Side-English

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The Idolm@ster SideM idol subunit SEM stands for “Science English Mathematics” and supposedly the seiyuu team┬áput on a hell of a show on the live stage. But it gets me thinking–these idols have the image of that futuristic exoticism that comes with these “SEM” notions, but how?

Science? OK I can see that. What’s exotic about English? Okay, maybe from a Japanese point of view there’s something exotic about the West. But Mathematics? What is exotic about mathematics? Maybe it can be kind of esoteric?

SEM also reminds me of another abbreviation, STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or what is commonly known as “curriculum that will lead to gainful employment that actually makes money.” The SEM idols are three ex-high school teachers who taught those 3 subjects, so it triggers the “public education policy” line of thinking and that leads to STEM.

And SEM is kind of like STEM–they are the hard line items in public education in Japan, which focuses on stuff that is going to be more important and relevant like how STEM subjects are.

If the last blog post I titled is any clue, I recently read a couple bio write-ups of Elon Musk who paints himself as a physicist-engineer-entrepreneur who happens to also be a genius and wants to send a million people to Mars. Is that the kind of appeal SideM wants to uh, emulate?

To mix it up, recently I came across a spoiler about the latest Metal Gear Solid (V), which in short, reminded me of Itou Project’s Genocidal Organ. In both cases, language is part of a greater science-fictional plot about killing a lot of people. I’m not sure, but this seems a very novel idea. Which is to say, does English have a place in STEM? I think it absolutely does.

Of course, this isn’t really the case if you are talking about public education in an English-speaking country, but English is the language of science, and not knowing English as a scientist or tech/engineering person is like being a weeaboo who can’t understand Japanese. I can’t imagine someone who is at the top of the game in those subject matters not know enough English to get around. Maybe they don’t speak it (since most of the time it’s reading and writing only) but it is just another kind of barrier, perhaps, that the Japanese feel especially. And I can see how some people would take that idea far enough–to equate English as some kind of symbol of western imperialism, or what comes more recently as American dominance of global culture, in popular or as a world police-type entity.

Well, making SEM seem sexy is all good in my book. Very positive development if you ask me.


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