Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Was Katy Perry’s AMAs Performance Really Racist?

While Miley Cyrus and her kitty cat may have stolen the show at Sunday's American Music Awards, the next-day conversation is less warm and fuzzy and centers around Katy Perry's controversial performance.

For her song "Unconditionally," the 29-year-old went full geisha. Mimicking the well-trained Japanese women whose job is to entertain men through singing, dancing, and playing instruments (sometimes, though less frequently, in sexual ways too), Perry dressed in a long floral kimono and had her hair styled in the typical updo with bangs. She also had traditional makeup — dramatic black eyes, bright red lips, and, yes, whiteface.

Perry, who changed out of the Oscar de la Renta gown she wore on the red carpet, then launched into an Asian-infused act with other similarly attired women dancing behind rice-paper screens and emerging from a garden. There were also lanterns, fans, and cherry blossoms aplenty.

All of those components, especially her makeup, riled up viewers and pundits who — similar to Selena Gomez's incident with the bindis earlier this year — branded it culturally insensitive and racist.

"Katy Perry's AMA performance is offensive," Shivana Jorawar, who is the Reproductive Justice Program Director at National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, tells Yahoo Music. "It is yet another example of Orientalist, exoticizing stereotypes about Asian women being reinforced. When you consider the pairing of her ensemble, which for the average viewer invokes the stereotypical 'geisha' image, with the words of the lyrics, 'I will love you unconditionally … don't need apologies,' it's clear that — intentionally or not — Katy is encouraging the kind of racist fetishization of Asian women as submissive and powerless that harms us and clouds the strength and resilience we demonstrate every day in this country as we support our families, contribute to the economy, and lead movements for social change."


Some people will find offense in anything


Anonymous said...

The idea is ridiculous that only a person of a specific ethnic group can dress in a historical costume of that group.

The exclusion of other groups means that people cannot have a moment where they use that costume to attempt to bridge the gap between cultures.

It is becoming clearer and clearer that one of the goals of Political Correctness is to isolate and divide all ethnic groups from each other.

Anonymous said...

So what about the numerous performances of Puccini's classic "Madame Butterfly", almost none of which ever involved a genuine Japanese performer?!

Anonymous said...

Or "The Mikado?"

Anonymous said...

Everything is racist.. every atom every particle.

Anonymous said...

Divide and conquer then push together against the white anglo population, always the Marxist way.

Stan B said...

First, the arguments are moot - because just the act of wearing makeup and trying to make herself attractive means that Ms. Perry is selling out to the male-dominated society that "enslaves" her. Substituting the traditional subservience icons of the East for those of the West is not racist - it acknowledges that women everywhere suffer together as victims of a paternalistic society. Ms. Jorawar does the cause of feminism a great disservice by attacking a fellow victim of the male-dominated cultures of the earth.