Friday, June 08, 2007

More on The Curse of The Colonel

My brother-in-law Paul -- who used to live in Japan -- just e-mailed me more about The Curse of The Colonel. It was so roll-on-the-floor funny that I decided to post in in its entirety. It's got all of the necessary ingredients -- fried chicken, Shonen Knife, John Waters, the Colonel, and Mel Gibson:

Oh, that's for real, friend. The Hanshin Tigers are my boys, so this is painfully familiar territory. Did you know that I went to a Shonen Knife concert in Houston and the cute drummer (is there any other kind in a chick band?) happily signed the shirt I was wearing with the Hanshin Tiger logo and propaganda? They're from Osaka, so I correctly guessed that they would represent and bring strong Tiger love, even in America. Anyway, that concert was in 2003, the year that we (almost) went all the way.[ed. note: What's this "we" gaijin?]

As for the Colonel (and his "wee, beady eyes"), I can't say that I totally blame him. That Dotombori canal is about as clean as the Houston ship channel. To toss in a plastic likeness of someone is just a creative way of burning them in effigy, really. And why mess with the Colonel? That cat is straight-up Deep South Pimpin', with the fly beard and the cane. They should know better.

KFC has an odd relationship with Japan, actually. They've done a lot better than other American fast food places, with the exception of McDonalds. The KFC teriyaki chicken sandwich is one of the five tastiest things I've ever eaten. Like, ever. They're doing something right over there.

Another strange and great KFC-related thing: The Japanese have totally screwed up our holidays and traditions, which creates totally new memes and social conventions anchored to our religious and social calendar. The best example is Christmas, which the Japanese really enjoy. Since they aren't remotely interested in Jesus (or in Annual Gift-Giving Man, as John Waters might have you believe from the Simpsons episode), they focus on what they believe is the true meaning of the holiday: Romance. Christmas in Japan isn't about spirituality or religion or even family, it's about sharing some quality time with a girlfriend or boyfriend. I'm not convinced that married couples observe it, by the way.

Anyway, this brings us to strange Christmas tradition #2: To really observe the holiday, you must have chicken for dinner. I'm guessing this because they've seen enough sappy holiday movie content to have witnessed the prominent turkey dinner American and English families enjoy, but a turkey isn't something one easily finds in Japan. In fact, I believe that most people probably mistakenly believe that a holiday turkey is just a steroidally oversized American chicken. I don't think the Japanese really understand turkeys, anyway. The word for turkey in Japanese is 七面鳥, which translates as "seven-faced chicken." [ed. note: Isn't that King Ghidorah?] Now that sounds like a mythical super-chicken, not it's own proper species. So they don't eat turkey at Christmas, they eat chicken.

So what happens on Christmas Day, if you are a forlorn, bespectacled salaryman with no love life? You may not have a lady friend to call your own, but you can't just thumb your nose at tradition, so you pick up a bucket of Extra Crispy on the way home to your tiny apartment. Ayako once told me that the distilled image of loneliness is the single man getting chicken at KFC on Christmas Day, and several other Japanese people corroborated this. I think that's awesome. [Ed. note: Me too. I have a new dream Christmas.]

For one of the most insane KFC ad campaigns you'll ever see, check out this one, which both connects fried chicken to Christmas and cashes in on the (likely poorly-received) Mel Gibson film The Passion of the Christ (by the way, the text in that ad says this: when Christ was killed, Christmas was born.)

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