Let’s SNL’s J-Pop America Fun Time Now! [Saturday Timewaster]

Sorry, Hulu tends to only be viewable in America :(  … use a proxy?

Okay, fine, normally we do Timewaster posts on Saturday… but, today’s Timewaster post does at least come from Saturday Night Live (keyword Saturday), so that’s gotta count for something. If you watched this week’s episode of SNL, you’ll have seen this skit titled “J-Pop America Fun Time Now!” which is a fake Michigan State Campus TV college program. Basically, it makes fun of weaboos for five minutes. I’m going to break down all the hilarious stereotypes covered. It’s more hilarious, though, because it’s stereotypes of non-Japanese people trying to be Japanese thus creating new stereotypes of Japanese people. Awesome!

The Dancing Intro

dancing japanese

One of my favorite Japanese stereotypes is the weird repetitive dancing that all Japanese people apparently do. This probably stems partially from para para dancing (popular in Japan starting from the 80’s, during the disco boom), and partially from how Japanese singers and such tend to dance even to this day.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rv1JFIypo4w&hd=1']

Anyone can do this – you just need more than one person (preferably) and you do the same kinds of things over and over again. And, of course, at the end of the video one of them does the peace sign to pose. You always pose at the end of a Japanese dance. C’mon. That’s standard dancing stereotype.

Peace! er… ピース!

The Clothes

The clothes, of course, are pretty standard weaboos stereotyping Japanese stereotypes. You have a ton of layers and the guy has the long hair with it sort of puffed up in the back. Of course, it also has the “I tried to bleach my hair, but my hair is too black and Japanese to be totally bleached!” look.

crazy japanese clothesThe psych hospital had a breakout… be on the lookout for strange individuals…

Clothing looks like it came out of a 70’s pawn shop. My guess is that they’re trying to copy the weird sort of “Harajuku Girl” style which of course isn’t what most Japanese people wear, just a small percentage that seems to represent the whole when it comes to Japanese clothing style.

Basically, everyone’s just a big Japanese Hipster. They do a pretty good job making everyone dress like this, but the key difference is how they attempted to dress like this (but couldn’t quite capture the entire spirit of it) because all their clothes came from Goodwill, not Japan. So, it’s sort of a halfway-there sort of thing, where they’re trying, but they just can’t quite do it because clothes in America is different from clothes in Japan, and no matter how many layers you add, or how many colors you attempt to clash, you can’t quite get that crazy Japanese look down. I had like 5-10 people in my highschool / college who sported the Goodwill-Japanese-Look. More points for SNL.

Calling Yourself Name+San

When the program starts, they introduce themselves by saying:

Konnichiwa! I am Jonathan Cavanos san

“…and I am Rebecca Sternmarkawitz san

They hit it right on the head here. Lots of folks who don’t want to take the time to learn Japanese but wish they were Japanese run into this. They call themselves Name+san because it seems right, even though adding san to your own name is a big boo-boo. Basically, the name suffix -san elevates the person who has it attached to their name. So, you use it on other people’s names, but you don’t want to add it to your own (because you don’t want to be some kind of jerk).

In this sketch, they start things right off by calling themselves san. Either they just didn’t know better and they went for it or they had a really good adviser helping them to be very stereotypically weaboo. Bravo again, SNL. Bravo again.

Singing To Japanese Music

Hey, if you like singing Japanese music, then more power to you… but for some reason, it seems like everybody sings Japanese music. Search any Japanese song on YouTube, and there’ll be like 40 teen non-Japanese girls mouthing the words to the song (or sometimes actually singing if they’re really fancy).

Still, in this sketch, the sudden switches to singing in Japanese for almost no reason is kind of hilarious. Also, they’re making up words because they don’t know how to speak Japanese (like a lot of the folks they’re making fun of), which makes it all the more funny.

“We Should Clarify: We Are Not Japanese”

“Tee hee hee hee hee!”

I love these lines:

Rebecca: “Before we begin, we should clarify that Jonathan and myself are not Japanese. I am from Nebraska.”

Jonathan: “And I am from Daytona Beachuru. We have never been to Japan, but it is our dream.”

Together: “hee hee hee hee hee hee”

I’m not sure how many times I’ve heard Japanese wannabes clarify that they’re not Japanese… I have no idea why, it’s totally weird, but it happens from time to time.

Oh, and then there’s the dream of going to Japan. That’s cool – I’m all for that… but as for the characters in this sketch… totally standard.

And then lastly, there’s the “tee hee hee hee hee” laughter… what’s up with that? How do characters like this teach themselves to laugh unnaturally like that? Japanese people (mostly girls) laugh softly because it’s drilled into them from a young child. But, you are not a young Japanese girl, so quit it. Japanese girls who laugh soft and titteringly should quit it too. I like normal people laughs.

Sensei Mark

By far, the best character introduced into this sketch is Sensei Mark. He has to be there because he is their most honorable hero (talking like you’re in an English dubbed Anime? Check) and also they need a faculty present to run the studio. His first quote is one of the best.

Hey guys, I love the enthusiasm… I would like to point out to everyone watching that what Rebecca and Jonathan have… um… latched on to, represents a very narrow and mostly inaccurate view of Japanese culture. They are actually my two worst students.

Jonathan and Rebecca respond by saying:

Thank you Sensei Mark. “Sensei” is Japanese for “one who has been guided by the spirits of many ages.”

Sensei-Mark just says:

No.. no no no… no no… it’s not. It just means teacher. That’s all it means

So, SNL didn’t just bring in characters to be the weaboo students… they also brought in that poor, poor teacher who has to put up with everything. He’s all serious and academic about the Japanese language, but his students are not :( I’ve seen this sort of thing between these two characters in real life all too often. Definitely was surprised to see SNL bring out the teacher character for this sketch, too. Normally folks only know about the student characters. The teacher makes it ten times as funny.

The Guest

Then they bring in a guest (after doing their para para singing dance thing). Their guest is someone who has the largest Anime video collection on MSU’s campus. Who was that on your campus? There’s always one winner.

Of course, the guest is wearing a Sailor Moon outfit and sporting the Sailor Moon hair. She then goes on to make up some Japanese (then Sensei Mark interjects letting everyone know that “no, no… none of those are actual words.”).

Turns out the guest made their costume from a character they made up named “Cherry Cherry Rock n’ Roll.” Gotta say, sounds like a Japanese band name, so that’s something. But, have you noticed? Characters like the ones depicted here often make up their own characters. I have no idea why, and that’s their own business, but nice and spot on for an SNL sketch.

They go on to compliment each other by saying they are all the most Japanese. Sensei Mark (go Sensei Mark!) interjects again saying, “None of you… none of you are Japanese. Also, you’re riding a fine line between homage and racism.”

Japanese Girlfriend

Then, after the racism comment, Jonathan replies “Sensei Mark, you must know I am not racist. My girlfriend is Japanese!” Then they cut to the Fred, who’s a pretty hot Japanese girlfriend… gotta say.

Fred Armisen Japanese Girlfriendhawt.

But, I love that response. I think I’ve heard that before, too. Something like “I can do that because my girlfriend is Japanese” (it’s always Japanese girlfriend… rarely you hear this kind of thing talking about a Japanese boyfriend). It’s kind of like saying you can be racist about black people because you have a black friend. Pretty sure that’s pretty racist, though maybe not for me, because I have two black friends. Take that, racism police!

But yeah, I love that he has a Japanese girlfriend.

And The Rest

The guest goes on to say she’s holding a viewing party of some Anime, and that she’s so happy that she wrote a song in Japanese about it. She sings something that doesn’t really sound like anything, and then they all thank Sensei Mark (who made it all possible!). He goes on to reply “No, no. Don’t you dare put this on me.” Lols.

They all sing themselves out while psudo-para-para-ing – the perfect ending, of course.

Anyways, I somehow ended up writing over 1500 words on an SNL sketch. I was just impressed how well they made fun of a stereotype of a stereotype. Definitely mirrors a lot of people I’ve known and seen over the years, especially in college / high school. There’s always a few, right?

Notice anything else particularly hilarious about this video? Let me know about it in the comments. Hope you enjoyed this rant / timewaster / just for fun post. I enjoyed watching the video thirty times in order to be able quote everything. Time to go create my own Japanese character along with a song for it. See yah! Or… as the Japanese would say. jaa ne.


P.S. Want some J-Pop America Twitter Time Now!?
P.P.S. Or, perhaps you’ll find your very own Japanese girlfriend (as cute as Fred Armisen) by liking our Facebook Page.

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    haha, yeah, I love that skit. Posted about it on Tofugu even, though it was super long ago:


  • Charukyu@gmail.com

    Great post! I lived Japan 12 years so I really get it. My two favorite subtle points: 1. Mark Sensei’s hair- totally the other side of the spectrum – socially inept white guy who studied Zen after doing JET program in Aomori or some such 2. The Japanese girlfriend’s frumpy cardigan. Why do actual Japanese women love ugly cardigans so much???

  • http://twitter.com/zentoko Talia

    I’ve noticed that the worst students I’ve come across of the language are usually the ones obsessed with anime and are just learning Japanese to watch without subtitles and pretend that they’re one of the characters. I’ll bet that there are some “otaku” who are actually good but this is just what I’ve noticed so far.
    I tell people I’m majoring in Japanese and that I’m going to teach English in Japan and they almost always ask “do you like anime or manga or whatever those things are.” Not really, but it’s stereotypes like those shown in the video that have people always asking me whether I’m into that stuff or not.

    Those that are serious about the culture and language (not just anime or manga) are like Mark-sensei… he’s spot on. SNL made this so much better by including him because everything he said resonated with all of us that are serious.

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  • TheJF

    For any Canadians that want to see it, GlobalTV has the clip up: http://www.globaltv.com/saturdaynightlive/video/full+episodes/jpop+talk+show/video.html?v=2154725843&p=2&s=dd#saturdaynightlive/video

  • Poopbutt

    Candy Candy is an actual anime and I’m pretty sure that quote they recited from it is actually in the show.

  • Bria Mone’t

    This article was very funny! Thanks for the laugh. :)

  • Bria Mone’t
  • http://twitter.com/dmhuff92127 Dennis Huff

    Opening song. Want the lyrics? Took a while but here is my best shot:Oooh La Keechee Keechee Komono EyeeeeeSula Kata Metee Komono RiiiiteJ-Pop-America Fun Time Now!

  • http://twitter.com/MrHacks MrHacks

    Anyone think Jonah Hill’s character in the other JPAFTN sketch was a parody of John Belushi’s samurai character from years ago…only more weeaboo?

  • dustin

    one thing I was hoping you would explain was the “Der’s” they put at the end of their words. nice rant BTW!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.kelso Jeffrey Kelso

    I want the lyrics to the theme song!!!

  • Science says I am Japanese

    Because they’re comfortable and snug. PS, this SNL skit is hilarious. I had a grandfather who looked Japanese and the whole family thought he was. DNA results came in today, and yes, we are Japanese. So, as a woman who thought she was African-American but has now had it confirmed I am Japanese, and who used to look down on weeaboos… I’m not sure what to think or how to see myself from now on :3

    But yeah, the ugly cardigan, I have quite a few. I seem to collect them. The closest I can get, since I now qualify as a Japanese-American girl and can say this, is the attraction to cardigan sweaters seems kind of to be:

    – Delirious comfort suggesting winter tea in a hot mug, and a certain related Audrey Hepburnness thereto

    – A wish for the cardigan sleeves to be too long, and hide the fingers, so you cannot see them while you sip winter tea in a hot mug, and indulge in a certain related Audrey Hepburnness

    – A wish to hide inside the cardigan and exist but not be seen (this one’s tough to put into words but very real)

    – A certain “squee” factor I cannot put into typed words, but if you add together “delirious comfort”, “hidden fingers”, “hot tea”, “winter”, “it will hide me so others cannot see me while I continue to exist inside it”, and “Audrey Hepburn”, that’s KIND OF the sensation the squee causes.

    *goes back into lurking*

    I *am* that girl in the cardigan. I think I own it.

    Twelve or thirteen of it.

  • Science says I am Japanese

    Hey, you’re black, too? I used to be, too, until this morning.

  • Science says I am Japanese
  • nijimasu

    great graph, but I think the JETs and the Mormon Missionaries need to switch places. The missionary guys have pretty phenominal Japanese skills, get along quite well without help, and don’t give a crap about any level of patheticism, which itself elevates them in my book. On the other hand, there are a lot of JETs that don’t ever do so well with the language, and are pretty much at the mercy of their job, which isn’t any too prestigious.

  • fjordprefect

    What’s with the “uru” at the end of everything – “Daytona Beach-uru.” Will someone please finally explain this to me?