Hayao Miyazaki is considered one of the most legendary artists of our time for his animated Studio Ghibli films. His art has made an impact around the world and can be considered a cultural bridge for the Eastern and Western world. While he has many fans in the Western hemisphere, Miyazaki has made it very clear that he is not the biggest fan of Western media.
Kotaku has pointed out how an interview from a few years back has resurfaced in a number of Japanese blogs, where Miyazaki strongly expresses his distaste for Western films. Miyazaki has never been shy about how he feels about American interference in global conflicts, as well as American globalization. “Anti-jeans, Anti-bourbon, Anti-burgers, Anti-fried chicken, Anti-cola, Anti-American coffee, Anti-New York, Anti-West Coast,” Miyazaki once said while outlining his opinions. Despite two American films, Jaws (1975) and My Darling Clementine (1946) being on his Top 10 list, there are two wildly popular Western film franchises that he absolutely despises—The Lord of the Rings and Indiana Jones.
Miyazaki’s biggest gripe with Spielberg’s adventure franchise is that many of the issues promoted colonization by means of Western archaeology. It pressed the idea of otherness and orientalism, in that Indiana Jones’ foes were not only the Nazis, but also non-white ethnic people.
“Even in the Indiana Jones movies, there is a white guy who, ‘bang,’ shoots people, right? Japanese people who go along and enjoy with that are unbelievably embarrassing. You are the ones that, ‘bang,’ get shot. Watching [those movies] without any self-awareness is unbelievable. There’s no pride, no historical perspective. You don’t know how you are viewed by a country like America.”
When speaking about the fantasy franchise, The Lord of the Rings (directed by New Zealand native Peter Jackson and written by British author J.R.R. Tolkien), Miyazaki seems to have quickly lumped it in as a Western film pushing the American war agenda. Miyazaki has promoted his beliefs of anti-war pacifism in his films—influenced by his own experiences. He likened LOTR to America’s activity in Afghanistan, and accused films like this of lessening the value of human life by normalizing war causalities on-screen.
“Americans shoot things and they blow up and the like, so as you’d expect, they make movies like that. If someone is the enemy, it’s okay to kill endless numbers of them. Lord of the Rings is like that. If it’s the enemy, there’s killing without separation between civilians and soldiers. That falls within collateral damage. How many people are being killed in attacks in Afghanistan? The Lord of the Rings is a movie that has no problem doing that [not separating civilians from enemies, apparently]. If you read the original work, you’ll understand, but in reality, the ones who were being killed are Asians and Africans. Those who don’t know that, yet say they love fantasy are idiots.”
When Spirited Away, Miyazaki’s most popular film, became the first anime to win an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film, Miyazaki refused to attend the ceremony. He didn’t want to support America’s actions in the Iraq war. While his producer asked him not to speak about the issue, he later revealed that the very same producer shared the same views on the subject.
Photos via LWL and Paramount Studios