A few weeks ago, the world witnessed Katy Perry promote her latest album, ‘Witness’ by inviting us all to watch her 72-hour stream on YouTube. If you Didn’t want to watch three days worth of the singer, perfectly understandable. One two-minute period of this stream however, was very peculiar. Those two minutes were just enough time for Katy Perry to utterly damn herself when it comes cultural appropriation.
Katy Perry has been accused of cultural appropriation various times already, Japanese, Egyptian, and Black culture have all been “used” before by Perry in past videos or live performances. All of which, she never spoke on. Of course, until now. A brief look into cultural appropriation can make Perry’s mistakes very obvious.
Treating a culture as a costume, or highlighting parts of a culture that are deemed “trendy,” (or “profitable”) without showing proper respect is going to be seen as disrespectful. In many cases, these cultures are not celebrated in a the same fashion. The people who these cultures belonged to are treated separately from the majority. To see elements of a culture taken and used as a prompt, without that culture even getting the slightest recognition, is what causes the outrage. It feels like something is being stolen. It feels like what is seen as unruly and unbecoming is perfectly fine as long as it comes from the right party.
We see it all the time. From music videos, to Native American headdresses being worn at festivals. Sombreros being worn during Cinco de Mayo. The popularization of gelled baby hairs, and we’re still feeling the effects of twerking in a mainstream capacity. You’d think somewhere between all of this, that Perry would have found a way to not be a routine offender. Yet, here we are, this time, we were given an apology to discuss. The thing is, her apology felt more like a defense of her actions, instead of a true understanding of what she has done.
Audio from Katy’s interview here!
“And sometimes, that’s what it takes. It takes someone to say out of compassion, out of love, ‘hey, this is where the origin is, and do you understand?’ and not just like a clapback, you know? Because, it’s hard to hear those clapbacks sometimes, and your ego just wants to turn away from them.”
In my opinion, this is where Katy perry invalidates her entire apology.
With these routine offenses, Perry receive comments, direct messages, tweets, and the like from fans, publications, and educated writers. Some of these people are not her fans, but many are. Katy’s platform connects her to people from all over the world. Her reach is undeniable; she has numerous platinum-selling singles and records, a massive social media following, and has been a top contender in pop culture for an entire decade now. To say that this issue is new for Perry would be a lie.
Perry does go on to cite her ego as a reason for not listening to criticism. However, even more troubling, she sees these criticism as “clapbacks,” and nothing more.
For those not up to date on modern slang, a “clapback,” is a rebuttal to a false statement, often times in a rather aggressive manner. We’ve all seen how vicious the internet can be, and to have a legion of assumed “haters,” attacking you for wearing a costume or hairstyle might just seem brazen at first glance. To ignore such statements is understandable to an extent.
However, considering how many times this has actually happened with Perry, the fact that she never considered that something was honestly wrong speaks volume to her egof. These clapbacks aren’t just people being mean on the internet. These are people standing up for there ethnic and cultural identities.
Katy says she needed to be sat down in a quiet, safe space and be told about the history of these things, and why they were wrong. Apparently, the outcries from her fans and media wasn’t enough. The numerous articles and think pieces weren’t read. The podcasts and youtube clips directed at her, all fell on deaf ears.
It doesn’t seem authentic, even if it is. For a pop star to even admit to these things is a step in the right direction. However, some seem to have their mind made up about Perry, and her actions over the years. Only time will tell. If anything, she could always live-stream again.