Pictorial body metaphors in Japanese advertising
How the body economy replaces the body nation in the affluent images of oishisa, bihada, and tanjō
This article explores the use of the body metaphor as a core communicative tool in times of economic crisis and national indebtedness, and the ways in which it thwarts political dialogue. It first traces the body metaphor in the manga version of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, following Andreas Musolff’s theory of the ‘body politic’ in Nazi Germany. It then argues that the economic resurrection, or ‘miracles’, in postwar Germany and Japan replaced the discourse of the body nation with that of the body economy. Charles Forceville has shown how advertising uses pictorial metaphors to depict commodities and emphasise their qualities. My analysis of Japanese commercials reveals that their metaphors work to ‘incorporate’ consumers through the act of oral consumption, merging them with the commodities. An ‘oral fixation’ is presumed, rendering the relationship between the body economy and the consumer as one between mother and infant. Advertising functions as the wrapping, or ‘skin’, of this body economy, encouraging us to suckle at the mother’s breasts and at the same time to inject unlimited amounts of money into her veins.
Keywords: body nation, body politic, pictorial metaphors, advertising, body economy, Japan, oral fixation
Published online: 24 November 2014
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Wagner, Gerhard, and Heinz Zipprian
Cited by 2 other publications
Parks, Elizabeth S. & Jessica S. Robles
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