What's new

Welcome to Japan Reference (JREF) - the community for all Things Japanese.

Join Today! It is fast, simple, and FREE!

Tokyo Olympics creative leader Hiroshi Sasaki out after 'pig' remark about female comedian

Buntaro

運動不足
Joined
27 Dec 2003
Messages
1,565
Reaction score
355
A top creative leader for the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games resigned Thursday after acknowledging that he made a derogatory remark about a well-known female Japanese entertainer -- in another scandal that has angered women's rights advocates.


Hiroshi Sasaki, head creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies, left his post after telling a group of planning members via social media app that entertainer Naomi Watanabe could appear in the opening ceremony in July as the "Olympig."

 

mdchachi

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
6 Mar 2003
Messages
3,978
Reaction score
1,342
Jeez. These people just can't keep their feet out of their mouths can they?
 

bentenmusume

やれやれ
Contributor
Joined
12 Oct 2004
Messages
1,041
Reaction score
786
No intention of defending the guy, but despite the misleading headline, this is quite a different situation than what happened with Mori.
Mori made the remarks publicly, and when he got backlash about them held an embarrassing press conference where he was combative and basically acted like he was offended that anyone would ask him to apologize.

Sasaki proposed a sexist, tone-deaf ad campaign in a brainstorming session held via an internal LINE group chat in March of 2020, immediately got backlash from the female members of said group, and subsequently apologized and retracted his idea at that time. The story came out now, a year later, and he almost immediately issued another apology that, unlike Mori's, actually seems to suggest that he understood and regretted that the idea even came to him.

Again, he's still a sexist old dude and the type of person who probably shouldn't be in the position he's in, but there are degrees in situations like this, and I'm not sure this warrants quite the same level of outrage as Mori's embarrassing behavior.
 

mdchachi

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
6 Mar 2003
Messages
3,978
Reaction score
1,342
Well if we assume he's a fan of hers and knows that she's dressed as a pig before, I could consider defending him.
Though I kind of doubt he knew about this. I'm also on the fence about the level of offense this is. Is it worth losing his job?
On the other hand, this is probably a post-retirement gig that he got in the usual way (connections) and didn't necessarily deserve to have in the first place.

1616096954355.png
 

bentenmusume

やれやれ
Contributor
Joined
12 Oct 2004
Messages
1,041
Reaction score
786
Disclaimer: again, not defending the sexism.

Well if we assume he's a fan of hers and knows that she's dressed as a pig before, I could consider defending him.
Though I kind of doubt he knew about this. I'm also on the fence about the level of offense this is. Is it worth losing his job?
On the other hand, this is probably a post-retirement gig that he got in the usual way (connections) and didn't necessarily deserve to have in the first place.
He's actually (or was, at least) a highly respected creative director originally from Dentsu who has won multiple awards for his ad campaigns.
So unlike Mori, he's not just some old dude with no skills who got the job solely through connections and name recognition.
I also wouldn't be surprised if he was pretty familiar with the ad industry and Naomi Watanabe's other appearances in commercials.

Again, not defending him or saying he deserves to keep his position. It's a terrible look for the committee, and especially in light of all that's come out, they definitely could benefit from having more diverse leadership. Just saying that (for me personally, at least) I don't feel like this guy's actions are as utterly beyond the pale as Mori's.
 

Lothor

Proofreader extraordinaire
Moderator
Donor
Joined
26 Sep 2015
Messages
1,255
Reaction score
719
Tone deafness aside, the fact that such an idea was even suggested as something to showcase Japan in a ceremony indicates the vapidity of mainstream Japanese culture!
 

bentenmusume

やれやれ
Contributor
Joined
12 Oct 2004
Messages
1,041
Reaction score
786
I mean, does it? It's one dumb idea from an out-of-touch ad exec.

Maybe I'm biased being American (albeit an expat), but I certainly don't think Japan has a monopoly on vapid mainstream culture.
 

Lothor

Proofreader extraordinaire
Moderator
Donor
Joined
26 Sep 2015
Messages
1,255
Reaction score
719
I mean, does it? It's one dumb idea from an out-of-touch ad exec.

Maybe I'm biased being American (albeit an expat), but I certainly don't think Japan has a monopoly on vapid mainstream culture.
Maybe my comment was based on being a Brit and having watched the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics and feeling a rare flush of pride in being British.
The ceremony was absolutely stuffed full of traditional and mainstream culture (as any such ceremony should be) that is widely recognised and loved around the world.

Japan's got the traditional culture in spades, then there are the anime and geek subcultures (no disrespect intended with the word 'geek'), but I get to see an awful lot of the mainstream culture because the TV is the main vector of mainstream culture in Japan, it's on in the house most of the time, and it really is dire. I could probably count the TV programs (excluding football matches!) on Japanese TV that I've sat down to watch and enjoyed on both hands. Anyone with the slightest bit of talent is turned into a pretty face and a performing monkey who is shifted between TV shows, music performances, roles in films, adverts, and government campaigns according to the latest deal their managers have made with advertising companies, and the big music companies such as Johnny's and Associates have such a stranglehold on the music business that there's almost no space left in music programs to show anything at all interesting. Such a dependence on a small number of faces with a single attribute (Naomi Watanabe is large and likes eating, yes we get it) basically to shift product has led to Japan's infantile and atrophied mainstream culture.

The dumb Olympig concept sounds like the badly thought-out idea of someone who thinks that a stunt that would generate a few cheap laughs from the incestuous presenters on some of Japan's trashier TV programmes would also work on the world stage.

There! I feel much better for that rant!
 
Last edited:

bentenmusume

やれやれ
Contributor
Joined
12 Oct 2004
Messages
1,041
Reaction score
786
Sorry, I normally agree with almost everything you post here, but I have to play devil's advocate here on a few counts here.

Japan's got the traditional culture in spades, then there are the anime and geek subcultures (no disrespect intended with the word 'geek'), but I get to see an awful lot of the mainstream culture because the TV is the main vector of mainstream culture in Japan.
The main vector of a certain portion of the population (i.e. stay-at-home moms and retirees), perhaps, but mainstream culture in general? I'd say the main vector for today's generation is the internet and social media, and there's certainly a wider variety of entertainment options/opinions and perspectives/etc. to be found there than what you see on mainstream TV, isn't there? And this certainly goes beyond anime/otaku/geek subculture, as well. There are plenty of people out there enjoying their hobbies, be it music, sports, art, gaming (again, not just "geeky" stuff), plenty of talented creators, etc. etc.

The idea that Japan is just traditional culture, otaku culture, and then vapid TV variety shows seems to ignore a massive portion of what average Japanese people enjoy on a daily basis.

it's on in the house most of the time, and it really is dire. I could probably count the TV programs (excluding football matches!) on Japanese TV that I've sat down to watch and enjoyed on both hands.
Sure, a lot of mainstream Japanese programming is terrible, but isn't there a lot of crap on TV everywhere? If I left the boob tube on all day at home back in the States, I'd get exposed to plenty of trite soap operas, trashy talk shows, reality shows, etc. etc. If you're judging all of Japanese mainstream culture by the typical variety shows and whatnot, sure it's going to look vapid.

Maybe British TV has a higher signal-to-noise ratio, I can't say (unfortunately, I've never had the chance to live there for an extended period of time). I've enjoyed quite a bit of the British programming I've seen, but again, I'm watching programs that have been recommended to me or caught my interest somehow, not just leaving the TV on all day and subjecting myself to anything and everything that's piped in. You can find some pretty compelling Japanese programming on Netflix and what-have-you these days, as well as interesting documentaries, serial dramas, and the like.

Anyone with the slightest bit of talent is turned into a pretty face and a performing monkey who is shifted between TV shows, music performances, roles in films, adverts, and government campaigns according to the latest deal their managers have made with advertising companies, and the big music companies such as Johnny's and Associates have such a stranglehold on the music business that there's almost no space left in music programs to show anything at all interesting. Such a dependence on a small number of faces with a single attribute (Naomi Watanabe is large and likes eating, yes we get it)
I have no love for the way generic タレント are shuttled around different shows, for idol groups like AKB, Johnny's and other boys groups, etc., but—with all due respect, of course—this is painting things with far too broad a brush, IMHO.

Naomi Watanabe, if you actually listen to her, is rather genuinely charming and witty, and a rather eloquent speaker on issues of body image and the like. If you're suggesting that she's often presented by the mainstream media in ways that are rather stereotypical and demeaning, I'd tend to agree with this (though I wouldn't say she's exclusively used that way, as I've found that her natural charisma often comes through anyway). That said, I remember seeing recently that she's going to be moving her base of operations to the U.S. to explore new opportunities, so more power to her.

And there are some Japanese presenters who I think, by any measure, are genuinely entertaining and enlightening (タモリ and 所ジョージ come to mind), as well as many comedians who are actually quite funny. You just need to have a discerning eye/ear and tune out the crap.

basically to shift product has led to Japan's infantile and atrophied mainstream culture.

Again, for me, the trashiest and most vapid things on TV are not (necessarily) synonymous with "Japanese mainstream culture", any more so than the Bachelorette and the Kardashians and what-have-you are synonymous with "American mainstream culture". (Or if they are synonymous, then America's mainstream culture is at least, if not more vapid than Japan's.)

The dumb Olympig concept sounds like the badly thought-out idea of someone who thinks that a stunt that would generate a few cheap laughs from the incestuous presenters on some of Japan's trashier TV programmes would also work on the world stage.
Yes, it's dumb. It was also immediately shot down before it even got out of the (virtual) meeting room, let alone was presented on the world stage, so I'm not comfortable holding it up as proof of Japanese culture being inherently infantile and immature.

Anyhow, apologies for going on a rant of my own. I don't think we're in disagreement here about the more unpleasant aspects of Japanese mainstream media. I just don't see it as being as pervasive, universal, or exclusive to Japan as you do.
 

Lothor

Proofreader extraordinaire
Moderator
Donor
Joined
26 Sep 2015
Messages
1,255
Reaction score
719
No apologies needed - and if that was a rant, then it was the most measured rant I've ever come across! I think your last paragraph gets to the root of the differences - because of my current circumstances I get to see little else but the trash, which is also the most visible aspect of the culture when you go out and see the same faces on the ads in the train. Maybe I should get a Netflix subscription! I find it rather sad that having come here 17 years ago with an open mind ready to be grabbed, the only thing Japanese that has really grabbed me is JLeague football and some of the literature, and this disappointment may sometimes be reflected in my posts.

Fair comment on Naomi Watanabe herself - I was focusing on how she was being presented to the world rather than the person herself. I was impressed with her thoughtful response to the Olympig debacle.
 

bentenmusume

やれやれ
Contributor
Joined
12 Oct 2004
Messages
1,041
Reaction score
786
Haha, glad no offense was taken! I try to be diplomatic when I'm disagreeing with people (and especially so with people whose opinions I respect).

I've never really had much difficulty finding Japanese shows that I've enjoyed over the years. At first I mostly relied on recommendations of Japanese friends whose taste I trusted (the first shows I remember genuinely enjoying was the Kansai-based 探偵ナイトスクープ and 水曜どうでしょう from Hokkaido with 大泉洋, who's now quite famous in his own right). Then, over the years, I feel like I got more discerning and was able to pick out programs and entertainers that would suit my tastes (孤独のグルメ and 深夜食堂 are recent favorites, and 全裸監督 was quite entertaining as well.)

Anyhow, I can't really feel confident recommending specific programs without knowing your taste, but yes, getting a subscription to Netflix or Hulu or what-have-you and browsing for shows that specifically catch your interest rather than just letting the variety shows blare on all day would probably be a good start. (If you're interested in football, I know for a fact you can find plenty of interesting sports-related documentaries and the like out there.)

And yes, I was quite impressed Naomi Watanabe's response as well. It didn't surprise me, as she's always struck me as very thoughtful and eloquent. Here's hoping that she'll be able to expand her horizons a bit in the next stage of her career. (To be fair, I think even she would admit that she leaned into using her appearance a bit at first as a way to stand out when she was looking for a break. It's not a great thing, but I don't think that phenomenon is completely unusual.)
 

musicisgood

Sempai
Donor
Joined
4 Sep 2015
Messages
1,261
Reaction score
314
One way of getting out of a position that may end up time consuming with no positive end results. I don't think though the word " shame " should be in his shadow in life though and I hope it doesn't bother him.
 
Top Bottom