Japan-based bloggers, magazine writers, and newspaper correspondents: give up your day jobs (present writer included). We all just got schooled by New Yorker staff writer Dana Goodyear, who has written the best English article so far on the keitai shosetsu “cell phone novel” phenomenon. Two months in Japan was apparently all it took to hit all the important angles and catch 1,000 struggling Japan hands with their pants down.
A few points:
1) The keitai novel phenomena clearly links to the “yankii-zation” of Japanese pop culture. Not a new idea, but maybe the most important basic concept to explain what is going on right now in almost all cultural fields, especially fashion and music. ヤンキー＝短絡的思想. Japanese pop culture is, and has always been, all about socioeconomic class, who has power, who sets tastes. The upper middle class have been totally defeated in the realm of mass culture. Or they’ve retreated to some new space.
2) Goodyear does a pretty good job of making the ubiquitous author anonymity seem legitimate: authors are embarrassed about their work, even if successful.
3) Democratization of culture means more and more creators with “non-artistic” goals who create for personal satisfaction/catharsis but whose work, through the process of the market structure, becomes equalized in format to the old style of creator who had the traditional “artistic” reason to create. Yoshimoto Banana saying that keitai novels aren’t novels is not snobbery, it’s proper classification of motive and content.