Sunday, 18 May 2014

Losing yourself

The last two weeks have been very stressful for an absurd reason I am not going to discuss, yet, but things could apparently be so much worse that I do not complain.

I visited briefly the Stockholm Seriefestival, even if the wonderful warm weather drew me elsewhere for the most of the weekend. The very interesting presentation on the gender stereotypes in manga was by a cartoonist Natalia Batista, who herself has drawn Swedish manga. This talk presented the different types, the cute girl, the spectacled boy and girl, the gloomy girl and the prince among others to the full Plattan (well, the seats are only about 30 or 40). These cartoons are age and gender specific, so there are different specialist magazines and collection volumes for e.g. tweeny girls and middle-age gentlemen who like sailing.

I was especially intrigued by the maids and butlers – who are exactly what it says in the name. 19th-century English maids downstairs and butler-like males who serve female readers every fancy – at least in their dreams. Most of the cartoons are not XXX material, so we are mainly talking about daydreaming and everyday escapism here. The really interesting thing was that in Japan they have maid and butler cafes where people can buy company of a maid or a butler for a day. It seems that nowadays a part of the declining population figures in Japan are blamed on manga. And I can see why the career ladies in their twenties who are so-called parasite youth who live at home and have high salaries prefer having a fanciful, gentleman butler for a relaxing day instead of a real boyfriend.

The other extreme of the spectrum was outlined by a colleague whose family was involved in a way in one of those awful stories in the newspapers. It turned out that the culprit was in a world of one’s own having been playing a certain video game since eight years old. Instead of dealing with sometimes irritating human beings, it was easier to just hit and run, play a game, relate to fellow humans in a way an assassin sees a target. No pity, no sympathy, no feelings, except perhaps anger and selfpity. Maybe one has to reconsider son’s tablet use...

That is the way other people lose themselves. However, I was only loosening myself in Stockholm in Eriksdal’s steam sauna... Or sitting on a terrace in Gamla Stan... I do feel sometimes like escaping from the reality, but I just think I will keep within innocent daydreaming!

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