Boss — "Cafe au Lait"

by Teddy Wayne

boss_cafe_au_lait.jpg (click can to enlarge)

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Boss "Cafe au Lait" is made by Suntory, of Lost in Translation’s “For relaxing times, make it Suntory time” fame. Indeed, the small print on the can advertises “Mild and creamy taste for a relaxing moment in your everyday life.” What is Suntory’s fetish for relaxation? And how, exactly, would a highly caffeinated and sugary drink facilitate it?

More relevant, is Lost in Translation racist, as many critics charge, or is it simply an innocuous, comical look at two Americans’ personal and cultural alienation in a foreign land? I have not seen the movie since I saw it perhaps a year ago twice in a row on a long flight, but off the top of my head, here are some scenes that were racist and some that were not though they may have appeared so:

The prostitute repeatedly beseeching Bill Murray to “lip my stockings”
Bill Murray ordering “brack toe” from the sushi chef (also plain mean and unlikable of Murray’s character to mock the chef and his food)

Not racist:
The giggling, gesticulating old person in the hospital waiting room with Bill Murray
The Japanese teenager strumming a video-game guitar


But here’s what’s really racist about Lost in Translation: there’s one — one — Japanese song on the entire soundtrack, Happy End’s three-decade-old “Kaze Wo Atsumete.” The other fourteen (fifteen, if you count Murray’s “hidden” off-key version of “More Than This” at the end) tracks are courtesy of Sofia Coppola’s indie cronies, some of whom add to their song titles a Japanese word or name of a city. In one scene Murray’s character even tells his wife that he has been listening to some excellent Japanese music, but we never hear it. Plunder a culture for your Americans-abroad rom-com, fine, but at least give it its musical due and expose Japanese music-deficient listeners such as myself to an entirely new catalogue. Even now, as I search for “Japanese” in my iTunes library, I come up only with The Vapors’ “Turning Japanese” and Liz Phair’s cover version.

What else, besides a paean to (the relaxing effects of?) onanism, is out there in Suntory land? I may never know — unless, Sofia, you let me “lip” a CD from your extensive “correction."

Discuss with other coffee lovers. (3)

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