Five years ago today, I was staying at my friends Jon and Nikki's apartment for their wedding. Feeling something weird in my stomach, I woke up in the middle of night just before Nikki walked in to tell me what was happening in Japan at that very moment. TV showed tsunami waves washing away people, houses, trees, and everything else that were in their way. Thousands of lives were taken on that day, the one we now remember by 3.11.
Two years later, I started MA program at Kyoto University to study about what an imaginary home might mean to us human beings because of the very images of houses being shuttered by the tsunami that had kept lingering in my head since 3. 11. For me, home movies/ videos through which we had formed the film representation of home/ homeness since 1895 seemed to be the key to understanding that. Chemically-decayed images on 8mm films, to me, looked as if memories within homes were being washed away by the tsunami (of time). At that time, I thought this research was the best means I got to consider the power of cinema for preserving the value of family and home. However, the result was I got sick of heteronormative values that were actually at the core of home movie/ video medium at least in Japanese cinema history.
Today, I am studying the imagery of family, queer, gender, and sexuality in post-war Japanese cinema as a process of learning about what and who has been excluded/ not been represented under hetronormative oppression. This oppression seems still strongly intact even in contemporary Japanese cinema. As five years passed since 3.11, the traditional values of heterosexual families are again reproduced over and over. What about those excluded from such values? Are we even listening to the voices of the excluded? Although I am not a PhD holder (I hope soon I will), I always think that a job of any academic scholars has to be in some way linked to excavating as well as shedding a light on what's missing from mainstream discussions. We must keep thinking and listening.
Just a random thought on 3.11.