"All of them believed that they had used scientific analysis (called 'metanarrative' by some post modern theorists) of human development. All thought they could outline the future direction of social change" Haralambos, M. Sociology: Theme "All of them believed that they had used scientific analysis (called 'metanarrative' by some post modern theorists) of human development. All thought they could outline the future direction of social change" Haralambos, M.
Sociology: Themes and Perspectives, 1997; pp. 866 Fukasaku's 1999 film Battle Royale allows the spectator to consider sociological commentaries like that of Haralambos above as it suggests 'the future direction of social change' in terms of Japanese cultural identity at the dawn of the twenty-first century. Haralambos's statement refers to sociological theorists. What he explains here is that through the accumulation of data and knowledge concerning the nature of human societies, the theorists are able to make predictions by relating the current situation of a particular society to similar developments that have already occurred and have been witnessed in other societies. In order to demonstrate the above thesis more intricately, this essay must consider the following objectives; the effect of the aforementioned post modernity on the cultural identities experienced by the members of Japanese society at the beginning of the twenty-first century; it must also address the source of the values of the contemporary members of Japanese society and distinguish what these cultural values are; it must consider the information gained in the previous two objectives and indicate how Fukasaku represents the discovered factors of cultural identity through narrative devices and filmic discourse in the context of Battle Royale.
Firstly, however, the major theoretical concepts of post modernism as presented by academics must be identified and assessed if it will be considered that Fukasaku adopts a post modernist perspective. "Increasingly, relationships between people, even those who live in the same neighbourhood or community, are characterized by a lack of clarity about the expected form of behaviour." Furedi, F. Culture of Fear, 1997; pp. 127 In the above statement, formed from a post modernist perspective, Frank Furedi (1997) claims that, in general, the members of contemporary societies find difficulties in determining their own cultural identity.
The 'expected forms of behaviour' discussed here by Furedi (1997) refer to the values of the members of a society, established through their socialization. If what Furedi (1997) states is applied to Battle Royale direct correlations may be drawn between the postmodern theory and the perspectives being addressed by Fukasaku. If, however, this is the only process that this essay takes, the assumption is being made that Japan is a society exposed to post modernity. It is first necessary to locate evidence from other academics directly considering Japan's state of socio-economic affairs. By taking into account Furedi's (1997) views in conjunction with the work of Stuart Clegg (1990), in which he directly considers Japanese social change in the last few decades, it seems that the values and ideologies endorsed by Japanese culture will be discovered and this study will be able to distinguish the aforementioned factors subjectively in Fukasaku's film.
Clegg (1990) argues that the Japanese society has evolved to become one that is in a current situation of post modernity. As a result, he claims: "The main beneficiaries of the type of organization described are men who have permanent jobs in one of the large Japanese corporations" Clegg, S. in Haralambos, M. Sociology: Themes and Perspectives, 1997; pp. 287 He continues to explain that this is because in Japanese industry there is a great deal of subcontracting so that much of the work needed by the major corporations is not carried out by their own employees. Workers in subcontracting firms have much less job security and less access to training.
Although this example may initially seem somewhat irrelevant when considering the representation of cultural identity in film, Battle Royale's diegesis concerns a group of school students who are on the verge of graduating from compulsory education and their teacher's concern about the industrial world that they are about to enter into. The values that the young generation have inherited from the postmodern society in which they have matured have led to what Furedi (1997) describes as 'a lack of clarity about the expected form of behaviour' and what Clegg (1990) explains as having a lack of security. As it has been discovered above, there seems to be a consensus between the comments of the two commentators. Japan is a society that has adopted, or is adopting post-modern organisation, the individuals of a society experiencing a change of structure will be affected dramatically and a resulting conflict will occur due to the older generation's application of modern values and the younger generation's confusion over what their values are. It is now necessary to explore this conflict more intricately in order to achieve a set of objectives to apply subjectively to Fukasaku's Battle Royale.
Before the cultural identity of the members of a society can be identified, it is vital that the sources, or reasons for this identity must be distinguished in order for a full understanding of the film in its cultural context to be achieved. In Clegg's (1990) comparison of postmodernism and 'bureaucratic superstructure' he notes the main components of an ideal bureaucracy, which is: "composed of a number of tendencies, such as an increasing specialisation and hierarchy, stratification, formalization, standardisation and centralisation of organisational action." Clegg, S. in Haralambos, M. Sociology: Themes and Perspectives, 1997; pp. 286.
Basically, by informing the reader what a bureaucracy is, he explains in the same terms what post modernity is not. Therefore, the components of bureaucracy suggest strict rigidity and post modernity would be suggested as being flexible and disorganized. Haralambos (1997) elaborates on Clegg's outline of what postmodernism is not and considers the effect of social change from an organized to a fragmented system of values on the societies individuals. He explicitly refers to 'cultural' and 'social' changes and, thus, such sociological commentaries are proven to be valid resources in the context of studying the representation of cultural identity in Battle Royale. According to Haralambos (1997), the industrial system of Japan has a direct impact on the experiences and identities of the members of the nation's society. In support of this point and to emphasize its relevance, socio-economic commentators on postmodernism acknowledge art as influenced by and influential towards the culture.
Harvey (1990) states that art derived from a postmodern society demonstrates: "the ferment, instability, and fleeting qualities of a post modern aesthetic that celebrates difference, ephemerality, spectacle, fashion and the commodification of cultural forms." Harvey, D. in Haralambos, M. Sociology: Themes and Perspectives, 1997; pp. 913 Harvey provides a break through to this investigation with this information as he suggests the signs that will be required to be distinguished in Battle Royale in order for this study to discover that the postmodernist society that has influenced Fukasaku is implicitly represented in his film through narrative devices and filmic discourses. In other words, Harvey's aesthetic components that represent postmodernism in art are, like in Clegg's summary and Haralambos's summary, symbols of erratic trends and personality, a desire not to conform and a desire to succeed as an individual and not as part of a community working together towards a familiar goal. Although, these theorists have indicated through these arguments what must be eminent in Battle Royale, it is yet to be discovered exactly why it must be eminent.
Janet Wolff's (1983) Aesthetics and the Sociology of Art support the claim that this essay must consider 'why' as well as 'what' and 'how'. She states: "[... ] totality can only be grasped via its 'mediations', which are transformed into categories of thought" Wolff, J. Aesthetics and the Sociology of Art, 1983; pp. 39 That is to say, the 'category of thought' in this study is Fukasaku's 1999 film Battle Royale, the meaning that is apparently implied by Fukasaku In the film and, therefore, cultural identity. Wolff (1983) goes on to explain: "The development of class-consciousness among the proletariat is thus the discovery of the mediating categories which disguise real relations with reified forms." Wolff, J.
Aesthetics and the Sociology of Art, 1983; pp. 39 By using Wolff's (1983) model of demonstrating of communicating cultural identity in the context of Battle Royal the postmodernist cultural identity of those in Japanese society are the 'proletariat', the mediating category is Fukasaku's implications, and the reified forms are the narrative devices and filmic discourses, that is to say, aesthetic devices used by Fukasaku in order to demonstrate his implications. As a summary of what has been identified as postmodernism and postmodernism theory's explicit reference to use in art, or more specifically film, it appears that an interaction between society and film has been successfully depicted. A post-modern society and the artistic products of its members are involved in a process in which society influences artistic media and, in tern, the resulting film, as is the case for Battle Royale, influences society as a broadcaster of social truths via aesthetic means. Some critics claim with drastic affect. For instance, Jean Baurillard (1997) states that members of societies, those who accept and conform to the values that their culture imposes, are not ignorant of cultural influences.
Fukasaku demonstrates this in Battle Royale. Although, as will be shown later in this essay through textual interpretive analysis, Fukasaku presents contemporary Japanese culture negatively, at a basic level of interpretation, Baurillard (1997) would consider it vital that Fukasaku merely recognises the influence of the cultural identity of his society's members on their behaviour. A component of Baurillard's (1997) study that has great relevance to this study is the concept of 'simulacra'. By this he implies that images are created of something that does not exist and has never existed. Fukasaku's film fits comfortably into the category of 'simulacra' as Battle Royale occurs in the future and is a paradoxical outlook to which Japanese society could become comparable. Finally, before this essay goes on to scrutinize the representation of the cultural identity of contemporary Japanese society in Battle Royale theories of identity must be addressed, to be precise, how: "[a]rt makes perception available for communication, and it does so outside the standardized forms of a language." Luhmann, N.
Art as a Social System, 2000; pp. 48 As this quotation demonstrates, Luhmann's (2000) work explains how communication can be achieved between an artist through their chosen medium and an interpretive spectator. In the context of this essay the artist is Fukasaku, the medium is film and the spectator is the audience of Battle Royale. Therefore, Luhmann's (2000) proposal will be considered using Fukasaku's film as the abstracted situation in question. The theory will indicate that the cultural identity of the members of Japanese society are perceived by Fukasaku, distorted by Fukasaku, and finally interpreted by the spectator. In terms of Luhmann's (2000) theory this essay will be taking on the role of the spectator and if the implicit is made explicit, Fukasaku will be proven to have 'perpetually overcome' the literal context of post-modernity as the perpetrator of Japanese cultural identity.
In support of this approach, McCall and Simmons (1966) explain the spectator's identification of what it sees from the perspective of the spectator, rather than through a description of the objectives that must be obeyed by the filmmaker in order to produce a comprehendible film. "[The spectator] concentrates upon the subset of the incoming selected perceptions that seems most important to him and his current enterprises [... ] The person's currently salient roles influence how things are interpreted and defined as objects even more than they influence perception[. ]" McCall, G. and Simmons, J. Identities and Interactions, 1966; pp.
111-2 The point that the two theorists communicate above is that if the spectator is entirely oblivious to what is witnessed then it is abstracted beyond their experience. If this essay fails to make any cognitive interpretation of what is being implied by... in Battle Royal, Fukasaku has been unsuccessful in communicating his opinions of Japanese cultural identity to his audience. It has been discovered that many academics recognize post-modernity as existing in Japan, the components of postmodernism have been identified, and it has been acknowledged exactly how the spectator will be able to put these objectives in conjunction with one another in order to create meaning to what they see. It is now necessary to apply the perspectives, theories and models addressed so far in the context of Battle Royale.
As Luhmann (2000) phrases it, "non actualized events must be actual ised as nonactual." Specific incidents in the diegesis and aesthetic techniques used by Fukasaku in the film must be acknowledged as being paradoxical, interpreted in order to achieve cognitive meaning and discussed in terms of the cultural identity represented. In order for the abstract Battle Royale to be interpreted by the spectator, it is vital that Fukasaku establishes his 'nonactual's situation but in terms that the spectator will understand. In accordance with the theories addressed concerning Japanese social structure, postmodernism, and spectator and cultural identity it appears that that this achieved by the filmmaker. The challenge initiated by Luhmann (2000) is completed successfully. He claims: "artistic forms are bound to the context of their emergence and must perpetually overcome this context." Luhmann, N.
Art as a Social System, 2000; pp. 39 Therefore, Fukasaku's challenge is to introduce fictional narrative information while maintaining undertones of reality. In the film's opening sequence this narrative information is presented in the form of text on the screen describing Fukasaku's abstraction of Japanese society. For instance, the spectator is informed that "[a]t the dawn of the millennium the nation collapsed.
At 15 % unemployment, 10 million were out of work. 800, 000 students boycotted school. The adults lost confidence and, fearing the youth, eventually passed the Millennium Educational Reform Act, a. k. a.
: the B. R. Act." If the only information provided was that 'the nation collapsed', the concept may be more difficult for the spectator to grasp. However, Fukasaku provides simulated socio-economic 'truths' in order to persuade the spectator that the 'nonactualities' are potential 'actualities'. If the research of Japan's socio-economic climate performed earlier in this essay is consulted, it can be demonstrated that these Fukasaku's 'nonactualities, no matter how exaggerated are indeed potential 'actualities'. Furedi (1997) acknowledges transition into post-modernity and the repercussions on the cultural identity of the society's members are as such: "The pattern of declining popular involvement is repeated in relation to virtually every public institution." Furedi, F.
Culture of Fear, 1997; pp. 127 It is commonly considered amongst social commentators that rejection of social organizations represents an increasing attitude in post-modern communities. If these opinions on contemporary Japanese attitudes are considered in conjunction with Clegg's (1997) commentary on the nation's loss of a great proportion of secondary industries, Fukasaku's diegetic 'actualities' can be appreciated by the spectator as parodies of social 'actualities'. The spectator is then presented with images of media speculation and excitement. Fukasaku explicitly indicates the news reporters by the use of cameras and microphones and a scramble amongst one another. These aesthetics are instantly recognized as social 'actualities' by the spectator.
The presence of military personnel, represented by similar aesthetic application, that is to say, they are dressed in military uniforms, indicates that the 'B. R. Act', as well as attracting substantial media attention, is controversial opposed by certain groups. Therefore, within the opening minutes of Battle Royale, the filmmaker has presented images that maintain a stronghold on reality, whilst through these images he has suggested, although not entirely explicitly at this stage, an abstract situation. Still without having been introduced to the film's primary characters that will eventually motivate the narrative, the spectator receives the image of a class of school children in a photograph, made explicit through similar aesthetic means as with the presentation of the reporters and military security guards. The children where school blazers and in the centre of the front row of children sits their teacher, recognizable aesthetically by his attire of a suit and tie, mise-en-sc " ene dictating his central position as representing his authority.
Through Battle Royale's establishing sequence, Fukasaku has been proven here to have 'perpetually overcome the context' of the film, in accordance with Luhmann's (2000) model of maintaining reality in an abstract medium. Following the establishing sequence the spectator is introduced to the film's narrator and central character, Nanahara. His voiceover narration is used to similar affect as the informative text in the opening sequence. He informs the spectator that his mother left home on his first day of fourth grade at school and on the first day of seventh grade his father committed suicide. In a dramatic contrast to the uniformity that the spectator has witnessed in the previous camera shot of the school photograph, Fukasaku expresses social pressure through common components of a post-modern society, in this case, infidelity and unemployment. The note that Nanahara's father left for him instructs, "Go Shuya! ! You can make it Shuya!" , proposing that life in contemporary Japanese society has become an unstructured, unguided struggle.
This again relates back to Furedi's (1997) views of declining association with and value of society's institutions, the specific institutions here being marriage, family and industry. Fukasaku amplifies this concept further as Nanahara expresses his isolation and solitude by stating, "I didn't have a clue what to do, and no one to show me either." Furedi (1997) goes onto explain the reasons for such isolation in a post-modern community. The declining trust of fellow members of society has resulted in "a world of risky strangers." It has been acknowledged that Fukasaku successfully represents in a cognitive manner declining trust of institutions by the members of contemporary Japanese society which, as a consequence suggests a lack of cultural values amongst the society, as Baurillard (1997) recognizes as a factor of post-modern societies, "instability and fleeting qualities." In order to amplify the presence of such components of post-modernity, Fukasaku represents a lack of trust between individuals. For instance, when on the island competing in the 'Battle Royale' contest, in which the students must kill one another until only one is left alive, there appears to be a distinct lack of trust between the groups of friends. In the sequence in which Mitsuko murders Megumi creates an atmosphere of mistrust through semiotic devices. "Semiotics is premised on the hypothesis that all types of phenomena have a corresponding underlying system that constitutes both the specificity and intelligibility of those phenomena." Buckland, 2000; pp.
7 As Buckland, (2000) explains above, there are signs and symbols that evoke associations by the spectator due to the symbols relevance to the individual's culture. Megumi indicates that she acknowledges Mitsuko as belonging to a "clique" other than her own. Her nervous actions and responses to Mitsuko's interrogation amplify the atmosphere of mistrust due to the use of diction concerning segregation. Due to the lack of values amongst those of Megumi's culture, she is forced to contemplate whether or not Mitsuko would be prepared to be so immoral as to kill her fellow student. This point is emphasized further still in Noriko's flashback of being bullied in the girls washroom at school by Mitsuko's group of friends. The parallel drawn between the two incidents represents the reasons for such a brutal parody used by Fukasaku in the film as a whole.
The flashback seems remarkably innocent and juvenile compared to the cruel murder of Megumi. This directs the spectator to address questions concerning misrule amongst Japan's generation of youths due to their experience in a post-modern society and, even though the 'nonactualities', or the context applied by Fukasaku is somewhat fantastical, the possible consequences are suggested. Another cinematic tool used by Fukasaku to good effect, is the application of non-diegetic music in the film. In the scenes in which the teacher, Kitano is presented to the spectator in the surroundings of the control centre of the 'Battle Royale' contest the non-diegetic music applied is classical and has an atmosphere of imperialism. Imperialism suggests the strict regime being oppressed onto a society of dependents, therefore, in Battle Royale Kitano represents the regime and the students represent the dependents. This example demonstrates another application of culturally specific symbols to evoke cognitive interpretation by the spectator, relating to Buckland's (2000) approach to semiotics McCall and Simmons's (1966) "current enterprises" of the members of an audience, in their approach to identities through aesthetics.
In conclusion, Fukasaku's representation of post-modernity in contemporary Japanese society and its affect on the cultural identities and values of the members of the society is most accurately summarized by what Nanahara expresses towards the end of Battle Royale: "My Mum and Dad ran off and died because they felt like it." As shown with the theories considered and examples of their application to the film's context, a lack of values and morals exist amongst the members of contemporary Japanese society and, therefore, the individual's become isolated and their lives are lived without guidance. Although Fukasaku uses an extreme medium to express Japanese cultural identity, the components of post-modernity and, therefore, Japanese identity are clearly distinguishable in the film as a critical perception of what his culture has the potential to become. Fukasaku does as Haralambos (1997) is quoted as expressing at the beginning of this essay, and attempts to "outline the future direction of social change.".