Gwen Stefani fired back at accusations that she had committed the liberal sin of cultural appropriation when she included a group of Japanese dancers in her stage act.
The pop star has faced criticism for the “Harajuko Girls,” a group of dancers that were accused of using demeaning Japanese stereotypes.
In a recent interview with “Paper” magazine, Stefani refused to apologize for what she said was an act of cultural appreciation, not appropriation.
“If we didn’t buy and sell and trade our cultures in, we wouldn’t have so much beauty, you know?” said Stefani in the interview.
“We learn from each other, we share from each other, we grow from each other. And all these rules are just dividing us more and more,” she explained. “I think that we grew up in a time where we didn’t have so many rules. We didn’t have to follow a narrative that was being edited for us through social media, we just had so much more freedom.”
Stefani’s most biting critic was comedian Margaret Cho, who compared the dancers to blackface and a racist minstrel show.
“I want to like them, and I want to think they are great, but I am not sure if I can. I mean, racial stereotypes are really cute sometimes, and I don’t want to bum everyone out by pointing out the minstrel show,” wrote Cho sarcastically in 2005.
“Even though to me, a Japanese schoolgirl uniform is kind of like blackface, I am just in acceptance over it, because something is better than nothing,” she added.
One of the “Harajuko Girls” dancers defender Stefani from the accusations later.
“I heard about the criticism but it didn’t bother me as I knew Gwen’s intention,” said Rino Nakasone.
“It was like an American version of how they saw Harajuku girls—I thought it was genius,” she added. “A lot of musicians are using Japanese cultural elements in their videos these days; Gwen was like a trailblazer in that sense.”
Stefani gained popularity as the lead singer of “No Doubt,” a rock ska band from Southern California. She is the longtime girlfriend of country music star Blake Shelton, who says that Stefani was pivotal in converting him to Christianity. Their plans to wed in October 2020 were postponed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Here’s more about the controversy over the Harajuku Girls:
Gwen Stefani Defends ‘Harajuku Girls’ Amid Cultural Appropriation Criticism www.youtube.com