TV as a Mirror of Society

I met one of the bosses of one of the biggest international television networks in the world the other day. He is a Canadian. He travels all over the world and, because he is in the TV business, he told me that one of his favorite things to do in every country was to watch TV commercials and, from that, to judge what things were important to that particular society. He said that he was fascinated by how different the commercials were in every country he visited.

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I thought that was a strange “hobby,” but as he spoke, I began to understand what he meant.

He told me about his take on Japanese TV commercials; Insurance for this or that; home sales; automobiles; financial instruments and plans; candy, cosmetics, fast food. You see advertising for companies like Zurich, Sekisui and Kanebo. He added that Japanese commercials are soft sell and emotive.

I think that’s pretty much how it is.

American TV? He told me that he was “astounded” by just how many over the counter drug and prescription medication commercials there were on US TV all the time.

How about US TV commercials? Drugs, Cholesterol, Machismo (“My ding-a-ling is bigger than yours” commercials); fast food; commercials to make you hard, make it soft, put you to sleep, keep you awake, lower blood pressure, lose weight; not to mention commercials galore for people with extreme anxiety and panic attacks. Ask your doctor, and if he won’t prescribe to you, then get another doctor.

Don’t forget the side effects disclaimers!

Oh and also don’t forget the many advertisements from lawyers looking for people to join in class action suits against the companies who made the drugs that were advertised that had bad side effects.

Call now!

I think one could deduce that if there are so many drug commercials being aired then there might be a sick society watching this stuff.

Why is the USA this way? It wasn’t that way 50 years ago, was it?

Japan has its problems too, but here is something that will drop the jaws of all Americans. Did you know that in Japan, on any given day, you may ride on a train or subway and see unaccompanied 5 and 6-year-old kids going Amazon Fire TV - 1st G... Check Amazon for Pricing. to and from school?

Little 5 and 6-year-old kids riding the trains by themselves in no fear of danger. And the other passengers think nothing of it. Why? Because little kids riding trains unattended is normal in Japan.

That’s the way it is in Japan.

How is it in today’s USA? If a mother drops off her 9-year-old kid at a park, she gets arrested. Why does she get arrested? Well, because the nanny state thinks she isn’t taking care of her kid properly so they arrest her and place the child into state custody so that she now definitely can’t take care of her kid properly. Problem solved, right? Makes sense to me.

Think about that and ask yourself, “How in the world has this come about in the Land of the Free?”

All one can do is shrug their shoulders and throw their hands in the air.

Finally, for your entertainment and edification: Here’s a compilation of Japanese TV commercials from weeks 10 and 11 of 2014. We have the typical Japanese TV commercial fare: a Lotte candy commercial, Pepsi, a Softbank mobile phone commercial, an AU mobile commercial, a band promo, a Playstation ad, and ad for instant food, and a real gem at 4:40 – A Boat Race commercial plus many more. (Warning! One commercial has the “F” word.) Watch the commercials here.


 Thanks to my good friend, James Santagata for co-writing this article with me! And thanks to JP Valentine for his comments. You guys are tops!