The Horror The Horror, The Shots The Shots: Hanami Party Nightmare Zone

April 11, 2010

I thought Saturday’s Hanami Party (Cherry Blossom Viewing Party) would be a snap. Eat some food, take a few more photos of pretty trees, buy some fried festival food. Ohhhhhh, how things fall apart. First, the obligatory collection of purdy tree photos.

This one courtesy Jonathan Frey

This one courtesy Jonathan Frey

It was just like any other festival in Nabari, just prettier and boasting more booths selling vinyl copies of Journey’s Escape. We wandered around for a bit, and were about to call it a day. Then…..

So much food

So much food

Wholesome

Wholesome

…someone said “look, they have a hip-hop dance performance!” Thus began the first time in my life I felt like a “family values” conservative.

Several troupes of kids, as old as high school students and as young as what appeared to be kindergartners, came on stage decked out in “urban” clothes ranging from slightly tilted baseball hats to basketball jerseys (first time I’ve ever seen a Clippers jersey in Japan, holla) to camo pants. They then busted into dance I can only imagine was completely cribbed from Darren’s Dance Grooves, featuring a wide array of “poppin’-and-lockin'” maneuvers interrupted only by the occasional Worm or Lawnmower move. This would look ridiculous coming from any set of tweens in any country…but it was the song selection that elevated this performance into something memorable/terrifying.

Seeing as the hip-hop troupe’s grasp of English fell far short of fluency, I’m left to assume the people in charge of this afterschool activity said “if they play it on the radio in America, it must be OK!” Alas, the concept of an “edited single” doesn’t translate. Seeing ten-year-old kids imitate Stomp The Yard as Lil’ Mama goes on about getting crazy at the club…funny! Seeing children just recently versed in The Very Hungry Caterpillar dance confused as some guy yells out “Motherfucker” over and over again…getting there!

Enter party rap chucklefucks (and Mitt Romney fighters!) LMFAO and “Shots.”

The opening lines of “Shots,” delivered by the patron saint of Patron Lil’ John himself, declares “If you not drunk ladies and gentlemen, get ready to be drunked up.” Lil’ John continues, asking “All of the alcoholics, where you at?” This song would be just dandy for a college “night of mayhem” – but seeing nine and ten-year-olds pull off choreographed moves blissfully unaware of what Lil’ John hollers about? After the chorus (“SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS”) the situation somehow managed to get even more disturbing. It’s not clear in the above video – as it’s censored out – but LMFAO sing “The ladies love us/when we pour shots/they need an excuse/to suck our cocks.” The version used at the Hanami Party kept this line intact…nobody else at the park batted an eyelash, though we were in stunned disbelief/uncontrollable laughter.

Things spun out of control from here – subsequent songs featured lines like “suck my titties,” “tattoo that puss” and “Girl, let me see them big titties.” I think Rick Ross did the last one. Oh, and lord knows how many I missed amongst the stream of “motherfuckers” and n-words. The most jarring moment came when things actually got kinda wholesome: Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” blasted over the PA, and that tune’s just about robots. Unfortunately, such moments of French-house peace came far and few between.

Adding to the “kids aren’t alright” vibe were two male students of mine who wound up next to me. After the initial shock of “oh hey look who it is,” they decided to test out their knowledge of outside-the-class English. Perhaps caught up in the air-humping moves of assorted eight-year-olds, they opened with the common “Do you have a girlfriend?” before transitioning into the more troublesome (both in how to deal with it and why the English is so off) “Do you sex?” Somehow, they managed to up the horribleness by then asking one of the “JET nightmare scenario” questions – they started inquisitively saying “big” as I presumed they were pointing at my bulky iPod. It became clear he wasn’t talking about that piece of equipment (bad-duh CHH) as he WENT AHEAD AND PUT HIS HAND ON MY, UH, GROIN. Meanwhile, 2nd graders got low on stage.

Having seen enough of this spectacle, we left. As we headed towards the exit, I ran across two of my students, who have the most chipmunk-innocent voices imaginable. They were wearing the baggy t-shirt/pants combination of the hip-hop dancers who did the “Shots” debacle. I congratulated them on their dance and said it was very good, and they seemed really excited. I then left, with the sudden urge to donate money to The 700 Club.

(Japanese Fun Fact #55 – They actually show some Angels games on TV! Thanks Matsui! No thanks to the rest of the offense, who aren’t playing very well so far!)

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