If Isle of Dogs makes one thing unmistakably clear, it’s that director-cowriter Wes Anderson truly adores Japanese culture. The food, the clothing, the ancient drums (“taiko”), the language, the architecture….you can just feel how much he enjoys the immersion.
How strange, then, that Wes is getting beaten up for not enjoying Japan in the right way. Or, more to the point, in the wrong way. His crime, it seems, is (a) not using subtitles when his Japanese characters speak and (b) creating a blonde American activist character, Tracy Walker, voiced by Greta Gerwig, who plays a significant role in bringing about the rescuing and re-acceptance of the Trash Island dogs. What didn’t he invent a fucking Japanese activist instead?
The crime is cultural appropriation, and at least four name-branders have been slapping Wes around for this since yesterday — L.A. Times critics Justin Chang and Jen Yamato, Slant‘s Steve McFarlane and Washington Post critic Ann Hornaday.
Anderson’s reply: “The movie is a fantasy, and I would never suggest that this is an accurate depiction of any particular Japan…this is definitely a reimagining of Japan through my experience of Japanese cinema.”