ScreenHunter_329 Feb. 24 17.03

Newly-minted minor celebrity and comedian Atsugiri Jason has raised Japanese hackles with a throwaway tweet that mildly criticized Japanese culture.

Atsugiri Jason (lit. “Thick-cut Jason”) became an unexpected hit last year when he appeared on a Japanese variety show with his energetic signature comedic performance that revolves around the 28-year-old American posing as a rookie Japanese learner getting worked up over the idiosyncrasies of the Japanese language, especially kanji characters. The repeated punchline, “WHY, JAPANESE PEOPLE?!” struck a chord with Japanese audiences, and—like so many TV catchphrases before it—has even wormed its way into the Japanese lexicon.

While that single catchphrase has made the man famous and, certainly, at least moderately more wealthy over the last year — he’s even released a book — Jason’s recent Twitter musings have been less warmly received by the Japanese public, particularly one the comedian posted just a few days ago:

“It’s sad that [in Japan] having a different opinion to someone is mistaken as animosity towards that person.”

Japanese Twitter users were not pleased with the quip, which many took as unfairly critical of their culture and maybe just a tad condescending. To be sure, no doubt many of these reactions are coming from the darker, more juvenile corners of the Japanese Internet, but we’ll drop some of the more choice comments here:

“It’s sad that certain people misunderstand [Japanese culture].”

“Japan is a culture that doesn’t put much value on heated debate. From our perspective, it seems like westerns are a people who are always trying to start arguments and pick fights.”

“I’d love it if [Atsugiri Jason] would give up his habit of overgeneralizing the Japanese.”

“We don’t feel that way unless someone starts pushing their opinions on us or picking fights.” 

“Would you prefer a country where people kill each other because of differing religions?”

“This guy is just like Pakkun — they’re dogs who couldn’t cut it in their own country so they escaped to Japan.”

ScreenHunter_330 Feb. 24 17.04Jason Danielson/Twitter

Possibly because Jason comes from an IT background, or perhaps because he wears a suit and draws frantically on a whiteboard during his performances, Japanese viewers came to assign Jason’s celebrity persona a kind of professorial, foreign mentor status, with Jason responding in kind with performances and social media presence that seem to increasingly take a more pedagogic, even occasionally moralizing, tack.  Well, that, or we’re seeing Atsugiri Jason having a slow meltdown on Twitter recently. In between English “word of the day” type posts, one can spot additional musings on the performer’s Twitter account that some would argue come off as somewhat condescending towards his adoptive country — which is always going to be risky when you’re in the spotlight.

While this whole thing might seem like a one-off gaff, you could argue that there’s a lot more to unpack here that speaks to the fickle nature of fame in Japan, especially for foreigners, and even to a broader Japanese hostility towards even well-meaning criticism from outsiders. It’s almost a foregone conclusion that Atsugiri Jason’s Japanese fame will fizzle out some time in the near future — as eventually befalls all “ippatsu gag” comedians — but it would be a shame to see Jason himself inadvertently accelerating the process.

Source: My Game News Flash
Featured image: Jason Danielson/Twitter