Friday, January 08, 2010

Old School: Mr. Baseball

I'm in Dallas for a while, and my dad loves his movies. Anything with lots of blood or lots of baseball is fair game; if Rambo had had the brilliant idea of rescuing his friend from the Russians by distracting them with a barrage of fastballs I think he'd be in heaven. Looking over his shoulder one time too many, I noticed an usual sight: Tom Selleck talking to Japanese ball players... in the early 90s. Of course this happened a lot twenty years ago: American player is considered "washed out" or "wants a change", and sends himself over to Japan to try a different club. In 1992, I was ten, and not exactly paying attention to the latest Selleck movies (Alladin, I believe). Now, I have a second chance.

"Over here, I'm gaijin, same as you."
"Gaijin?"
"It's like being a black guy back home, only there's less of us."

A movie that echoes You Gotta Have Wa almost word for word":

- The Yomiyuri Giants have their own rules
- The interpreters choose what's best to save face
- The press don't appreciate ups and downs over a season
- Japanese teams have pre-game routines and drills most foreigners find completely unnecessary

And other Japanese truths:

- Don't underestimate a masseuse. She can inflict considerable pain.

I kind of like Mr. Baseball because unlike many movies of the day, it doesn't really throw out any big stereotypes of Japan. Tom Selleck's character is the one making the big adjustments, and the Japanese around him do a few of his "gaijin tricks" for fun, e.g. lighting shoes on fire, chewing sunflower seeds. One big thing: I really doubt someone would scream at chopsticks being placed up in a bowl.

No comments: