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.