As b-boys, not only do we defy gravity, we USE the laws of physics. We don’t obey them, we don’t succumb to them, we make them our tools. And with these tools, we use our creativity and our movements to make art like no one has ever seen before. Expression at its finest.
Grady Sullivan, b-boy ”Philosophy”
To keep this post within the murky boundaries of the Intercultural Twilight Zone we’ll start with a Japanese language lesson:
“Oya baka” is an expression every parent in Japan hears. A lot. The words translate directly to “parent stupid”. Oya baka is how Japanese folks describe parents who are so blinded by love for their children they gush on and on–whether the kids deserve the praise or not.
Understanding the social context of oya baka offers a glimpse at Japanese culture: saying nice things about one’s own family member is taboo. (See Samurai Wife for details.) Since family members are considered a part of you in Japan, personal humility naturally extends to them too. Not following this social protocol indicates a lack of common sense, which makes the behavior even more “goofy”. To offset any hint of bragging, you’ll often hear Japanese refer to a family member as “my wretched wife” or “useless children”–without meaning a word of it!
Being the mixed-culture family that we are, my children have been raised to play the game, even enjoy it in a perverse way. For example, introducing my son Ry to a Japanese person (in Japanese) would go something like this:
(Me) “Allow me to introduce my no-good, worthless son Ry.”
(Ry) “Yes, I am indeed his useless son but please have mercy on me even though I don’t deserve it.”
I embellished a tad, but not far from the truth.
Even though I consider myself a “cultural hybrid” of sorts, make no mistake about it: my core values are American. With this in mind please indulge me while I “go oya baka on you” and show off my son. I’m proud of his dedication to dance, but more proud that he’s a good person. (There you go, oya baka.)
A big mahalo to Junior for producing the clip. It’s a little dated so I plan to get more recent clip. This one works for now, check out Grady’s trailer:
Copyright © Tim Sullivan 2009