Video of the Day: Kirsten Dunst Sings “Turning Japanese”

This is possibly one of the stranger finds we’ve run across. This is Kirsten Dunst dressed as a fantasy anime lolita princess, complete with blue hair and a magic wand, in a short film called Akihabara Majokko Princess, directed by McG, and produced by Takashi Murakami. The film exists because in 2009, McG was asked by London’s Tate Modern art gallery if he had anything he’d like to contribute to a video gallery installation, so he and Kirsten made this cover of The Vapors hit for the fun of it.

As you watch, pause the Krypton Radio stream so that you don’t have two soundtracks. You can turn the station stream back on when you’re finished watching.

The whole thing was shot in a day, and featured a lot of very perplexed Japanese locals. Just check out the dumbfounded looks on their faces.

The Geek Connections

This stuff is a lot more connected than you’d believe. Kirsten Dunst, of course, played Mary Jane Watson in the 2002 Spider-Man movie opposite Toby McGuire, but she also played Claudia in Interview with a Vampire against Tom Cruise’s LeStat at the tender age of 11. The original group that created the song Turning Japanese, though, The Vapors, were a U.K. based band, and their lead guitarist, Edward Bazalgette went on to become a television director. His credits include a 2005 BBC documentary about Genghis Khan and four episodes of Doctor Who between 2015 and 2016, the most recent being The Return of Dr, Mysterio.

History of the Song

The original song was by a group called The Vapors, from their album New Clear Days. Despite popular suggestion that the song refers to masturbation, having orgasms or creepy stalking, the band itself said something else. According to them, it’s about how losing a girlfriend in one’s youth can turn that one into something that they’re not – in this case, Japanese. It’s just a big metaphor that only makes the song catchier than what it’s actual meaning would. Apparently it has nothing to do about “Japanese” – the lyrics could have been “Portuguese”, “Lebanese”, or whatever fitted.

The notion of being Japanese as a sort of emotional threat may have come from the economic climate at the time. In 1980 when the song first came out, the big fear in the United States was that Japan’s automation and ultra-efficient labor would undercut us in every market and destroy much of our economy. Then the Information Technology age happened, and the Japanese were slow to catch up. In retrospect, it all seems a bit silly, and today popular culture in Japan and the United States are a happy blend of the two.

So what do you think?  How high on the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot meter does this go?

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