In 2008, I wrote a blog post about the brilliance of Japanese designer Takashi Murakami which was picked up by Fabsugar as one if its must read of the day. Two years later, the magnificent Murakami is making news again through his recent POP magazine cover featuring Britney Spears dressed as a Japanese Lolita. The cover obviously didn't escape the blogosphere's radar. In fact, wonder kid Tavi has written her interpretation of it. It is amazing how a 15? year old can translate a magazine cover into a thought provoking topic correlating to our culture's obsession to pop stars, their sex lives and the how the world in general is so hooked to images of young girls portraying sluts and the freakishness of it all. As a 30 year old man, I would like to think as a 15 year old kid and translate this cover as nothing but a mere Japanese obsession--not with sex and schoolgirls---but with channeling their inner child.
Takashi Murakami also known as the "Andy Warhol of Japan" is the most coveted Japanese artist the western world ( his record in art auction was for than fifteen million dollars). His artworks have reached mainstream pop culture even enabling himself to collaborate with the likes of Kanye West and Marc Jacobs of the luxury brand Louis Vuitton in 2008. The partnership with Louis Vuitton, was a big surprise as nobody would have thought that such a luxurious bags would suddenly have rich rainbow colours painted on its products. How dare Takashi be so blasphemous to taint a regal bag with such flamboyant palettes? But in the end, was a big hit, thanks to the clever idea of Marc Jacobs.
With Murakami's collaboration with pop, I want to look at it in a perspective that it is just a mere Japanese art which capitalizes on it's race's obsession with being and feeling like children again. Japan, a country that earns billions by selling toys, gadgets, comics, mangas, etc. for an adult market, it is not surprising that such a magazine cover directed by one of its people has the same influence. But you ask, why Britney? and why is she posing so provocatively in that cover? I say, why not? Britney with her massive success in the mainstream pop culture from a very young age, it is without a doubt that she was stripped of her childhood. Something that Takashi might have thought would be nice to re-live and be inspired with. Why not bring it back at least for a cover of a magazine? I would have suggested Michael Jackson as a good but for obvious reason, it would impossible. Yet it would have made my point clearer. I believe that when this magazine hit Japan, it would just like be another normal cover to them. Yes, there must be hint of her sex with her sexy Rodarte outfit and Bridal gown but isn't it every girl's dream to be a bride? As a line in the movie the "Devil wears Prada goes "isn't this multi billion business is all about, inner beauty?"--or something to that effect. Britney has been in the business for long to know that beauty does sell, all angles of it.
Japanese obsession with everything childlike has started after the second world war and the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The depression of the war made them want to feel alive and happy again. Where did they get inspiration from? Happiness as seen in the eyes of a child. From then on, this culture has spawned to many other things that even technology and pop culture were influenced by it. . It is the feeling of being child again, the purity and happiness that we experience in that stage of our lives. The joy of having little things that are special to us. Which was exactly the point of the Luis Vuitton collaboration as I view it. That the feeling of having something luxurious is tantamount to pure happiness. The kind of joy similar to a child's when he got his first toy...the journey itself from dreaming about it to final acquisition. It would be a shallow interpretation of joy for some but in a culture which is luxury obsessed as Japan, this form of happiness is as real as night and day.
Here's The video for the Louis Vuitton/takashi collaboration.
Sometimes we do over analyze things which is sometimes is unnecessary. Britney's cover for me is a celebration of her childhood years that never was enjoyed at all. Yes, she is a grown up woman now and she knows that it will be interpreted in so many ways. yet to be a child again even just for a magazine cover must be thrilling for her.