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August 15 2012

'The Avengers' tagline stirs up controversy in Japan. 日本よ、これが映画だ or "Hey Japan, this is a movie" is getting criticised in some quarters.

If someone tried to sell me a movie with that line, I'd be a little offended too. I mean... I have eyes and a brain, I can deduce when something is a movie.
The tagline is pretty dumb. I can't believe no one stopped it. Was there just one person involved it in or what? Did someone believe it meant "This is a movie" as in "Not a/that TV show"?

In case that person is japanese, I'm kind of worried, considered the smoking out comment. Seems like some people take it too seriously. I would just have been slighty offended.
The tagline is indeed clumsy and condescending in my eyes and should be removed, but some of the reactions in Japan cited seem disproportionate to me.

Even more disproportionate were some offended reactions in the US when Akira Kurosawa depicted the mental longterm effects of the nuclear destruction of Nakasaki on survivors in his sensitive film "Rhapsody in August".

[ edited by cleveland on 2012-08-15 11:07 ]
To be fair, because it's "これが" and not "これは", it might be better translated, "Hey Japan! THIS is a movie!" As opposed to many other so-called movies, which are now doomed for all eternity to sit around and wish they were The Avengers. The particle places emphasis not on the second but the first part of the sentence. Thus, it need not be read as a simple statement of fact ... which would be pretty ridiculous.
^That does make more sense. But in that case, instead of an offensive tagline, it's just a lazy one.
Ok the tag line is a bad one but don't call captain america an asshole. Not cool.
Yeah I think they were just trying to say "Hey, this is what you call a movie" I don't think they were making out like people wouldn't realize it was an actual movie, it's a pretty silly tagline nonetheless.
I could see how it could be considered offensive with that emphasis though -- Japan has a very active media/movie industry, and to infer that an American studio can make a movie better than a Japanese studio could certainly rub some people the wrong way (though that's not the intent, it could easily be misconstrued that way).
It would really be stupid if the advertising done in Japan by a Japanese promoter was preventing people in Japan from going to see the film (which is what I gathered from the article).
I was undecided until I saw the poster, and then I just started reading the slogan in RDJ's voice and everything was fine.
They should have listened to Crocodile Dundee.

"That's not a knife... THAT's a knife."
is better than
"Hey muggers! That's a knife."
I think Joss needs to make a video to address this issue..though I'm afraid his deadpan and dry sense of humor may be lost in translation.
Joss has nothing to do with the advertising. Why would he comment on it?
I agree that it's a stupid tagline, but getting *offended* by it? People need to relax, jesus.
eddy, it was a joke. Since Joss made that other video for that indie movie that he pretty much has nothing to do with, either.
Yeah, that's a pretty stupid tagline. Who in their right mind would have thought that a movie which is basically "America's Mightiest Heroes + a Russian assassin with an American accent" should be taglined that way overseas? Does no one remember colonialism?

Non-Americans, am I right on this?
Whoever came up with the tag wasn't thinking. The seriousness with which some people seem to be taking it may be due to cultural differences.

As to how I read it, my first interpretation was that it was implying that Japan didn't know how to make movies, with the sentiment sort of being, "Oh, hey, your little films are nice and all, but let us show you how to REALLY make movies, since you obviously don't know how." I get other, more innocuous interpretations as well, but that was the sentiment I first got off the tagline, which I especially understand as being offensive.
Thor is Nordic, not American.
The Avengers are "Earth's Mightiest Heroes". Stark even pointed that out to Loki.
A Russian spy speaking with a Russian accent would not make a very good spy.

Others have pointed out, this tagline could very well have been made by a Japanese ad agency. Or it may have been written by someone in the U.S., but there is no way of knowing.
I'm just crossing my fingers that this becomes a meme.

Hey Whedonesque! This is a post.
Dumb and clumsy? Sure. Offensive? ...No. And I'd suspect a Japanese person probably thought of it. I don't think Disney sat around and went "What tagline are we gonna give this in Japan?" "Oh, man, I don't know. It's like, the last one. We've run out of taglines. It's not like we can just translate one of the taglines we've already got. It has to be original." "How about this..? 'Hey, Japan! This is a movie.'" "Sure, let's go with that."

More likely, the Japanese distributors got The Avengers and looked at the international reaction to the film, and thought "Oh, this seems to be a pretty big deal. We have to reference that in the tagline somehow. Any suggestions?" "Maybe something like 'Hey, Japan, this is a movie!'?" "That'll work."

[ edited by GreatMuppetyOdin on 2012-08-15 17:22 ]
Weird, I didn't take this as anti-Japanese cinema in the slightest--it didn't even occur to me until people said it here. I don't know if this is a cultural thing or what, but it feels a lot like people being offended to be offended.

At first, I took it as a funny statement of the obvious. An emotionless, "Avengers is a movie that is a movie." Makes a little more sense with the noted inflection, though :)
To me, the most surprising thing about this is that The Avengers is only now coming to Japan. That is a staggeringly staggered release!
It could help push the movie over the $1.5 billion boundary.
McKayla Maroney is not impressed.
If it wasn't for the comments about actual Japanese people getting cheesed off, I would have said "mistranslation ahoy!" and laughed, but...there is some crazy unexpected ire floating around, especially when one has to imagine that it was a Japanese ad company that would have come up with this.
@OneTeV

Actually, Thor isn't Nordic either. He's an alien. ;)
Skytteflickan88 Aren't all gods? After all, alien means "foreign," "not natural, strange." As in "alien concept." It's only been in recent decades that it's come to also refer to extra-terrestrial beings, and used derogatorily for peoples who've moved to another country outside of their own.

As for the tagline...why do movies even need them? Did It's a Wonderful Life have a tagline? Do people really decide whether or not to go see a movie based on the tagline? (Aside from the man mentioned in the article who said he definitely won't, and doesn't like Captain America to begin with.)

To be perfectly honest, I can't think of a single tagline from a movie I've gone to see, or have seen once it came out on DVD. Well, except for "You think you know the story." But I don't know any of the taglines (if there even were any) for any of the Lord of the Rings movies, and I saw all three multiple times in the theater, and own the theatrical release on VHS and DVD, and the extended release on DVD.

Oh, wait - "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water."
I think a lot of times the tag-line can be useful for figuring out what kind of movie it is. "You think you know the story" is one of those, for sure, but also think about the new Bourne film. "There was never just one"--ohhh okay, now I get the premise. Not a new Bourne, but just a new agent in a similar situation. Okey doke.

I don't particularly like that tagline (it feels kinda desperate) but still, I think taglines can theoretically be useful in figuring out what the tone of the film is, or what its premise is. Even if you go on to forget the tagline four minutes later.
Okay, I'll confess I forgot Thor. Banner, Stark, Rodgers, and Barton are all American, though, and SHIELD is an American operation...

And yes, of all the things America has done to Japan, this is... not high on the list. But I think the charges of condescension still have some basis, no matter the intent and no matter who wrote the tag.
In space, no one can hear you scream.

One tagline I remember, I mean. Probably should have lead with that.
One ring to rule them all.

You'll believe a man can fly.

What is The Matrix?

You can't stop the signal.
First of all, I don't think Joss has any control over this. He's the director, not the publicist.

Second, I think the line is probably emphasizing "THIS", like some of you said.

Third, if it's NOT emphasizing that word, then the tagline isn't so much offensive as it is just plain stupid.
As someone who a) reads Japanese (admittedly at a mediocre level) and b) generally speaking loves Japan, I do not get the level of outrage being displayed over the tagline.
@ShadowQuest

I don't know if all Gods are alien in that way, as something strange. The way some people talk about God and Jesus, you'd think they were best buds. ;)
Meltha, I echo your sentiments.

As an American who speaks Japanese really badly, I can appreciate this tagline on the merits that it's something I'm able to read.

As far as the controversy, it seems like just another story about a misunderstanding in global marketing that a small subgroup is momentarily really offended by.

Maybe it should be "ko re wa" instead of "ko re ga".
They are guilty of stupid sloganmanship, but apart from that, Bravo Foxtrot Delta to the whole business. A part of me would want to put out a retraction and correction that says "this is a moose", with a moose photoshopped in behind the titular Avengers.
I'm with GreatMuppetyOdin on this. I'm certain that this was a Japanese marketing team's idea to capitalize on the insane popularity the film has had. From what I remember, every country makes up its own taglines (or translates the originals). So I'm really surprised that so many Japanese viewers seem insulted by it.

Taglines are rarely good in the first place... I remember the tagline for "Donnie Darko" was "be afraid of the dark". Except nothing in the film had anything to do with the dark, or being afraid of it. Most of them are equally bemusing. "Some assembly required" is quite nice though.
I'm thinking that a lot of these taglines would work for Joss' "Much Ado About Nothing":

- Hey Japan, this is a movie (not a play)
- There was never just one (with cartoon images of Joss pushing Kenneth Branagh aside)
- You think you know the story
- You'll believe a man can fly
I'm sorely resisting the temptation to rework "hey Japan, this is a movie" into "Call Me Maybe" lyrics.
I'm sorry I took that as a challenge.

We made a film it did well,
Don't ask me, I'll never tell
why this release date's held until "fell"...

Hey, I just met you,
And this [fervor's] crazy,
But here's my trailer,
So watch me, maybe?...

We took our time with the ball,
We took no time with the fall
Ad teams gave us nothing at all,
But still, it's on its way...

Hey, I just Ja-pan'd,
And this is *A* movie,
But here's a trailer,
So see it, maybe?

...I think only the last one actually got to the spirit of actually incorporating the phrase it but I spent unfortunately a long time trying to come up with the rest.
As for the intent of the tagline, I don't think it's supposed to mean "hey, japan, you don't know how to make movies", but "hey, japan, I know we've sent a lot of big expensive movies over to you, some good and some bad, but this one's something else entirely". I.e., not making fun of Japan, but making a statement of "boy, have we got something special for you this time".

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