(Cinemateque Mentor, Joseph)
Michio is a 12-year-old boy from Japan. We have recently been talking a lot about the idea of struggle and the idea of survival. Michio has been working with Joseph from Cinematheque, and they have put together this video Michio calls “Mizu.”
March 11, 2011: The magnitude 8.9 offshore quake unleashed a 23-foot tsunami and was followed by more than 50 aftershocks for hours, many of them of more than magnitude 6.0. For the children, the tsunami did not just smash their homes and sweep away their relatives, it also etched itself on their psyche. "There's a 17-year-old boy who has nightmares here every night. He talks loudly in his sleep. He wakes us up." (www.abc.net). For kids who survive in Japan, homeless and traumatized from abuse, the tsunami simply added to their personal physical and psychological stress. Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world; closely tied to national trauma and unemployment rates.
**Video to follow
Dance disease and cut it from my heart
Shigao came to Shinjuku from a small village in the North. It can be tough to live in Shinjuku. He’s been doing sex work for about five years. He deeply resents tricks who will pay more — sometimes lots more — if they do not have to wear a condom. The phenomenon of the person who migrates from a remote place that is agricultural to a more urban setting is a trend the entire world is seeing. Often, sex work is how these people survive. HIV is a very definite risk. In Dance Disease and Cut It From My Heart, the traditional warrior is juxtaposed against contemporary conflicts. Sex is in the background. As a cultural issue, it cannot be avoided. The battle with HIV is real. Show me your life.
Timothée Bârrus/ Chipping Away
This post will be for you. But beyond the translated communication that goes on between the two of us, this post will also be for the guys who are sorta behind you in age and experience. You will be leaving adolescence. They are just entering it.
I have just learned about the term: “interactive projection.” I am old, fat, disease-ridden, tired, hopelessly lost to a past I deeply resent, antediluvian, beyond my time, a relic, and stupid.
You are brilliant, and dying, too, I think. You are still young, motivated, hip, and hot to fight the culture wars.
I will post your video to le-too. I will not post it to Show Me Your Life.
Please note the — I WILL — part of this. I am not lying to you with I CAN’T. I can. But I will not do it.
I am not so hot to fight the culture wars. I have fought them for many years. It is a losing proposition. I lost, the generation I was supposedly aligned with lost, and you will lose, too. I know this. You are lucky to have me post this to le-to let alone Show Me Your Life.
Dance Disease and Cut It From My Heart is extraordinary. I have never seen HIV portrayed using interactive projection. It sounds like one of those terms invented by an art administrator because that is what it is. You will soon learn that arts administrators are not exactly a courageous lot. I used to think of them as having no balls. Indeed, they have no balls, but they’re not unlike anyone else out there. Most of us, Shigao, are afraid. We live lives where we are constantly assessing how dangerous it is to take our next step and to breathe our next breath and there it is. Get a clue.
Lately, the fight I’ve been fighting is the one where you just get to stay alive one more day. Sometimes it’s worth it. Most of the time it’s just another boring day. I don’t think you have many of those whether you have HIV or not.
The images on the screen behind your real self and your shadow self are images that are exactly as powerful as you contend. Cum oozing out of an asshole is something we would rather not see, not really deal with; even if they are implicated in the larger questions of what is HIV and how do we put those images into a public context.
The old me would have taken up your sword and we would have found a way to put you on the road with Dance Disease and Cut It From My Heart. And fuck the consequences. When the old me was fighting culture wars, you weren’t even born yet.
I know this, too. You can’t win the culture war. They have all the power. And they will use it, and not unlike the way they tempt you when they tell you they will pay you more if they can fuck you without a condom. The reality is that you allow them to fuck you without a condom and they do, indeed, pay you more for it. They have the money. They have the power. They own the machine. They don’t even have to pay you. They usually just take what they want. It’s what they do.
It’s why you are dying. They want to fuck you but they really want you dead. They are conflicted. Being conflicted is nothing new to them. In fact, they are conflicted about most things.
I’ve done sex work. I’ve seen cum oozing from an asshole. It’s hardly a new vision to me. And it wouldn’t be a new vision for them either. What they will object to is that you are making no effort to hide the thing or to stuff it into a category or box they only pretend they never look at.
You were pretending in the sword fight. Everyone pretends. Even those people who pretend they don’t, do. Putting sex and sexuality into an art piece goes way back. Art is ripe with the tradition of it. It titillates them. Sex is the genii in the bottle. It’s been out of the bottle for a long time. But as long as they can pretend it’s not, they win.
They win. Not because few people will see your video. But because they have fucked you and you are dying. I would scream at you to go get treated but I am beyond that, too. You have made the decision you don’t want to do that. So you will go down in flames. That burning has a denial that belongs to that particular fire alone.
They will conjure up their gods, boy, and they will devour you relentlessly.
I wish you had made some safe little, preachy video about safe sex that has no meaning. They could dismiss you as being cute but harmless. You have unleashed the genii from invisibility and you have put it on a screen and shoved it into their face.
I am here to render you to obscurity again. Those of us who find our meaning from the past do this kind of thing without even thinking about it. We are easily threatened by young people and their ideas because young people are so alive and we settle for death so easily. “Everything was better back when…”
Even when it wasn’t.
I push you back into obscurity and I would do the same thing for any other video that came my way that threatens my status quo. Your video and your ability to mix the paradigms and the platforms could wipe me off the map. If I posted Dance Disease and Cut It From My Heart the trouble they could make would find its way to you, too. No one is immune from trouble. You will lose because you have already lost. You will be dead before you are twenty-five. Trust me. They will not care.
What they care about is what they think is their ability to remember a past that never was. What you care about is what hasn’t happened yet. There is no bridge between these two very separate worlds.
I have seen culture war after culture war have its head sliced off not unlike the shadow of the head you slice off from the neck in the same way they will go after you if this video were to see distribution. It’s not sex they fear. It’s the distribution. There’s power in distribution. Why. Because that content contains information. Information wrapped up in anecdotal metaphor. Anecdotal metaphor is the elephant in the room.
They cling to the past the same way they cling to their power. Some of them live in it. It’s always a past where it’s perceived in terms that become black and white. They forget the nuance. That sword you use would be employed to cut the balls off the guys upon the bigger screen.
I have no fire for it anymore. They win. We lose. We lost before we even we even raised the sword.
What we do is chip away. We chip away at it and hope there is a tomorrow so we can chip away at it again. You want the hammer and the chisel to take them out. But we are lucky to even entertain the mythology that our chipping away at the structures they have built to maintain their power means anything. The chipping away means absolutely nothing. They throw us bones and we are grateful for them.
I have no hope to offer you. You are WAY too smart for rhetoric. At the end of your work of art, you hold some fire in your hands briefly, then the video concludes. I will tell you that it’s about holding that fire for whatever time you are allowed to hold it. And then the end comes and we all go home.
Some of us to get up in the morning to chip away at it again. I do not know why. Thank you for making your video. You knock my socks off. I am sorry it will not be seen. But I can only be beaten up so many times, and when they are done with me (and it won’t be that hard for them) they will go after you, and I would rather see you continue to create.
Whether they get to see any of it or not. The day will come when you will understand they do NOT see. Or they see what they want to see. Either way, your sword will not be big enough.
Cinemateque Films: Art Education: Students are allowed access to fair use art materials and mixed media in the teaching of iconic manipulation in photographic, video and film production. Representations and facsimiles are presented as teaching tools and instruments employed to instruct students in the techniques and application of mixed media art and collage. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act allows art-teaching entities the fair use of such materials in classroom and teaching-research applications.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
Japan is a signatory of many international conventions which aim to protect the rights of children. There are various domestic laws to promote children’s well-being. Almost all children in Japan are covered by health care insurance. Families with small children which do not have a high income level can receive an allowance from the government. Local governments support pregnant women’s and infants’ health and give advice to them. Schools also provide health examinations. Parents are obliged to have their children attend primary and secondary schools for nine years. The government provides this mandatory education free of charge. There are provisions which punish acts that harm children, both in special laws and in the Criminal Code. There is a juvenile justice system which is separated from the normal criminal justice system. http://www.loc.gov/law/help/child-rights/japan.php
Tim Barrus (Director, Show Me Your Life; Founder, Cinemateque Films)
We are in receipt of some video footage sent to us by a sex worker in Asia.
Some of this is a test — I am always being tested by these boys — to see if I am serious.
About Show Me Your Life.
I am serious.
I was a little shocked with what was sent. I have not posted it. I am not quite sure what to do with it yet.
This young man is attempting to show us his life.
It IS what I have asked his peers to do.
I am not sure I want to see it again to decide what to do with it.
It’s a pretty graphic (not in any kind of traditional prurient way) video that SHOWS (not tells) how he acquired HIV.
You see this video and you want to turn away.
I did. I am not squeamish. But this was a not very cherry-coated take on whatever it was I just saw.
I need to go for a long walk.
Japan has ratified the following conventions:
Japan has not signed the following conventions:
Yakuza (Japanese organized crime syndicates)
“Erase the story or be erased,” one of them said. “Your family too.”
Japan and Russia are the only members of the Group of Eight (G-8) that do not criminalize possession of child pornography.
Japan is a destination and transit country for children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Children trafficked to Japan for commercial sexual exploitation come from the People’s Republic of China, South Korea, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, Russia, and, to a lesser extent, Latin America. Japanese men continue to be a significant source of demand for child sex tourism in Southeast Asia. Japan is a transit country for persons trafficked from East Asia to North America.
Traffickers also target Japanese children for exploitation in pornography or prostitution. Many victims, both foreign and Japanese, are reluctant to seek help from authorities for fear of reprisals by their traffickers, who are often members or associates of Japanese organized crime syndicates (the Yakuza). The Yakuza’s tribal features are the full-body tattoos, missing digits and pseudo-family structure.
Although Japan has outlawed child pornography — reluctantly, after international pressure left officials no choice. The ban, criminalizes producing and selling child pornography, but not owning it. Kiddie porn is still part of the Yakuza’s base income (many including publishers, are raking in millions).
If Japanese law enforcement knows so much about the Yakuza, why don’t the police just take them down. “We don’t have a RICO Act,” he explained. “We don’t have plea-bargaining, a witness-protection program or witness-relocation program. So what we end up doing most of the time is just clipping the branches. . . . If the government would give us the tools, we’d shut them down, but we don’t have ‘em.”
The elaborate dragons, phoenixes and a medieval courtesan with one breast bared and a knife between her teeth are a symbol of Tendo's childhood as the daughter of a "yakuza" gangster and her youth as a drug-using gang member. Author of "Yakuza Moon," a best-selling memoir, 44-year-old Tendo says that police efforts to eradicate the gangsters have merely made them harder to track. "The more the police push, the more the Yakuza are simply going underground, making their activities harder to follow than they ever were before," she told Reuters. "They're being forced into a corner, their humanity taken away," she said. "All the things they used to do for a living have been made illegal, so life has become very hard."
Now a writer and mother, Tendo has distanced herself from the Yakuza world, which she feels is rapidly losing its traditions. Raised with strict ideas of honor, she was both spoiled and scolded by the tattooed men who frequented her family home. Tendo also faced prejudice and bullying because of her father. In response, she joined a gang, took drugs and become the lover of several gangsters before near-fatal beatings and drug overdoses convinced her to change her life.
Police say full-fledged membership in Yakuza groups have fallen due to tighter laws against organized crime. Although the number of Yakuza hangers-on, including thugs and members of motorcycle gangs, who are willing to do their dirty work, has risen.
Manabu Miyazaki, a writer whose father was also a Yakuza, feels although "fewer people want to become Yakuza, those who do will be very logical, very scary -- and much, much more dangerous."
(Source: Elaine Lies www.reuters.com)