Monday, December 15, 2008

Super Karate Monkey Death Car

Some things just don't translate from culture to culture or language to language. Like if I were to try to explain, I don't know, 'je ne sais quoi' to a French person they would probably think I was talking about pastries, head-butting or surrenduring large swaths of countryside after undertaking an enormous yet antiquated feat of engineering in order to secure their borders.

Examples like this can be taken from many other cultures as well. None, however, differ as greatly from intended meaning to perceived meaning quite so much as when trying to understand Japan. We can probably assume that some of this comes from the simple fact that we are attempting to translate a language based on pictograms into a language, in the case of English, based on Syphillis, inbreeding and the need to shoot any animal who's name contains a consonant.

Apparently Japanese people judge which bank to put their money in based on commercials like this one:

Hmmmm... I don't know about you, but a guy who looks like he should be wearing jodhpurs and solving crimes on trains is not who I want as a mascot for my lending institution. Especially not when he gets distracted as easily as this jackass.

"Wait, my satchel is on your... Look, boy scouts!"

A better investment strategy might be to get involved in a long-distance calling-card ponzi scheme or better yet, try to parlay your fortune through pull-tabs. However, maybe canary yellow slacks and Burt Reynolds mustaches are a sign of virility and market know-how in Japan. They are the country that gave us Most Extreme Elimination Challenge and Super-Cute Red Panda Attack (clip at the bottom), a show where a girl lives 24 hours a day with two baby red pandas and the results are aired on T.V., so you never quite know which advertising strategies are going to pay off. In fact, the best idea might be to just pick ad concepts based on mad-libs.

"Blue... lightning... communist... monkey... parade. Blue lightning communist monkey parade? Sounds like a winner. Get Adrian Brody on the horn! We'll sell a million units by Tuesday. Huzzah!!!"

Back to my original point: does anyone remember the episode of News Radio where Jimmy James has his biography, "Jimmy James: Capitalist Lion Tamer", translated into Japanese and then when it's a huge hit over there he has it translated back and the title becomes "'Jimmy James, Macho Business Donkey Wrestler"? No? Well, screw you, fascist! Phil Hartman was a saint!!

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