TURNING JAPANESE Part II
The 'Talento' With No Talent
It has been said that technologically, Japan is always ahead of America by 5-10 years. Just look at cell phones: they've been able to watch broadcast television and cable on those for years. And where are we? We are only just now implementing those technologies into our 'smart' phones, which then aren't really that smart at all.
But what about cultural advancement? What about Pop cultural advancement? Right now, due to the effects of the Great Recession, the question everybody is asking is, "Will America become the next Japan?". Japan's recession in the 80's was so severe that they call it 'The Lost Decade'.
Sound familiar? That lost decade in Japan changed the popular cultural landscape and now, all of us are resembling the Japanese more and more. This article will focus on the rise of what are called Talento in Japan, and the changing of American broadcast TV shows.
In Japan, Talento have no real talent. Their ranks are usually composed of 'retired' Idols whose fifteen minutes of fame has run out, or D-list actors and comedians who are known only for their outrageous personas or catch-phrases than for actual accomplishments. Their agencies farming them out from guest appearances on one show to another endlessly.
The demise of scripted TV shows due to both changing viewing habits and Japan's Lost Decade, caused TV producers to depend on more easily produced Reality TV shows and game shows to recoup profits. And where did they look to fill a cast with slightly recognizable faces, but without the high paychecks a real star would require? The Talento class of TV personalities was created out of necessity, growing larger exponentially as more shows are created and die off season after season.
And now in America, if you flip through your channels, you will find that Reality TV has in the past few years has gone from the exception to the new norm. And so are we growing accustomed to seeing American Talento steadily increasing in number and decreasing in talent.
The Kardashians, Dancing With the Stars, Celebrity Apprentice, The Hills, and most recently the cast of Jersey Shore.
How long will it be before the number of Talento churned out by the constant parade of reality TV shows spits out so many that new types of shows will be created to support them? In the midst of the Great Recession, Americans yearn to lose themselves in the distraction, feasting on Talento and Idols, the comfort food of the entertainment world.
The future of TV and film in America as it becomes more Japanese is the topic of my last article of this series.