There are many times within a day where I ask myself, “How CAN I justify MY thug?” - and one answer I return to was found in the documentary Beautiful Losers. To the artists featured therein, “rad” is not an academic conceit, but a personal, perhaps spiritual one. To be “rad” or for a thing or abstract philosophy to become so, is not the concern of anyone else but within one’s own mind to these DIY artists starring in this worthy doco.
The question is not “this is not rad” but “how could this be anything but Radness Incarnate?”. So allow me to explain my personal findings on the subject of finding that which is rad.
There has existed for the past ten years a divided discourse whether anime fandom is either weeabooish fanboying and fangirling which masks latent Orientalism or if anime fans legitimately see anime and manga as more than a fad but a pure, bold new medium of Japanese expression. I was at a loss at one point to sum up a response to this debate raging amongst us, but thankfully my personal idol, Osamu Tezuka laid bare certain simple truths about Japanese animation before his death, conveniently available on the Australian Madman Entertainment release of The Experimental Films Of Osamu Tezuka DVD.
His simple truths regarding Japanese animation, are here paraphrased:
"Anime was always bigger than Japan, we made the films we did to inspire other animators around the world and people who wanted to see them outside Japan."
Such revolutionary statements fly in the face of both Western Orientalism and the Galapagos Theory of Japanese sociology. Tezuka knew all along that anime was not great merely because it was Japanese, but because talented artists worked hard to create anime which would be enjoyed by artists and fans worldwide. Tezuka died too soon but even in his old age he was ahead of his time.
Hence I believe anime’s radness is not because other countries’ animation is somehow inferior, but because anime allows the culture that create it to bring new, thoroughly rad ideas to the table of the popular culture’s art world.
Without a doubt country of origin influences elements of rad, but each nation has a different concept of what is indeed truly rad to their people. One cannot assume that hip hop originating in South Africa is devoid of rad because it is South African, especially since very real efforts by Die Antwood combat this inaccurate claim.
Truly exciting, very rad things exist the world over. In Australia there are dozens of utterly rad Ozploitation flicks that despite many of them being rated a mere M15+ (Aussie version of PG-13) they are sometimes so gnarly and rad you’re baffled as to whether the MPAA rates them as R in the States or not.
Ozsploitation reminds us Australians that our country once made entirely rad films, and will once again, just like many Japanese ex pats see anime as something rad from their culture they can share with non-Japanese friends who want to share ideas with their multicultural mates. It is no accident that many an Anglo-Asian bromance alliance begins with a DVD of Bruce Lee’s Enter The Dragon.
Rad knows no race, gender or creed, and those who seek out that which is rad… will FIND IT.