Reflection paper regarding “Shall We Dance?”
Dancing is regarded with suspicion in Japan because public display of affection and intimacy is considered indecent and outright scandalous. Even married couples had to restrain from temperate public display of affections, such as holding of hands, saying “I love you”, or even dancing, because it was thought to be “beyond embarrassing”. Thus it would be safe to say that dancing with someone else other than one’s wife is even more disreputable and appalling. To American audiences, dancing may seem like no big deal, but apparently in Japan, ballroom dancing is frowned upon as another vulgar, low-culture import from the West.
This mentality of the Japanese towards dancing and open display of affection was constantly reflected in this movie. The scenes of where Sugiyama had to hesitate before enrolling into dancing class, had to look around before going upstairs to make sure that no one sees him, had to keep this a total secret from family and co-workers all convey Sugiyama’s attitude, which here represents the Japanese culture’s attitude as a whole, on dancing. Apparently, he felt that his association with the art of dancing was deemed shameful, and he had a good reason to believe that. Not only did he hear from Donny, a close friend and co-worker of Sugiyama who had practiced the art of dancing for 5 years, that dancing is a “Dirty lecher”, he also saw the banter reactions of his co-workers when they found out that Donny was dancing. To top it off, there was even a phrase said in the video suggesting that although this “shameful” dancing is not appropriate in the Japanese culture, it is perfectly suitable in the Western culture because of their preference in living. “Ungentlemanly behavior. It's a British sport after all”.
This cultural view on dancing does not differ much from my Chinese cultural values. From what I know, the Chinese really emphasize on cleanliness, modesty, and good behavior. Dancing and outward displays of affection goes against all of these three elements in that in a sense it seems to imply that it was ok...