At first I was appalled by the report of Piauí Magazine “Teatro Familiar - Alugar Parentes é um Negócio que Floresce no Japão” (Family Theater - Renting Relatives is an Emerging Business in Japan), but soon I realized the truism of the situation.
This situation is banal and obvious from the point of view of the trajectories of market capitalism, in which everything is a product that can be consumed, but it is overwhelming to the extent of depersonalizing and reducing individuality to the condition of a mere representation of its institutional and affective pillars. Missing a companion who dies, and renting, from a firm that works in this business, a person who decorates a script, learns habits and attitudes to fill the emptiness of the lack left by the companion who died is, at the very least, revealing of commitments and conveniences.
In the current political-economic-social systems, everything can be signified by representativeness. In this sense, everything is reduced to functionality. Functioning is establishing satisfaction, filling voids, enabling the maintenance of orders that only require well-being or adequacy to standards. A thousand possibilities emerge when affections, experiences, memories are mixed up together creating a homogenizing solution. Imagination, symbolization, and reality are summarized in their representative functions. Just as one pays prostitutes for pleasure, one also pays citizens who qualify to represent and maintain what has never existed or even ceased to exist. The omnipotence of performing fantasies, made dense and consistent by the support of lies and appearances that bind them, becomes a redemptive practice. These human beings only consider their capacity to buy, rent, lie and represent.
In Japan, copying and imitating is advantageous, and thus one of the largest capitalist economies was structured. It is also commonplace that what it appears to be is what it means, that is, appearing becomes grasping everything, exhausting everything. The imperial oppressions allowed for mimicry, leading the Japanese to take refuge in imitation, to pretend to create, to pretend that they existed in their desired characters. This mimicry creates the representation transformed into the reproduction of everything, reaching now the extreme with the rent of families, relatives, initiating a new dynamic: the individual function is definitely overcome, despite existing as desire, delirium, and solitude. Single wedding - the act of marrying oneself - is another feat of de-individualization. These agreement places with society are important and therein any narratives can be invented or staged. Hamlet no longer questions himself and no longer holds the skull, to be or not to be is not the question. The abolition of monologues, of “inner life”, of questioning, of the individual standing before himself/herself relocates and changes a series of secular ontological questions.
In the report by Elif Batuman for Piauí Magazine, it is interesting to reproduce:
Like many other aspects of Japanese society, renting relatives are often explained through the concepts of honne and tatemae, that is, genuine individual feelings and the expectations of society. Authenticity and consistency are not necessarily valued in themselves. The concealment of the authentic honne under the conventional tatemae is often seen as an act of altruism and sociability, and not as deception or hypocrisy. For example, the man who rented fake parents for his wedding because his real parents had died ended up revealing the truth to his wife. It worked out very well. The woman said that she understood that his intention was not to deceive her, but rather to avoid complications in the ceremony. Moreover, she even thanked him for his consideration.
Nonacceptances and deficiencies are also exposed:
A couple hired a son to hear stories about his father’s bad luck. The real son lived with them, but he refused to listen to those stories. Besides, the grandson was no longer a child, and grandparents longed to touch the skin of a baby. A three-hour visit of a surrogate son and a daughter-in-law, in possession of both a small child and the patience necessary to hear sad stories, cost about 4,300 reais. Other clients included a young couple who rented grandparents for their son, and a single man who hired a wife and daughter to try out the kind of family he had seen on TV.
Japan, a leading technological society, is one of the main representatives of market capitalism. The country goes ahead and begins the process of institutionalizing the commodification of all social instances. It will have countless followers around the world and more and more the human being will be reduced to economic functions, covered by clothes and socially significant appearances that protect and hide his/her needs, motivations, frustrations, and alienations. One lives to buy or rent, including unique individualizing functions. Nothing is, because everything will be. From emptiness came permissible functioning, reliable and without friction. Renting alien individuality is a consumption made possible by the reification of the alienating capitalism, and renting one’s own individuality is the residue left over from this indistinct process of failed functions that are fulfilled.