AMAs rewind: Katy Perry's questionable performance
November 25th, 2013
01:03 PM ET

AMAs rewind: Katy Perry's questionable performance

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:


Filed under: Awards Season • Celebrities • Katy Perry • Music

soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. SKY

    FACT: THIS IS A AVERAGE LOOKING GIRL...WHO WANTS TO BE BEAUTIFUL....
    AND THIS IS WHY SHE IS SO FAMOUS..SHE GOT PEOPLE THINKING SHE IS....
    SHE CREATE SCENES AND HER FANS RELATE TO IT...BUT THOSE WITH
    EYE SEE WHAT THEY SEE AND CALL IT LIKE IT IS!

    December 3, 2013 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. dazed but not confused

    are the non-asian performers who have starred in Madame Butterfly all racists too??

    December 3, 2013 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. No roar in person...none...

    what boggles my brain is how mayer allowed her to manipulate him....

    November 28, 2013 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Quit trolling and get a life.

      Your all over the blog and today is Thanksgiving. Havea beer, watch some football, eat food and spend time with friends and family - that's what today is about. Stop being a miserable hacker troll.

      November 28, 2013 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  4. Rock

    I bet that bikini line is tough to keep up on

    November 26, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. m.

    I have not watched any awards program associated with the entire entertainment industry in years. That includes the AMA ... the Country Music Awards ... and all the Beauty Pageants.

    November 26, 2013 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  6. Babak from LA

    Anyone offended by this? Or the media trying to get us offended? .... I am not a fan of her music, but my kids are ... What was the big deal? When did we become so sensitive.....

    November 25, 2013 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Robert

    First, there was nothing racist about the performance. Since when did we become a country of overly sensitive pansies? While the geisha theme had nothing to do with the song, it was not racist. Folks need to look up the definition of the word before throwing it around like water!!!

    November 25, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. paouser70

    @meanwhile... yes – $arah does spend a lot of time making derogatory comments about fellow Americans.

    November 25, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Katie Perry

    Your my kind of performer. :)

    November 25, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. big richard

    "It’s these kind of stereotypical visuals that plays into white fetishization of Asian women". Oh, give me a break! Now, off to the rub n tug!

    November 25, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. palintwit

    Drinking Everclear from mason jars is doing to the tea party patriots what drinking fire water did to the injuns. Shootin' everything in sight and boinking their cousins. It just made 'em go plumb crazy !

    November 25, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • meanwhile...

      Drinking the kool-aid from "Obama 2012" cups is doing to the libs just what we expected: now this one is foaming at the mouth about Sarah Palin, while making derogatory comments about fellow Americans.

      November 25, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yoo Suk

      Yes. You are a twit.

      November 25, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • U2

      the best band in history since the Killers I

      November 25, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • U2 too

      "The best band in history since the Killers"?

      You do realize that U2 came first, right, historically speaking? When you take that into account, how can they be the best band since (i.e., following chronologically) a band that was formed many years after them?

      November 25, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Debby

    It was a pretty background,the song had nothing to do with the questionable racist theatrics, and what was with the white sports socks on all the dancers?

    November 25, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |

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