8 Humiliating Japanese Ads Starring Oscar Nominees
Oscar-nominated actors are the most dignified members of our species. They play the serious roles that inspire us and hold a special place of reverence in our culture.
But not in Japan. In a country where demoralization is the national pastime, our revered actors, Academy Award nominees and winners both, sell their own dignity for a paycheck because they assume we Americans will never see it.
But thanks to the Internet, we can celebrate their shame any time we want.
Sean Connery - Biogurt
Sean takes a leisurely drive in the country with his nightmare rabbit-puppet-friend on route to his country house, which happens to be an enormous carton of yogurt.
It makes sense that they went with Connery, since the product he's pitching here is called "Biogurt," a word that when we say it sounds like the noise you might make if someone asked you what you ate, and you tried to say the word yogurt while at the same time vomiting all over your shoes. Really, their only option was to get the only man who can make any word sound like the world's manliest lion purring in post-coital bliss. Or they could have renamed the product.
As an aside, Connery once worked on a movie with Lana Turner. Her boyfriend, famed tough guy gangster Johnny Stompanato, believed they were having an affair. Johnny stormed onto the set and pointed a gun at Connery, only to have Connery take the gun from Stompanato and twist his wrist until he relented.
Now watch this ad again, and appreciate what a multi-faceted man Sean Connery is.
Brad Pitt - Edwin Jeans
In America, when we want to sell a product with ass, we just point the camera at the ass. Apparently, the Japanese need to be told to look at said ass.
Here, Brad's giving a marketing lesson to this group of Japanese pedestrians. "Brad Pitt's ass in Edwin Jeans. Do you like?" Brad asks, employing an Italian accent, because half-assed Italian accents are the international language.
"Look at ass!" Brad demands. "Look at famous ass in jeans! Buy jeans!!!"
"Oh," speaks up one Japanese spectator, "you want us to buy that brand of jeans. Fine, perhaps you could tell me about their superior durability."
"Ass in Jeans!" Brad insists.
"Hmm," says another bystander, "are you saying we should buy these jeans because they are a great value, priced well below their competitors?"
"He's rubbing his ass," says another. "He must be telling us these jeans are really comfortable too."
"Mamma Mia! ASSSSSSSSSSJEANSSSSSSSSSS!"
The Japanese bystanders all smile, believing this screaming man is dangerous.
Nicolas Cage- Sankyo
Nicolas Cage does not have an agent.
We're not going to blame the Japanese for the oddity of this ad. We believe this is all Nic Cage; just Cage being Cage. We imagine it went something like this:
Cage: Alright guys, I got this whole thing worked out. We start with me as a cowboy.
Japanese Ad Exec: Excuse me? I am honored you have agreed to endorse our product, but do you even know what product we're selling?
Cage: Hush, you're interrupting my process. So anyway, I'm a cowboy decked out in silk. A real frilly, silky cowboy with the rootin' tootins and all that stuff. Then I come upon some aliens.
Japanese Ad Exec: Aliens?
Cage: Aliens made of balls. And at first I'm all like, "What in tarnation?!" We're gonna fight, right? Intergalactic war. No! Instead we dance. They shake their balls and do their alien shuffle dance and I'm all like, "giddy up!"
Japanese Ad Exec: I'm afraid I don't-
Cage: I know what you're sayin', "Hey, Nicky Cage, all this silky cowboy and alien balls and dancin' sounds real faggy. But that's when we hit 'em with the switcharoo. I totally butch it up at the end by head butting the head ball alien guy, right in the ball!
Japanese Ad Exec: Uh, thank you for your creative input, but we only have one day to shoot and don't have any of those things.
Cage: No worries, I already filmed it.
Japanese Ad Exec: You what?
Cage: (galloping away on a stick horse) Yahoo! Giddy up! Whaoooo!
Dennis Hopper - Tsumura
Dennis loves rubber duckies and forgot he's not in a David Lynch movie.
We defy anyone to figure out what Dennis is selling in this ad. We think the only thing he's selling is crazy, in which case this is the most perfect alignment of celebrity endorser and product ever. Dennis Hopper guzzles crazy like a Hummer guzzles gasoline; like Amy Winehouse guzzles... well, gasoline.
Dennis tells a fellow, "I want to show you something." (NOTE: If Dennis Hopper ever asks to show you something, do not follow him to a second location). What does Dennis have to reveal? A rubber duckie and a bizarre bath time practice of getting hopped up on inhalants and mercilessly screaming at the duck.
Then he asks the fellow what his favorite beer is. The man answers "Pabst Blue Ribbon" and Dennis just looks at his feet.
Harrison Ford - Kirin Beer
When you have created two of cinema's most enduring characters in Indiana Jones and Han Solo, what do you do next? If you're Harrison Ford, you brush up on your mime work.
Harrison's just kicking it in a towel with a sweaty Japanese guy, as he is wont to do anytime he's got a free moment. Harrison wonders aloud, and in Japanese, if he could have a Kirin Japanese Lager.
Through the magic of pantomime, his swarthy sauna mate creates a fresh, cold beer out of thin air. So convinced is he with this piece of theatrical wizardry, Harrison reaches out with a "glass" to take part in the imaginary beer.
But even dream beer cannot compete with the superior flavor of Kirin Beer, so the two dash out to replenish their dehydrated selves with refreshing alcohol. Yeah, it's pretty disheartening to see Han Solo pimp beer, but we think it's safe to say we'd rather Harrison did a million more Kirin beer commercials than the last Indiana Jones movie.
John Travolta - Tokyo Drink
In Japan, John Travolta is a master of karate, jazzercise and headbands.
Travolta belongs to an athletic club made entirely of light where all five members workout rhythmically to the same song over and over about a guy contemplating date rape. When Travolta turns and says the name of the product he is either doing history's twitchiest version of "the snake" dance move, or being attacked from below like the girl at the beginning of Jaws.
We didn't think it was possible, but this commercial is more 80s than the actual 80s.
Paul Neman - Maxwell Blendy Coffee
Fuck up somebody's birthday? Paul Newman will put his hand over his mouth like he is an audeince member at the Def Comedy Jam. Fear not, he will be struck by an idea so ingenious that it overpowers his entire body. Sadly, his idea turns out to be to drink Japanese instant "Blendy" coffee and repeatedly point at you.
Oh Paul. Poor dearly departed Paul. Did you ever think all those years of building a towering, sterling reputation would be undone by something called a "YouTube?" What's with all the pointing? Is it a cocky Shooter McGavin point? If so, it seems unwarranted. Or is it a threatening Hulk Hogan point, meant to convey that some ass-kicking is going to take place later?
Also, who the hell is he pointing at? Is it shot from the point of view of one of the dinner guests, or is Paul just pointing at some camera that only he can see? Either way, everyone else at the party must be fucking terrified. They could have taken the product pitch out of this ad and presented it as a piece of experimental cinema at Cannes. Film scholars would still be debating these questions today.
Sylvester Stallone - Ito Ham/Bayern Sausage
Two-time Oscar nominee Sylvester Stallone (what, you forgot Rocky?) materializes in a thick of flowers to invade an innocent family's home and demand pork.
This ad is actually based on an old Japanese proverb:
"One day a man made of beef jerky dressed in white linen will rise from the fields of cornflowers. You will accept him into your house. He will bring a gift. The gift will be ham. You will not refuse his ham gift. He will force you and your family to watch him eat the ham. Do not speak directly to him or your soul will be sucked away to the Land of Wind and Tears. Should you successfully appease this spirit, he will leave a handful of teeth on your bathroom sink." Yeah, Japanese proverbs suck.
But Japanese ham companies would be silly to pay a known star like Sly all that money and not cash in on his famous personas. And really, who better to sell ham than Rambo and Rocky?
When Rambo came back from the war, he brought the war with him. The war for delicious ham! Rambo murders many foreign people. Then he runs down a beach and dreams of ham. In the second half of the spot we catch up with Rocky who, as everybody knows, beats the snot out of people. Now Rocky implores us to enjoy that snot on succulent Ito Ham.
But if you thought Sylvester is a one trick ham pony, you severely underestimate Sly's range. He can sell sausage too.
When Sly goes golfing, he thinks of nothing but waterfalls of sausage. That sound of forking sausage will officially haunt our dreams indefinitely.
DOB, G-Stone, Brockway and Swaim will be live blogging the Oscars right HERE!
For more questionable productions featuring Sean Connery, check out 5 Great Careers Destroyed By The Post-Oscar Curse. Or find out where else celebrities may have taken some creative liberties, in 5 Celebrity Wikipedia Entries They Clearly Wrote Themselves.
And visit Cracked.com's Top Picks to see how else those wacky foreigners have bastardized our country's top film stars.