Last night, Katy Perry opened the American Music Awards with a rendition of “Unconditionally” that appeared to be, well, “geisha-inspired” — a confusingly executed theme, which included cherry blossoms, The Great Wave off Kanagawa and a Chinese fan dance performed by kimono-clad women who were seemingly neither Chinese nor Japanese. In other words, the performance seemed to “unconditionally” pull influences from across the Eastern continent, much like the Asian food stands in most American malls.
Cultural Appropriation is something I think is rarely addressed. Our world is obsessed with labeling things as racist or not. Society needs to learn about what this is so they can recognize that it is EVERYWHERE around them, and has been conditioned in their minds as completely acceptable.
In my Women Studies class at OSU, we learned this as “Eating the Other”, taking from a culture with no intention of contributing anything back to it. It provokes an interesting discussion when people go to things like yoga, or a belly dancing class, or an indian restaurant: at what level does the popularization of these things benefit the society it originated in? And in what ways does it be belittle its cultural origins?
Can you enjoy the benefits without recognizing the thousands of years of hardship that went behind producing it?
I wrote on rape culture my Junior year at Brown so I’m allowed to say what all his raps are about.