Katy Perry landed in hot water. The pop star stirred controversy with her opening act at the American Music Awards over the weekend. She dressed a la geisha in a cleavage-baring kimono and sang about unconditional love while being surrounded by fan-wielding dancers.
The Californian singer was called out for being insensitive. A Wall Street Journal post described her "whiteface/yellowface performance" as "a harsh reminder of how deeply anchored the archetype of the exotic, self-sacrificing 'lotus blossom' is in the Western imagination."
It's accused of glorifying "the demeaning and harmful iconography of the lotus blossom from the West's perception of Asian women - a stereotype that presents them as servile, passive, and as Perry would have it, 'unconditional' worshippers of their men, willing to pay any price and weather any kind of abuse in order to keep him happy."
Australian Cosmopolitan also slammed her in a harsh comment, "It was the visual, boppy, awards show equivalent of saying 'It looks like fun to be an Asian!' without a scrap of cultural sensitivity. She pretty much just stopped short of sticky-taping her eyelids to her temples to make her eyes slant."
A debate erupted as well on Twitter. "Oh, good. Katy Perry is dressed as a geisha. I was afraid her sharp vocals would outshine her racism," one wrote in a sarcastic post. Another even likened her performance to Julianne Hough's blackface makeup, "This is the performance equivalent of an offensive Halloween costume."
But some came to the singer's defense as saying, "Katy Perry's AMA performance was not racist. In fact, young Japanese girls are likely overjoyed that she gave a (stylized)nod to Jpn culture." Another wrote, "I'm Chinese-American. Grandma raised in Japan. I was NOT offended at ALL by @katyperry. A tasteful, visual feast."
Katy and her camp remain mum on the matter, but she has always been open about her love for Japanese culture. "I'm so obsessed with you [Japanese race] I want to skin you and wear you like Versace!" she once told Jimmy Kimmel, only to get backlash for allegedly mocking the culture.