Cultural Appropriation: Katy Perry and Audible Appropriation

Today’s lesson will be about appropriation.|

The appropriation that I will speak on has nothing to do with the simple “taking something of use from someone without permission”. This (mis)appropriation is culturally based: the adoption or use of elements from one culture to another. Typically, this is harmful because it bastardizes the original form for usage purposes. And that usage is normally taken from a smaller culture that tends to be castigated as negative in the first place.

Let us take a look at a clear example of recent existence: Miley Cyrus. Before having a change of heart, Miley was such the dedicated Memphis rap lover. In her younger years, she was a surprisingly/unsurprising fan of Three Six Mafia. Eventually, she would date Mike Will Made It, start making “edgier” music, “twerk” with a bunch of black women in videos/on stage, and cater to the “urban” market. Some would say Miley was turned out; others would feel she was marketing for a buck.

It seems that the latter was correct.

Miley pulled the full 180 on top of the 180 just to go back to her original roots: country/rock/pop/whatever music. In an interview, she noted that rap music “was too much ‘Lamborghini, got my Rolex, got a girl on my cock’—I am so not that”. And no, many people did not take this sentiment lightly. It became quite unnerving for many that she used hip hop culture, became a caricature of it, and then dismissed it for having the same elements she stereotyped it for. If anything, Miley became the perfect example of cultural appropriation 101: adoration, abuse, and then admonishment.

As Miley left, in came Katy Perry.

Katy Perry Should Not Dab Ever Again. Ever.

Katy Perry ended up collecting the baton that Miley Cyrus threw in the air in the most awkward fashion. Performing “Bon Appetit” at the Billboard Music Awards, she looked nothing short of out of place. The faux sense of cool. The weird body movements. The terrible rendition of “the dab” dance movement. It was probably as hard to watch as it was for her to perform.

People, there comes a time where the appropriation has to stop.

Do we really need to relive the issues and consternation that comes from such appropriation? No one wants to see Kay Perry dab as much as we wanted to see Miley twerk. They are not doing any of this from a place of cultural adoration. Rather, it is just a marketing feat to make its rounds to different subgroups. And we are just too smart for ignorant imitations to generate greenbacks.

Also, it is totally disrespectful. Hip Hop, no matter what the mass opinion may be, is a culture. It is not something that should be ignorantly mass produced without care or concern. And that includes rap music. Regardless of the social issues that plague the music, there is still a reality that rap is an art form. And art forms are for preservation not gainful imitation.

Katy Perry Conclusion

Appropriation is to appropriation. It is 2017, and white people have not learned the lessons of either Vanilla Ice or Iggy Azalea. Music is about some sort of authenticity. And by authenticity, I mean actually representing a culture you are truly a participant in. Pandering to a new audience is useless because they are not going to like you anymore for your efforts. You won’t look cooler. That audience isn’t dumb enough to fall for it. So, be like Lonzo Ball in a pair of Nike’s: just don’t do it.