Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Free and Open Access of Alexander Street Press Anthropology Resources (limited time only)

Announcement via EASIANTH. This is free access to a wide variety of films, text and other resources. Take advantage of this open access while you can!

For a limited time the full range of Alexander Street Press anthropology collections, video and text, are available open access to the academic community.

Access to all our anthropology collections is available until 30 September using the following link:

Just click on the collections in your area of interest and start exploring today -there are seven collections released, available as stand alone collections or customized packages.

If prompted the user name is reviewer and the password is 578heroic3

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Tribe - "Performed entirely in sign language with nary a subtitle nor a syllable of spoken dialogue"

Photo and story borrowed from

Actions, emotions and desperate impulses speak far louder than words in “The Tribe,” a formally audacious coup de cinema that marks a stunning writing-directing debut for Ukrainian filmmaker Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy. Set largely within the walls of a boarding school for the deaf that reveals itself as a violent cesspool of organized crime, this bleak, pitiless yet weirdly exhilarating drama is performed entirely in sign language by an ensemble of non-professional young actors, with nary a subtitle nor a syllable of spoken dialogue — a demanding high-concept stunt that accrues multiple layers of meaning as the picture moves toward its bone-chilling conclusion. Breathtakingly controlled, riveting even at its most inscrutable, this worthy winner of three Cannes Critics’ Week prizes looks to be a significant conversation-piece at every festival it plays, and should parlay glowing critical response into serious arthouse exposure.

It will be especially interesting to see what deaf viewers make of Slaboshpytskiy’s highly accomplished first feature; engrossingly expanded from the writer-director’s 2010 short, “Deafness,” it’s an unflinchingly pessimistic portrait of a youthful underground subculture that has dealt with its social disadvantages by turning to thuggery and prostitution. Given the emotional/inspirational thrust of so many movies and TV shows (from “Children of a Lesser God” to TV’s “Switched at Birth”) featuring deaf characters, who are often presented in relation to their hearing friends and family, there’s something coldly bracing about “The Tribe’s” total immersion strategy, as well as its utter refusal to sentimentalize its characters and the harsh, isolated world they inhabit.

Read the full review:

See the trailer (warning - nudity):

Sunday, September 7, 2014

"HIV/AIDS awareness in Japan still lacking"

From Japan Today, 9/6/14 (by Chiara Terzuolo):

It starts as a quick twist in a morning chat with friends, sipping coffee as the still cool morning breeze wafts off the port of Yokohama. My two friends are women in their mid-30s, professional and well-traveled. One tilts her head to the side and wonders: ‘I dunno, I feel a bit weird… maybe it’s the heat? Or maybe I got pregnant from that guy a few weeks ago…’ The other quickly laughs it off, saying it is unlikely at their age, with much assenting and nodding. And my blood runs cold.

“Why didn’t you use a condom?!” The question pops out of my mouth before my brain even has a say in the matter.

“Oh, I dunno,” is the unsatisfactory answer, accompanied by a self-deprecating chuckle.

“Are you nuts?!”

“Oh no! You set her off again!” laughs my other friend, as if my concern about safety is a silly, weird quirk to be tolerated. But I can’t let it go, my thoughts pulsing with alarm.

And so this is how I find myself, once again, giving women almost a decade older than myself the AIDS talk.

While in other industrialized nations, HIV infection rates have been steadily decreasing over the last decade, Japan stands out as the exception. From 2000 to 2014, the reported cases of HIV in Japan have more than doubled, with 70% of the cases being individuals in their 20s and 30s. Naturally, there will be many, many more carriers of the virus out there, who simply have not been tested or started showing signs yet. (1) About 30% of AIDS cases in the country are individuals who had no idea that they were HIV positive until the damn disease had progressed to full-blown AIDS.

Besides the continuous rise in cases, another fact that should cause great concern is that the number of people getting tested is falling. (2) So, there are thousands of people out there, unknowingly continuing to spread the virus through lack of safe sexual practices (as the number of cases of HIV transmission through needle-sharing or from mother to child is a minor in Japan).

Considering the lax use of condoms (and minimal amount of sexual education in schools or on TV, which are the main ways people find out about the dangers of HIV), this is no surprise. As typified by my friend’s reaction, the main worry about unprotected sex is pregnancy, not diseases.

In fact, many people don’t believe that HIV and AIDS are a problem in Japan. It is considered a “foreign” disease by many, which can only be caught by intercourse with “foreigners”—completely ludicrous, considering that 85% of new cases were infected in Japan. In addition, the number of non-Japanese cases in Japan has continued to decrease, with circa 93% of HIV/AIDS carriers being Japanese nationals.

My friends in their 30s brush away my concern about their lack of awareness by saying that they are from a “different generation,” and that now this info is taught in school. Obviously not sufficiently well, as cases continue to rise and 50% of university students are uninformed about how the virus is transmitted and how to protect themselves. (3) Asking a few younger friends directly about how they were taught about HIV/AIDS, most replied that they were taught about the existence of the disease, but little to nothing about transmission or prevention.

Because of the lack of awareness and lukewarm campaigns (including a recent one, featuring one of the members of the band Exile) people do not really think to look online for information. Many have no clue about even basic things, like the difference between HIV and AIDS or the fact that the virus can be transmitted through oral sex. A few people implied “it can’t be helped” and that in Japan, “they don’t teach about these sort of things.”

While saying this is a group-oriented society, the disregard for the consequences of their actions angers me. I ask if they have ever been tested, only to be told it is “too scary” or “embarrassing”... while continuing to have unprotected sex. The average age for women newly diagnosed is 25-34, putting them right in the bracket. Cases in heterosexual males are also on the rise, despite the tired and dangerous misconception that this is a “gay disease.”

Having been taught from a young age about the importance of safe sex, I feel that protecting not only yourself but also your partner(s) is the greatest gesture of love and respect. Education from a young age is essential for all genders, as is showing the reality of living with the disease. I for one will continue giving my talk ad nauseam ... and pray for a ripple effect.


Click here for previous HIV/AIDS posts on VAOJ.

Friday, September 5, 2014

"Man arrested for taking 'normal' picture of woman on train"

As VAOJ has stated many times, privacy laws are different in Japan. People have a right to privacy even when in public. So it is always best - and safe - to ask permission before taking a photo in public. See the story below from Japan Today, 9/5/14:

Japan was one of the first countries to sell mobile phones equipped with a camera back in 2000. Having a camera on you at all times sure does come in handy, as you’ll always be able to capture that special moment wherever you are.

Unfortunately, sometimes that special moment is a peep-shot or a scandalous photo which is certainly a violation of privacy. Japan has taken a very no-nonsense approach to help stop these highly inappropriate photos, and it comes in the form of the Anti-Nuisance Ordinance. So powerful is this law that the latest person to be arrested has caused a bit of commotion. His crime? Taking a picture of a fully-clothed woman sitting beside him on the train.

The 40-year-old man was arrested in Kawasaki City for taking pictures of a young woman next to him on the train. The police arrived on the scene after the woman called and informed them of what the man did. The photos in question did not contain any sneaky under the skirt shots or attempts to get a glimpse of her bra, just full body shots, head to toe.

So, why was the man arrested? Cases like this have made the news in the past few years, falling under the aforementioned Anti-Nuisance Ordinance. The law is quite broad in its language, but seeks to protect one thing: the safety and well-being of women. The law states that it doesn’t matter what you are taking a picture of, if the woman being photographed is made to feel uncomfortable or starts feeling anxious, you are liable to be arrested. Even so much as pointing a camera in the victim’s direction without taking a picture is grounds for arrest.

The last controversial case like this became big news back in 2011, when a man was arrested for taking pictures of a woman sleeping on the train. Another back in 2008 involved a Self-Defense Forces member, whose guilty verdict was upheld by the Supreme Court for violating the Anti-Nuisance Ordinance by taking 11 pictures of a woman’s butt/hip area. The woman had all of her clothes on but the court ruled he was in clear violation of the law.

The law also does not discriminate with the age of the woman and any female, young or old, can complain that she is feeling “shy, ashamed or embarrassed”, and the person causing that discomfort will have to deal with the police in some fashion.

With another case getting national coverage in Japan, the Anti-Nuisance Ordinance will surely continue to be scrutinized. For example, the ordinance does not mention males in any fashion. What if it’s a man’s picture being taken and it makes him feel uncomfortable? Is this against the law? There’s also the question of how far does this law go? What about people who are taking pictures in Shibuya Crossing, one of the busiest pedestrian intersections in the world? Or someone who’s been caught by the Google Maps car? Or most of the programs on Japanese TV?


Thursday, August 28, 2014

"Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art forced to cover up 'obscene' photos following complaint"

Image borrowed from Twitter (@asaitakashi) via Japan Today, 8/27/14.

Story from Japan Today, 8/27/14:

When police arrested Japanese artist Rokudenashiko last month for distributing 3-D printer plans for models of her vagina, the world was at once baffled and outraged. But despite all the fuss that was raised over the artist’s arrest, it looks like the Japanese police are at it again, this time targeting the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art for an exhibition featuring nude photography by the Japanese photographer Ryudai Takano.

Though no one has been arrested, the museum made headlines after it partially covered some of Ryudai’s photographs with cloth after local police deemed the images “obscene.” However, many in Japan are questioning the legitimacy of the police actions.

The exhibit, called “Photography Will Be,” features photos from nine different photographers and is set to run until September 28. According to the museum’s website, the exhibit is intended to “[examine] our relationship to the photograph and the image.” To that end, Takano, who is known for his nude photography, contributed nearly 50 pieces, 12 of which feature male genitalia.

Realizing that not all patrons would be happy about being confronted with uncensored genitalia, the museum consulted with an attorney and decided to put a curtain up separating the photos from the others on display and included a warning explaining that the images may be unpalatable for some. A guard was even posted nearby to watch the entrance of the cordoned-off area. Nevertheless, the police showed up on August 12, almost two weeks after the exhibit opened, demanding that the 12 “obscene” photos be removed following an anonymous complaint about the exhibition.

However, rather than simply getting rid the offending photographs, the museum worked out a sort of deal with the police. Cloth was put up over the photos themselves so as to censor the images and prevent anyone from seeing anything that might be glimpsed in an everyday locker room.

Though the photographs remain, many are still upset by the police’s apparent violation of free speech – including Shuji Takahashi, one of the museum’s curators. Takahashi explained that he did not want to engage in self-censorship, but had little choice since he would otherwise face arrest. For his part, Takano explained that there were basically three ways they could deal with the situation: 1) Continue with the exhibit unchanged, 2) Replace the photos in question with “safe” photos, or 3) Cover up the offending aspects of the photos.

Since letting the museum staff be arrested was out of the question for Takano, he immediately rejected the first option. He also felt that the second option was equally unacceptable as it would imply that they agreed with the police. The third option, though not ideal, would allow Takano to communicate his protest to patrons without anyone ending up in handcuffs.

By partially covering the photos, Takano is signalling to patrons that the police have become involved – though we imagine that most museum-goers have heard about the incident already. However, Takano’s choice to cover up the “obscene” portions of the photos is not without precedent – in an email sent to and posted by webDICE, the photographer references Seiki Kuroda, a Meiji- and Showa-era painter. Kuroda painted in the Western style and spent many years abroad studying a style that was, at the time, quite foreign to Japan. Upon his return from France, the painter opened an exhibit, including a technically excellent female nude which drew outrage. Takano was apparently inspired by Kuroda’s choice to add a “loincloth” to the painting as a way to deal with critics.

While many were displeased with the police deeming works of art in a museum “obscene,” there is another aspect to the case that has people’s ire up: A lack of transparency. In addition to the obscenity charges being a violation of free speech and free expression rights, the anonymous reporting and sudden appearance of the police demanding the photos be removed is troubling for many, including Takahashi. He explained that the anonymous complaint was frustrating–if the patron had reported it to the museum staff, they would have been able to explain the work to the patron.

But even more troubling for Tohoku University professor Tarou Igarashi is how easy it is for anonymous complaints to cause trouble. “If you wanted to make accusations against a work of art, there are a number of easy ways to do so,” he told Yahoo! Japan News.

A Change.Org petition created by fellow photographer Takashi Arai has received over 3,100 signatures since it appeared online. The petition maintains that the police are legally unable to demand the photos be taken down, and dismisses the idea that any of the photos are obscene.


“Photography Will Be” website:

Click here for Change.Org petition.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

“Stop! AIDS” campaign event - Porn queens to take part in 24-hour 'squeeze-a-thon'

From Japan Today, 8/27/14:

A group of Japanese porn actresses are preparing to have their breasts squeezed by fans for 24 hours this weekend for a charity event loosely translated as “Boob Aid”.

The nine adult movie stars told local media on Monday they could barely contain their excitement about the “Stop! AIDS” campaign event—which will be televised live—but asked, perhaps somewhat optimistically: please be gentle.

“I’m really looking forward to lots of people fondling my boobs,” Rina Serina told the Tokyo Sports newspaper. “But I would be very happy if you would please be delicate.”

The event, the 12th since its launch in 2003, will be broadcast on adult cable television, with punters donating to the anti-AIDS campaign in exchange for a feel.

It comes after sexist heckling of a Tokyo assemblywoman hit the headlines, highlighting old-fashioned views toward women that still permeate Japanese society.

“I never thought my boobs could contribute to society,” added the ponytailed Serina, apparently unaware of any contradiction.

Fellow porn actress Iku Sakuragi had no qualms about being groped by hundreds of pairs of hands.

“It’s for charity,” said the 21-year-old. “Squeeze them, donate money—let’s be happy.”

The 24-hour “squeeze-a-thon” begins at 8 p.m. on Saturday and is backed by the Japan Foundation for AIDS Prevention.

It's worth a try, huh? HIV/AIDS continues to rise in Japan.


UPDATE: Porn queens raise over Y2 mil for AIDS...
(Japan Today
, 8/30/14)

A group of Japanese porn actresses raised more than 2 million yen Saturday and Sunday by having their breasts squeezed by fans at a “Boob Aid” charity event for AIDS prevention.

The nine adult movie stars, sporting yellow campaign T-shirts rolled up to reveal their breasts, flashed a big smile as punters came to them at an event that opened Saturday.

Having sprayed their hands with disinfectant, many of them were seen fondling the breasts quite discreetly.

A man was seen pressing his palms together in the style of a Buddhist prayer before and after he softly touched the breasts of each of the nine girls.

Women were occasionally spotted in the mostly male crowd, prompting one of the girls to say in rapture: “Wow, I’m happy. I want her to touch my breasts!”

Boob Aid is part of the 24-hour “Stop! AIDS” campaign event in Tokyo, which is also being televised live on a Japanese adult cable channel.

The breast-squeezing resumed Sunday morning after an overnight break.

More than 2,300 pairs of hands groped for a total of eight hours until early Sunday afternoon, organizers said.

The figure suggests some 2.3 million yen has already been collected as each participant was expected to donate 1,000 yen or more.

The final money count will be announced after the event closes at 8 p.m. on Sunday.

The event is the 12th since its launch in 2003. It is backed by the Japan Foundation for AIDS Prevention.


“I never thought my boobs could contribute to society,” added the ponytailed Serina, apparently unaware of any contradiction.


ANOTHER UPDATE: Make that 5 million yen raised...

Monday, August 25, 2014

Update: "Monkeys, ghosts and gods 'cannot own copyright' says US"

From The Telegraph, 8/21/14:

In the wake of controversy over Wikipedia’s free and worldwide distribution of a monkey ‘selfie’ against the wishes of the man who claims to own copyright, the US has issued new guidance that says monkeys, ghosts and gods are all banned from possessing image rights.

The US Copyright Office has published a draft update to its rules regarding ownership of creative works like photographs, text and art – the first changes in more than two decades – which explicitly state that it will only recognise pieces produced by a human.

Among the 1,222 pages of updated rules and regulations are explicit bans on works produced by “nature, animals, or plants” or “purportedly created by divine or supernatural beings”.

In a list of examples of prohibited applications is “a photograph taken by a monkey” - an apparent nod to the recent Wikipedia case.

Wikimedia, the US-based organisation behind Wikipedia, has refused a photographer’s repeated requests to remove one of his images which it uses online without his permission, claiming that because a monkey pressed the shutter button there is no copyright on it.

The group has included the image in its database of royalty free images, which it offers for use worldwide, but the photographer claims it is his to sell and licence.

British nature photographer David Slater was in Indonesia in 2011 attempting to get the perfect image of a crested black macaque when one of the animals came up to investigate his equipment, hijacked a camera and took hundreds of selfies.

Slater has since complained that Wikimedia’s distribution of the image is affecting his ability to make a living from his work. He incurred costs of several thousands of pounds to arrange the photo shoot, which required the use of his own expensive equipment.

Also prohibited under the new US copyright rules would be “a mural painted by an elephant” or “a claim based on the appearance of actual animal skin”.

Despite the bans on works created by gods and ghosts, the Office may register a work where the application states that the work was “inspired by a divine spirit”, it says.

The update will “set the stage for a number of long-term improvements in the area of registration” of copyright, claims the Office. It is described as a “comprehensive overhaul that makes the practices and standards of the Office more timely and transparent”.

The draft will remain on review until it takes official effect some time around December 15 this year. The practices within it are not law, but do inform future legislation and set out how the Office makes internal decisions.

In the UK, under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988, a photographer can claim rights over an image even if he or she did not press the shutter button if the results are their “intellectual creation” – for example, they came up with the concept of a monkey taking a “selfie”.

However, such a case has never been tried in court and the outcome would be uncertain.


Original story: