Is my new Japanese Video racist?

Is my new Japanese Video racist?

I love YouTube commenters. You see a little bit of everything on there. And it’s wide open for every idiot to spout their nonsense. I had not checked the comments on my latest video for a while, so you can imagine my laughing reaction to some of the flotsam that has collected. See the comments here.

How to make these videos

If you want to see more of these sorts of videos, how I do it, more from Japan, and this sort of thing, come visit the Stuck In Motion page here on the site for a full how-to.

Daily Photo – Kimono Under the Cherry Trees

It was my second time to Kyoto, but my fourth time to Japan. I started to become more accustomed to the times of day and the comings and goings of the ladies in kimonos. You can see them most any time of the day or not, but they flood out of every crevice around this time of night.

The pink cherry blossoms made everything seem like it was right out the days of the shogun. I shot this with my second camera – the D3S that I had across my chest. My main camera is always the D3X on a tripod, and I was getting a lot of night photography shots. But I had my D3S with a 50 prime ready to capture things like this. Another nice advantage is that it seems to make the trees feel a bit more soft. There is another soft aspect to the colors – these prime lenses capture the tones in a very soft way.

Kimono Under the Cherry Trees

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/1.4
  • ISO2000
  • Focal Length50mm (50mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

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  • Michael Diblicek

    Hi All,

    Just a short message to say that i have 4 Invites for HDR Spotting if any of you HDR fans out there want to showcase your great work.
    You can contact me by mail at – mike1052(at)gmail(dot)com i will give these out on a first come first serve basis, and will of course repost when all have gone.
    All the best
    Mike

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  • http://www.sjhphoto.com Scott

    Trey, did you use some selective focus/defocus software on this one? Nice job isolating the geisha.

  • http://none Louis

    We did the blossom trip last year did not know any thing about HDR then.I must admit when it comes to things people like to put their own thoughts to the world we live in.The world is full of hatred but feel that people have misjudged your video.I can only say on their behalf sorry, as they must live in a very sad environment.Some comments could well of come from the very person in your video . Just check the lady going into the elevator,she turns around looking very upset and watch her mouth (not a happy chappy)
    Regards

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrandybird/ Andy Bird

    We had a story in the sports section of the newspaper recently about a South Korean soccer player, who plays here in Scotland, who allegedly made a racist jibe during a recent match against Japan. Apparently he impersonated a monkey which the Japanese do not take to kindly to at all. In his case I can see why he might have upset some people in the heat of the moment during an important soccer match between two rivals but to deem your video racist because you’ve included some Snow Monkeys enjoying warm bath seems a little far fetched and ridiculous – I was more offended by the size of that woman’s slusho drink haha.

    As for today’s photo – i think we’ve seen this one before but it is still great eye candy for a dude just about to spend the rest of his day staring at badly written paperwork – tremendous capture!

  • http://www.jasonteale.com Jason Teale

    First of all Trey my mouth dropped once the motion and the music kicked in! Dear God that was awesome! As for the racist comments… completely stupid. As you know, those particular monkeys are icons in Japan, especially the bathing snow monkeys… I mean really pick up a national geographic on anything about Japan and you’ll see them.

    Angry Bird made a good point about context too. The SK player made the gesture mostly because of the bitter history between his country and Japan and matches like that tend to bring out fierce nationalism, especially between Japan and South Korea. As for the video, there was no racial context or negative gesture, so I don’t understand why someone thought that it would be racist.

    I think people tend to stretch things out to get a rise out of people.

  • Patricia Yarrow

    Trey,
    Think your “The Moments Between” video is really important. Captures a nuance of living here in Tokyo and in Japan that is very hard to verbalize. Still exploring your website. One little quibble, though. The title of the cherry trees and woman in a kimono. Do you know for sure that she is engaged in the geisha profession? To me, she seems to be like what I see often here, a women dressed in kimono. I hope you might retitle this. Geisha has too strong a connotation and is not accurate. Unless she really is a geisha, a very accomplished profession, and you know this for a fact. OK, just my little detail.

    Thanks for all the information you are sharing.

    /Patricia

  • http://none Louis

    Patricia is correct Trey, this lady is in a kimono>I and the family went to a kimono fashion show in Kyoto most geishas will normally have heavy white makeup on

  • Gail in Montana

    Beautiful photo, Trey!! Thanks for sharing. Have a wonderful day :-)

  • http://perceptionoflife.com/blog Tim A.

    That’s great. I know how you feel. I posted a 5 second clip of the “World’s Shortest Escalator” on YouTube (just search for it and it’ll be there) and the amount of comments are staggering in its utter stupidity… I start to lose my faith in humanity…and then realize it’s not humanity but the internet which seems to have the ability to bring out the worst in people if given a chance. Oh, and Patricia’s comment is correct about the geisha. But then again, most people won’t know so it’s cool :) Great photo though. Miss Kyoto…gotta get out of Tokyo one of these trips…

  • http://www.fangmarks.com Matt Fangman

    Hmmm. Very suspicious Trey. I’ve noticed the subtle racist undertones of your work for years. Beautiful landscapes. Flowing rivers. Saturated imagery. I mean, its obvious! Joking, of course. I supposed the viewer could have inferred the inclusion of the monkeys as some sort of statement, but whatever. You’ve had thousands of views of that video. There is bound to be a few folks who misunderstand the intent or simply see shadows where there are none. Keep up the good work!

  • http://www.stuckincustoms.com Trey Ratcliff

    Thanks all!

    Patricia/Tim – aha yes… there were full geishas around too, in the full makeup. I mean, they could have been actresses in little shows too, of course. This lady was just in a kimono (made the changes), yes.

    Scott – yes I did use the 50mm to get the DOF, but I also selectively did work to make sure she was extra-in-focus

    Andy – hehe… yes… I can’t think of a culture that doesn’t like snow-monkeys. As far as I know, the Japanese people like them too!

  • http://williambeem.com William Beem

    If you shot the same kind of video in Austin, would that commenter still think the video was racist? I don’t get it. You share something from a place where you traveled and those are the things you saw. I don’t see any racism at all. However, I’ll tell you that baby on the front of the school bus would really creep me out if I they did that around here.

  • http://www.stuckincustoms.com Trey Ratcliff

    hehe William :)

  • Ann Gardner

    I love your stuck in motion videos and thought that the comment on youtube was laughable. I particularly like your Japanese pictures as my daughter went as a 10th grade student exchange to Japan and her 500plus photos have similar images and content to yours. Hmm! perhaps she’s racist–which doesn’t explain why she wants to go and live and work there once she finishes college!!! I love the idea of a stuck in motion video set in Austin! I live west of Houston and enjoy taking trips to Austin and also the Chappell Hill area during wild flower time.
    Enough waffling—keep up the GREAT non-racist work!

  • http://imageammo.com/player Richard

    I have viewed your video so many times … just to ‘GROUND MYSELF’ (hard to explain) … but it slows me down when I need to. Racist? Wow! … I just think it is fantastic …

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  • Z

    The tree canopy is gorgeous

  • casusan

    Wonderful shot of her and the blossoms Trey! I wouldn’t put much stock in those off the wall comments!

  • Shaun

    I’m a little disappointed in thew way you addressed the racism comment. It was one comment, by one person out of thousands and thousands of positive and lauded comments regarding your beautiful video. Your rewarded this ignorant person with a direct front page headline the best most visisted and wonderful photo blogs in the world. You’re bigger then this Trey!

  • Oliver

    wicked the 50 prime is just SICK

    thanks for showing some prime love!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/edenbrackstone/5449260175/ Eden Brackstone.

    I love Trey’s 50mm Prime, it produces sweet results! I’ve got a video of him snapping away with it while his family were feeding our farm animals, hehe. I have no idea what the people who are calling you ‘racist’ are smoking…
    But I think this sort of comment on YouTube sums up how silly it is:
    “Hey Trey, did you know you have a racist monkey on the front of your home page? Just thought I’d let you know. I’m pretty sure, HDR is a racist term for something. Better get that changed too…”
    Haha, gotta love how trolls cause problems that actually results in more web traffic and feedback ;-)

  • Brian

    nice photo overall but the people on the right seems to be distracting…

  • Rob

    I’m one of those “If you don’t have something nice to say probably shouldn’t say it” people but I’m going to break my rule here…and be a little critical…
    Trey, please please stop with this video… No, it’s not racist… but listen please… stop with the video stuff and stick to what you are good at… capturing a single image and turning it into magic. Get back to the photos and rid yourself of the video. Showing what you can achieve with new tech is nice once and a bit, but besides a few “neat” effects on a few select shots… it’s nothing special. The part of your website and blog that got me hooked was the amazing vision you could achieve with a single shot…and I’m sad to say that the site has changed for the worse since the original video of this… the great photos and vision has been replaced with recycled drab…I want to see Trey the artist again and not Trey the salesman…
    It’s something that has been bugging me for awhile now and I had to get it out…

  • M
  • http://twitter.com/tripgs Greggory Heil

    Love your work!! Your video is so beautiful but your Youtube embed code “smooshes” it, embed it at a size that is proportional to the 16:9 resolution of the video You currently have it embedded as 900×740, which is 1.2 not 1.7

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