Scripted Affects, Branded Selves

Television, Subjectivity, and Capitalism in 1990s Japan

Scripted Affects, Branded Selves

Book Pages: 280 Illustrations: 7 illustrations Published: August 2010

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Asian Studies > East Asia, Media Studies > TV

In Scripted Affects, Branded Selves, Gabriella Lukács analyzes the development of a new primetime serial called “trendy drama” as the Japanese television industry’s ingenious response to market fragmentation. Much like the HBO hit Sex and the City, trendy dramas feature well-heeled young sophisticates enjoying consumer-oriented lifestyles while managing their unruly love lives. Integrating a political-economic analysis of television production with reception research, Lukács suggests that the trendy drama marked a shift in the Japanese television industry from offering story-driven entertainment to producing lifestyle-oriented programming. She interprets the new televisual preoccupation with consumer trends not as a sign of the medium’s downfall, but as a savvy strategy to appeal to viewers who increasingly demand entertainment that feels more personal than mass-produced fare. After all, what the producers of trendy dramas realized in the late 1980s was that taste and lifestyle were sources of identification that could be manipulated to satisfy mass and niche demands more easily than could conventional marketing criteria such as generation or gender. Lukács argues that by capitalizing on the semantic fluidity of the notion of lifestyle, commercial television networks were capable of uniting viewers into new affective alliances that, in turn, helped them bury anxieties over changing class relations in the wake of the prolonged economic recession.


Scripted Affects, Branded Selves is ... a welcome volume to fill the void in Japanese popular media scholarship.”
— Micky Lee, International Journal of Communication

“Lukacs’ approach is particularly enlightening to a recent problem in visual media study; that of how to write on the increasingly fragmented nature of production and viewing practices.” — Jenny Allan, The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology

Scripted Affects, Branded Selves is a very important book that no one wh is interested in Japanese popular culture, women’s studies and media studies can ignore.” — Benjamin W. M. Ng, Asian Anthropology

“Any scholar of Japanese or international media, or of contemporary Japanese culture in general, will find much rich material to mull and to integrate into a model of Japanese society and Japan studies that goes a long way toward transcending the rather tired categories with which so much foreign Japanology still operates.” — John Clammer,, Journal of Japanese Studies

“Lukács very convincingly weaves a study of production and consumption together in a way that leaves the reader wondering why studies such as this have not been done before. For anyone interested in the anthropology of television, media, and Japan studies in general, this book will be a valuable resource to draw upon.” — Emma E. Cook, Social Science Japan Journal

Scripted Affects, Branded Selves is destined to become a classic. Gabriella Lukács skillfully combines textual analysis of specific dramas with ethnographic study of television producers and consumers. In addition, she offers penetrating insight into the complex dialectic of global and local new media landscapes. What appears to be an insular national space of contemporary Japanese television culture is in fact thoroughly under the influence of global capitalism and the internationalization of cultural consumption.” — Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto, New York University

“Trendy dramas showcasing the hip lifestyles of young Tokyo sophisticates were a powerful television genre during Japan’s watershed decade of the 1990s. Gabriella Lukács artfully weaves an analysis of the production and content of the genre programming with an analysis of the lifestyles and work ways of its viewers. She shows how this television programming is forging new selves, a new economy, and a new society. The result is a remarkably new way in which anthropology can engage television and a critical contribution to our understanding of Japan’s current transformation.” — William W. Kelly, Yale University


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Gabriella Lukács is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh.

Table of Contents Back to Top

Introduction. Japan and Television at the Century's Turn

1. Intimate Televisuality: Television Dramas and the Tarento in Postwar Japan

2. Imaged Away: Agency and Fetishism in Trendy Drama Production and Reception

3. Dream Labor in the Dream Factory: Capital and Authorship in Drama Production

4. What's Love Got to Do with It? Love Dramas and Branded Selves

5. Labor Fantasies in Recessionary Japan: Employment as Lifestyle in Workplace Dramas of the 1990s

6. Private Globalization: Bootleggers, Fansubbers, and the Transnational Circulation of J-dorama

Epilogue. Image Commodity, Value, Affect



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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4824-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4813-9
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