Odds and Ends
8 3, 4:00pm
When I was living in Japan, I felt like it was practically defined by a need for escapism. It is a country that, culturally, still adheres to conformity as a useful tool for social stability (it's still one of the safest countries on the planet, so it's not like it's not paying off). You can see some of the cracks nowadays, but as long as there's a "vent" it seems like it will still work. That "vent" just happens to be fiction/media from the US, which has a culture that is in many ways just about the opposite of Japan's.
The sheer size of the US rewards cultural complacency at a local level while breeding a sense of individuality. The general sense is "if you don't like what you know so far, you can go elsewhere", but this is a country where a 4 hour drive in any direction will often just get you somewhere with (for a simple example) a different sports team and the same kind of beer and hamburgers. Mass media's not much help, since everyone is clearly watching similar things, and that (I think) accounts for why we look to an "exotic opposite" to have a cultural exchange with.
So basically, the "opposite" is a new frontier for someone who's all too familiar with their current situation, even if the specific causes are so different.