Song Of The Day 8/6/2013: Aneka - "Japanese Boy"

Good God, mediocrity sure brings out the cretin in some people. For those of you who chose last week to finally get around to some quality time in your sensory deprivation tank, this thing happened called "Asian Girlz." It was a bluntly, numbingly offensive song and music video from a philosophically wayward band from L.A. called Day Above Ground. It culled several stereotypes from American's perspective of Asian culture, including the pervasive nine-note "Oriental riff" solely invented to introduce the concept of Asian-ness into a Western parody. You know, that phrase in "Turning Japanese." They then proceed to list as many ugly, dumb or plain bizarre clichés about Asian culture as they could fit on a yellow legal pad sheet. I'm not going to repeat any of them because doing so would dirty my fingers and we've just run out of that fancy liquid hand soap I like.

The video is even more galling, featuring a heavily tattooed model named Levy Tran -- who found herself in heavy public contrition mode over the weekend to her Twitter followers -- playing and quite directly toying with the band, who I should mention have been miniaturized and locked in a birdcage. Levy decides to draw a bath, release the mini-band from their cage and drop them in the tub for a swim. Spoiler alert: They go swimming with a definite destination in mind.

As you might imagine, this caused a tempest in a full-size bathtub. The video was pulled from the internet. The band, of course, now insists that it was meant to be satirical. First note: Anyone claiming a misunderstood or offensive thing they've just done was meant in satire needs to look up the word "satire." DAG's argument that they were making fun of Americans' obsession over Asian culture -- as if there's something wrong with that -- might hold some water if the rest of Day Above Ground's output wasn't such awfully outdated emo meant to be taken utterly seriously. You don't make the jump from complaining about your disaffected adolescence to comic social commentary without at least some whiplash.

This also shows the potential misunderstandings that can be generated in music video in this post-"Blurred Lines" environment. Bands are going to do stupid things because they have to do something to get attention, and sometimes those stupid things will veer from merely lazy, strip-mall stupidity into something vile and derogatory. The more suburban or desperate or unheralded the band is, the stupider they're going to be. Seriously. Even the Bloodhound Gang would look at "Asian Girlz" and go, "Uhhhh... yeah, that's really offensive."

But just to prove that Day Above Ground isn't original, as if you hadn't deducted that by now, here's Scottish singer Aneka's lyrically inoffensive but still brow-raising tribute to a "Japanese Boy." It's from 1981. That's Aneka in the stereotypical deferring posture of a geisha girl, singing in exaggerated broken English. And there are ninjas. And Japanese tourists with cameras. And a calligrapher. And Aneka standing over the ninjas after they have, somehow, rendered each other unconscious. This song went to #1 in the UK and Europe. At least Day Above Ground won't have that satisfaction.



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