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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

Japan’s Latest Pop Idol Was a Computer Generated Image


Back in 2002, a movie called S1m0ne, about a movie director (played by Al Pacino) who creates his own actress from a computer simulation. People thought this was crazy! No way could this ever happen in real life — a 100 percent, computer-generated image of a human intended to seamlessly replace actual human talent!

But now, in 2011, this exact thing has happened. Over in Japan, the very popular 61-member girl group AKB48 introduced its newest member — Aimi Eguchi! She made her debut in a 15-second candy commercial (video above). And then, this week, she was revealed to be a completely computer generated image, a composite of the most “perfect” features of a few of her bandmates. Something that, we’re sure, didn’t make them the least bit self-conscious. And we’re also sure that it’s not creepy at all that a lot of people probably came to develop their own little celebrity crush on a perfect female prototype that doesn’t even really exist. But we’re truly sure that there is something to be said about rejecting actual human females in favor of ones who are literally objects.

But first, here is a video illustrating how Aimi Eguchi came to be and what parts of her come from whom:

People started suspecting that something was up with Aimi Eguchi when conspiracy buffs took a closer look at her name and noticed that it was derived from the brand of candy being promoted by AKB48. A little more digging, and it turned out that Eguchi’s birthday — February 11 — was the same day that candy brand, Ezaki Glico, was founded.

This, plus that whole “she kind of looks like those other girls, none of whom are related to her” thing.

So, out of 61 girls to choose from, why was the decision made to create a completely inhuman version of a human in order to sell candy? Is it because they could get her to do whatever they wanted her to do without having to pay her, negotiate with her, or deal with her in the most general sense? Aimi Eguchi is a perfect female, a work of fiction, molded into shape not by anything organic, but by technology and marketing strategy. Is this going to be the future of advertising — fake actors?

Imagine, if you will, that Michael Bay, with his infinite resources to create computer-animated images, decided that he was sick of his leading ladies complaining about how he ran the show. He wants booby-licious, pouty, perfect-looking young women who will do what he asks them to do without questioning the quality of his work or the way he wants them to look, or running their mouths once filming ends. So he creates his own Aimi Eguchi, and she is everything he — and his audience — wants to see in his movies. And none of that Spice Girl feminism/Hitler nonsense. It’s Michael Bay we’re talking about here. One could even wonder why he hasn’t thought of this already.

While it’s probably an enticing idea for some, it’s a pretty terrifying prospect for female performers to be held up to the impossible standard of computer-generated beauty. They’re already being Photoshopped to death in photos — this is like asking them to compete with someone’s fantasy. And those fantasies don’t age, gain weight, or ask for very big paychecks, do they? Maybe we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves, imagining a dystopian society that has completely done away with human performers in favor of non-existent animated beings, but if Aimi Eguchi can fool all those people, what’s stopping more and more attempts to create more just like her? We’d love to think this was just a fun experiment, and it may have been in this case, but one person’s experiment is another’s brilliant marketing strategy.

Which brings us to the next logical question: Where are the male characters?

Granted, this is great for animators and graphic designers. But it’s making the rest of us feel bad about ourselves.

(Singularity Hub)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shirley-Yokels/100001032634010 Shirley Yokels

    creepy….reminds me vaguely of the “vocaloids” 

    http://youtu.be/OIHykGj5VRs

  • http://profiles.google.com/viciousmarblecat Emma Jones

    I dunno, I’m your typical female, who finds herself comparing herself to celebrities all the time (even though, logically, I shouldn’t, given that their job is to be attractive, a lot of the time), but this is totally different. Most guys are not looking for something artificial, and if they are, they tend to have android fantasies that we can’t fulfill anyway. Looking at this girl, she does not seem like the most attractive of the bunch, simply because of this strange static feel about her. Yes, she’s pretty, and in a still shot, I might say she is the most attractive, but the way she moves is strange.

    As far as concerning yourself with comparing yourself to CGI, it seems silly. It’s the little flaws in us that makes us attractive; a scar, the way your ears stick out, a freckles or a mole, bed head… It’s like when you take an image of a face and make it completely symmetrical; yes we find symmetry to be attractive, but perfection is creepy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sarah.maple Sarah Maple

    The Butlerian Jihad has begun. Ha ha ha.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sarah.maple Sarah Maple

    The Butlerian Jihad has begun. Ha ha ha.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7G4SWUX2MCWWXLMYNN347JMIZY Frodo Baggins

    “a 100 percent, computer-generated image of a human intended to seamlessly replace actual human talent!”

    It’s not a computer generated image, it’s a collage. The performance of this Aimi character wasn’t anything new, the real women had to do the acting, then an editor chopped up bits of them and stitched them together, like some digital Frankenstein. Even motion capture requires the participation of a flesh-and-blood human. And seamless? She looked like crap. Stiff, awkward, not even symmetrical.

    “And we’re also sure that it’s not creepy at all that a lot of people probably came to develop their own little celebrity crush on a perfect female prototype that doesn’t even really exist. But we’re truly sure that there is something to be said about rejecting actual human females in favor of ones who are literally objects.”

    You’re… not that familiar with geekdom, are you? People have crushes on Sailor Moon, Ariel, and Edward Cullen, not to mention cartoon animals.

    “Is it because they could get her to do whatever they wanted her to do without having to pay her, negotiate with her, or deal with her in the most general sense?”

    Again, they still needed actual women to do the performance.

    “So he creates his own Aimi Eguchi, and she is everything he — and his audience — wants to see in his movies. And none of that Spice Girl feminism/Hitler nonsense. It’s Michael Bay we’re talking about here. One could even wonder why he hasn’t thought of this already.”

    Or he could fire her and get someone else, because no one cares about Megan Fox’s character to begin with. The world has no shortage of pretty models with no acting ability desperate to make it big. Also, CGI women can’t wash his car.

    “Which brings us to the next logical question: Where are the male characters?”

    What, you mean where are the male characters in a pop idol girl group? Well, see, there’s a reason they call ‘em GIRL groups. Or do you mean, where are the CGI male characters? To which I would answer Polar Express, Beowulf, Christmas Carol, Tintin, Final Flight of the Osiris, Tron: Legacy, and Final Fantasy.

  • http://www.marketsandpatents.com Mark Nowotarski

    Personally, my heart will always belong to Jessica Rabbit.

  • Anonymous

    tinyurl.com/24n4nqb

  • http://profiles.google.com/joanna.moylan Joanna Moylan

    Wait wait wait!  61 members of the band??? That’s outrageous!

  • http://twitter.com/Riviare Kimberly

    I agree with Frodo’s post. This article comes off as incredibly bitter. You do realize that there are male versions of this out there in the form of vocaloids? I’m sure there are other examples but those are the ones I know of most. I think a lot of the reason that the focus is on women and girls is that men and women will buy a female version, but a male version would most likely appeal to more women then men. 

    I sincerely doubt that computer-generated stars would be made simply so producers would not have to “deal with whiny female stars and those crazy feminists.” If anything, they’d be made so they wouldn’t have to deal with all the complications of stars in general. No outrageous demands for caviar and gourmet goods in their dressing rooms, no paying millions of dollars for a single movie, no publicity issues, no having to potentially change the script or some scenes because the star doesn’t like how this or that played out..

    Men do all of that just as much as women do. If anything, it may encourage performers to actually behave and perform. It may cut down on prima donna stars. I’ve never understood why people in the entertainment industry get paid the gigantic sums they do as it is, anyway, though. I’d much rather those high salaries go to people who actually do something productive, like scientists or doctors or, god forbid, teachers.