The Crying Game

A new DVD of girls in tears aims to make Japanese men feel macho. Boo-hoo!

We all know there are bad guys who like to make women cry. But some Japanese men, apparently, prefer to watch. Crying Girl, a new DVD in Japan aimed at male viewers, features a series of starlets weeping inconsolably as they recall real-life bad events, such as breaking up with a boyfriend or being humiliated at a party. Under the tagline 11 Stories of Girls Crying in a Genuine Way, the 63-minute sobfest promises that men won't be able to resist the "pure tears and running noses" and "sad sexy voices" of the women reliving their misery.

Whatever turns you on, right? Maybe, but the fact that there's a market for Crying Girl points to something more woeful across the Pacific. Available at Amazon Japan, the film pitches itself as a self-help tool to empower men and stir up their "macho instincts" by showing the "vulnerability" of women. But are men are so emasculated by the growing independence of Japanese women—whose widespread rejection of marriage is a major social issue—that watching them cry can really boost their self-esteem? Yes, says Hiroshi Ueno, an associate social psychologist at Tokyo's Meiji University. "In the past, men went straight from being spoiled by their mothers to being spoiled by their wives," he says. "But modern women want to be treated as equals, and some men can't handle that."

Ueno notes that crying is currently fashionable in reserved Japan, with actors and politicians regularly bursting into tears on TV. Still, the Crying Girl flick seems to go beyond a mere fad. As Ueno notes, "Japanese women are getting more powerful by the day, and men are experiencing a deep malaise of inadequacy." Anyone need a tissue?