Photo: YouTube/西武・そごう チャンネル
entertainment

'We don’t need an age of women,' Japanese commercial says; then hits actress in face with cream

38 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

With December winding down and the new year on the way, jointly owned Japanese department store chains Seibu and Sogo released a new advertisement starring actress Sakura Ando. As you might expect for an ad first shown on Dec 31, the video takes some time to pontificate about the future, but what’s surprising is that it starts off with Ando boldly asking: “We don’t need an Age of Women, do we?”

The camera then cuts from a close-up of Ando’s mouth to a shot of her back as she’s striding away…and then plates of whipped cream start flying at her.

As a couple of near-misses whiz past her, Ando continues her determined voice-over.

“Being forced to do something because you’re a woman.

Being ignored because you’re a woman.

Being marked down because you’re a woman.

Having the news talk about how difficult it is to live as a woman.

Every time those things happen, the ‘Age of Women’ gets pushed farther away.”

And then she takes a plate of cream full-on in the face.

sa-2.png

Meanwhile, her narration goes on:

“’This year, finally, things are going to change!’

Really? Can we count on that happening?

‘Be active! Forge ahead!’

If you’re going to keep crowing about the ‘Age of Women,’ then we think it’s fine if it never comes.”

sa-3.png

“At the center of this age, there are neither men nor women.

I want to praise myself for being me.

The age that should be coming, the age that we all make for ourselves, is the ‘Age of Me.’”

sa-4.png

After Ando coughs up a mouthful of forcefully inserted cream, she asks the camera “Don’t you get excited just thinking about it?”, before a final shot of her wiping cream from her eyes and delivering the ad’s tagline: “I am me.”

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It's an unusual ad, even by Japanese standards, and also a confusing one. While it starts with the 32-year-old Ando proclaiming an “Age of Women” to be unnecessary, it then seems to lament societal attitudes and discourse that prevent such an age from starting, before shifting gears yet again to focus on a purely personal vision of fulfillment, absent of any demographic connections. And then, of course, there’s the plates of cream being tossed at a woman whose narration starts off by downplaying the importance of a common rallying cry for greater opportunities for women.

As such, the ad is generating controversy in Japan, with online criticisms including:

“This ad makes me feel very uncomfortable.”

“I can’t imagine what they were trying to accomplish with those visuals.”

“It’s weird how she’s just standing there and taking it.”

“The whole thing is just vague and gross.”

“I guess they were going for some sort of deep message, but it hasn’t reached me at all.”

Then there’s the contingent of commenters who see some sort of connection to the adult film term “cream pie,” though, as others pointed out, there’s no pie to be seen in the commercial, just plate after plate of pie-less cream.

On the other side of the debate are those who see an admirable intent in the ad’s declaration of the importance of individual happiness and satisfaction, which is far from the default philosophy in the-group-comes-first Japan. Many of them see the plates of cream being flung at Ando as visual metaphors for the unreasonable, unpleasant things that life tosses at all of us from time to time. To the ad’s defenders, Ando’s unflinching stoicism as she keeps moving forward, as well as the way she picks herself up and cleans herself off after a wad of cream inevitably hits her, is an inspiring mixture of strength and beauty, leading to comments like:

“I think this is a seriously cool video.”

“She’s showing that she won’t be beat by the dumb things that happen in society, and smiling bravely, showing how tough she is.”

“I love ads like this, where you have to pay attention until the very end to get the complete message.”

Perhaps Seibu/Sogo could have made things clearer with a bit more congruent editing. After Ando asks “Don’t you get excited just thinking about it?” and flashes a confident smile, the very last image is once again one of her with cream on her face, and the commercial ends before we see her take another step forward. A few more seconds, showing that Ando isn’t going to be stopped no matter what gets slung at her, might have provided a more concrete display that the company believes in the power of individuals, be they women or men, to achieve their dreams.

Sources: YouTube/西武・そごう チャンネル, Twitter/西武そごう

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Miya Ando, descendant of Japanese swordsmiths, creates mind-blowing art with steel

-- “It all came out?” Debate ensues over whether schoolgirl ad is just talking about mayonnaise

-- Japanese cosmetics ad has women recoiling in horror as ugly man tries to help one of them【Video】

© SoraNews24

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

38 Comments
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There are plenty of real problems around in Japan without contriving them out of nothing;especially for the purpose of financial gain.....

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The age that should be coming, the age that we all make for ourselves, is the ‘Age of Me.’”

The 'Age of Me'? Where've you been, Japan? The rest of us have had that for quite a while.

She looks good, she sounds good. But talk about mixed messages - encouragement, or put-down?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Unfortunately, the pie throwers call the shots here.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Stupid ad. White stuff all over the woman's face. What are they trying to suggest?

4 ( +10 / -6 )

It's an unusual ad, even by Japanese standards,

That's saying alot

and also a confusing one.

I'll say

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Err that imagery looks like something else...

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Yes, there is indeed something about Japanese men wanting to throw cream into womens's faces that gives them nose bleeds. Why is that I wonder?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I would like to offer an alternative interpretation here. Although the ad is odd, I believe the theme here is quite consistent.

The actress is lamenting the way women are put down and ignored in society but saying the way to solve this is for each individual to push forward and be judged on their own merits, not by creating a culture where women are put on a pedestal simply for being women.

Now it is debatable whether anyone, in real life, is actually saying that "women are put on a pedestal simply for being women" but that at least is the internal logic of the ad.

The ad does not really contain the three logically inconsistent stages claimed in this article.

Part of the culprit here is a possible mistranslation.

もてはやされるだけの「女の時代」なら、永遠にこなくていい。(Motehayasareru dake no onna no jidai nara, eien ni konakute ii)

I don't think this can be translated as "If you’re going to keep crowing about the ‘Age of Women,’ then we think it’s fine if it never comes.”

This does not really make much sense as an English sentence, which is a good clue something has gone wrong.

The problem here is that the original Japanese provides neither object nor subject for the verb 'motehayasu', and this is left to the reader to infer.

もてはやすmeans to make a fuss of, make the center of attention. The translator mistakenly thinks "Era of Women" is the object of the verb 'motehayasu'.

But you cannot make an era the center of attention, at least not in the usual sense of 'motehayasu' which implies someone being praised, fawned over and talked about in a social context. The true object of this sentence is simply "women" themselves.

(In other wordsもてはやされるだけの「女の時代」 is short for 女がもてはやされるだけの「女の時代」)

With this interpretation, we can see the full original sentence means something along the lines of "If your 'Age of Women' simply means making a fuss over women just because they are women, I hope that age never comes!"

Now we have the correct meaning sorted, we can see a defiant woman saying, 'if your idea of an era for women is that we simply go on about women as if we are inherently special based on our gender, well, you can stick it'.

Looking at the rest of the piece suggests this interpretation is correct. It ties consistently in backwards to the complaints about how women are treated. It also consistently ties in forwards to the subsequent statement about how a key idea for the future is your confidence in yourself as an individual, not simply as a representative of your gender.

Now we are free to interpret the pie throwing as "the adversity and difficulty that life throws at people, particularly women" and the actress reaction as her ability to "battle her way through life as an individual", and we don't need a dodgy sexual metaphor (although given that this is the advertising industry we are talking about so it is probably that as well!)

I have to admit that it is difficult to pick up this interpretation from simply the written text. And it seems that some Japanese viewers are also confused about the message, which of course would not relate to the mistranslation in English. So, yes, it is an inherently peculiar video to begin with, leaving aside additional translation issues.

But if you actually watch the video and catch the pitch changes and emotional nuance in the actress' voice, then the ad makers intention becomes very clear.

It also confirms that the headline for this piece is rather misleading.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Ah, the Japanese indignation if women just keeps getting stronger and I know why. Japanese women are much better educated and much more successful than the men, which makes the men afraid of them. The men are not prepared to give women an equal shot because they know they will outdo them in everything. The Japanese sportswomen are much more successful than the men. The academic achievements of women are by far greater than the men.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

After Ando coughs up a mouthful of forcefully inserted cream, she asks the camera “Don’t you get excited just thinking about it?”

That just sounds “wrong” on so many levels.

Age of women? In Japan? .......NOT! Japan won’t change. It’s like what Tiger Tanaka said in that old James Bond flick to Sean Conner, ‘You only live twice.’

-“In Japan, men come first.”

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Why can't they do the same thing in reverse to a guy, or throw eggs instead of whipped cream pies which gives off weird impressions on their pr message

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I just showed this video to my wife, who's Japanese, and asked her what her opinion was on it. She said that there was noting at all wrong with the ad / video and that the writer here, Casey Baseel, has a shallow knowledge of Japanese history and culture. My wife said that it's not only about women but about everyone regardless of your gender.

*"We don't need an Age of Anybody, do we?"*

4 ( +6 / -2 )

For me what it means is that it is unhealthy, self-destructive and useless to think you are a victim or to think that your personal problems are fault of the the society or the government... The message is accept the reality the way it is and take the responsibility of your success, happiness and dignity, no matter if the world is kind or hostile to you. The world does not owe you nothing but you owe yourself live with honor and courage no matter the circumstances.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@ jpn_guy

A totally convincing interpretation! A great post and service to JT readers. A very gratifying lesson in the grammatical brambles of the easily misconstrued Nipponlingo. アリガトウ!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I thought the point was that she wants to be seen as an individual not coerced into some women's movement because of gender. The pies in the face were various annoying societal expectations.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

So muddled, so confused.....now so am I. What in the holy bejesus was that???? Hope it makes sense to someone.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If they truly wanted some PSA regarding denigration of women in Japan, they'd have delivered it straight instead of leaving it to the viewer to misunderstand. This is veiled misogyny at best. Truly disgusting.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

It's essentially trying to tell us that if you're deliberately cryptic, bizarre and mildly controversial in advertising, you have a far better chance of getting your ad campaign talked about on social media and featured on various news sites. The people who wrote the script are marketers.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The message is very degrading regardless and will destroy their business marketshare

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Wallace FredToday 12:38 pm JSTIf they truly wanted some PSA regarding denigration of women in Japan, they'd have delivered it straight instead of leaving it to the viewer to misunderstand. This is veiled misogyny at best. Truly disgusting.

M3M3M3Today 12:51 pm JSTIt's essentially trying to tell us that if you're deliberately cryptic, bizarre and mildly controversial in advertising, you have a far better chance of getting your ad campaign talked about on social media and featured on various news sites. The people who wrote the script are marketers.

This could mean many things. Look at the case of the Saudi girl defecting to Canada. Saudi Arabia hates women. And in the USA, sad to say, nearly all famous women are unbelievably stupid. Look at the Kardassians, Britney Spears, Sarah Palin.

However, with the November 2018 shake-up election, that may change. I hope.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Terrible ad, wasting good cream like that.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Yeah, Japanese throwing white cream on a pretty Japanese woman's face multiple times. The only clear message being understood!

Poor Japan!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

What poorly chosen imagery. It is classic example of Japanese going for empty "wadaisei". Its the same as having big captions fly up on the screen whenever a talento says something that is not even funny. Or clickbait headlines you find the world over.

As jpnguy points out, the key expression in the Japanese is the "dake no". Rather than an "age of women", its saying we don't need an empty/superficial type "age of women". The "age of me" expression in English also misses the Japanese nuance of watashi, "me as a woman". Men only use watashi in keigo.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

“Yeah, Japanese throwing white cream on a pretty Japanese woman's face multiple times. The only clear message being understood!”

Yup. I remember the 1st time I walked into a 7-11 & seen all those dirty porn mags on display next to the copy machine. I was like “so this is Japan.”

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Yup. I remember the 1st time I walked into a 7-11 & seen all those dirty porn mags on display next to the copy machine.

As far as porn mags go, they are not very dirty in Japan.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Very tasteless.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I find it odd that so many comments see this as misogynist, and then go one to say that the obvious interpretation of the pies is a sex act associated with more extreme porno films. I mean, these defenders of female virtue seem to be more than casually familiar with porn images. It didn't even occur to me to associate the commercial with that. Maybe these guys feel guilty about something?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Say hello to post-feminism?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@commanteer

I find it odd that so many comments see this as misogynist, and then go one to say that the obvious interpretation of the pies is a sex act associated with more extreme porno films. I mean, these defenders of female virtue seem to be more than casually familiar with porn images. It didn't even occur to me to associate the commercial with that. Maybe these guys feel guilty about something?

LOL! Yeah, how do you know everybody is a guy? BOOM............mic drop!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Yet more misogyny masquerading as feminism. Plus ca change.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Hahaha, very confusing, typical Japanese thing, to the fools.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Yeah, how do you know everybody is a guy? BOOM............mic drop!

How do you know every guy is male? Right back atcha.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

How do you know every guy is male? 

LOL! Nonsense at its finest!

I find it odd that so many comments see this as misogynist, and then go one to say that the obvious interpretation of the pies is a sex act associated with more extreme porno films. I mean, these defenders of female virtue seem to be more than casually familiar with porn images. It didn't even occur to me to associate the commercial with that. Maybe these guys feel guilty about something?

You make no sense! How often to do call a woman or a group of women, guys? LOL!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

So tell me, Silva, what a cream pie in the face refers to? I grew up watching cream pies in the face, it was (and is) and slapstick comedy standard trope. Goes back 100 years at least. Are you saying it now obviously represents something else? Not to most people, I would think.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Ugh. They didn't understand ANYTHING!

If the speech was muted, this video does the EXACT OPPOSITE!!!!!

Wake up!!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And I'm not a guy (for the commentators just above)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

commanteerJan. 13 06:17 pm JSTSo tell me, Silva, what a cream pie in the face refers to? I grew up watching cream pies in the face, it was (and is) and slapstick comedy standard trope.

It's a standard gimmick in the Three Stooges comedy classics. And in Three Stooges fan conventions in America they often feature cream pie throwing contests during the festivities. Sometimes it's lemon cream, sometimes it's just Cool Whip.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Even though she is not on beauty level, she is a very good actress, O.5 mm, 100 Yen Love, For Love's Sake.

But only this ad will remember her the most. That's not good for her even though she is trying to portray good message towards the society

If only beautiful girl were on this ad, it would make very very bu...e!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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