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.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

hard out here lily allen has a baggy pussy balloons

Lily Allen just released the feminist anthem of the year, with accompanying satirical video to boot! [Jezebel]

Though there are some important discussions that need to be had around the racism and objectification of the video. Is accessorising with scantily clad black women in the name of parody still using black culture as a commodity? [Birdee]

Most critiques of the song and video point to yes, just one reason being that it perpetuates the racism of white artists critiquing hip hop and rap music. I would’ve loved to see a black artist come out with this song and video, as it can be interpreted as Allen condemning black music culture without checking her privilege. I also think the themes of the video get a bit muddled: what genre is she trying to critique (“Blurred Lines”, Miley’s rachetism, the rap game…?) or is it the music industry in general? [The Trillest Villain]

Lily’s not the first female pop star to attempt to satirise the genre. [ThinkProgress]

Joss Whedon mansplains feminism. [Daily Life, Jezebel]

Let’s all move to Iceland! [Daily Life]

Intimate partner violence perpetrators in the National Hockey League. [Bitch Magazine]

Some of television’s most historically conservative channels are now the gayest. [Daily Beast]

Lip Mag‘s following in the footsteps of Rookie and Jezebel and releasing their own yearbook. Get 25% off when you preorder.

“The Problem with Sweden’s Feminist Film Rating.” [Daily Life]

You know you’re a feminist on the internet when… [Buzzfeed]

The misogyny of the left. [New Statesman]

ICYMI: I spent Halloween in New York City!

Image via Junkee.