Your Fav Pop Girl Can’t Appropriate Culture like She Used To: Why It’s a Good Thing for All of Us.

Pop singer Katy Perry’s 2013 hit “Dark Horse ” is a song you’re probably familiar with. When released, the song – layered with sensual melody, rhythmic beat, and dark but seductive lyricism – carved out its own little iconic spot on Perry’s fourth studio album, Prism. But in 2019, Perry’s “Dark Horse” re-entered the public eye in a very different way. Last week on Twitter a clip from the music video went viral, sparking a conversation on Perry’s appropriation of Egyptian culture that wasn’t scrutinized enough when it was first released.  Borrowing heavily from Egyptian mythology, the video centers Perry as Katy Pätra– an obvious caricature of the historical Cleopatra. As cliché-ridden as it looks, “Dark Horse” also infuses it’s aesthetic with traditional pop elements, like Perry’s signature bubblegum pop matched Juicy J’s hip hop feature. In 2013, this didn’t seem to be too much of an issue. So why is Dark Horse being criticized now, six years after its release? Well, no matter how successful Perry might be, calling “Dark Horse” what it is – a work of cultural appropriation – is one small and important step towards understanding a larger and oppressive issue in pop culture today.

Let’s be real. Perry isn’t the first pop star to be criticized for “borrowing” from other cultural communities. Australian-born artist Iggy Azalea has been criticized heavily for her supposed “blaccent”, considered an imitation of the natural accent of Black women to add a sense of authenticity to her persona as a musical artist. Ariana Grande has been accused of tanning too darkly to appear more racially ambiguous than she really is and for appropriating hip-hop culture in one of her latest song debuts, “7 Rings”. Miley Cyrus has dealt with consistent accusations of exploiting hip-hop and rap culture without actually being a part of that community herself. It’s a common practice in the music industry. And back in 2013, it wasn’t an issue for Perry, as a white woman, to reduce mythology to a one-dimensional representation of an entire history of a people because it simply wasn’t on the minds of many of her fans, her supporters or of many Americans. But fast-forward now to 2019, after several years of increasingly open and violent racial tensions in America (and worldwide), it’s simply impossible for anyone to say that race and identity aren’t important to talk about across every industry. Pop stars aren’t exempt from this. In fact, celebrities like Perry experience are experiencing more harsh criticism and more backlash than ever before exactly because of the platforms which they have.

Courtesy: Fembot Mag

It may seem unfair to dig up a six-year-old music video and dissect it now, but the “Dark Horse” example is important in its own right because Perry, and all of the other pop girls who aren’t Black, Latinx or from other marginalized communities, have such an immense potential to harm when they appropriate and exploit non-white cultures for their own commercial gain. On the surface level, it doesn’t come off as a morally corrupt thing to do but culture appropriation creates damaging stereotypes about the cultures who these pop stars imitate. These imitations aren’t organic and only reinforce negative assumptions about non-white cultures. And the platforms and the fans which our favorite pop girls have are absolutely enormous and can impact millions of people who consume their content and internalize ideas about other cultures based off of how these cultures are represented. It’s simply not fair to the actual communities that are impacted by racist and prejudiced stereotypes.

Courtesy: Medium 

So, if you ever see one of your favorite pop girls trending on Twitter and it looks like she’s getting dragged for something insensitive that she’s done – think about it all of the Black, Brown and non-white girls who their actions are hurting and maybe realize that by holding your favorite stars to a higher moral and ethical standard, it can actually benefit both the artist and her fans.

Want to see more HCFSU? Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest!