This is a diversion from the usual blog topic I typically plan to write about, but I feel the need to vent about something that just happened, and something that`s happened to me before. This isn`t only a Japan thing, but it seems to happen more regularly in Japan than in other places, and I`m not sure if it`s a culture shock thing or a `You Know What, This Ain`t Cool` thing.
I`m talking about 9/11. Which, of course, was not cool.
Actually, I`m talking about the weird obsession people in Japan seem to have with asking me about 9/11 as soon as they find out I`m from New York. It`s only happened twice so far this time, but the last time I was in Japan it happened frequently, and I expect the subject to come up plenty of times while I`m here.
This is usually how the conversation goes:
Japanese person: You`re from New York. Were you there on 9/11?
Me: Yes, I lived close by.
Japanese person: Wow!! Tell me EVERYTHING.
Me: Um... It was pretty rough...
Japanese person: Did you see it were you scared how much did you see what happened did anyone die it must have been really scary wow that`s amazing we saw it on TV it was so shocking was it shocking???
This is what I think of as trauma tourism, and I feel like it`s self-evident that it bothers the hell out of me. I don`t walk up to other people and say, `Hello, almost-stranger, let`s talk about one of the most horrible moments in my life, in depth! And sometimes you`ll laugh while I`m talking about it!` (Really, they do this. `Oh my God, you thought you and everyone you love were going to die, that`s hilarious.`)
I`m not sure why 9/11 gets a free pass on this, really. If you found out someone was raped or their parents were murdered, you wouldn`t go over to them and demand explicit details on their experience and exclaim over them like a circus act. I mean, maybe you would, but I hope not. I think the impression is that because it was a `global event,` a shared experience, it`s something people feel more involved in, even thousands of miles away. Or maybe it`s just that it`s something important about New York, something they want to use to make a connection with me. Really, I`d rather they use Times Square or pigeons or something.
You`d think they`d realize, nine years later, that it`s not really something anyone who was actually there wants to keep talking about. But hell--if the yokels in Montana and Ohio and Tennessee and the jerks in our own government still keep trying to exploit 9/11 for their own purposes, why not the Japanese, too?
I guess I`m not any angrier about trauma tourism than I am about the mosque protesters or anything Rudy Giuliani has ever said. I`m just not looking forward to dealing with it again. And again. And again.
But maybe I`ll just start lying about it. `Did I say New York? No, no, I meant Newark. Actually, I meant Nome, Alaska. Must have misspoken.`
Blerg. A weary Gaijinesse, signing out.