The untitled drama, which echoes the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet, revolves around the haves and have-nots of California’s most seductive cities, Venice. It focuses on two rival families and a forbidden and dangerous romance emerging between them as the two families battle for control of Venice.
After two viewings, that’s about all I can glean from Kirsten Dunst’s cover of “Turning Japanese,” which premiered late last year as part of an exhibition by Takashi Murakami at London’s Tate Museum. According to Anime News Network, the video is a collaboration between Murakami and director McG, which makes this – to give everyone the benefit of the doubt – somewhat puzzling as an interpretation of anything close to fandom.
Dunst, to her credit, has a history with the medium: she voiced the title character in the English-language adaptation of Kiki’s Delivery Service, and has expressed an affection for Sailor Moon – which explains the costume – in past interviews. But instead of presenting her as a Majokko (“Magical girl” or “Witch Girl”), MCG here threw her under the same bus Scarlett Johansson rode in on for Lost In Translation.
Start with the musical selection: to be sure, “Turning Japanese” isn’t about actually being Japanese (nor is it about masturbation. Well, apparently.). And inter-cutting shots of her with hentai imagery – like, say, the upskirt shot on the billboard seconds after the one on Dunst – takes Dunst’s character out of the sympathetic realm and into Male Gaze territory. And as someone who had to sit through Terminator: Salvation, I don’t think McG thought it through that thoroughly.
Finally, there’s the “interactions” with the locals. The vast majority of them are wordless Others, watching the camera with blank looks. The guys in the jumpsuits, it seems, are members of a local dance troupe, and they at least get to be active. But otherwise the actual Japanese people here are either spectators, or look like they’re wondering who this girl is who’s ripping off Gwen Stefani’s act.
Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World