Cultural Villainy

This afternoon/evening, I found myself discussing various voice and talking style stereotypes in American English and in Japanese (from Japan, of course*).

It all started with seeing the film “Aladdin” in the cinema this afternoon, and then, over ice cream afterward, we veered onto Disney music and its composers a lyricists (and how amazing some of the greats are[!!!]).

Then we branched into the Japanese versions of this music, as the friend with me is Japanese, and she grew up only hearing the Japanese language versions of the songs.

We discussed differences I had found in the music, and why I thought each one was so… now that she has been living in the US for about a year, she saw exactly what I meant and genuinely understood.

“Colors of the Wind” sounds somewhat stressed and so compounded and busy in Japanese, yet the English sounds so open and contemplative, filled with deep breaths and space through the notes and the words… there are just too many syllables in the Japanese, and too many consonants in between all the vowels…

An American likely would be appalled at hearing the Japanese version of Scar’s voice, because the voice doesn’t match the type of villain that he is… it is not entitled and brooding and, almost like serial killer style, the voice of someone who is biding his time until his plot can unfurl perfectly to his advantage – until, at last, he is granted his dues, as Scar says.

To American ears, the Japanese Scar in pathetic and angry and holds no weight behind his short-man angry yelling of a voice, desperately hoping someone will listen to him and do what he wants others to do.

And yet, to Japanese ears, the Japanese Scar is exactly right: He is the stereotypical ‘bad guy’ voice and has that same ‘bad guy’ and ‘villain’ manner of speaking… the English version would sound just ‘American’, and have nothing special tied to it for Japanese ears.

And my friend was able to see and hear just these things, and mainly because she has become accustomed to hearing so many different ways of speaking that people have here in English (unlike Japanese English in Japan, which is pretty much always the same).

And, somehow, I found the whole situation to be fascinating and utterly fulfilling… I had never really thought quite so much and quite so pointedly about the translations and the voices of actors until today, though it certainly was not my first or, even, tenth time considering it all.

It had me feel an almost silly passion for Disney and, in particular, “The Lion King”, and yet I couldn’t find a reason not to care so much about it all – I love languages and music and seeing things in new ways, and these Disney movies had huge impacts on my childhood and, therefore, my life as a whole… they are a part of me… and I care about and love myself.

So, I guess I get to love those Disney films, too, silly little perfect details and all. 🙂

By the way, I went into “Aladdin” with an attitude of its being a different film and perspective of the same story as the animated version…, and I thoroughly enjoyed the film – it was wonderful(!).

And it was filmed in Jordan(!)… how cool is that?!

I don’t often go to cinemas these days (in the US, anyway), but I am glad I went today – it was a lovely experience. 🙂

*Does Japanese have a culture of native speakers anywhere else in the world?

Post-a-day 2019

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Africa

I’ve started singing lately in an unknown language that sounds African… it reminds me of Swahili at times, or Zulu or Sotho or Xhosa…, but also totally not those… no matter what, though, it always sounds African to me….

And it has me wonder if it is linked at all to that deep-seated longing I have to live with the lions in Africa (or something to that effect)… perhaps, as I was considering tonight, I was in Africa in a previous (or another) life, and perhaps that was when my mom was Indian, and we somehow met through that proximity, and agreed to have this life together…

Wouldn’t that be neat…?

P.S. If you aren’t aware, look up an audio pronunciation of the language name Xhosa… I first heard it spoken aloud in the audiobook of Nelson Mandela’s A Long Walk to Freedom, and I loved it almost instantly.

Post-a-day 2018

Oh, to be a lion…

I love “The Lion King”.  And I mean this not as the average, casual use of the word love.  I mean it in a deep down, somewhere inside of me is pulled by it kind of love.  Toward my core, that is why my love for “The Lion King” resides.  And it draws me.

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be part of that circle of life, as presented in “The Lion King”.  Certainly, I want to be a living part of it, but I want to be over there, actually in it, as opposed to over here, living in the regular world full of buildings and suits and such.  I want to live with the lions in Africa.  I want to be one of them, an honorary member, so to speak.  Sure, our diets don’t exactly line up with one another, but that would be part of the beautiful balance of it all.  I would love them, they would love me, and no one would be stealing anyone else’s food.  Perfect.

Anyway, I realize how silly or odd this might sound.  I get it.  That in no way changes the desire I have to be part of whatever that magical world is that is presented in “The Lion King”, both the film and the stage musical.  Perhaps it is that beautiful balance of power and majesty, combined with belonging, love, purpose, and community.  Whatever the case, I have daydreamt of being with the lions for decades, and am still working on how to make something like that happen.

Roar.

Post-a-day 2017