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Why is he "turning Japanese"?

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Why is he "turning Japanese"?

Old 04-11-05, 11:10 AM
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Why is he "turning Japanese"?

So, I can't imagine that it is for a "PC" reason, but in the Vapors song, why is the guy turning Japanese?

My two theories are:

That he has been staring that this picture for so long that he's become cross-eyed which is similar to having slanted eyes.

or

Playing on another stereotype, he is so fixated on these pictures that he is similar to a Japanese tourist that always has a camera out.

Neither satisfies me as an answer and both are so offensive that I'm hoping someone out there can do a better job at explaining this song to me.

Thanks.
Old 04-11-05, 11:28 AM
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Spoiler:
He's jacking off and is about to cum. His eyes and face are squinting as he is about to blow it hence "turning Japanese"
that is the actual explaination of the song.

Last edited by cactusoly; 04-11-05 at 11:30 AM.
Old 04-11-05, 11:31 AM
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They had a show on VH1 a year to two ago where bands came on and explained the meanings behind songs. The Vapors came on and said that song was about a breakup and how the individual "loses themself" and turns into somebody else, ie turning Japanese.

It is NOT about masturbation.

EDIT: The name of the show was True Spin.

Last edited by Brain Stew; 04-11-05 at 11:38 AM.
Old 04-11-05, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Brain Stew
They had a show on VH1 a year to two ago where bands came on and explained the meanings behind songs. The Vapors came on and said that song was about a breakup and how the individual "loses themself" and turns into somebody else, ie turning Japanese.

It is NOT about masturbation.

EDIT: The name of the show was True Spin.
I have also watched the Beatles Anthology and seen George Martin trying to explain that "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" is not about LSD. I had the same reaction then that I have to VH1 here: bullshit.
Old 04-11-05, 12:48 PM
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What a laughable explanation if they said that on VH-1. That's hilarious. I always figured the guy was doing it to Asian pix and that was why he sang it. I don't believe for one second it's about being lost after a breakup. Even with the author saying it.
Old 04-11-05, 01:56 PM
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http://www.80smusiclyrics.com/artists/vapors.htm
Old 04-11-05, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Hiro11
I have also watched the Beatles Anthology and seen George Martin trying to explain that "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" is not about LSD. I had the same reaction then that I have to VH1 here: bullshit.
Completely agree - about both songs. The masturbation meaning behind Turning Japanese was pretty well known, even back when it was first broadcast. Or maybe my friends were just perverts. The liner notes from the Living in Oblivion series of cds state that the meaning is masturbation, if memory serves. I'll check the cd liner notes tonight. Apparently it might be one of those rumors that just seeped its way into american pop culture history.

Last edited by WarriorPrincess; 04-11-05 at 02:09 PM.
Old 04-11-05, 02:03 PM
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Well, Dave Fenton's also said it doesn't mean anything at all.

Over in the States, "Turning Japanese" was deciphered as a paen to masturbation - more specifically the Oriantal - looking facial distortions one pulls in the moment of climax (so I'm reliably informed). Fenton is characteristically reticent on such matters. "It means whatever you want it to mean," he says, before admitting: "I wrote it as a love song. But when I went to America everyone said to me, "Is it about wanking?" In interviews, I'd say alternatively, "Yes it is", and "No, it's not". It could be about a lot of things. I just woke up with that phrase in my head. It's just an image which captures what that song was all about. But, no it wasn't intended to be about wanking at the time. What surprised me was that the Americans thought it was an English phrase!"
Sounds like a pretty reasonable explanation to me.

The Vapors are a fantastic band, by the way, and it's almost criminal they weren't more successful. "Spring Collection" and particularly "News at Ten" should've been hits too.
Old 04-11-05, 02:07 PM
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He's obviously turning Korean.
Old 04-22-05, 10:40 AM
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Can someone explain Alphaville's Big In Japan? Does this mean he's aroused in Japan or the like?
Old 04-23-05, 01:32 AM
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Maybe it's an allusion to Japanese members being smaller so when he's in Japan he's bigger than the average.
Old 04-23-05, 01:48 AM
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What I wanna know... WTF is a "cyclone ranger"??? Is it something like a Power Ranger? And why would someone avoid one?
Old 04-23-05, 08:08 AM
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I thought it was Psyched Lone Ranger.
Old 04-23-05, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Hiro11
I have also watched the Beatles Anthology and seen George Martin trying to explain that "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" is not about LSD. I had the same reaction then that I have to VH1 here: bullshit.
If you read or listen to what John Lennon and the other Beatles had to say about this (I just recently read their discussions about this that are included in the Anthology book) as well as the fact that Julian's picture that inspired the song was saved and produced in many books, etc. on the Beatles, it is easy to come away convinced that the song was NOT about LSD.

Now, is it possible that Lennon pulled a "double meaning" with this song. Of course. The problem I have with that theory though, is I don't see Lennon hiding from that fact. IMO, if the song was about LSD, he would have probably admitted that. He was not one to try to hide from things like that.
Old 04-23-05, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Buford T Pusser
I thought it was Psyched Lone Ranger.
...an' you thought correctly.
Old 04-23-05, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Buford T Pusser
I thought it was Psyched Lone Ranger.

I thought he was a Cylon Ranger
Old 04-23-05, 03:41 PM
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Despite what some online lyric sites would have us believe, I'm convinced he's saying "cyclone ranger", which--if you consider, say, the crew from the movie TWISTER--would make sense as to why he would be avoided...
Old 04-23-05, 11:31 PM
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Well I heard Psyched Lone Ranger way before the internet was around so I didn't get it from a site. Maybe they heard it from where I heard it way back when.



I was looking at a New York Times Sunday magazine today. They had a fashion spread with the headline "Turning Japanese".
Old 04-24-05, 01:23 AM
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The line goes:

"No sex, no drugs, no wine, no women, no fun, no sin, no you, no wonder it's dark...
Everyone around me is a total stranger,
Everyone avoids me like a psyched lone ranger...
Everyone...

That's why I'm turning Japanese..."

My take on the song:

The guy is in jail, or prison; he has a picture of a girl on the wall (her eyes were soft as clouds), and since he was alone with nothing else to do he did whatever any normal guy would do: wank to a picture of a pretty girl.
Old 04-24-05, 01:37 AM
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The problem I have with the masterbation explanation is that it is incredibly weak.

I mean does anyone's eyes really squint up when the climax? And if they do, does that really make you look Japanese? I mean, it seems like a flimsy explanation to me. Which is why I am able to believe the love song explanation more.
Old 04-24-05, 05:28 AM
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Totally about squeezing one off.
Old 04-24-05, 09:46 AM
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Isn't "turning Japanese" a (maybe British) euphemism for masturbation?

Or did it only come into use after the release of the song?
Old 04-24-05, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Josh-da-man
Isn't "turning Japanese" a (maybe British) euphemism for masturbation?
If you read the quote from Dave Fenton (the songwriter, who, incidentally, is British) I posted above, the answer is "no".
Old 04-24-05, 07:30 PM
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Well, if you're willing to take Fenton at his word...

But I have heard "turning Japanese" used to describe masturbation from a British comedian; Billy Connolly, maybe. If the phrase was in use before the song came out, then it would seem to add fuel to the idea that the song was indeed about bopping the bologna.

Actually, I'm fairly certain it was Billy Connolly, from an HBO comedy special from the late 80s or early 90s. He was talking about his first autoerotic experience when he was younger, and used the Japanese metaphor (quoting something a peer told him), so either that phrase was in use during the 1950s, or he was referencing the song in his act decades after the fact.
Old 04-25-05, 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Brain Stew
The problem I have with the masterbation explanation is that it is incredibly weak.

I mean does anyone's eyes really squint up when the climax? And if they do, does that really make you look Japanese? I mean, it seems like a flimsy explanation to me. Which is why I am able to believe the love song explanation more.
It sounds like you have a date with a mirror in the near future.

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