Heung Wah Wong and Hoi Yan Yau
Since the late 1990s, Japanese adult videos (AVs) as both media and cultural products have spread to other Asian societies, especially to Hong Kong and Taiwan, and have exerted tremendous influence on the sexual cultures of these societies. The extent of this influence ranges from the local adoption of Japanese sexual terminology to the overwhelming popularity of Japanese AV actresses in the local pornography markets. Taking inspiration from Sahlins (2005:4), this chapter will focus on how local consumers indigenise Japanese AVs by remaking, reinventing and re-appropriating them in a Hong Kong and Taiwanese context. This should not be taken to mean we overlook the impact that Japanese AVs have had on the sex cultures of these two societies. Rather, we emphasise here that attention should also be paid to the manner in which local consumers adapt and indigenise these products in accordance with local sexual concepts.
Cross-cultural transmission of media products throughout Asia, especially to Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China, has been extensively studied over the past decade. One of the most popular topics to date has been the Japanese ‘idol drama’. Iwabuchi Koichi has written extensively on Japanese idol dramas in Taiwan, arguing that their success there is due to the cultural proximity between Japan and Taiwan. Iwabuchi, however, cautions that cultural proximity does not refer to essentialised and ahistorical cultural values conceived of in a totalising way. Rather, the term refers to the sense of sharing and living at the same time, or what he calls ‘coevalness’, which has emerged as the result of Taiwan’s recent economic development and the circulation of commodities and information between these two areas (Iwabuchi 2001:73). Such a coevalness has given rise to the popularity of Japanese idol dramas in Taiwan because they ‘offer their fans a concrete model of what it is to be modern in East Asia, something which American popular cultures can never do’ (Iwabuchi 2001:73). In other words, Iwabuchi argues that since a sense of simultaneity has developed due to the similar material circumstances shared between Taiwan and Japan, Taiwanese TV viewers are attracted to the sense of Japanese modernity embodied in Japanese idol dramas. However, the ‘taste’ of Taiwanese TV viewers for Japanese TV is, in Iwabuchi’s argument, nothing more than a reflex of their material circumstances. The active historical role of people in Taiwan, ‘which must mean the way they shape the material circumstances laid on them according to their own conceptions,’ (Sahlins 2000: 416) is thus overlooked. Hence, Iwabuchi’s cultural proximity thesis not only fails to capture the complexity of the cross-cultural migration of Japanese media products but also denies local consumers any agency. The question we address in this chapter is, how is local agency revealed in relation to the consumption of Japanese pornography?