While the song is obviously a euphimism for masturbation, the music video had to be a lot more subtle. In 1980, masturbation, or any type of sexual imagery, was far more offensive than imagery of Japanese stereotypes. Instead of rockets launching and fireworks exploding, we have a subservient Geisha girl serving tea while some white guys use their fingers to pull and slant their eyes. Riiiiiight.

The song would most certainly never achieve wide release in this day with a title or refrain like that. The imagery, however, is another story. It is not outright offensive and therefore, often makes its way into contemporary media. That type of imagery stands in a long line of stereotypes that feed poor, misguided souls some silly notions.

The video is over two decades old yet the underlying ideas still persist. There is something seriously wrong with that. Of course, given today's current crop of big-booty-shaking rap videos and pre-pubescent pop starlet-virgin-whores, the objectification of women is probably the bigger issue at hand.

"Turning Japanese" is a song by The Vapors released in 1980. It is a love song. However, many people believe it is about masturbation.

Though I cannot vouch for the credibility of the website on which I found the interview with the song's author, I can see no reason to doubt it:

Over in the States, "Turning Japanese" was deciphered as a paen to masturbation - more specifically the Oriental-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!"
Source: http://hem.passagen.se/pareng/vapors.htm, click "The Story." Feb. 9, 2003

So, according to the interview, it could be about masturbation, but originally, it was written as a love song.

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