Terrace House, hate to say

Hana Kimura, a star on Terrace House, a Japanese docu-soap on Netflix, appears to have killed herself after facing online bullying for her participation on the show. Because of Terrace House’s popularity, her death has gone so far to lead the Japanese government into considering new legislation against cyberbullying. Maybe it’s a nice gesture, but given the ease of anonymity on the internet, I doubt that whatever legislation they produce will have much real effect.

Instead, I might also look to the structure of reality television itself and the rude style of criticism of participants in such series, extending even to professional critics at major newspapers, not just a minority of hateful trolls online. And despite plenty of commentators noting the ways Japanese shaming culture might have contributed to the bullying, this is not a problem unique to Japan either: cross-culturally, reality television stars kill themselves with surprising frequency. I want to say that this death might bring some change — for example, Netflix quickly cancelled the show — but audiences seem to want more and decades of indifference across the world suggests that reality television will make another comeback.

If I can’t change the genre though, I can change myself — I’m done. I gave Terrace House a reluctant go once for being ‘gentler’ reality TV. But it’s just an illusion. I am not going back.

4 thoughts on “Terrace House, hate to say

  1. That’s so sad. I wish I could say I’m surprised. I’ve often wondered what it’s like to want to participate in such shows. I mean I don’t even like having family photos taken, so I’m very nearly at the oppisite end of the spectrum. Is there some sort of bias towards people who seek validation among participants of such shows? I find the lack of privacy and inherent judgmental attitude frightening.

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    1. Producers want to select people who will entertain, meaning that a lot of shows end up with people who are a little narcissistic or otherwise off. A camera-shy introvert wouldn’t exactly be a good contestant. But Kimura was a professional wrestler. She wasn’t unaccustomed to cameras. Instead, I think it’s just as simple as it sounds: she took an obscene amount of online abuse from viewers and suffered the predictable psychological result.

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  2. “If I can’t change the genre though, I can change myself — I’m done.”

    You can only do what you can do. FWIW, I think you made a good decision. I find myself saying this a lot lately, but I wish there was more I could do…

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    1. Yeah… like I said up there, I don’t know if the Japanese government even has the power to do much. That last line maybe sounds more dramatic than I meant, but considering everything else happening in the world, Terrace House is a trifle not worth losing sleep over. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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