Sunday, November 13, 2005

Raw Food That Makes You Feel Like Puking

The Chicago Tribune has followed up its original article on Kizoku Sushi with a short article asking "Questions of the Sushi Lady" (registration required, maybe).

From the article:

If you've recently read a newspaper, or surfed the Internet, or watched television, or listened to the radio, or overheard a conversation on the "L," or intercepted terrorist chatter, you're probably aware of Body Sushi, raw fish served atop raw flesh at upscale eatery Kizoku, 358 W. Ontario St.

I'm sorry, they must be talking about "domestic white terrorists" because I'm awfully sure that foreign terrorists could give a shit about our society's latest greatest orgy of racist/sexist conduct.

Basically, Eddy Pinto, the manager for Kizoku (meaning "aristocrat"--not to be confused with "Gisoku" meaning "artificial leg") Sushi has decide
d to "import" the practice of "Body Sushi", or the serving of sushi on a naked woman. The mainstream media has jumped all over the story and are filling their newspapers with columns making stupid racist and objectifying jokes and suggestions about the practice, and patting themselves on the back for this cultural watershed moment.

Some issues with this:
1. This is another fake "turning Japanese" cultural moment. This practice is super-rare in Japan and nobody really makes a big deal about it. In my case, in the years living in Japan, the only time I've directly heard/seen the practice is in awful Hollywood/American TV scenes that are supposed to be in Japan, and from Japanese people who see it as some weird American/European fetish. I'm aware that the Yakuza are supposed to have started the practice, but they are hardly emissaries of widespread Japanese culture.
2. My wife points out the model's "yellowfaced" featu
res. It's possible that "Tabitha" is of Asian descent, in which case I apologize, but from the pictures, she looks like a white woman with painted on eyebrows and eye-mascara to accent fake "Asian ness". Whether she's a "real Asian woman or not" they are definitely shooting for the image of costumers being able pay to eat their "exotic" dish off of an "exotic" speciment.
3. The style of the article makes a lot of snide comments under the guise of "reporting" but looking at the details, it's just veiled racism. For example, "This is not a meal for the chopstick-challenged."
One of the accompanying pictures:

Scroll through the other photos and you'll see dozens of other hakujin (a nice word) jabbing away with their primitive chopstick techniques.
4. The comments of the patrons show an objectification agenda. "It's $20 for the sushi, and the rest is for the garnish."
5. To give some credit, they say that they are currently looking for a male model. It will be interesting to see if they choose to present an Asian American male or a yellow-faced male or not. If you are interested, contact the restaurant--they say they are currently interviewing.

Conclusions:
Don't get me wrong. I'm not for banning this. I don't think that we need to erase evidence of the deeply embedded sexism and racism in our society. I think people should do whatever the fuck they want, but they should be honest about what they are doing so we can make good decisions.

If people are willing to say honestly, "Yeah, we are willing to drop $500 on fucked up fake orientalist shit which makes the food taste like crap but lets us live out our racial-sexist fetishes! This is not some cultural moment! We aren't going to be socially dysfunctional and try to blame it on those wacky Asians anymore," that's good enough for me.

Also, whatever happened to "journalism"? These articles represent no actual reporting or analysis--they are basically free advertising for the restaurant. What do reporters actually do for their profession these days?

3 Comments:

Blogger Gar said...

i saw the pictures and was like, "WTF?!" holy exploitation, batman.

1:56 AM  
Anonymous Toxic said...

Yuck. Imagine the sweat and other bodily excretions that would get into the food

10:12 PM  
Blogger xian said...

Gar: Yeah, and I mean I understand the idea of "well, she's doing it of her own free will", but what does it say that people want to toss $500 into a black hole for this?

toxic: The owner emphatically states that, since nothing is placed directly on the skin that that's not a health code issue.

Of course, shrink wrap and leaves do little to insulate heat, so you are eating tepid raw fish pretty quick--that's not the most inviting dining experience.

11:13 PM  

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