to a n i me, ma n ga a n d re lev a n t popu l a r a rts, prov i di n g en thu si a sts a n d t he pu b l i c a t l a rge wi th a f oru m f or pa tron a g e an d edu ca ti on . F u rth ermore there i s emph a si s on M T A C as the resu l t of a commu n i ty ef f ort, si n ce i t op e ra tes en ti rel y on a vol u n teer b a si s a n d cu rre n t ly h a s ov er 70 f u l l ti me sta f f memb ers. Th i s g oe s t o sh ow th a t a n i me con v en ti on s i n Ameri ca are n o l on ger a n u n dergrou n d, su b cu l tu re a cti v it y b u t a ra th er promi n en t f ea tu re of th e Ameri ca n f an b a se of Ja pa n ese a n i ma ti on . Iron i ca l l y, b eca u se a con si dera b l e a mo u n t of peopl e h a v e sta rted a tten di n g a n d pa rti ci p at i n g
i n t he e v e n t s t hat t yp i c ally t ake p lac e d u ri n g A me ri c an an i me c on v e n t i on s , s ome on e wi t h li t t le t o n o b ac kg rou n d of t hi s c u lt u re wou ld li ke ly f e e l ou t of p lac e at an an i me c on ve n t i on . T o b e g i n wi t h, s ome t e rms ou g ht t o b e d i s cussed and clarified. Anime and manga are t he Jap an e s e t e rms f or an i mat i on an d c omi c s , re s p e c t i v e ly. C os p lay, s hort f or c os t u me p lay, i n volv e s d re s s i n g u p i n c os t u me s an d ac c e s s ori e s t o re p re s e n t a s p e c i f i c c harac t e r f rom man g a an d an i me , v i d e o g ame s , c omi c b ooks an d s o on . Man y c on s i d e r c os p lay an e s s e n t i al as p e c t of an i me an d man g a f an c u lt u re . T o g o f u rt he r, a more e xt re me v e rs i on of t he
Ironically, because a considerable amount of people have started attending and participating in [anime conventions], someone with little to no background of this culture would likely feel out of place. t yp i c al an i me f an wou ld b e an ot aku . O ri g i n ally ot aku was a t e rm u s e d t o re f e r t o s ome on e e ls e ’ s hou s e or f ami ly as we ll as an hon ori f i c s e c on d p e rs on p ron ou n , b u t i t has s i n c e b e c ome a s lan g t e rm u s e d t o d e s c ri b e s ome on e wi t h ob s e s s i v e amou n t of i n t e re s t i n an i me , man g a, or v i d e o g ame s . Man y d i f f e re n t ki n d s of e v e n t s oc c u rre d ove r the three days of MTAC Omega: MTAC’s Got Talent, complete with judges, a ramen eating c on t e s t , an d of c ou rs e , a c os p lay c on t e s t . Fan p an e ls als o t ook p lac e all d ay, wi t h s u b j e c t s s u c h as : Ki mon o 1 01 , A f f ord ab le C os p lay, How t o B e a C olle g e O t aku , an d How N ot t o B e a C re e p an d O t he r Ge e k D at i n g T i p s . What i s mos t i n t e re s t i n g ab ou t c os p lay i s t he s oc i al c u lt u re b u i lt arou n d i t . C os p lay p art i c i p an t s i n t e rac t wi t h e ac h ot he r an d u s e t hi s u n i qu e hob b y as a way t o b u i ld c on n e c t i on s wi t h e ac h ot he r. T he I n t e rn e t has b e e n hu g e ly i n f lu e n t i al f or t hi s , as i t allows i n d i v i d u als f rom arou n d t he world t o g at he r at a s p e c i f i c p lac e t o e n g ag e i n d i s c u s s i on ov e r a s hare d mu t u al i n t e re s t . O n li n e forums especially can be instrumental in the s hari n g of s t ori e s , p hot og rap hs an d t i p s b e t we e n c os p laye rs . Originally, cosplay and other aspects of Japanese popular culture in general remained kn own on ly wi t hi n Jap an or at b e s t , t he c on t i n e n t of A s i a. Howe v e r an i me an d man g a have g ai n e d hu g e p op u lari t y ou t s i d e of Jap an s i n c e t he 1 980s . This growing demand for Japanese animation
p romp t e d t he t ran s lat i on of man g a an d an i me i n t o ot he r lan g u ag e s an d d i s t ri b u t i on ov e rs e as t o p art s of A s i a an d e v e n t u ally t o E u rop e an d t he Un i t e d S t at e s . Once again, otaku refers to people with an i n t e re s t i n an i me , man g a or v i d e o g ame s t hat g oe s b e yon d t hos e of a re g u lar p e rs on . T he t e rm ot aku i s u s e d ou t s i d e of Jap an t o d e s c ri b e s ome on e who i s more or le s s a g e e k: s ome on e who mi g ht b e ob s e s s i v e an d kn owle d g e ab le ab ou t a s u b j e c t , b u t n ot t o t he p oi n t of b e i n g c on s i d e re d a s oc i al ou t c as t b e c au s e of i t . I n Jap an , t he p lac e of t he word ’ s ori g i n , ot aku ori g i n ally had more n e g at i ve c on n ot at i on s d u e t o a lac k of u n d e rs t an d i n g of t he t e rm. For e xamp le i n 1 989, a man n ame d T s u t omu Mi yazaki mu t i lat e d an d ki lle d f ou r you n g g i rls . Hi s e v e n t u al c ap t u re an d a s e arc h of hi s ap art me n t le d t o t he d i s c ov e ry of ov e r 5 ,000 vi d e ot ap e s , whi c h i n c lu d e d horror an d s las he r f i lms as we ll as an i me . T he me d i a d u b b e d hi m “T he O t aku Mu rd e re r” an d t he g e n e ral Jap an e s e p u b li c , u n aware of li t t le e ls e ab ou t ot aku c u lt u re , c ame t o as s oc i at e i t wi t h a d an g e oru s ki n d of li f e s t yle s ole ly d u e t o i t s li n ks t o a b ru t al ki lle r. A s t he d e t ai ls of t he mu rd e r c ame t o li g ht , man y Jap an e s e c i t i ze n s c ame t o p e rc e i v e ot aku as s ome t hi n g d ark, t wi s t e d an d d an g e rou s . T hi s i n i t i ally p oor i mp re s s i on has s i n c e c han g e d wi t hi n Jap an , an d t he re i s n o lon g e r s u c h a s t ron g i mag e as s oc i at e d wi t h t he ot aku ou t s i d e of Jap an . N ow i t ap p e ars t hat t he Jap an e s e t he ms e lv e s als o t ry t o f i n d ways t o e mb rac e t hi s t e rm: n ow t he i mag e i s t hat whi le t he ot aku may b e p as s i ve an d s oc i ally c halle n g e d , n e i t he r s hou ld he b e a s e ri ou s t hre at t o t he p u b li c . A d i f f e re n t ki n d of ob s e s s i v e n on - Jap an e s e f an of an i me e xi s t s , i n f ormally kn own as Wap an e s e or we e ab oo. I t i s a d e rog at ory s lan g mos t of t e n u s e d on t he I n t e rn e t t o d e s c ri b e a p e rs on , t yp i c ally of n on - A s i an d e s c e n t , who t e n d s t o hav e almos t an e xt re me i n t e re s t i n Jap an e s e c u lt u re b u t almos t e xc lu s i ve ly t hrou g h man g a an d an i me . T hi s i s p rob le mat i c on s e v e ral ac c ou n t s ; s u c h i n d i vi d u als mi g ht mi s t ake n ly as s oc i at e Jap an as a whole c ou n t ry on ly t hrou g h an i me , a s mall s ou rc e of entertainment. According to several online s ou rc e s , s ome s t e re ot yp e s of t he we e ab oo may i n c lu d e u s i n g c e rt ai n Jap an e s e word s i n p lac e of E n g li s h word s , p re f e rri n g Jap an e s e i mp ort e d p rod u c t s ov e r d ome s t i c on e s , an d g e n e rally d i s p layi n g b e hav i or of wan t i n g t o b e Jap an e s e . S u c h ki n d of b e hav i ors may b e as s i mp le as le arn i n g t o u s e c hop s t i c ks , d e c i d i n g t o t ake Jap an e s e as a f ore i g n lan g u ag e at s c hool, t o more d e v ot e d ki n d s s u c h as ac t u ally t rav e li n g t o or s t u d yi n g ab road i n Jap an . R e g ard le s s of what e v e r s oc i al s t i g ma e xi s t s f or i n d i vi d u als who f e e l i n c li n e d t o e n g ag e wi t h t he i r i n t e re s t i n a p art i c u lar as p e c t of Jap an e s e p op u lar c u lt u re , t he mai n p oi n t i s t hat t he re wi ll always b e s ome s ort of ou t le t t hrou g h whi c h i t c an b e e xp re s s e d .
Orbis / May 2012
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In preparation for exams, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite ways to cope, from very unproductive to very productive methods. Good luck, and know that summer’s right around the corner.