Thursday, February 5, 2009

Our Commander in Chief — in briefs!

Perched on a low shelf between some style magazines in the window of the 7-eleven this evening was this gem:


That's right, there's Barack Obama, standing proudly in super short boxer briefs, just asking for someone to pick him up. Well, Yes I Can! And did! For 620 yen, I am the proud new owner of this month's issue of Mono magazine (great name for a mag, by the way, fantastic), filled with several pages of ads to buy Obama collectibles.

Leave it to the Japanese to ham up popular symbols in an inappropriate yet playful manner. I suppose it was only a matter of time til we saw this sort of thing given the Japanese's abiding love for Barack Obama. I haven't met a Japanese person yet who couldn't bust out with an enthusiastic "Yes We Can!" at the mention of Obama's name.

A couple weeks ago, while my students were working on their speech assignment, I played part of Obama's "Yes We Can" speech for them and gave them a translation of the speech that I got out of a book that's been flying off store shelves here. All Obama's speeches have been translated and are available on CD and DVD. My students were very interested to listen to Obama, and so were several of the teachers in my office. They just can't get enough of him. Obama was on the news pretty much daily here during the campaign, so the Japanese have come to know and love him along with Americans. When I ask why they have such affection for him, they say they just think he's so eloquent and that his voice is soothing.

So back to the magazine. It's a style magazine, from what I can gather, and the inside advertised Obama memorabilia for sale on various Web sites. Here we see T-shirts, draw-string knapsacks emblazoned with his image, bobbleheads, patches and pins:


On the next page, we've got Obama chopsticks, Obama cookies, an Obama drinking cup (to go with the cookies, of course), and other T-shirts available in 22 different colors.


Turning the page, we see what I can only guess is one of those refrigerator magnet sets with an Obama figure and various clothing items so you can dress him as you please, from a suit down to a Hawaiian shirt plus surf board — or just the blue undies featured on the cover. (Strangely, Obama looks awfully white in this ad, don't you think?)


There are also a few super gaudy watches, books, magazines, and, my favorite — Obama action figures. These action figures, available at ZacPac Toys & Collectibles, will set you back 105 smackaroos. They really love Obama. I'm not joking. Looking at this Web site, these dolls come with different facial expressions and three sets of hands so his hand motions match his expression when you set him up on the miniature stool in front of the miniature American flag.

This got me thinking, did George W. Bush ever get his own action figure? I mean, surely there must be... So I typed "action figure" and "george bush" into Google and the first link to pop up was this "Dishonest Dubya Lying Action Figure" with product description "He lies like a bastard! With Pretzel-Retching Action!" and a remote control with buttons for "Lie! Say Something Stupid! Change Outfit! and Choke on a Pretzel!"

Well I 'd say that about says it all about why Americans, Japanese and everyone else with two brain cells to rub together loves Obama, ay?

3 comments:

GetHiroshima said...

I think the Obama manju and chopsticks etc are omiyage from Obama-city (小浜市)in Fukui Prefecture.

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20080223a2.html

http://www1.city.obama.fukui.jp/english/

Anonymous said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult_of_personality

Anonymous said...

It was very interesting for me to read this post. Thanx for it. I like such themes and anything that is connected to them. I definitely want to read a bit more soon.