Earlier this month, a man erected a tent in the middle of one of Tokyo's busiest intersections. Some people were not happy.
"There's a stupid foreigner who just pitched a tent in Shibuya's scramble crossing," wrote one Twitter user. What's Shibuya's scramble crossing? This:
The intersection is one of the most famous in Japan — and the world. It's been featured in numerous movies and video games too. As you can see from the above video, it's also incredibly busy.
"This guy might get run over," wrote one commenter on 2ch, Japan's largest web forum. "It'd be fine if this guy got run over," wrote another. "Was this photo altered?" wondered one commenter.
"That guy" is Dave England of Jackass fame. You know, the guy that always shits. And no, this wasn't Photoshop trickery.
In Japan, Jackass did (does?) have a following — and its ridiculous physical humour (less the pee and poop stuff) does seem reminiscent of the kind of stuff you'd see on some of the country's variety shows. Some people online in Japan were quick to think this was a Jackass or a Jackass-related stunt of some sort. Many didn't.
"Maybe this is an advertisement for tents?" chimed in another 2ch commenter. In the past, a flash mob appeared in the intersection to promote Coca-Cola. Others were amused by how unexpected — and unbelievable — the scene was. "This is a survival game," wrote one commenter. "Survive in Tokyo."
What made it more surprising for many was that there's a police station right in front of this crossing. This isn't just a good way to get hit by a truck, it's also a good way to get picked up by the police!
"A foreigner, huh?" wrote one commenter. "So naïve." Another replied, "Foreigners' sense of humour is so strange!"
Sometimes online in the West when people see unusual things in Japan, they use that opportunity to make blanket statements about Japanese people or to criticise Japan — i.e., This is how all Japanese people are. That unfortunate tendency is, sadly, universal. Thus, some 2ch commenters used the tent stuff to criticise non-Japanese.
This particular stunt shows how one person can then be used to colour an entire group. When people in Japan do stupid or strange things, folks think, well, that individual is an idiot. When (some) people outside Japan hear of those same things, they think all Japanese people are like that. Ditto for this Dave England stunt. Not everyone online in Japan thinks all foreigners are like Dave England! But there were a handful that used the incident to lump all foreigners in with him.
Then, there were the far savvier individuals on 2ch. Early in the thread, someone wrote that this seemed like it was a stunt for Jackass. That comment, however, got buried pretty quickly; however, later commenters drew the same conclusions. "Why'd he come to Japan? This Jackass stunt isn't all that funny," wrote one 2ch commenter. "Don't pitch a tent, shit in a bedpan!" Other commenters were also very familiar with the show as one wrote, "Jackass? Is Steve-O still in that?"
One Twitter user in Tokyo was quick to identify the man in the tent as Dave England. This is a guy who pees on clothing irons and makes barf omelets. Camping in Shibuya seems tame.
"If this is Jackass," wrote one 2ch user, "then, this is the kind of crap they do daily."