West above the rest? – Investigating the depiction of Caucasian western characters in Japanese Cinema

University essay from Lunds universitet/Centrum för öst- och sydöstasienstudier

Abstract: The primary aim of this thesis is to analyze and uncover stereotypes concerning Caucasian westerners among Japanese citizens. This is done by looking into recent Japanese cinema in order to analyze how Caucasian westerners are displayed in the movies in which they appear. A semiotic approach as defined by Jonathan Bignell is used in order to gather data from the selected movies, and the findings discovered in this process is analyzed using a theoretical framework primarily relying on labelling theory as defined by Erving Goffman. Upon conducting the data collection the thesis furthermore engages in a larger analysis where the way of using foreigners in Japanese cinema is compared to the way it is being done in Hollywood. Ultimately the thesis displays how the roles of foreign actors are clearly distinguished from that of Japanese actors, as well as how Caucasian western foreigners tend to be treated more favorable than minorities of other ethnicities when they appear in Japanese movies.

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