Author: Daniel Fandino

The Tycoon of Japan: The Japanese Origins of the Word Tycoon

The Tycoon of Japan: The Japanese Origins of the Word Tycoon

The word tycoon conjures up images of wealthy industrialists–or at the very least Rich Uncle Pennybags from Monopoly. It may not summon the image of a Japanese warlord, yet that is the original meaning of the word. Tycoon is derived from the Japanese word taikun (大君, Great Prince), a term used to refer to the Shogun. The story how it entered the English language is one of a crisis of communication and the fancy of an American Secretary of State.

When Commodore Matthew Perry arrived off the shores of Japan in 1853, his mission was to open the country to American trade. Japan had been a closed country where foreigners were not allowed since the early 1600s under a policy of seclusion, or sankoku (鎖国). The policy was not absolute but had prevented the United States and other countries from attempting to open trade.

Upon his arrival near Edo (modern day Tokyo), Japanese officials attempted to order Perry to leave for Nagasaki, the only port that foreigners could enter. Perry refused and demanded he be allowed to deliver a letter from President Millard Fillmore to the Emperor of Japan. Japanese officials were at a loss as to how to reply to his demand as American intelligence on Japan was flawed. Although there was an Emperor, it was the Shogun who held real power in Japan. Perry however, was not to be dissuaded. He insisted his letter be accepted by emissaries of the Emperor or he would resort to violence. The Commodore had taken to heart the advice of Captain James Glynn, who had led an earlier attempt to open contact with Japan. Glynn recommended any future negotiations be backed up with a show of force. It was partly for that reason that Perry arrived with what is now modern day Tokyo Bay with four ships, two of them steam powered and belching black smoke into the skies. The black painted hulls of the squadron and black smoke gave the ships their enduring Japanese name: the kurofune (黒船), the Black Ships.

In advance of the expedition, Perry had new Paixhan guns installed on two of his ships, each one capable of lobbing explosive shells deep into Edo from his position offshore. Fire was the greatest threat the city of wood and paper faced and an assault by the American ships would devastate Edo. Japanese officials, fully aware of the damage Perry’s fleet could inflict, were at a diplomatic quandary. The Shogun was technically only a military commander, as a direct translation of the word shogun (将軍) indicated, hardly the rank Perry demanded to contact. In order to impress upon the Commodore the high rank of the Shogun, the term taikun, or Great Prince, was used. Taikun had been used before in diplomatic exchanges between the Shogun and other nations. Perry accepted the emissaries of the Great Prince and handed over his letter. He returned the next year and with the signing of the Convention of Kanagawa, Japan opened to American trade.

Perry’s mission was an immediate sensation in the United States. In recognition of his command, Congress awarded him $20000, worth $500000 in 2016 dollars. Perry spent the final years of his life writing a three volume report of the expedition entitled Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan. He died shortly afterwards in 1858. Excerpts of the report were published in American newspapers and the word tycoon was regularly used to refer to the leader of Japan.

Secretary of State John Hay was particularly taken with the term, as it bore with it connotations of power and the stereotypical concept of a mysterious and distant Asia. As such, he used it to refer to President Lincoln, calling him the Tycoon. From Hay’s penchant to call Lincoln the Tycoon and the repeated use of tycoon in the American press, the word entered popular culture. After the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the word Emperor was used for Japan’s leader. Tycoon remained in the vernacular, keeping the connotation of an important person. However, it was not until after World War I that the word came to specifically mean a business magnate.

As for Perry, his role in Japan’s opening and eventual transformation has not been forgotten. He appears occasionally in anime, such as Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei where he is portrayed as being unable to stop opening things.

References

  • The History Of How A Shogun’s Boast Made Lincoln A ‘Tycoon’ – http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2013/10/14/232119964/the-history-of-how-a-shoguns-boast-made-lincoln-a-tycoon
  • John Hay and John Nicolay in the White House – http://library.brown.edu/cds/lincoln/Lincoln_Hay/whitehouse.html
  • The Capital of the Tycoon: Three Years Residence in Japan by Sir Rutherford Alcock.
Joker Game: The International Settlement and Indian Soldiers in Shanghai

Joker Game: The International Settlement and Indian Soldiers in Shanghai

As a work of historical fiction, Joker Game draws upon the reality of pre-war East Asia to frame its tale of espionage in a world on brink of war. The investigation of a bombing at the beginning of episode 4 shows the complex state of affairs that existed in 1937 Shanghai, a mirror of the international entanglements that would draw the entire world into conflict.

The site of the bombing is located in the Shanghai International Settlement. The International Settlement was a segregated section in Shanghai where many foreign citizens resided and a version of this area can be seen in the Spielberg film Empire of the Sun. In the late 1930s China was nominally an independent country, yet not completely in total control of all of its own territory. Although not a colonized nation, nor under the full dominion of an imperial power, a series of unequal treaties and concessions to foreign governments gave foreigners extraordinary rights and privileges. After Shanghai had been ceded as an open treaty port in the aftermath of China’s defeat in the First Opium War, Britain, the United States and France established settlements in the city. Forcing the defeated Qing government of China to agree to special terms, these settlements were ruled outside of Chinese jurisdiction. The British and American settlements eventually merged and other nations including Japan eventually joined what became known as the International Settlement. The international element of the settlement is evidenced by the number of flags in the center of the banner of the Shanghai Municipal Council, the Settlement’s ruling body.

An old quip about the kind of people who go to China labels them as missionaries, misfits and mercenaries. Although nations had fought the Opium War, most of the residents in China were businessmen and clergymen, with vested interests that did not always coincide with those of their governments. To avoid undue interference, the International Settlement quickly moved to set up its own government early in its existence. By 1937 it was a self governing enclave apart from China with its own military and police force, the majority of which were provided by the British government. The arrangement was not problematic, as it gave each side something out of the deal. The nature of the Settlement’s governance and status as a ceded territory explains why the bombing was being investigated by a British Inspector with Indian policemen.

With East Asia in turmoil, this international state of affairs was not to last. Japan entered into a state of war with China in 1937  Japanese forces attacked and captured Shanghai in August of that year.  It is somewhat unclear as to the date in episode 4 but given the relatively upbeat mood of the city, it is likely before the the Japanese invasion. However, dialogue does mention Nationalist Chinese bombings, so it is probably after the war began in July 1937. As tensions mounted between Japan and other powers in the region, the British withdrew the bulk of their forces in 1940. The end of the International Settlement came after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Knowing that a state of war between Japan and the US as well as other nations was imminent, Japanese solders entered the International Settlement and took control. Foreigners were sent to the Lunghua Civilian Assembly Center to be interned for the duration of the war. (Author’s note: I spent some time at the former site of the Lunghua Center. It is now a high school campus. Very little evidence of the original internment center survives, as the old blockhouses have been demolished and the few articles about the era that once existed have been removed from the school’s museum.)

In 1937 Britain had not yet descended into the twilight of empire, although there were visible and irreparable strains at the seams of imperial control. London still presided over a colonial empire over which many had famously claimed the sun never set. India had been under the direct control of the crown since the Indian Rebellion of 1857. As part of the British Empire, Indians were inducted into service in the British Indian Army. Due to its proximity to East Asia, India provided a means to deploy large numbers of troops rapidly to areas far from the metropole of Britain. Indian soldiers were used in China during the Boxer Uprising and in various theaters in both World War I and World War II. As the majority of foreign troops in Shanghai were provided by the British military, Indians formed a large part of the International Settlement’s Municipal Police and the Shanghai Defense Force.

The style of turbans worn by the Indians soldiers in the scene identify them as Sikh. After the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the British turned to primarily recruit soldiers from what they deemed to be the “martial races.” This race-based ideology stated that people of “martial races” were well suited to be soldiers due to innate bravery and fighting ability. Sikhs were among the groups the British considered “martial races” and were thus recruited heavily.

After World War II, the British hold on India was untenable as internal and external pressures mounted. In India pro-independence sentiments could no longer be contained. At home, Britain lacked the will to continue to hold on to its empire and had begun to turn inwards towards the development of the Welfare State The days of the Raj–the name for the British rule of India–were numbered. Britain quickly began the process of relinquishing control and in 1947 the old British Raj became the new nations of India and Pakistan.

References

  • The British Indian Army 1860–1914 by Peter Duckers
  • Empire Made Me: An Englishman Adrift in Shanghai by Robert Bickers
  • “‘Punjabization’ in the British Indian Army 1857 – 1947 and the Advent of Military Rule in Pakistan” by Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi
  • Turbans of the Indian Army – http://www.militarysunhelmets.com/2013/turbans-of-the-indian-army
  • “Origin and Development of the Political System in the Shanghai International Settlement” by J.H. Haan
The Tokyo 2020 Logo and the Ichimatsu Moyou

The Tokyo 2020 Logo and the Ichimatsu Moyou

The new logo for the 2020 Tokyo was unveiled on April 25. Created by artist Asoa Tokolo, the checkered indigo blue design is based upon the traditional Japanese pattern called ichimatsu moyou.

Ichimatsu moyou (市松模様?) is named for the kabuki actor Sanogawa Ichimatsu I (佐野川 市松?) Active as an actor from 1733 until his death in 1762 at the age of forty, Ichimatsu was renown for playing young men on stage. He was also well known for his personal beauty, which garnered him many admirers. During performances in Edo in 1741, Ichimatsu used a distinct ichidatami (checkerboard) pattern on this clothing, which led to a minor fashion furor. The pattern came to be known as ichimatsu moyou after the actor.

References

  • Ningyo: The Art of the Japanese Doll by Alan Pate
Joker Game: Duty, Death and the Imperial Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors

Joker Game: Duty, Death and the Imperial Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors

The beginning of episode 2 of Joker Game opens with a voiceover as scenes of children playing at war segue into images of adult soldiers. The opening narration is lifted from the Imperial Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors (軍人勅諭), a document issued by the Meiji Emperor in 1882. The Rescript was a set of rules which formed the basis of the military code of ethics and conduct. It is often cited as instrumental in the development of the mentality and ideals that guided the creation and operation of the Japanese military. The Rescript was studied daily by soldiers while a shortened version consisting of “The Five Principles of the Soldier” had to be memorized. Troops were expected to be able to repeat the “Five Principles” verbatim, word for word, upon command. As depicted in the episode, the entire Rescript was also read aloud by soldiers on certain occasions, making the Rescript a constant and ubiquitous element of military life.

The phrase “Duty is heavier than a mountain, death is lighter than a feather,” highlights one of the most profound messages of the Rescript. The Rescript stressed loyalty and obedience as the prime characteristics of a soldier and that death was preferable to moral failings and dishonor. Military conditioning furthered the notion that death was a viable alternative when confronted with a dilemma that threatened the honor and standing of an soldier, something that comes into play during the search of suspected spy John Gordon’s home.

As noted by Historian Edward Drea, the values of Japanese society in 1937 were built on the acceptance of a hierarchy, aversions to public humiliation, a belief in the uniqueness of the Japanese people, and a series of allegiances that connected citizens to the Emperor. To create a soldier willing to live and die for his beliefs, military training only had to impose itself upon the social order, to overlay structure and discipline on top of existing values. Drea cites the intense nature of Imperial Army training in what he deems the “hothouse” environment of pre-war Japan as an important element in the making of a Japanese soldier. Love of family and love of country was increasingly conflated with strength of arms and loyalty to the Emperor, effectively making the Empire and military an extension of familial ties. The hierarchy of the military was a series of “little loyalties” which built all the way up to the Emperor. This was a major function of the Rescript, connecting the individual soldier to a greater extended “family” in the form of the nation and ultimately to the Emperor himself.

The pervasive national sense of duty coupled with the brutal methods of training and discipline found in the Imperial Army was aimed towards instilling unquestioning obedience.This operated in combination with what Drea refers to as a “deep fatalism” inherent in Japanese society, perhaps best exemplified by the common phrase shikata ja nai (仕方が無い) or “it can’t be helped.” Shikata ga nai is arguably a reflection of a social tendency to accept whatever comes but also not to rock the boat and rail against arbitrary or nonsensical orders and rules. Even in Emperor Hirohito’s speech announcing Japan’s surrender he asked the Japanese people to, “endure the unendurable and suffer what is not sufferable.” Although it has been noted that there were several different and powerful reasons behind the Japanese tendency to choose death rather than surrender during the war, the impact of this conditioning should not be understated. (For more on the other factors, read my previous article Bakuon!! The Siberian Internment and the Social Stigma of Surrender in WWII Japan)

The first few minutes of Joker Game effectively shows the impact of a nationalist ideology based on duty and the inherent glory of war and the military on children. The usage of the Imperial Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors is integral to the episodes thematic development and to Sakuma’s transition from solider to spy. When Lt. Colonel Yuuki states choosing death is often the worst thing a spy could do, it stands in contrast to the precepts espoused by the military which offers death as a solution to an unavoidable situation–not as a problem. It is important to Sakuma’s development, as overcoming his ingrained instincts are not only overcoming personal beliefs but the weight of the intertwined expectations of both society and the military command. The act of touching the Imperial Portrait by Miyoshi during the search of Gordon’s house shows the ability of the spies to act outside of the normal rules of society, to adapt and respond to any situation. Yet this ability comes at a cost. The spies of Joker Game are not just free thinkers unbound by the strict rules of society –they are men permanently apart from their people. Lt. Col. Yuuki states the ultimate fate of the spies is a life of eternal solitude. More than any other factor it is their position as outsiders that dooms them, unable to share in the binding values of the society they serve.

References and recommended readings

  • In the Service of the Emperor: Essays on the Imperial Japanese Army by Edward Drea
  • Selections from the Imperial Rescript for Soldiers and Sailors http://www.facstaff.bucknell.edu/jamesorr/ImpResSoldSailors1882web.htm
Bakuon!! The Siberian Internment and the Social Stigma of Surrender in WWII Japan

Bakuon!! The Siberian Internment and the Social Stigma of Surrender in WWII Japan

Bakuon!! is a lighthearted anime about the peculiar members of a motorcycle club at an all girls high school. The majority of the first two episodes have been concerned with main protagonist Hane Sakura’s quest to obtain a license and the conflict between Onsa and Rin over the merits of Suzuki bikes. With the introduction of Hijiri Minowa and her butler Hayakawa, things take a interesting historical turn.

Hijiri reveals she is not old enough to have a motorcycle license, so until her sixteenth birthday she will be having Hayakawa drive her in a Ducati 750 Imola Replica with sidecar. After her explanation, Hayakawa replies hasn’t had a sidecar since the Siberia internment. By referencing the Siberia internment, Hayakawa is packing a great deal of often-controversial history, difficult war memory and character backstory into a single sentence.

World War II ended with Japan’s surrender to the Allies in August 1945. This left millions of Japanese soldiers across Asia and the Pacific to work out the means of their own surrender to the Allies. For Japanese troops stationed in northern China, in what was the former puppet state of Manchukuo, the main Allied forces in the area were the Soviets sweeping in from the north. Japanese soldiers who surrendered to the Soviets were shipped off to the already extant system of labor camps in Siberia. This network of prisons, called the gulag archipelago by Russian political prisoner Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, had served to neutralize enemies of the Soviet state since the 1930s. Conditions were brutal and the Siberian winter remains infamously bitter. Prisoners in the gulags were used as laborers and workers, all the while being subjected to reeducation on the merits of communism. In all, approximately 500000 to 750000 Japanese soldiers were interned in labor camps by the Soviets at the end of the war. Of these, 50000 to 60000 died. The exact numbers of both interned soldiers and of deaths remains a point of contention. As the Soviet Union found cheap labor useful, many Japanese soldiers were not repatriated to Japan for many years.

The use of the term “internment” by Hayakawa is critical to both his character and to the beliefs of Japanese soldiers who were interned at the end of the war. Few Japanese soldiers surrendered during the war, due to the extraordinarily rigid codes of behavior imposed on them by both society and during their tough military training. Surrendering and not dying bravely in battle was indeed considered dishonorable, a system of thought reinforced by the military leadership as well as the conditions faced by Japanese soldiers. A section of the Japanese army’s Field Service Code manual issued to all troops read, “Do not live in shame as a prisoner. Die, and leave no ignominious crime behind you.” Another section in the 1882 Imperial Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors read, “duty is heavier than a mountain; death is lighter than a feather.” However, it should also be noted that American forces were unforgiving in battle and the war in the Pacific carried very difficult racial connotations. In War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War historian John Dower characterizes the war as one built on racial hatred and fear. There was also the underlying fear by Japanese soldiers that the Allies would torture or kill a surrendering soldier outright, a fear exacerbated by government propaganda. In the uncertainty and terror of war, kill or be killed was likely seen as the only option open to soldiers on both sides.

When the war ended Japanese troops who laid down their arms in accordance with orders from their government found it important to make the distinction between their situation and the plight of those Japanese soldiers who had surrendered of their own will during the war. The term “internment” became the preferred term by these soldiers to refer to their imprisonment, rather than prisoner of war which indicates surrendering or being captured during active hostilities. The distinction was vital, as Japanese who had surrendered in the earlier Russo-Japanese faced ostracism upon their return. Even as Japanese society was reordered by the American occupation after the war, there was still a sense of shame and dishonor over being taken as a prisoner for surviving Japanese soldiers and their families. The Japanese military command was well aware of the issue. In order to prevent holdouts, minimize any resistance to the surrender and to ease the concerns of soldiers, a statement issued by the military declared that any Japanese soldier who surrendered after the end of the war was not considered a prisoner of war.

With Hayakawa’s offhand comment. he establishes his ability as a soldier, as a survivor, and as a honorable loyalist who will fight until the very end. The line also brings in to focus the increasing re-examination of Japan’s war history in anime, as war veterans are still a relatively rare element. With the concurrent airing of Joker Game, Japan’s difficult relationship with the legacy of the war is being addressed by a new generation.

Suggested reading

  • War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War and Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II by John W. Dower
  • The Anguish of Surrender, Japanese POWs of World War II by Ulrich Straus
Dancing around Digital Architecture: Denno Coil and an Augmented Future

Dancing around Digital Architecture: Denno Coil and an Augmented Future

The highly underrated 2007 anime Denno Coil postulated a future where a pervasive digital world intersects with the physical world through the use of augmented reality glasses. More recent anime depictions of the digital world such as Sword Art Online(2012) and Log Horizon (2013)  have opted for an immersive virtual world rather than augmenting the physical. With the advent of technologies such as Google Glass and the Oculus Rift both visions of the future are now available to consumers. The question is now which vision can emerge as blueprint for everyday life in the digital 21st century.

This goes beyond a competition of formats such as Bluray/HD DVD and or Betamax/VHS. Fundamentally each technology posits a different way to interact with the digital world and how the human body relates to digital space. Sword Art Online’s (SAO) and Log Horizon’s immersive virtual reality are passive,  cutting a user off from the physical world in favor of an all encompassing digital space. As intriguing as this vision for the creation of new worlds and the exploration of old, say a VR tour of London’s Crystal Palace or Edo Castle, its applications tend towards the idea of a separate and distinct digital space.  Physiological issues aside (I personally get motion sick after a few hours of Halo) SAO and Log Horizon push a conceptualization of compartmentalized digital space that is eroding in the face of a pervasive and always on internet.

The everyday applications of an augmented world are likelier to gain traction among the general population as movement towards merging digital and physical spaces continues. Consider our instagrammed, Tweeted, Facebooked world where we are able to constantly project an image of ourselves into digital space. Allowing the digital to intersect the physical is less of a radical idea than it world seem and one that most internet users would find more comfortable and less strange than strapping on headgear to wander the digital wilds. (Despite the modern love affair with technology, the often heard exhortation to go outside and play speaks to a current cultural inability to completely equate a digital space with a physical one. The debate over E-sports is another example.)

The ability to add onto the existing world, such as personalized bus signage or a digital rendition of a building over the current construction site is an attractive one for business as well as a way for consumers to customize their environments. (Functionally, consider Doctor Who’s virtual clothing in the episode Time of the Doctor, Denno Coil’s use of augmentation to clean up distressed areas of the city and the pet owl in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.) An immersive AR environment can allow for a replication of otherwise unobtainable assets and enhance the current physical world with the digital, a proposition that both carries weight with an ordinary consumer while continuing a trend of integration rather than segregation of spaces.

From Up on Poppy Hill and the Post-War Revival of Japan

From Up on Poppy Hill and the Post-War Revival of Japan

Studio Ghibli’s From  Up on Poppy Hill is a quiet romance set among the turmoil of Japan’s return to the world stage in the form of the 1964 Olympic Games. However, Japan’s economic revival did not come with the frenzy of construction (and destruction) that accompanied the games but with the outbreak of the Korean War. The fate of Matsuzaki Umi’s father is tied up in Japan’s participation in the conflict.

The Korean conflict was a surprise to American military planners, who had banked upon a European start to any Cold War hostilities. American units in Japan were poorly equipped, inadequately trained and generally unready for combat, a consequence of rapid postwar demobilization and a far cry from the military machine that had been instrumental in the victory over the Axis powers in 1945. The South Korean government of Syngman Rhee had been allotted little in the form of weaponry and support by the US government over fears that Rhee would be the aggressor in a Korean conflict. As a result, the surprise North Korean strike across the border reaped rapid gains for the communist forces. Yet early American units deployed to the combat zone were not even ordered to take winter clothing out of an expectation the conflict would be over quickly, shades of early World War One era optimism despite the hard lessons learned since then. The first American unit on the ground, Task Force Smith, suffered devastating losses in the battle of Osan.

As the conflict was far from the staging grounds of Europe and with demobilization still in effect, the American occupation government in Japan (led by the incredibly polarizing and controversial Douglas MacArthur) chose to utilize Japan’s merchant fleet in support of the conflict. This was made possible by the fact the United States was in overall control of Japan’s merchant fleet as it had had fallen to the allied powers at the conclusion of World War Two. During the war, several Japanese ships were hit by mines resulting in many casualties from which Up on Poppy Hill incorporates into its narrative.

Although Japan’s active participation in the Korean War was fairly limited in terms of ships and men, the economic repercussions of the war were far more significant. As the nearest strongpoint of American power, bearing in mind Japan would remain occupied until 1952, war material was needed as the Korean conflict lumbered towards resolution and then stalemate with the entry of China into the war. The need for war material that did not have to be shipped from the States and the urgent need to not let the European theater suffer shortages in order to carry out the fight in Korea meant that Japanese industry received a massive boost from American orders. By the early 1950s both Truman and Eisenhower were willing to use dollars to support the anti-communist policies laid out in NSC-68, the blueprint of American Cold War conduct. The resulting influx of dollars and war orders allowed Japan to rebuilt its industry from the ground up, incorporating new technologies and creating state of the art factories that would prove instrumental in Japan’s economic recovery. As a side effect, US troops taking part in the war spent their leave in Japan, putting more money into the economy and exposing even more Americans to Japanese culture, arguably facilitating the modern American acceptance of Japanese culture compared to Korean or Chinese culture.

Film: From Up on Poppy Hill, (コクリコ坂から Kokuriko-zaka Kara) Studio Ghibli

Suggested Reading: The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War by David Halberstam

#fangate, Charlie Crist, and the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon Debate

#fangate, Charlie Crist, and the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon Debate

Much has been made over #fangate, the defining moment of the last debate between Charlie Crist and Rick Scott in the 2014 Florida governor’s race. Governor Scott refused to take the stage for six minutes over a small fan Crist had under his podium. The fan seemed like a minor personal quirk. Yet Crist’s penchant for fans may speak to a better understanding of television and election history than most people realize.

In the first televised debate of the 1960 Presidental election, Richard Nixon appeared ashen faced, sweaty, and rumpled next to an apparently cool, calm, and tanned John F. Kennedy. The debate was not only the first presidental debate in history, it was also the first to be shown on the medium of television and the unforgiving lens of the camera. Nixon, tired after campaigning in the morning, refused makeup–as did Kennedy. Unshaven, his shirt seemingly ill-fitting, sweating under the lights, Nixon came off looking ill. The moderator of the debate stated he thought Nixon looked depressed while a pro-Kennedy observer said Nixon had the appearance of an awkward cadaver. Opposite him was Kennedy, looking fit and healthy, Stories have since emerged of people calling Nixon’s camp after the election, asking if he was sick. While its hard to judge the immediate impact in 1960, the idea that Nixon lost the debate (and the election) due to his sickly appearance on television has become part of American electoral lore.

The scene has been parodied on the Simpsons, as a medicated Mayor Quimby falls apart under the studio lighting when debating Sideshow Bob in the episode . “Sideshow Bob Roberts.” Nixon himself made light of the debate by posing for a 1968 Esquire cover depicting makeup being applied to his face with the line, “Nixon’s last chance. (This time he’d better look right!)

Charlie Crist may have taken the lessons of 1960 to heart. As Historian Edmund Kallina noted, on television appearances count for a lot. Staying cool, calm, and collected on screen projects confidence, something that is just as important as anything said–and in today’s media age, perhaps even more so. A little fan goes a long way.

Kennedy/Nixon Debate