My year of meats by Ruth L. Ozeki is a documentary novel about Jane Takagi Little who is a Japanese American journalist hired in Japanese TV Production Company. She was hired to work on the new TV show called “My American Wife” which was basically had grand goal to promote the American beef in Japan by showing how wonderful the American way of life is. The unique style used in this novel is very similar to the style that was used in Shonogon’s Pillow Book; writing as like a dairy. Takagi write about her daily life and the documentary “My American Wife” how she felt about the show and how the show is distanced from the reality. And also Ozeki introduce part of Pillow Book in the beginning of each chapter to emphasize that Ozeki is using Shonagon’s dairy style in her novel.
Takagi’s various memos show that many reality shows that Japanese audiences watch gave them an idea of life style of American as a perfect model to follow. For example, one of Takagi’s memos was saying that “Japanese wives often feel neglected by their husbands and are susceptible to the qualities of kindness, generosity, and sweetness that they see as typical of American men” (Ozeki, 13). And of course this was far off from reality. At the very beginning, Takagi was working with Mrs. Flowers who is one of the model for the show and the director order her to not move and order Takagi to bring her make up for the better shot. This scene is already suggesting that the director is creating a model that he wants to show the audience which you can essentially call it artificial. However, Japanese audiences take this seriously and follow “designed for the show” American life style as their role model. In other words, they considered their traditional way of life style is inferior to American’s life style.
Takagi’s note of race & class shows that Japanese audiences had very stereotypical view point when they think of ordinary American. Even though Takagi was American, she was never considered as a model of the show because, the mainstream expected to see Caucasian in the show because, “Japanese wife finds a middle to upper middle class white American woman with two to three children to be both sufficiently exotic and yet reassuringly familiar” (Ozeki, 13). We often call American society as a big melting pot because American society is built based on many people from different part of the world with different culture that forms into a harmonious whole with a common culture. Once again, the show was far off from reality of American society and it simply neglected on races other than Caucasian and many other cultures in America.
The show “My American Wife” had a purpose of advertizing beef by showing exotic image of Caucasian wife and her ideal family. Takagi noted that there was a huge distance between the reality and what Japanese audience believed what the American life is like. Diary style of writing helped the reader to feel more personal towards to her story.