Brad Pitt is really popular in Japan – they call him “Burapi” there – so interesting to see him promoting Bullet Train there right now, on multiple levels. The film was adapted from Japanese author Kōtarō Isaka’s novel Maria Beetle. There have been accusations of whitewashing with the movie or, as Sarah noted in her review, with the film’s reductive portrayal of Japanese characters and culture, it may be more accurate to call the stereotyping a form of erasure. Criticism of Bullet Train, however, has been relatively muted. There’s the Burapi influence at work, and seeing him turn on the charm in Japan, whatever criticism will likely be completely stifled.
His warm reception in Japan no doubt also helps with the negative headlines that have been following Brad around over the last week, ever since details emerged from the FBI investigation into his violence on that private plane with Angelina Jolie and their six children. Yesterday Brad, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, director David Leitch, and other members of the Bullet Train team were at Kōyasan Tokyo Betsuin Buddhist Temple to promote the movie. Brad meditated with the monks and afterwards shared a few remarks.
As he said, initially they thought it would be “a fun thing to do” to visit the temple since his character Ladybug “thinks he has bad luck” and is trying to turn it all around. He says that the experience was moving and beautiful and thanked the people of Japan for always greeting him so warmly. Presumably the people at the temple were OK with this so it’s not my place to say whether or not this is appropriate. What I will talk about is… the bad luck.
His character or him in real life? Because you might say that it hasn’t exactly been the luckiest week for Brad. He might need the Buddhist blessing more than Ladybug. Or maybe he doesn’t. After all, he’s Brad Pitt, handsome and successful – who needs luck when you have the ultimate pass of white male privilege.