Well, no doubt many of you are scratching your heads or shaking them with disbelief over Perry’s AMA performance. Most likely, however, you’re confused as to why so many people are getting their panties into a knot over it. What’s wrong with it? Wasn’t she just dressing up? Why are people so sensitive about race? It’s just a costume.
She’s dressing up- using someone else’s culture as the costume and a bunch of random Asian props as her background.
For those of you who don’t seem to understand, the East has long been plagued by exotification and appropriation of it’s many diverse cultures. Many Asian women-especially Asian American women- are turned into sex objects, as stereotypes of the sexy, submissive, stereotypical Asian girlfriend/lover plagues the mind of many men.
Also is the tendency to ignore the fact that Asia is not limited to just China and Korea and Japan- it is also made up India, Vietnam, and Thailand, just to name a few. These are all different countries, each with their own individual cultures, food, and ways of life.
So the very fact that one privileged white pop singer feels as if she has the right to get up on stage and ignore the cultural diversity of an entire continent is extremely disrespectful. Picking a bunch of “Asian Inspired” clothing and props is disrespectful to those people who you are stealing from especially since homogenization of Asian cultures is extremely prevalent in the United States.
Taking a “kimono” and sexing it up for your viewers also plays into the “sexy Geisha” stereotype that America can’t seem to get enough of. Geisha led very complicated lives, and yet people still believe that Geisha’s were prostitutes or some type of sex workers (not that there is anything wrong with being a sex worker). By dressing up and pretending to be one, what you are doing is playing into harmful assumptions and stereotypes that many people still believe, reinforcing the image of sexy, exotic Asian women.
Also important to note is that when members of a particular race practice cultural activities, they are met with scorn, distrust, disgust, and racism. Because of white privilege, it is always okay for a white person to practice a cultural activity belonging to a certain culture, but when a person of said race does it, it is no longer okay.
For those of you wailing, here is a list of examples:
- Black women who wear braids are seen as ghetto, white women who do it are seen as edgy or stylish.
- Indian women who wear Indian clothing are seen as “too ethnic” and unwilling to except white American culture, white women who do it are seen as fashionable or exotic.
- Black women who twerk are seen as ghetto and un-classy,white women who twerk are seen as just dancing or even as sexy.
- Native Americans who dress in their respective traditional clothing are seen as being old fashioned, unwilling to “give it up” and just accept white American culture- white people who dress up as stereotypical, homogenized versions of Native Americans, complete with random ass paint markings and feathers are seen as (by a lot of people) edgy, boho, unique, alternative
The list goes on and on.
Not to mention the overt racism that also happened when Psy, an actual Asian- get’s up on stage, que the racist ass chanting.
So basically the lesson is that it’s okay for white people to take the pretty parts of other people’s culture, but it’s not okay for people of that culture to do them. Because everyone knows that white people just do everything better.