Friday, June 09, 2006

She's All Growns Up

Japan loves Full House. Soak that up. A nation of over 120 million people that emerged from the ravages of WWII to at one point outpace the United States economy just can’t wait to “Cut it out.” (insert laugh track) I know what you’re thinking, “How wooood,” there’s no way that a country obsessed with motorcycles, blonde hair, and taxis with automatic rear doors would ever fall for a schmaltz-filled Bob Saget vehicle. Well somewhere in the late nineties it happened, and I was lucky enough to witness it first hand.

To tell you how deeply-set Full House is in the Japanese collective unconscious you need look no further than my friend Jennifer. At the time, Jen was a blonde-ish girl from Minnesota living in Japan and working as an English teacher. Needless to say, Jen was brought into contact daily with many a Japanese tongue that always had difficulty wrapping their pronunciation of her name around its adjacent consonants. Those that tried could eke out “Jen-nee-fuh,” and those less skilled might slip to “Jen-nee-fah-roo,” but more often than not Jennifer got something entirely different. These citizens, young and old, would incessantly call her, “Jeffanie” as in rhymes with Stephanie, as in the character portrayed by Jodie Sweetin on everyone’s favorite single dad and two uncles raise a house full of kids sitcom, Full House. They must have assumed that my friend was merely another example of a spunky, quick-witted, American middle child. Had Jennifer been black, they might have called her Vanessa.

I can’t seem to find any Japanese reaction to Jodie Sweetin’s latest romp into showbiz, mainly because I can’t read Japanese. It seems Jodie’s following a crystal meth rehab stint by hosting a show where people strip to their favorite music videos. Seriously. No word if it’s a game show or just more lonely voyeuristic television a la The Puppy Bowl. All I know is this thing should steamroll programming in the land of the rising sun.

So if you’re looking for Japan to lead the next cultural devolution, “You got it dude.”

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