Thursday, June 02, 2005

Singing "Turning Japanese" Loudly in a Parking Lot

Last night as I was driving to Smiths to pick up some sweets for my sweetie, I heard the song "Turning Japanese" on the radio. The windows were down and I was blaring it as I considered what a peculiar, crazy, fun song it was. I remembered the video on MTV and thought, they don't really write songs like this anymore.

As I turned into the parking lot I found myself face to face in one of those sidelong maneuvers/vehicle negotiations with two Asians on a yellow scooter. Our eyes met. The music blared. My face muscles failed me as a look of complete and utter wide-eyed "UH-OH" spread across my face. I immediately went to change the station but stopped because that seemed worse--like what if they weren't Japanese, but in changing the station I was admitting that I thought they looked Japanese or worser--couldn't tell and worsest--that I had been singing along to some sort of racist anthem. So I was immobilized with indecision. And that is probably why they don't write songs like that anymore.

15 comments:

  1. Classic.

    I'm jealous you get to walk through the wall of air at Smiths and I don't.

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  2. Once, I was walking though Costco and thinking about the movie Heart and Soul and how they sing Frankie Valli’s Walk Like a Man and I started to sing it in my head but as is often the case, at the chorus of the song I switched from singing in my head to singing out loud. But as is not often the case right as I sang, “walk like a Man” I turned over to a man who was rolling along beside me in a wheelchair, and lets just say my face muscles needed a work out. (Just like my arm muscles.)

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  3. Amazing Spider-fan, That's funny--much funnier than mine (wheelchairs ALWAYS are). And if "punting on the cam river" (whatever THAT means) isn't doing it for those arm muscles of yours, please come home and mow my lawn.

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  4. I don't think that song is offensive to Japanese people. After all imitation is the highest form of flattery. It's not like the Montey Python song, "I Like Chinese" which appears to be friendly towards Chinese people, but is really perpetuating a stereotype.

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  5. Actually, rumor was that song was about masturbation.

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  6. Allow me to clarify: "I Like Chinese" is really Mike's theme song. But what could be worse than jokingly declaring that your son is autistic because he is walking around chanting "mmm" while in the presence of the mother of an authentically autistic boy? That happened to me, once.

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  7. I wasn't going to use the "m" word...I know how disturbed you get by the whole google thing. But, I think Susan M is right. I do believe it is a euphemism. You're right - that song is just as catchy as "Mr. Roboto"...and probably equally offensive. :)

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  8. GREAT! Now I can never listen to that song the same way again, along with a long list of others, i.e. "Pictures of Lilly", "Mama's Squeeze Box", "Philedelphia Freedom", "Mary Had a Little Lamb". The list goes on and on. I liked it better when I was blissfully ignorant.

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  9. Hmmm. Remind me to add this discussion to my "Things that Make me Uncomfortable" list.

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  10. You can always tell if they are Japanese if they are wearing really awesome outfits. Every semester I can pinpoint my Japanese students from the other Asians because they wear really clashy, futuristic combos; combos that, if I wore them, would get me beat up.

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  11. I know what you mean, Otto. My daughter's name is Lily, and because so many of my friends are Who fans, they all look at me like I'm some kind of perve.

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  12. Well, I USED to like the name Lily...

    I come from a long line of foot-eaters. My fave story of late is of my grandma splitting her dessert with a General Authority down at the church office building. He was Navajo. When he jokingly told her he was keeping her dessert she blurted "What? Are you going to be an Inidan giver?"

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  13. And then there is Mo who said "Hoy Cow!" to the Hindu customer support guy in India...

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  14. I meant "Holy Cow!" :)

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