“he Avengers is set to open soon in Japan, but people in that country are already pissed off at the filmmakers, all because of a poorly translated tagline.
In Japanese, the film’s tagline is 日本よ、これが映画だ or “Hey Japan, this is a movie”. While some might think that seems innocuous enough, a couple prominent individuals have pointed out the tagline’s more nuanced meaning. But is this much ado about nothing? According to novelist Toshihiko Yahagi, “Having an American say, ‘Hey Japan, this is a movie’ is deeply unpleasant. I swear that there is no way I’m going to see this film.” Yahagi mentioned how the tagline not only deeply offended, but angered him.
Not one to mince words, Yahagi even said that if it were a Japanese individual who wrote this tagline, he’d want to smoke him or her out and take action. The novelist also pointed out how in years past, Captain America, who is featured in The Avengers, was an asshole who proudly killed Japanese people in his comics.
Yahagi’s reaction probably seems, well, extreme. Of course, there were those who agreed that this slogan was particularly bad, with some saying that this is just how Americans are. But on 2ch, Japan’s largest web forum, some commenters thought that his reaction showed some sort of inferiority complex or that it was silly to get upset by a tagline—especially a tagline that was most likely thought up by a Japanese person!
Others said that the Japanese film industry has seen better days and that The Avengers should be judged on its merits as a film and not by its tagline. (One individual said it would be interesting to see if 2ch had the same reaction if this had been about role-playing games—implying that 2ch commenters would have probably been pissed off!)
Columnist Takashi Odajima did a much more eloquent job of arguing why the tagline could come across as unpleasant. He explained it would be like colonialists saying to native people, “Hey native people, this is culture.” The other example he gave was The New York Times saying, “Hey Japan, this is journalism.”