Gwen Stefani Hits Back At ‘Cultural Appropriation’ Claims For ‘Racist’ Japanese Videos

by : Cameron Frew on : 27 May 2021 15:03
Gwen Stefani Hits Back At 'Cultural Appropriation' Claims For 'Racist' Japanese VideosPA Images

Gwen Stefani has responded to accusations of ‘cultural appropriation’ and ‘racism’ for her Harajuku Girls era.

The popstar has spoken about these claims before, regarding her earlier songs, videos and wider career involving the Harajuku Girls, a ‘posse’ of Japanese and Japanese-American dancers (Maya Chino, Jennifer Kita, Rino Nakasone and Mayuko Kitayama) first seen for the release of her Love. Angel. Music. Baby. album.


It’s often attracted backlash, with people accusing Stefani of appropriating Japanese culture. Following the release of Let Me Reintroduce Myself and ahead of her new record, she’s defended herself once more.

Stefani, 51, told PAPER: ‘If we didn’t buy and sell and trade our cultures in, we wouldn’t have so much beauty, you know? 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 added: ‘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.’

Gwen Stefani and the Harajuku Girls. (PA Images)PA Images

The singer became interested in Japan from a young age, from her dad taking trips there to performing with No Doubt. ‘It’s a world away. And at that time it was even further, because you couldn’t see it on the internet. I don’t think a younger generation can even imagine what it’s like to not have access to the world,’ she said.

‘I never got to have dancers with No Doubt. I never got to change costumes. I never got to do all of those fun girl things that I always love to do. So I had this idea that I would have a posse of girls – because I never got to hang with girls – and they would be Japanese, Harajuku girls, because those are the girls that I love. Those are my homies. That’s where I would be if I had my dream come true, I could go live there and I could go hang out in Harajuku,’ Stefani explained.


One piece by VICE dubbed the original album a ‘racist pop Frankenstein,’ while comedian Margaret Cho compared the use of dancers to a minstrel show. While the era came before Twitter, it’s become a talking point in recent years, with one user even describing her as the ‘queen of cultural appropriation’.

In a previous interview with Billboard, Stefani said: ‘I get a little defensive when people [call it cultural appropriation], because if we didn’t allow each other to share our cultures, what would we be? You take pride in your culture and have traditions, and then you share them for new things to be created.’

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BJTC-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and taken up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: Music, cultural appropriation, Japan


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