Tuesday, February 8, 2011

It’s Breaking Up a Happy Home

Yesterday, I posted on this blog Nancy Nova’s “Made in Japan” as an example of a bad pop song that more than borders on offensive but in fact dances over that line with costume bucked teeth in place, exclaiming “So solly! So solly!” I’m still not sure what that video was, exactly, but it happened, and we can’t go back in time and prevent it from happening, unfortunately.

Now, however, I’m wondering whether it is actually worse — in terms of quality, in terms of political correctness — than my old standby for fascinatingly bad, offensive 80s pop songs: Aneka’s “Japanese Boy.” The song, which many people seem to recognize today from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, strikes the ears like a flurry of shurikens. But it is also incredibly catchy in a way that often leaves its victims humming it days afterwards, even when they have acknowledged how bad the song is. Even worse: It, like “Made in Japan” is sung by a Caucasian woman — in this case, Scottish mezzo soprano Mary Sandeman. It represents a strange trend in 80s pop music that had singers donning Asian clothes and acting in a manner that Westerners might consider traditionally Asian. Totally offensive, right? Like, on the same level as blackface, and I’d call this trend yellowface if that too didn’t sound totally racist to me. (Geishaface? Does that work?)

Anyway, I’m curious to know if people find “Made in Japan” or “Japanese Boy” more offensive, by whatever standard you chose to gauge offensiveness. Here is the video for “Japanese Boy,” featuring backup dancers that lord almighty I hope are actually Japanese and Sandeman herself, looking sort of like a hard luck Jane Leeves forced on stage because she lost a bet.

So? Which makes you feel worse about things white people have done? Which one makes you most regret having ears? Which one seems catchier, despite everything bad about it?

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