How U.S. stars sell Japan to the Japanese

By Malena Watrous


Salon Staff
July 7, 2000 11:28PM (UTC)

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Finally! Someone exposes the money-grabbing endorsements of Western celebrities here in Japan! Long have I snickered at the highly airbrushed "gaijin (foreigner) next door" pictures of Cameron Diaz that grin down at me from every available billboard space in my adoptive city.

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However, I think Watrous has failed to ask an important question: Why are the Japanese so entranced by foreign celebrities? Why do they need foreign faces to sell them their own products? I think it goes beyond a desire to believe that Westerners (including Canadians and Europeans, not just Americans) are interested in Japan just as much as they are in Western countries. I think it is just an extension of Japan's fascination with Western culture. The unwavering idea that if it's an import from the West, it must be cool.

-- Dena Allen
Takaoka, Japan

Malena Watrous didn't have to go all the way to Japan to find stars hawking products that they would not admit to at home. Bruce Willis is plastered all over Paris as I type selling us Police-brand sunglasses and Harrison Ford has been trying to convince me that he would rather drive a French brand of car than anything else on Earth. Johnny Depp was on billboards in Scandinavia last summer selling sweaters for H & M. And maybe you should look in the international edition of Newsweek sometime where the putative hands of several famous aidoru appear sporting fancy Swiss watches.

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-- David Heard


Salon Staff

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