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The Wonderful World of Gaijin Tarento

Written By J.P. Sakuragi on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 | Wednesday, November 16, 2011


The Japanese seem to have this fascination to something foreign. In the first place, they have been influenced from the outside that forced them to open up after centuries of Shogunate rule.

As an island nation, the country has isolated itself for hundreds of years but they began to open up to everything foreign when Commodore Matthew Perry arrived in Japan in 1853. Since then, the Japanese have this fascination for something foreign. Despite such overwhelming foreign influence, the Japanese retained their image in everything they borrowed from baseball to beer.

The Japanese is also susceptible to the everchanging fads, trends, and booms on a major scale. They are also famous in transforming once-niche favorite fads like anime, manga, and video games into global pop culture phenomena. These niche trends and booms are self-sustaining ecosystems with different variations of trends from doorknob licking to bondage fetish. What is unusual is now the norm and the prevailing aesthetic fad that defines a new generation of young people.


The guys like Bob Sapp, Kent Gilbert, Kent Dericott, Dave Spector, or Zomahoun Idossou Rufin may not ring a bell to some people but these foreigners are quite famous in Japan and even as famous than popular Japanese entertainers. Why is it so? They are somewhat treated like novelties and person of curiousity.

In this case, Chicago-native Dave Spector is the famous example of a virtual unknown gaijin tarento who became famous in Japan. What makes it interesting is that he speaks fluent Japanese and can held on his own on any TV shows. Spector said that the novelty of foreigners to Japanese is like a panda (foreigner)-animal trainer (the Japanese) relationship.

He believes that the Japanese think foreigners are cute and out of the ordinary. They will toss them treats if they do something cute, but that's as far as they want to be involved. He goes on to say that making foreigners "cuter" in order to take away their threat of being powerful, knowledgeable, and sophisticated. This is one way of making the Japanese feel comfortable about themselves.


From gameshows to variety programs, foreigners are made to ridiculous things to downright silly. Some are getting pain handsomely and getting the attention that they don't have back home. So who wants to be their entertaining panda then? Well, who doesn't love the beautiful Leah Dizon? Perhaps, she is one of the most famous gaijin tarento, with a hint of Filipino blood, of all!
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