Isle of Dogs Accused of Cultural Appropriation

Wes Anderson’s new release Isle of Dogs has opened with strong ratings, but audiences are divided.

Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs divides audiences by Poorly handling Japanese culture

Wes Anderson’s newest stop-motion, Isle of Dogs has opened in America and leads the indie box office, but it has divided audiences over its innovation and creative but poor handling of Japanese culture.

The film is set in a dystopian futuristic Japan, in the fictional city of Megasaki where their dog population are banished to Trash Island, out of fears that a disease epidemic may be passed from dogs to humans.

The film opened to an impressive USD $1.57 million over the weekend, across only 27 locations in America, making the average per screen takings $58,148 - the highest screen average of the year so far.

The film scored 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.4/10 from IMDb, but despite wider critical acclaim, some critics have noted Wes Anderson’s “poor” handling of Japanese culture. Most of the Japanese dialogue spoken by the humans in the film has been simplified into statements that western audiences can understand simply by interpreting context and facial expressions, while the dogs speak full American-English. The decision to not use subtitles makes the Japanese people “others” in their own city.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time Wes Anderson has been thrown under the cultural appropriation bus, with his 2007 feature The Darjeeling Limited accused of simplifying Indian culture. Both of these films have divided audiences because of the appreciation for innovation, creativity and love of Anderson’s aesthetic, and some are also criticising Isle of Dogs for using Japanese culture purely as an aesthetic backdrop.

Isle of Dogs is Wes Anderson’s first film since 2009’s Fantastic Mr Fox and is set to be released on April 12. Watch the trailer below.

 

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