November 25th, 2013
01:03 PM ET
Katy Perry promised to take viewers on a "trip" with her performance at Sunday's American Music Awards, but not everyone liked where they ended up going.
The singer - who hinted at the theme of her set with a photograph of a mic painted with cherry blossoms - appeared on the AMAs stage in a costume clearly inspired by geisha, irritating some viewers who viewed the performance as cultural appropriation.
The 29-year-old used her costume, make-up, back-up dancers and set props to firmly establish a Japanese influence for her rendition of "Unconditionally," although - as Emily Osment helpfully reminded the star on Twitter - "Wait. Katy Perry. You're not Japanese..."
Tweeted The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle, "what the hell, Katy Perry. what the hell, music industry. is 'do a racist performance to get press' gonna be a thing now? please let's not."
It's unclear why Perry decided to go with a Japanese theme for her performance, although the blog Angry Asian Man has thrown out a guess: "Because geishas will apparently love your a** unconditionally. Get it?"
As that post and others have pointed out, this isn't the first time Perry has incorporated Asian cultures into a performance. Yet in light of the continued conversation surrounding other artists seemingly adopting a culture for the night - such as what Miley Cyrus did at the MTV VMAs, or what Selena Gomez did at the Billboard Music Awards - Perry needs to be "called out," The Atlantic argues.
"(Perry) and her dancers spend much of their performance time putting their palms together and bowing, scurrying across the stage trying to be light on their feet, and hiding behind umbrellas and fans. Dainty, subservient, shy - though there are no Japanese schoolgirls here, the imagery of the performance is hardly nuanced," The Atlantic's Nolan Feeney observes in a well-written essay. "It’s these kind of stereotypical visuals that plays into white fetishization of Asian women, something Perry doesn’t have to deal with when she takes off her costume."
What do you think of Perry's performance? In case you missed the AMAs and still need to catch up, we've included her controversial set, along with other notable performances, below:
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