Myth Making, Constructing an audience by re-inventing traditions and identity

Who constructs the audience? The society constructs the audience. It’s a combination of the institutions that perpetuate the ideology that has arisen from the society itself. The ideology is not uni-directional. The society informs these institutions these in turn perpetuate, the society then responds, which then in turn is reworked back into the institutions. In Japan, the rural communities respond by emphasising the traditions grounded within that locality. This is illustrated further in Martinez ethnographic study of Noshi awabi making in Japan (Goodman 1992), here they participate in the myth-making process by dressing in clothes that their grandfathers wore, and kneeling in order to carry out the ritual. However, in actuality, this is difficult for the group of men who are quite elderly. They find it difficult to kneel, because of their weak knees, the noshi awabi making is often not carried out in silence, but the men chat as they work to ease the atmosphere. The men are keen for the NHK to capture a myth, as they want to show what the ‘traditional past’ should look like.

Oedo de gozaru - 'Here is Edo' (Thursdays 7:40 - 8:25)

This along with the documentary of Noshi Awabi, provide yes, stereotyped images, however, the response is not necessarily negative.
There is a ‘good’ reading. This reading is a combination of the text, director/author, subjects and viewers.

‘We never look at just one thing, we are always looking at the relationship between things and ourselves.’ (Berger 1972, p.9)
Iser in reception theory, sees reading as a series of cognitive acts consistency building, image-making, addition leading to a ‘gestalt-formation’, a psychological understanding. Whereas film theory defines it as a dialectic of symbolic-imaginary operations, gazing, interpolation, suturing, subject-positioning. This in turn results in subject position (Metz 1977, Mulvey 1975). However, both these activities ultimately define the production of meaning as well as the reconstitution of readers. Iser suggests that we can only experience the text as a whole only when we have finished experiencing it. The reader in this phase may need several readings gain a thicker understanding. By creating a soap opera “Here is Edo”, the public audience is made aware of the past, and their history, a proud history. The emphasis is on recreating an authentic Edo past, then there is the inevitable teach-in, where the resident expert points out any mistakes they may have made in 'local colour' -- an inappropriate kimono pattern, a outdated (jidaihazureno period) custom. There is an increasing use of irony, which allows the viewer to question and deconstruct the narrative, what (Iser 1978) refers to as ‘secondary negation’. This is a more complex invalidation of the ‘familiar’ that is common in modernist literature such as Joyce. This is a convention that is a negation of the conventional interpretive strategies. There is a disappearance of the narrators perspective. By this the audience do not really believe that the actions played out within soap opera are concrete historical events, rather it is the costume an custom that is an inference to a tradition that is something to be proud of and valued as a golden era.
This is an inference to the past, which connotes theories of Japanessness called: Nihonjinron. In it’s 1930’s guise it was seen as most definitely an ideology, in both the Marxist and Aron sense, and in it’s post war guise, it is definitely an ideology to enhance the interests of those in control within Japan.’ (1986, 169) Some writers see Nihonjinron in the Geertzian approach in that it is a symbolic system. If ideology is part of a political and social formation then myth is grounding in the pre-political pre-industrial past that is firmly grounded within the pre-political and religious. The conflation of these terms is not totally accidental, nihonjirin emerged from a period (1930’s), a time of great flux, and of shifting ideologies. Thus as Gluck sees this time as a shifting ideologies where no-one could foresee the destinations that these ideologies perpetuated. This transition was the modernising/internationalising Japan, treating of origins (that calls upon an often mythic past) and how one state of affairs became another (Japan’s success as not part of historical development but an outgrowing of Japanese uniqueness) These can be used to maintain authority, of a specific group.
In Kuzaki, in northern Japan, the making of Noshi Awabi, the film crew came looking for a ‘traditional Japan’ that is informed by Shintoism and the Ise priest informing the crew, and the grandfathers in the second time of filming are not so co-operative of these laborious task to capture this traditional Japan on film, so they make noise, however, they never protest, as they themselves believe in this myth making. It is part of their identity in reaffirming their identity as being different to their neighbours especially in Osatsu. In Japan, the gap between audiences and watchers of television and the audience as object of television is not very large. With numerous village game shows and vox pops each Japanese locality get their five minutes of fame.