When Japanese visual artist Takashi Murakami set out to create a short film for the Pop Life: Art in a Material World exhibit at the Tate Modern, he enlisted Charlie's Angels director McG to help bring his vision to life. And apparently, that vision consisted of turning Kirsten Dunst into an anime-styled magical princess and letting her loose on the streets of Tokyo. Behold the result: a sparkly, colorful, "WTF?"-inducing cross-cultural pop art explosion set to the tunes of The Vapors' "Turning Japanese."
Murakami, a pop artist in the spirit of Andy Warhol whose works blend otaku culture with Western culture (he designed the space teddy bear -themed art of Kanye West's Graduation album), posits Dunst as an East-meets-West embodiment of the popular mahou shoujo (magical girl) archetype in anime and manga (think Sailor Moon). Dunst's perky, blue-haired, magic wand-wielding heroine certainly looks the part -- the CGI magic sparkles help -- but what I can't quite figure out is what the random strangers caught on the street really thought of the sight of the cosplay-wearing hakujin starlet prancing around the streets of Tokyo getting in their faces while singing an '80s pop tune that's arguably about love or masturbation or prison or alienation. .
In a piece by the Wall Street Journal last October, McG explained the reasoning behind setting the film in the Akihabara district, an area symbolizing anime/otaku/geek culture, and ostensibly why they cast Dunst as a character representing what is a uniquely Japanese construct: "What made us select Akihabara for the film is that it is a unique expression of Japanese culture that's not derivative of an American domination. Of course you flip it by getting a very Anglo woman to play the part of the magical princess."
I still don't quite understand how it works, but hey, it's the most strangely entertaining thing I've seen all week. Chime in with your thoughts below.
(via NY Mag's Vulture blog)