Is ‘Isle of Dogs’ offensive? The critics weigh in
The film has come under fire for its offensive portrayal of Japanese culture
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Wes Anderson’s new film has come under criticism for cultural appropriation. ‘Isle of Dogs’ is a stop-motion animated film set in Japan. There, a boy strives to find his mutt friend on a mysterious island populated by dogs. Justin Chang criticised the film in a review for the Los Angeles Times. In his words, ‘Isle of Dogs’ is “often captivating”, but its “cultural sensitivity gets lost in translation”.
Chang critiqued Wes Anderson’s position as a white director tackling Japanese culture and stereotypes. The critic wrote that the film has a “highly selective, idiosyncratic rendering of an East Asian society”. Chang wrote that “Anderson’s appreciation of Japanese culture is nothing if not wide-ranging”. He also found problems with the un-subtitled Japanese dialect of some characters, while the dogs all speak clear American English. The critic concluded by saying “‘Isle of Dogs’ is finally ugly in ways beyond what even its maker could have intended”.
Fellow writer Jen Yamato concurred Chang’s criticisms. “[The] ways Wes Anderson appropriates and marginalizes Japanese culture and people in his so-called homage... is ugly, indeed”, she wrote on Twitter.
Does this criticism put you off ‘Isle of Dogs’? What do you make of English-speaking Japanese dogs? ‘Isle of Dogs’ hits UK cinemas on March 30.
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