Read another Tagame story today, this one called "Jujitsu Kyoshi" (aka "The Judo Master") via the Yahoo group "Woody's Tagame Scans." No cops this time, but still incredibly hot and hairy. The group moderator -- Woody -- posts the following comments about the story in group message #291, which I'm excerpting here (without his permission, but trying to give credit where credit is due). I'll give you his plot synopsis first so you'll have some idea of the territory if you don't know the artist's work, but the part I'm most interested (re race/ethnicity and sexuality) comes after that so I'll italicize it:
"The first part seems to involve our protagonist seeing something on a television that starts him reminiscing (erotically) about a past encounter, only to later run into one of the perpetrators of the sexual humiliation that resulted from that encounter, who then seems to set him up to be kidnapped into sexual slavery, where after his training is complete (at some later date - and I presume at the request of his master) he then writes back to the perpetrator of his kidnapping to tell him of what has happened and how he likes his new life as a sex slave, only now we find our perpetrator regrets his actions and remembers fondly the good times they'd shared back when he was his Judo Master. [...]
"In the second half of the story, note the use of a grey haired (presumably American) black man as the Trainer/Master that our protagonist (who also as per usual, is well muscled, hunky and very un-Japanese looking) is enslaved by - another marker pointing to the sorts of racial conflict sprinkled through much of Tagame's work. Also note this is another story where the protagonist is the big butch alpha male type that is eventually reduced to the docile sex toy for the amusement of others.
"As I've said before, none of these themes are accidental in Tagame's works--and the undercurrents of humiliation & degradation of what would typically (to those that know Japanese culture - I don't claim to be one of those people) be a figure of unshakeable authority are designed to show the sort of eroticism that is especially powerful in these eastern cultures."
Woody's comments provide so much food for thought for me that I don't know where to begin. I do know that the Tagame stories I've seen so far are light years away from most of the Japanese visual style I've come across elsewhere: wispy, androgynous faery-boys with feminine eyes and bangs and wings and crap like that, which holds zero appeal for me on any level, aesthetic, erotic, or otherwise. Tagame's men are big and burly and clearly Anglo-looking; they exude authority, and it really gets me hard to see them humbled and literally brought to their knees. (He's been called "The Tom of Finland of Japan" -- but shouldn't that be just "Tom of Japan"?) Until I read Woody's remarks, I hadn't connected the imagery and storylines with Japanese attitudes about power and control -- though I should also say that I think of those attitudes as mighty close to my own. In real life I am fairly meek, more prone to obeying the law than breaking it (except in cases of civil disobedience), intimidated by cops, etc -- but in my fantasies the tables are turned. Sometimes, that is.
I also can't help connecting Tagame's storylines with fascism, and my mind leaps from Japan to Germany, another culture with its own rather intense connection to power. (I'm sure there's some kind of subtext in the story about American soldiers occupying Japan after WWII, to say nothing of the black master overpowering and dominating the white ex-master -- it's one huge struggle for dominance!) I'm not proud of the way I get a little woozy at the image of jackboots and Nazi uniforms and the like -- particularly since I realize I'd have been a prime candidate for the pink triangle and probably the ovens -- but I have to acknowledge the attraction even as I abhor its real-life manifestations. Sure, sure, I know all about eroticizing the oppressor, although I must point out that in my own lifetime I haven't been particularly oppressed by government-sponsored goon squads. (Not yet, at least--though I gotta say it looks more and more like we're heading in that direction. But I digress yet again...)
Speaking of eroticizing oppressors: if you buy that line, then how come I don't find the Taliban the least bit sexy? They were/are every bit as homophobic and authoritarian as the Third Reich, but they leave me stone cold on the fantasy front. I blame the lousy fashion sense. (Saddam, on the other hand, has/had better taste in uniforms and a bulky hairy body that cries out to be hogtied and shoved into a toilet by a Tagame torturer...)
Okay,THIS is why this journal must remain anonymous--there's no way I could say any of this out loud under my own name!
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