Katy Perry & Cultural Ignorance.

Katy Perry is pretty well known for her cultural insensitivity. When she’s not spurting whipped cream from her breasts in a Teenage Dream, she’s appropriating Asian, black and Middle Eastern culture, and the video for her latest single, “This is How We Do”, is no exception.

In a candy coloured world so similar to much of Perry’s other work, “This is How We Do” features cornrows, baby hair, bleached eyebrows, watermelons, “Japanese-y” manicures, “big hoops, maroon lips” and “throw[ing] up peace signs and cock[ing] her neck in a bubblegum version of chucking the deuces”, as Jezebel puts it, all of which are not necessarily positively associated with the abovementioned races in one way or another.

When asked in a recent Rolling Stone cover story about her penchant for cultural appropriation, Perry feigned indignation at being left behind in a political correct era. She responded thusly:

“I guess I’ll just stick to baseball and hot dogs, and that’s it… I know that’s a quote that’s gonna come to fuck me in the ass, but can’t you appreciate a culture? I guess, like, everybody has to stay in their lane? I don’t know.”

Perry hasn’t managed to “stay in her own lane” when it comes to her Prismatic world tour. For her performance of “I Kissed a Girl” she surrounds herself with big-bootied, big-lipped and dark-haired mummies in what looks like a half-assed homage to Lily Allen’s “Hard Out Here” or Miley Cyrus. Perry says, “As far as the mummy thing, I based it on plastic surgery… Look at someone like Kim Kardashian or Ice-T’s wife, Coco. Those girls aren’t African-American. But it’s actually a representation of our culture wanting to be plastic, and that’s why there’s bandages and it’s mummies. I thought that would really correlate well together… It came from an honest place. If there was any inkling of anything bad, then it wouldn’t be there, because I’m very sensitive to people.”

Because if something comes from an honest place, it can’t possibly be racist, right? (Not to mention the fact that whether or not the white privileged lady thinks something she did wasn’t offensive is irrelevant.)

Recently I pointed out on a friend’s Facebook comment thread that an exchange about Khloe Kardashian and her ex-husband, Lamar Odom, could be construed as racist. There was some back and forth about how that wasn’t the intention, but in the end the defence was very Perry-esque in nature. Cultural ignorance shouldn’t be an excuse for cultural insensitivity.

To use an example I heard spewed from the mouth of a colleague, just because you personally think Indigenous footballer Adam Goodes looks like a monkey, doesn’t mean the young fan who called him this at a game was right in doing so. Sometimes the harmful trajectory of terminology—that black people were compared to monkeys and thought of as less than human throughout history—is more important than freedom of expression.

As Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in a recent interview with Katie Couric (which you can watch here), “You can exercise your right to free speech until it is affecting other people”.

While Perry’s at her cultural appropriation game, maybe she can take a page out of Notorious RBG’s book…?

Related: Whipped Cream Feminism—The Underlying Message in Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” Video.

Is Gwen Stefani Racist?

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Katy Perry Almost Managed to Make an Inoffensive Video.

[Rolling Stone]The Unbreakable Katy Perry: Inside Rolling Stone’s New Issue.

[Jezebel] Why Do Katy Perry’s Dancers Have Fake Butts and Big Earrings?

[Jezebel] Yikes: Clothing Company Pairs Black Child’s Face with Monkey Body.

[Yahoo!] Katie Couric Interviews Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

[Notorious RBG] Homepage.

Magazines: Covers Worth Talking About.

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The first cover listed here to grab my attention was Hillary Clinton for New York magazine, but then Miley came along and blew that out of the (pool) water as she is wont to do.

The accompanying interview for her Rolling Stone cover was done in the days following her much-talked-about MTV VMAs performance, which is discussed at length inside. And rest assured, there are lots of scantily clad shots to compliment her tongue-thrusting on the cover.

Next comes Chris Brown for Jet, a cover which doesn’t necessarily grab the eye as the others do, but it’s what Brown says inside, a snippet of which is captured on the cover, that’s noteworthy. He who is a perpetuator of violence himself identifies with Trayvon Martin, the teen who was shot dead a year and a half ago in Florida in an alleged self-defence. His killer, neighbourhood watchman George ZImmerman, was acquitted of his murder in July this year, and was involved in an apparent domestic violence incident with his estranged wife earlier this month. His wife later refused to press charges.

Now, I’m not saying that Brown can’t identify with a fellow young black man who has been victimised, but equating murder with justified criticism for intimate partner violence and a lack of remorse for said violence is a bit rich.

Finally, in the wake of the mall massacre in Nairobi which, it is believed, had a woman at the helm of the terrorist operation, Pakistan’s Newsweek has a cover story on the rise of female terrorist. I think alternative cover art would have conveyed their message just as well as explosive-tampons…

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Images via The Hollywood GossipVanity FairNY Daily NewsYahoo! Finance.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

girls patrick wilson

Is Girls‘ Hannah Horvath physically worthy of the sexual interest of a successful, hot, rich doctor? While detractors thought this week’s episode was the worst in the series, presumably because Lena Dunham’s “refreshing, yet displeasing to the eye” (to borrow a line from Elizabeth Banks in Pitch Perfect) naked body was front and centre perhaps more than any other episode, I actually thought it was the best of this season’s bunch, and I had no qualms buying Patrick Wilson’s character being so sexually into Hannah that he begs her to stay in his apartment for a 48-hour fuck- and naked ping-pong-fest. I will say that the gratuitous nudity and the continuous lack of people of colour is really getting my goat, though. [Jezebel]

Also related, apparently the utter disbelief at the abovementioned May-December Girls romance completely goes against a middle-aged man’s biological inability to resist a younger woman. A bit closed minded, but still valid. [Jezebel]

Let’s all stop bagging Rihanna for taking Chris Brown back and maybe look at why she did and what support we can give domestic violence victims. [Jezebel]

That time someone made a blog about all those times Michelle Williams was ostracised from the Destiny’s Child fold. Funny but cruel but also kinda true? [Poor Michelle]

Class divisions in Richard Scarry’s What Do People Do All Day. [Elsevier] 

James Bulger: 20 years on from his abduction and brutal murder. [Daily Life]

More equal opportunity nudity and sex on camera, please. [Jezebel]

The beauty myth: are people we perceive as beautiful really just average? [TheVine]

Following on from last week’s links on whitewashing in Hollywood, check out the ten most racist portrayals of characters of colour by white actors. [TheVine] 

Image via Rolling Stone.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

Is pop music turning into porn? [MamaMia]

Sex, lies, and DSK. [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Is Lady Gaga “a feminist icon, or just a slightly offbeat sex object?”:

“In some ways, Gaga’s entire persona seems to question what’s expected of women. It’s there in the internal contradiction of her name: ‘Lady’ with its suggestions of gentility, sweetness, high breeding; ‘Gaga’ with its intimations of infantility, madness, antic spirit. She has often been compared with a drag queen and, in many ways, this seems apt. Part of the brilliance and beauty of drag, of course, is that it can potentially expose sex roles—most often femininity—as a performance. A drag queen in enormous false eyelashes, teetering heels, a tight dress, heavy makeup, a voluminous wig, talon-like nails, is mimicking a woman, while underlining that what’s expected of women is in no way natural. With her increasingly bizarre getups, Gaga does the same.” [Queerty]

In defence of young adult fiction. [Girls Are Made From Pepsi]

The underlying lesbianism in the BFF relationship. [Girls Are Made From Pepsi]

One night with Quentin Tarantino. Fascinating, if not 100% verified. [Gawker]

Would you ever go through with labiaplasty? [MamaMia]

Michele Bachmann: “the candidate Sarah Palin was supposed to be.” Scary! [Rolling Stone]

16 & Pregnant as public service announcement. [Slate]

In celebration of gay marriage being approved in New York, check this little ditty out above. [Dear Blank Please Blank]

Images via Loopy Comments, Girls Are Made from Pepsi, Dear Blank Please Blank.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

(No images this week as I’ve maxed out my broadband limit watching Grey’s Anatomy online!)

Style blog as “unapologetic narcissism”?

“Here is a beautiful slender girl who is constantly posting photos of herself wearing somewhat predicable outfits… Does she really have amazing style or is it just simply the case of a pretty girl wearing denim shorts and a knitted jumper?… How long can this low-on-substance form of blogging survive?’

“I am not your sex-crazy nympho dreamgirl!” at The Good Men Project, via Jezebel:

“… Surely he’d prefer the sexy, fake, plastic dreamgirl shell?

“[This]… image includes a lot of behavioural stuff: the way you squirm, the way you moan, being Super Excited about everything the guy wants to do, and Always Being Up for It—whatever ‘It’ is. When people think about ‘good in bed’, for a woman, that’s often what they think.

“This image also includes being young and thin and cisgendered of course, and that can be problematic.”

“Rihanna Shoots Her Rapist in Her New Video”, “Man Down”.

And here’s Fox News’ take on the video:

“ ‘Man Down’ is an inexcusable, shock-only, shoot-and-kill theme song. In my thirty years of viewing BET [Black Entertainment Television], I have never witnessed such a cold, calculated execution of murder in primetime.

“… She sings that she killed a man when she ‘lost her cool’ because ‘he was playing her for a fool’. This garbage from the same woman who publicly bragged to Rolling Stone recently that she likes to be spanked and tied up… Rihanna gets to have it both ways—accuse Chris Brown of domestic violence and be violent herself—because she’s a woman.”

What does Lady Gaga really have left to say?

The racism and “ugly women” involved in the Arnold Schwarzenegger scandal.

Beyonce: running the world or copying the cat?

The “endangered” and “reclusive” “North American Obeast”.

The World According to Paris [Hilton]: Same Shit, Different Show.”

Special needs kids as prom king and queen. Yay!

How many handbags do you need?

Rebecca Sparrow on Carbon Cate’s fallout:

“So who are these celebs to be loaning their support to such causes? Who are they not to be? Fame’s sidekick is a bloody big, unrelenting spotlight. With the trappings of fame comes a responsibility, I believe, to shine that light on causes you believe in. And while anonymous donations and clandestine charity work are noble—public giving, supporting and encouraging can—literally—save lives. Make a difference. Raise awareness.

“And frankly, I’d rather see [George] Clooney pimping his fame for Darfur than, say, Nespresso.”

“Chains & Whips Excite Me” Take 2.

So I’ve already blogged (and reblogged) multiple times about Rihanna’s “S&M”, but the other night my friend attempted to make this joke about it:

“So if whips and chains excite Rihanna, is what Chris Brown did to her just foreplay?”

Obviously the remnants of some sick Facebook joke, but worryingly, I believe this is what some people actually think.

As I wrote originally, “the video does deal with sexual violence… which Rihanna is no stranger to, but this time around it’s consensual violence.

Jezebel explains:

“‘It’s notable, though, following her assault by Chris Brown, that in the video for “S&M,” she’s interested in exploring consensual acts of violence and aggression, and finding pleasure in pain. Although she does appear bound in the video (as well as literally restrained by the media), mostly she plays the role of a dominant, perhaps to prove (or remind us) that she’s the one in control. Is this the desire of one who’s been called a victim? To recast oneself as authoritative and commanding?’”

She also speaks of the Brown incident in Rolling Stone:

“I put my guard up so hard… I didn’t want people to see me cry. I didn’t want people to feel bad for me. It was a very vulnerable time in my life, and I refused to let that be the image. I wanted them to see me as, ‘I’m fine, I’m tough.’ I put that up until it felt real.”

And her real-life love of S&M:

“Being submissive in the bedroom is really fun… You get to be a little lady, to have somebody be macho and in charge of your shit. That’s fun to me…I like to be spanked. Being tied up is fun. I like to keep it spontaneous. Sometimes whips and chains can be overly planned—you gotta stop, get the whip from the drawer downstairs. I’d rather have him use his hands.”

Admittedly, I do think it is a tad odd that sadomasochism seems to be dominating her current public persona but, as above, it’s consensual sadomasochism. Rihanna is well within her rights to take back the power Brown took from her by assaulting her, and this just seems to be the way she wants to do it.

And no matter how a woman acts, it is never a reason to hit her.

Related: “Chains & Whips Excite Me…”: The Underlying Message in Music Videos.

Rihanna’s “S&M”: Is It Really So Much Worse Than Her Other Stuff?

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Rihanna’s New Video Celebrates Ball-Gags, Whips & Latex.

[Rolling Stone] Rihanna Opens Up Like Never Before in Rolling Stone Cover Story.

Images via YouTube.

UPDATED: Lady Gaga—Taking Inspiration from The Wizard of Oz.

Lady Gaga on her influences, from Vogue, March 2011:

“Gaga herself is very open about her influences. ‘It’s not a secret that I have been inspired by tons of people,’ she says. ‘David Bowie and Prince being the most paramount in terms of live performance.’ She also seems to have made peace with the fact that she is compared to—or, less charitably, accused of ripping off—nearly every artist of the last 50 years. ‘I could go on and on about all of the people I have been compared to—from Madonna to Grace Jones to Debbie Harry to Elton John to Marilyn Manson to Yoko Ono—but at a certain point you have to realise that what they are saying is that I am cut from the cloth of performer, that I am like all of those people in spirit’… ‘She was born this way.'”

With the release of “Born This Way”, critics are wondering if Lady Gaga isn’t as original as they once thought she was. The song blatantly rips off takes inspiration from Madonna’s “Express Yourself”, and a lot of Gaga’s past works are heavily influence by Her Madgesty.

But Lady Gaga has always been about much more than just her music. It’s all about the fashion, hello?!

But even her outrageous outfits—bar the meat dress and a couple of others—aren’t that original when you come to think of it. Juxtaposed against The Wizard of Oz‘s Cowardly Lion, Good Witch of the South, Tin Man et al., Gaga proves that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Related: Lady Gaga: Taking Inspiration from The Wizard of Oz.

Pop Culture Role Models.

Chase You Down Until You Love Me, Paparazzi…

Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” & 21st Century Noise.

Katy P. VS. Lady G.

Lady Most Likely: Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.

Images via Amy Grindhouse, Wired, Billboard, Just Nuggets, The Examiner, Leopard Print & Lace, Pony & Pink, Pollsb, TV Tropes, Beauty & the Feast, Wikia, Wendy’s World of Oz.