Valentine’s Day atrocity

When it comes to seeing commercial advantage in nicking the customs or superstitions of other cultures no one does it better than Japan. In fact, probably no one other than Japan does it. Hence the annual Christmas hysteria and Halloween horror. This time of year it is Valentine’s Day and anyone with anything to sell has seized on the theme as if were a matter of social obligation (which it might well be in this country). Being a day of officially prescribed romanticism, couples are encouraged to get out and about and be couples and, more to the point, spend money while doing so.

Valentine's funOne of the top romantic spots is Hollywood theme park Universal Studios Japan (USJ) in Osaka. What could be better than a synthetic plastic simulacrum of a fantasy in which to spend quality time with your special other? USJ have been advertising energetically for weeks already. Here’s a detail of the poster that has been all over the trains and subway since January. A merry lass vaults a big, rounded heart … is it just me or does that heart suggest a glans? And does the lady’s posture with legs like that suggest an imminent straddling event? And what about that dreamy, blissy look on Pink Panther’s face as he hovers over his own glans object? What is that about?

And in a further expedition into hyperreality, there seems to be a conflation of the experience of going to USJ and the experience of sex.

I very much like the irony, the disjointedness (the narrative fracture?) of an institution that sells itself on family/kiddy values suddenly promising bouncy sex in its ads.

In another dollop or irony, the appearance of USJ itself has a striking resemblance to the absurd and whimsical designs of Japan’s love hotels. (Or is it the other way round?)

I also like this ad for Valentine chocolate, a huge, backlit screen in the Hankyu department store/railway station — more suggestiveness with a stick. And what’s with the broom otherwise? How did Halloween get into Valentine’s Day?

Or I am embarrassing myself, seeing sexual innuendo where it doesn’t exist. Perhaps I simply need to up my dosage of bromide.

Footnote: USJ’s page in Wikipedia tells us that the site is built directly on top of a toxic waste dump and that ET maimed one of the customers.

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About chrispagefiction

Author of the novels Sanctioned, Weed, King of the Undies World, and The Underpants Tree; also the story collection Un-Tall Tales; editor, freelance writer and all that stuff. At heart he is a London person, but the rest of his body is a long-term exile in Osaka, Japan.
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One Response to Valentine’s Day atrocity

  1. nagaijin says:

    Only Easter has escaped commercialisation in Japan. That’s not because of any reluctance to show disrespect to a world religion – comical Buddhas and monks often appear in adverts here. And an anthropomorphic rabbit that lays coloured eggs would fit right in with anything you’d see on a USJ poster. No, the only problem is that Easter falls on a different day every year, and nothing must be allowed to overlap in the Japanese marketing calendar. It must make them gnash their teeth.

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