Exploring Cultural Differences in the film Gung Ho






I was watching the 1986 film Gung Ho starring Michael Keaton.  Despite being a comedy, I loved the fact that it reinforced the public’s perception of the Americans and Japanese in the workplace.

Michael Keaton’s character(Hunt Stevenson) goes to Tokyo to persuade a group of Japanese businessmen to open up an abandoned American car factory called Assan Motors in Pennyslvania helping save not only jobs, but also the town.  

From a cultural perspective, there is a perception that the Japanese are workaholics and Americans are very lazy.  As a result, it caused a major culture clash between the two groups that is noticeable throughout the film.  We have to be careful in the way we view different cultures because it is very easy to perpetuate stereotypes.  

There are hardworking and lazy people in that exists in every culture.  Even though the movie was entertaining, it presents a one-sided view of both the American and Japanese culture.  People should not judge a culture based on the characteristics of a few people. 


Still of Michael Keaton and Sab Shimono in Gung Ho (1986)

Photo by Paramount Pictures  © 1986



Photo by Paramount Pictures – © 1986
Still of Michael Keaton and Sab Shimono in Gung Ho (1986)



For example, one scene at the dinner table lead to a disagreement when his boss Takahara Kazhuhiro(Gedde Watanabe) openly expresses his concerns about the success of the company.  In the film, Hunt Stevenson stated that production went up 10%.  However, his boss debated the quality of production is 40% in Japan.  As a result, Hunt Stevenson makes a deal with his boss by promising his workers that they would produce 15,000 cars within a month or they would not get a raise.

Instead, Hunt Stevenson(Michael Keaton) had promised them 13,000 cars and they would be offered a 1/2 raise.  One of the most important lessons that I learned in life is that honesty ins the best policy.  Whenever you break someone’s trust, people have the right to take business elsewhere.  

However, the moral of the story is that two cultures can work together if they are willing to learn and grow from each other despite cultural differences.  Taking the time to understand other cultures helps everyone become more open-minded and forever changes the way they see the world around them.

Check out the link to the trailer below:



About wmckenzie95

I am passionate about travel and learning about other cultures. On my free time, I love to listen to music and watch movies. Some countries that I really want to visit are Japan and France.
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