Cultural Appropriation in Media

After watching various videos on cultural appropriation in class this week, I’ve become even more aware of the contents that are going around in the media throughout our daily lives. This connects to several weeks ago when we were discussing the same issue with using the oriental as props. Even though a lot of the videos include Asian Americans, those Asian Americans still aren’t given the chance to speak up nor to break out of the stereotypes. In the videos we see, Asian Americans are usually the backup dancers who look identical to each other and with no facial expressions. Just because some of the lyrics are related to or the singers want to convey the extent to which they’re interested in the Asian culture doesn’t mean they should go ahead and incorporate those aspects that they associate Asians/Asian Americans with in their videos. By doing so, those singers sound more oblivious toward the offensive contents that they’re producing.

Take Avril Lavigne’s “Hello Kitty,” for example – when I first heard the song a year ago, I simply thought it was weird; now that I revisited it in class, I couldn’t look past the video’s attempt in making the Japanese backup dancers look identical. If the video were truly about embracing Japanese culture, then what were the reasons for having four backup dancers to look the same? Furthermore, why were those dancers dancing in the background with straight faces? They look more like moving dolls – merely decorations in the music video compared to actually being in the video.

Yes, sometimes, it may be difficult to define the fine line between what’s offensive and what’s not. Yet, other times, the extent to which people don’t see offensive materials when the media is presenting those right in people’s faces is just downright surprising.

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