Ariana, We Have To Talk

Before anyone tries to come for me, let me preface this with the following:

I AM AN ARIANA GRANDE STAN. I THINK HER VOCAL TALENT IS AMAZING AND I TRULY DO BELIEVE SHE IS A GOOD HUMAN BEING WHO IS NOT TRYING TO HURT ANYONE!

With that being said, Miss Grande I have some thoughts.

If you’re reading this, then you must know that her recent album Thank u, Next just dropped, like not even a whole 36 hours ago. Perhaps one of her most anticipated albums too, following the success of its predecessor Sweetener, which in my opinion, is not nearly as good as TYN. Straying away from the funky pop bops, listeners and long time fans can hear how much more personal this album is, delving into her mess of a love life (relatable af) and just trying to make it through life as happy as you can.  But, my friends, this is not an album review. If you’ve kept up with Ari and her journey in producing her album, I’m sure you’re well aware of all the chaos and drama that ensued with it. And if you haven’t, first of all...where have you been? Second of all, do not worry because we are going to crack right into it.

  1. The Infamous Tattoo

So unless you have been living under a rock, I’m sure you have seen the picture above. In honor of her second hit single “7 Rings”, Ariana went ahead and got the song title cutely tattooed on her hand. Although, her new accessory completely backfired once she posted about it on Instagram and the internet promptly let her know that her ink was mistranslated. Turns out, Ari got “Japanese BBQ grill” or shichirin permanently on her hand. Things went from bad to worse when she went back to the artist to try to fix it (the picture on the right side), only to have it translate to “Japanese BBQ grill finger”. There’s a reason we left the trend of getting tattoos in other languages behind in the early 2000s. Unless you’re fluent in the language or have a really good tutor, it’s a no from me. But this brings me to my second point…

2. The Album Aesthetics

Right off the bat, the first visual Ari posted made me give her the side-eye for a quick second. Now look, I am not Japanese and I’m not trying to speak for the Japanese community, but I’ve seen artists like Avril Lavigne and Nicki Minaj take pieces of East Asian cultures and reduce them to stereotypes, fetishize them, or just use them as a cool fashion trend. Since announcing her album, Ariana would post cryptic photos alluding to the album with Japanese characters, and even her merch line included shirts and such with Japanese. After having listened to the album, I am a bit confused as to why, since there seems to be no correlation between the music and the culture itself. From the looks of it, it seems like this was only used because it “looks cool”, which is textbook cultural appropriation. I know Ariana Grande probably didn’t intend for it to come off like that, but that is what it looks like. Using other cultures just for the aesthetic isn’t cool, especially when minorities face so discrimination and alienation for celebrating their cultural beliefs.

And lastly…

3. Brownface?

I’m not going to lie to you, when I saw this tweet, I really wanted to pass it off as nothing, as something harmless, but after watching her music videos, it is pretty undeniable. There really is no reason for Ariana to be the same color as the black women in her music videos when she is a white woman. Yes, I know she is Italian, but Italians are white. I’m not saying we should ban spray tans, but I am saying that it is not okay to market yourself as a different race or person to be recognized for your talent.

So what does this mean for Ariana Grande? Does this mean she’s cancelled?

I think we all have to understand that many of the people we idolize are problematic. Hell, WE ARE ALL PROBLEMATIC. No one is immune from making these mistakes because we’ve grown up internalizing things like racism and such. I still believe Ariana to be a good person, but I do think she needs to own up to her mistakes by making an actual apology. Being under the spotlight can be tough because the media and especially the internet, will have zero remorse for you. You do not have to take on other communities’ cultures to create something that your fans will enjoy, you don’t have to pretend to be anyone else, you just have to be you Ari.

But “break up with your girlfriend, im bored” is truly the song of the century, though.