Going through the news, I noticed that, as of yesterday, Mainichi Daily News has discontinued its controversial corner, WaiWai. WaiWai was a section, headed by Aussie Ryann Connell, in which various articles from tabloid rags were translated into English and published for humor's sake. Apparently, MDN folded under pressure from complaints that content in this corner was "too vulgar"; some recent article headlines have included titles such as "Give me pubic hair, or give me death!", "Sick skating sensei sullies student, leaves wife to handle the heat", and "Suicidal porn princess with a fetish for funny men chooses gassing over flaming'". There were also those who questioned whether a respectable news source should be dealing tabloid stories to begin with. MDN has said that they will retool the corner with different and, in a likelihood, more "acceptable" content.
Ultimately, I have mixed feelings about WaiWai's disappearance. On the one hand, it was an interesting (and often hilarious) view into a part of Japanese society that would otherwise be ignored. Tabloids are one of those things that we laugh at, but we have to remember that they make a lot of money so some reader must be taking them seriously. With that in mind, it's interesting to note what sorts of stories are used to keep these reader's attention. One thing that sort of relieves, however, is that we really do not need yet another avenue that only focuses on and laughs at the freakish elements of Japan. It's bugged me for a long time that it has sometimes become hard to talk about Japan without the mention of some fringe element about Japan is. Want to talk about movies? Miike. Anime? Tentacle rape. Tokyo? Soaplands. Food? Raw fish. Now, these are all valid subtopics to bring up but they're sometimes done so with so much derision that it's almost not worth coming up with any sort of explanation. "Err, yes, Japanese eat raw fish but, you know, raw oysters are..oh never mind."
The funny thing is that these images of Japan sometimes give people an extremely false impression of the country. When I was talking to someone about the country recently he marvelled that Japan must be this wild place where everyone has spiky hair and leather bondage clothes and eats sushi everyday when actually the opposite is the case, Japan is a pretty conservative place that has a lot of traditions that guide and govern everyday life. Nothing controversial about that, though, I'm afraid.