Subway Subtext: Jack in Japan

Curator's Note

The subway hurtles through the tunnel, paralleling Jack Bauer’s dogged, singular intention. No one—not even an entire subway car full of nubile Japanese schoolgirls—can keep him from his mission. The average heterosexual male might take pause at these fantasy-rich surroundings, but Jack only stops for one thing, a quick gulp of his nutritional supplement drink, Calorie Mate. This commercial finally answers the question so many fans of the series have wondered: how Jack maintains his frenetic pace for a whole 24 hours. Jack’s veritable superhuman cardio workout (saving the world) is supported by his low-calorie diet. For those who were not aware before of the lucrative commercial deals available to actors overseas, the Suntory scene in Lost in Translation illustrates the discomfort and alienation for actors—yet joy for fans—of textual or character recognition and global celebrity. Kiefer Sutherland almost seems to be laughing his way through this advertisement as he—and the creators of 24—race to the bank to collect on their residuals. Too bad we can’t see that in one of the split screen panels.


Tim Anderson's picture

The issue of "televisual

The issue of “televisual pleasure” and “in-the-know” textuality is rampant throughout this spot. In fact, I would argue that this isn’t the subtext, but the dominant text. Sure, it’s a commercial about a weight-management drink, but stick a snickers in his hand and I am not certain that I could see anything else but “Jack Bauer” and 24 style.

Thanks for the tip Miranda, will share with my students for sure!

I don't know if calorie mate

I don’t know if calorie mate is a japanese originated product or not. It seems ironic that a culture who’s healthy food habits have been poisoned by the western diet would choose an actor from an American sitcom. Let alone, a man who represents much less than the majority of the American image.

Avi Santo's picture

Lets not presume some

Lets not presume some mythical, authentic Japanese culture that is being eroded by American culture, but instead, how might this commercial speak to/ complicate questions of glocalization?

I cannot seem to find where

I cannot seem to find where the glocalization is present in this clip? I am clearly aware of the infestation of the Japanese culture and the everyday life that they lead— riding to school in the subway on a day-to-day basis. But all I see here is the corporate America bleeding into the Asian culture. It seems to me that through discuss in International Media Systems that the Japanese are completely infactuated-if you will with “Hollywood”. They see it as a whole other world and lucky for Kiefer Sutherland, he is actually a celebrity over there!

This clip complicates

This clip complicates glocalization because of the fact that the commercial is completely Americanized. The only thing that makes this a Japanese commercial is the school girls and the announcer. Even the woman at the end of the clip looks Americanized. The brand of the product is in English and “Jack Bauer” does not even interact with anyone, showing disconnection from the culture. I don’t know if the product itself caters to the likes of the Japanese, but the commercial definitely focuses on the fascination with the American culture.

I agree with Karla above.

I agree with Karla above. This commerical is Americanized. From the actor, to the show he is representing to the feel of the product, it all is representing American culter being meshed into the Japanese culture. It just seems ironic to me that a country who is seen as relitively healthy in thier eating habits would need a product that we see too often in American culture, diet drinks and supplements. It seems like an act of glocalization to me.

I agree that this commercial

I agree that this commercial seems highly “Americanized” in several ways, from the lead actor. However, I do not think that the commercial is, as previous comments have mentioned, “completely” American, but rather an act of glocalization and cultural hybridity, due to the incorporation of both Japanese actors, language (at least, in regards to the females present), and culture. On the other hand, I see how this may arguably be a good case for cultural imperialism, too, as not only the nature of the product being marketed, but also the film style, from the choice of an American actor in the lead role to the film style, playing on “24” is depicted.

Why is it that these

Why is it that these non-native celebrities are always so popular in other countries but the reverse is rarely true? at least in the case of western civilization. For example, if a Japanese celeb were to be put in a commercial for an American product most people would have no idea who he was. I also find it interesting how there are so many celebs of multicutural backgrounds, but when they are placed in a commercial or in the general public eye, there is never an emphasis or hint at their culture. Everyone would just assume they were American. What’s up with that?

The commercial is

The commercial is americanized but they are giving what the viewer wants. I’m assuming 24 is a popular show in Japan and many people know who Jack Bauer is. I think this commercial does not represent glocalization but more of cultural imperialism. You can see how American influences have an impact on Japaneses consumers.

This Japanese commerical is

This Japanese commerical is using a popular hit show to sell their product. If anybody who has seen the show 24 can tell that was the show 24 by the clock ticking down and the American character runnign through the subway trying to get the mission over before the time runs out. American drama shows like 24 seem to have an impact on the Japanese culture.

I find it strange when

I find it strange when people cannot disassociate actors from their roles. Kiefer can’t be Kiefer, he has to be Jack Bauer. I can imagine how awkward it may be. Who is responsible for the inability to discern between actor and character? Commercials such as these only perpetuate this startling trend.

I don't see clear lines in

I don’t see clear lines in this commercial, of couse it is entertainment for japanese television , but why is Jack in it? If it is such a poplar drink in japan why didn’t they use a popular actor from Japan. This commercial is americanized, but maybe the girls were added to give the veiwers a sense of where this takes place. like maybe it could happen right out side the mall in Japan or something.

Although in America a

Although in America a popular drink would have a popular American actor or singer as the focus point, You can forget that facets of American culture are idolized in other cultures. The girls were used as localization points so the audience could identify with the advertisement. Still, cultural imperialism is masked within this commercial.

This advertisement also

This advertisement also brings to mind the whole concept of cultural imperialism. I thought it was entertaining to see at the end of the clip the cute little Japanese girl side by side with Jack Bauer both consuming the oh so good- calorie mate. This commercial really could have been shot anywhere. If you took out the Japanese girls and replaced them with (fill in the blank) girls, then it would have gotten the same idea across. There was no real sense of being in Japan besides the teenage girls.

This commercial shows how

This commercial shows how marketing strategies are used to promote products. In watching this commercial, I feel that it is very beneficial to cultural values. I am happy to see that the heterosexual man does not look at the school girl in a sexual way. He continues on his journey in order to find this energy drink that will keep him going. The commercial markets the drink and the show 24. I do feel that this commercial is not that realistic because it is possible that if this was another male, he might look at the school girls. This questions how a global market has come together to make a local product well know to audiences. Globalization has help to make this commercial a success. I am glad that this commercial promotes the drink, the show 24, and the strength of a man.

This commercial is something

This commercial is something that I could actually see shown on American televison. As others have commented, I am not sure why they used Jack from the popular American TV show “24.” Maybe this is a huge hit in Japan as well becuse it seemed as if they used Jack’s character in the context of the Japanese culture by utilizing glocalization and not cultural imperialism. Almost everything shown within the commercial actually reflects the daily Japanese life. For example, the subway system is one of the most prominent ways to travel in Japan, it is part of the daily Japanese life in the major cities of Japan. Also, the school outfits the female high school students were wearing are actually school attire the students wear over there. However, they did manage to incorporate the American style by adding suspenseful music and the faced paced camera movement editing to make it seem very action oriented.


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