I truly can’t believe I’m writing this again so soon, but yet another celebrity is being accused of racism for doing something insensitive. Sigh. I guess this is just gonna be a regular thing for a while? I’m ready for it to stop whenever you are, famous people.
The newest offender, literally, is Katy Perry, who dressed up as some approximation of a stereotypical geisha to perform her song ‘Unconditionally’ at the American Music Awards last night. Was it the worst thing that’s ever happened? No. We’ve seen much worse from Paula Deen, Julianne Hough, and even Ireland Baldwin just this year, so there’s that. But I can’t tell if we’re being extra hyper-sensitive because of all the incidents I just mentioned, or if we’ve been numbed into an ‘at least it’s not black face’ state of mind because of them.
I honestly have no idea. And I can’t even figure out how I feel about this, except to say that if people are offended, then I guess it’s offensive. I’m not personally bothered by it on cultural grounds, but the fact that I have a little what-were-you-thinking bell going off in my head suggests to me that Katy should have known better. Since god knows, her stylist sure doesn’t.
Katy isn’t Asian herself, so to appropriate that culture is at the very least a little insensitive, if not racist. It’s not like she’s doing traditional Japanese Noh dance moves or wearing a real Japanese kimono and obi — she just took the parts that she liked, like the powdered face, the bowing, the parasol, and getting to wear socks onstage — and skipped the rest. She did stop short of taping her eyes to look more Asian, which I’m thankful for, but ‘dressing up as’ a race of people is a touchy subject, and one that could sooooo easily have been avoided, considering it has nothing to do with the song.
Bottom line — while I don’t think this makes Katy racist by any means, I would love it if people could stick to what they do best and leave the controversial fashion choices to Lady Gaga and her horse made of humans. Or barring that, maybe try to create material that doesn’t require all this extra showmanship? Just a thought.
(Photo: Kevin Winter / Getty Images Entertainment)