The growth of different social media platforms created a space for everyone to connect and communicate. No middlemen, just people talking to people and oh my god it made things complicated. This created an opportunity for fans to connect with their favorite celebrities and find out what they are up to, talk to other fans, exchange opinions and do it globally.
With celebrities in the spotlight more than ever a single wrong move now can cause a major backlash. What they do is not just on the news or an article in a journal that fans can’t react or reply to that’s why it’s important to do your research and make all the right moves because everybody is watching.
The term Cultural appropriation came around in the late 20th century. It means adapting to another one’s culture but not in a good way. Not to appreciate or educate but for advertisement and profit. It’s ugly and rude. Social media allowed a bigger public to recognize this issue, and react to it, some celebrities came to learn this the hard way.
Katy Perry came to spotlight with her lyrics and cute but not ordinary music videos in 2008 but has been called out for cultural appropriation many times over the years. The most notable of these moments of shock is Katy’s performance in the 2013 American music awards where she was dressed as a geisha, performing and singing in her Japanese style makeup and hairdo.
The reason this performance was problematic and called out for cultural appropriation was that her lyrics had absolutely nothing to do with her geisha costume or the Japanese culture and was represented only as a theme for the ‘show’!
In an interview with DeRay, Katy Perry talks about race, cultural appropriation and owns up to her mistakes in the past mentioning the Awards :
” … My intention to like, appreciate Japanese culture, I did it wrong with a performance, I didn’t know that I did it wrong until I heard people saying I did it wrong! “
It is hard to believe a celebrity like Katy Perry was genuinely unaware of the difference between appropriation and appreciation moreover it’s assumed that picking the theme for the American Music Awards performance is a big deal that takes time and requires some research, is everyone else just being lucky when designing?
In my opinion, her apology sounded genuine and I believe her saying she didn’t know. I think it’s important for people to understand that anyone at any stage has so much to learn and that is not embarrassing. It’s absolutely alright to ask questions and somehow Katy might be a super genius trying to promote confidence in curiosity! What do you think?
- An episode of Startalk where astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson sits with Katy Perry to talk about her cosmic curiosity. Go to Startalk Radio.
- A short clip of the interview