Commercials are a terrible way to fill the 120 to 300 second gap between segments of the shows we watch on TV, but they're clearly here to stay. I used to think that the loud, cheerful exhibitions of products, brands, and services in Canada were bad, but they have nothing on the adverts that fill the airwaves in Japan. Awful singers, terrible acting, AKB-style children, and (what appears to be) pain-inducing alcoholic beverages. One of the more annoying ones that has been stuck on an endless loop for the last two years has been for an acne medication that preys on people with low self-confidence: Proactiv.
Many people in Japan have likely seen the commercial where a young girl is seen in her room thinking about an older guy that she's interested in. She's worried that he prefers girls with short hair, which puts her at a disadvantage. So, rather than feel good about her attractive face, good figure, beautiful smile, and healthy body, she's seen staring in a hand mirror on a gloomy afternoon.
It's true that young people typically ignore all the things they have going for them to focus on the little details, but this commercial isn't quite done making it look like this young lady is in need of a 3-step cleanser ... despite the flawless skin.
The next scene focuses on her cleaning her face in an over-exaggerated, slow-motion, water-wasting fashion1. The bottles of Proactiv are all 70% full and, oddly, completely clean and in a perfectly straight line. I have five sisters. None of them can draw a straight line with the help of a T-Square let alone put facial cleansers in a perfect line without a single soap bubble. It's madness in the Hayakawa house2!
Now, face scrubbed and hair cut, the young girl is seen running on a sunny day along the river to wherever the heck this older gentleman can be found ... most likely a university classroom where a club activity takes place. So, despite the fact that this girl cut her hair and took a really long time to wash her face, apply make-up, and get a new outfit, she works up a sweat to meet with her 先輩 (senior) only to get a "Oh..." in response.
She's still happy to be talking to the guy regardless, but I have to wonder whether this commercial is telling insecure young people that they should wash their face, or change their outward appearances to appease others. Go ahead and judge that book buy it's cover!