So if I’m getting this right Katy Perry is getting backlashes after she performed ‘Unconditionally’ on American Music Awards 2013? Some find it offensive, and some doesn’t understand why those people are offended. This is such an interesting topic, so I decided to say a word or two that I’ve been having for a while.
I think, the problem is that Americans have been ‘consuming’ cultural images like this. You can see this in the widely used term ‘Asian’. The same goes to ‘European’ or ‘African’. Culture is consumed like some cheap exotic spices that could be purchased in supermarkets in American entertainment industry rather than being respected as it should be. It is a horrible ignorance and quite a terrible way of telling; ‘We don’t care about your values/how it actually is we just think it’s exotic and kinda cool so we’re gonna take it and make some changes it according to our taste and use it.’
So what all these has to do with Katy Perry? Let’s focus on what she’s wearing. It looks like kimono but even to a non-Japanese person it’s laughably not kimono.
The dress has a feature of chipao’s neck, which is Chinese. It exposes her chest. Her obi(waistband) is way too thin… I’ll stop here. Here is a link to a post about this;
I can’t deny that it’s inspired by kimono. Inspired. It’s not kimono. And it’s not even 100% Japanese, so calling it Japanese themed sounds bit strange to me. But again, is it okay to call it ‘Asian’ themed? What’s the definition of ‘Asian’ things? If someone who does not fully comprehend the differences among various Asian cultures, take bit and pieces of the different cultural images in Asia and mash them together, is it ‘Asian’? But why on earth would you do such thing? Why distort them?
I suppose some of you think “Yeah so what? All Asian things are the same anyways?” Let me give you an example. Suppose an ‘Asian’ person wears a really-really-obviously-Victorian-period-dress and mash it up with the famous America Indian feather headpiece, and performs a show saying that it’s an ‘American’ themed performance, who would not laugh and call him/her dumb? But what’s the difference between British and United States? Aren’t they all the same??
I’m pretty sure people would get offended.
It’s always the intentional distortion of cultural images/ideas/behaviours that offend people. There is another example. Do you all remember Lost? Yes, the series with plane crash and people on the island. It was the first English-speaking show that I watched, and actually it was my American English tutor who introduced me to it. Actually I found it horrible because he never let me watch it with subtitles, and of course I understood almost nothing. Anyways, that’s not the point.
It was season 3 episode 18 where I started to feel bit uncomfortable. In Sun-hwa’s flashback we see a bridge with Korean writings; 한강대교. This is the image shown in the show.
I thought I read it wrong. 대교 literally means a big bridge. Also 한강, or Han river, is definitely bigger than that stream.
This is the actual photo of HanGangDaeGyo(한강대교) at night. Later I heard that Lost’s producers had an incredibly tight budget, so they couldn’t go to the actual location. They couldn’t go to Bangkok either, or anywhere else. Fair enough. But it was very disappointing, because they could have made the name up, implying that it’s a fictional setting(as you see there are more than one bridge on Han river). It didn’t have to be it. That’s not even a proper place to meet someone in the first place! But Korea was keep being depicted as a tropical, more closer to a country in South-East Asia, so I concluded that the writers or the producers decided to ‘theme’ like that. I got offended because it was so clear that the producers were showing what the general American audiences usually expects Korea, or any Asian countries, to look like, not at least trying to reference correctly. At that point I did not care if their location was limited or not. I wonder if they ever tried to find any references.
The point is, just, please don’t assume certain cultures to be like this or that, because it’ll be incorrect more often than not. And please don’t intentionally mash cultural images/ideas that so obviously don’t belong together up and say ‘this is this themed’. It’s bit like mixing a red maple leaf and an eagle and saying ‘this is so United States’.
ps. Besides, I really don’t understand why she had to make it into ‘Japanese’?
pps. I wonder if this is this controversial because she’s a female entertainer. What if it was a guy?
ppps. And where did this ‘Asian greetings’ come from? Isn’t this how Buddhists greet?