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Musings on the end of an era... - Elf M. Sternberg
Musings on the end of an era...
There was a brief decade of time-- call it 1985 through 1995-- when Japanese girls brought up in their native country were exotically beautiful. Most of them had been born twenty years earlier and had grown up on a diet that was not yet Westernized, but the attitudes towards naked women were uniquely Japanese-- somehow patriarchial, excessively protective, and exploitative all at the same time. The result is a body of erotica that is as innocent as Playboy desperately wanted to be, as attractive as a unicorn is supposed to be, as alien to Americans as the moons of Jupiter and as suggestive as a Von Stuck artshow. The women were youthful, sylphlike, thin without suggesting deprivation, small without arousing hints of pedophilia. It was, all things considered, a kind of golden age.

Since 1995, however, "oriental porn" has devolved completely. The body styles the photographers are looking for are the same ones Western photographers are seeking, and the diet the developed Pacific Rim enjoys is as full-fat and nutritious as that eaten in America. The sylphs and nymphs have disappeared into history, replaced with tall, full-bodied divas strong of thigh and heavy of boob, as massive and toned as their genes and personal trainers can make them, indistinguishable from their American and European counterparts-- and that includes the discovery of plastic surgery. They may as well be American girls but for their slight upturn of eye and darker hue of skin. Onsen photoshoots are done more for the kitsch than with any sense of legitimacy.

One of the threads running in rec.arts.sf.written this week is "Fear of a Beige Planet," where story writers show how all of the races have merged into a giant melting pot. Sometimes, one wag points out, such writers try too hard and come up with ridiculous multicultural names like "Alberto Fujimori," "Desmond Tutu," and "David Suzuki." (The local NPR affiliate has a Jazz program director named Alicia Hashimoto, come to think of it.)

I think it doesn't take much in the way of cross-cultural marriage. Cross-cultural diet has done plenty to take us to a world where everyone, at the very least, expects to look not too different from their neighbor.

Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful
Current Music: Avenue Q, The Internet is for Porn!

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acelightning From: acelightning Date: February 27th, 2006 04:56 am (UTC) (Link)
I worked at the UN in New York in the 1970s, and got to observe and interact with people from, quite literally, every part of the planet. It seemed to me that the most interesting people came from places where there had been a high degree of interbreeding - notably Hawaii, most of the islands of the Caribbean, and the quasi-Caribbean countries along the northern edge of South America. Not only were the visibly "mixed-race" people more attractive, they also seemed to be more intelligent, more creative, and often more hard-working, than those of us with less diverse ancestry. And, not to be too sexist myself, but, unquestionably, these folk were more attractive! Working alongside someone with a cinnamon complexion, dark wavy hair with natural reddish streaks, light-brown eyes with a slight epicanthic fold, cheekbones a supermodel might envy, the high-curved ass that originated in Africa, and an accent as smooth as a drink made with three kinds of rum... sure gives a new meaning to the phrase "hybrid vigor"!
nbarnes From: nbarnes Date: February 27th, 2006 06:07 am (UTC) (Link)
There's an extent to which I think it's safe to assume that the kind of people in and around the UN are not a representative slice of humanity, either genetically or in terms of their internal life/personality. That said, yeah, I bet it was overrun with hotties of both normative gender presentations.
acelightning From: acelightning Date: February 27th, 2006 07:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, I wasn't working with diplomats - I was an audio technician, and the people I worked with were other technicians, announcers, and writers. But you're right, in that anyone who managed to come to the US and work at the UN had to be at least somewhat out of the ordinary in their home country.

Incidentally, it's rather well known that there's a fairly strong "gay mafia" contingent at the UN - that is, a particular sub-set of gay men from around the world. Dag Hammarskjold, the first Secretary-General of the UN, was gay, and he appointed many of his friends to positions of power... and they, in turn, appointed their friends, over the years. The closet door was pretty wide open, if you knew where to look. The bunch of old queens I knew back in the 1970s were a lot of fun to work with, although they all tended to drink too much... but then again, so did a lot of other people...

From: technoshaman Date: February 27th, 2006 06:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Have to agree, while there are some less diverse phenotypes that are extremely attractive, there is definitely something exotic about those that are moreso. Particularly the way you describe it... :)
acelightning From: acelightning Date: February 27th, 2006 07:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Why, thank you!

I think the thing about exotically diverse phenotypes is that the unexpected combinations are particularly striking. And I don't think that the human race is ever going to be uniformly beige, because recessive genes sometimes get reinforced generations after they seem to have disappeared. I do, truly, believe in Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.

(I remember having this discussion when I was barely thirteen, with my voice teacher; he was a cantor, originally an opera singer from central Europe, with a very stereotypically Ashkenazic appearance. He said, "In the future, everyone will be light brown, with slanty eyes, curly hair - and Jewish noses!")

From: technoshaman Date: February 27th, 2006 06:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I dunno. I still see a whole lotta different body types. I will admit to seeing *less* of the wee Asian types, but I do see'em.

One wonders if this is photographer choice rather than an artifact of diet?
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mundens From: mundens Date: February 27th, 2006 06:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, without wanting to be too rude to you guys and gals in the US, I sure hope this diet creep doesn't give us a world with the same incidence of obesity as the US!

I always liked the old Blue Mink song :
What we need is a great big nelting pot
Big enough to take the world and all it's got.
keep it turning for a hundred years or more.
Turn out coffee-coloured poeople by the score
Not as much diversity perhaps, but I like coffee! :)
acelightning From: acelightning Date: February 27th, 2006 07:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Instead of the "melting pot", I prefer the "salad bowl" metaphor - where all sorts of diverse components get tossed together in a harmonious mixture, while maintaining their individual qualities. (Just don't ask me about the "salad dressing"!)
fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: February 27th, 2006 11:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I disagree, mainly because it doesn't work.

Either your kids and kids kids are going to assimilate into each other's cultures (and shock both sets of grandparents), or else you are going to have ethnic enclaves.

And ethnic enclaves that last more than 2 generations are a BAD IDEA, for reasons that should be either obvious, or if they are not obvious, I've gotten far to tired of explaining to explain again.
acelightning From: acelightning Date: February 27th, 2006 11:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
I understand that there's got to be some assimilation - my point is that complete bland sameness isn't a good idea either. And it doesn't happen; even people whose ancestors came to the US six generations back, and who speak only a word or two of their "native" language, still take pride in being "Italian" or "Irish" or "Norwegian" or whatever other type of hyphenated American they feel themselves to be. (This usually involves ethnic foods more than anything else - but observe what happens on St. Patrick's Day in New York.) It's a little different when you have "racial" mixing, because it's more visually obvious... but, for example, Keanu Reeves has Chinese and Polynesian, as well as Caucasian, ancestry.
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fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: February 27th, 2006 11:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's called "irony".
memegarden From: memegarden Date: February 27th, 2006 05:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
meowse and I surmise that in the future much of the human race will look like a cross between Indians and Chinese--say, Tibetans. Tall, fat Tibetans.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 27th, 2006 07:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

Not unreasonable...

This isn't an unusual premise, considering that approximately one-third of the planet's population is already in those two groups - Indian or Chinese. Anglos are far down the list in terms of ethnic group sizes.

One of the things I look forward to, during a possible future "alien contact" scenario, is that whatever they are, suddenly races will [hopefully] seem like a near meaningless catagorization, next to species...

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