Advert shows girl being fattened up, turned into eel and cooked
Video, made to promote Japanese city, criticised as sexist and ‘perverse’
“I fed her delicious food until she was full, and allowed her to get plenty of sleep,” says the male narrator.
A city in Japan has been forced to pull a online promotional video intended to boost the local eel industry following criticism that it demeaned women.
The two-minute video, set to gentle piano music, shows a teenage girl dressed in a black swimsuit, swimming, Man from Atlantis-style, in an outdoor pool and asking to be fed.
In other scenes, she is seen sitting at the poolside and playing with a hula hoop, before the advertisement takes a bizarre twist. After apparently spending a year being fattened up, she dives into the pool and transforms into an eel, offering a cheery “Goodbye” as she swims away.
The male narrator, meanwhile, describes how he had vowed to do all he could to nurture her. “I fed her delicious food until she was full, and allowed her to get plenty of sleep,” he says.
Seconds later viewers are treated to a close-up of eel being cooked on a barbecue grill. “We take great care when farming our eels,” says the narrator.
The ad went viral before it was withdrawn by Shibushi city on the south-western island of Kyushu.
Social media users described it as “perverse”.
“This makes me think of a girl who has been kidnapped and locked up ... it’s the delusions of a pervert,” said one Twitter user. Another called on the local government to “take down this sexist video”.
The city duly pulled the ad, but insisted it had intended only to highlight the city’s commitment to sustainable eel farming amid evidence that the species is threatened by overfishing .
“We’re aware that some people were offended,” an official told AFP. “We just wanted to make a video that simply explains the city is known for eel farming.”
The past year has seen several online campaigns pressuring local governments and companies to remove advertisements that highlighted Japan’s struggle to confront sexism.
The city of Shima, which hosted this year’s G7 summit, came under for using a female mascot character that many said was sexist. The animated character, Meg, was modelled on members of the local ama community – female divers who forage for abalone, seaweed and other seafood without the use of breathing apparatus.
Some of the divers said Meg, a doe-eyed 17-year-old woman with large breasts, demeaned their profession.
Allegations of sexism followed the appearance of an online ad for a translation device in which a British man, armed with the gadget, attempts to cajole seemingly random women – whom the company later said were actors – into kissing him.
Earlier this week a lawsuit was launched against the mayor of a city in western Japan over a pamphlet on child rearing that reinforced sexist stereotypes. One of the pamphlet’s 12 tips on bringing up children encourages boys to “answer cheerfully,” while girls are encouraged to “answer politely”.
Earlier this year, HIS, a major travel agency, cancelled a promotion that invited passengers to sit next to “beautiful girls” from the prestigious Tokyo University and listen to them give “fun” in-flight talks on their field of study.