[trigger warning: what starts as obnoxious Japanese cultural appropriation turns into full-on racism by the end of the interview segment. It’s really gross.]
In part three of this interview, Katy Perry talks about a recent visit to Japan and her “obsess[ion] with Japanese people”. A few highlights:
Katy: I’m obsessed with Japanese people though! [0:48]
Jimmy: Oh, you are?
Katy: Yeah, because-
Jimmy: In a good way?
Katy: Well, yeah, totally obsessed. I love everything about them and they’re so wonderful as human beings. But, the reason why I’m really obsessed is because… [0:53]
[Katy explains that her sister was kicked out of the house for a while, and during that time her family used her room to house Japanese exchange students.]
Katy: … we had exchange students come in and live with us at our house, and I was just like [gasps exaggeratedly with wide eyes] Your, like, everything is Hello Kitty and it’s perfect and clean, and you eat with sticks!!! It was so incredible, watching them as a culture, and so now I’ve been obsessed with them ever since. [1:34]
Jimmy: So did you try to eat with the chopsticks?
Katy: I still have- they bring you, like, a housewarming gift [she’s now holding her cupped hands out in front of her and miming giving someone a gift with both hands and sort of bowing a little bit] and they’re very polite, and she brought me these Hello Kitty chopsticks and I still haven’t opened them- opened them and I was, like, 13, and I just like, I will always forever have them. [1:53]
Jimmy: Do you keep in touch with these people?
Katy: No. [2:07]
Jimmy: You don’t?
Katy: No- I mean, I was just too young and I- you know what- [2:09]
Jimmy: Maybe they’ll find you now-
Katy: I asked to borrow one of their clothes one time, they were very, like, weirded out by it. It was like, so cute! All your little outfits! Can I borrow one? [2:13]
Jimmy: They’re probably telling this story over in Japan, like, “Yeah, we lived with this family and the girl would wanna wear our clothes, it was a very strange experience.”
Katy: [Opens her eyes very widely and puts on a creepy face and weird voice] I’m so obsessed with you I want to skin you and wear you like Versace! [2:27]
As if this weren’t gross enough, Katy has actually appeared in an SNL skit lampooning white people who are completely ignorant of and insulting toward Japanese people and their culture despite claiming to love it. In this skit, Katy plays the “Royal Empress of MSU Hello Kitty Appreciation club, Kirstie Davenport,” who speaks with fake broken English and a fake Japanese accent, tries to use a Japanese word but accidentally uses the French word instead, and thinks Yao Ming is Japanese. She has visited all three Hello Kitty stores in the US. After showing off her merchandise from the store, she and the other two weeaboos on the show exclaim that they all look “so very Japanese!” (at which point their Japanese professor shouts “YOU’RE WHITE PEOPLE!” and goes on to flat out call them racists). When they thank their professor for being their “source of knowledge” of Japanese culture, the teacher shouts, “Nope, this is all on your heads!”
In one of the most telling moments of the skit, one of the characters announces, “Today is my four month anniversary with my girlfriend who is Japanese!” There is a quick shot over to the girlfriend, who is eating Ramen, mentions she likes Keroki more than Hello Kitty, and then the shot cuts away from her. The girlfriend is nameless and has no identity aside from being Japanese and supporting her boyfriend’s weeaboo delusions.
Katy- you can’t appear in a sketch that mocks racists who objectify people and their cultures in the winter and then be the racist who objectifies people and their cultures in the summer. You can’t pretend that you don’t know how disgusting and racist this is. Do I need to mention that there are Japanese people alive today who were imprisoned in this country (particularly in your home state of California) based SOLELY on the fact that they were Japanese?
Joking about “skinning someone alive and wearing them like Versace” because you want to be a part of some weird, Hello Kitty culture you’ve invented for them in your head is JOKING ABOUT KILLING SOMEONE BECAUSE OF THEIR NATIONALITY.
And that is not ever an acceptable joke to make.