In a new interview, the ‘Hollaback Girl’ hitmaker defends herself against cultural appropriation allegations as she cites her father’s job at Yamaha as her inspiration for her Japanese-inspired imagery.
AceShowbiz –Gwen Stefani has drawn the ire of public with her new interview, in which she talked about her Tokyo’s Harajuku era. The singer said, “I’m Japanese,” in response to old accusations of cultural appropriation.
In the interview with Allure published on Tuesday, January 10, the No Doubt lead vocalist was asked about the backlash she received for her Japanese-inspired imagery she used heavily on her 2004 album “Love. Angel. Music. Baby.”, her fragrance line “Harajuku Lovers” and her L.A.M.B. fashion line. She cited her father’s job at Yamaha as her inspiration when speaking to the interviewer, Jesa Marie Calaor, who is Asian American.
“That was my Japanese influence and that was a culture that was so rich with tradition, yet so futuristic (with) so much attention to art and detail and discipline and it was fascinating to me,” the 53-year-old said, adding that her own visit to Harajuku led to an epiphany. “I said, ‘My God, I’m Japanese and I didn’t know it.”
Calling herself a “super fan,” she added, “If (people are) going to criticize me for being a fan of something beautiful and sharing that, then I just think that doesn’t feel right.” The former “The Voice” coach continued, “I think it was a beautiful time of creativity… a time of the ping-pong match between Harajuku culture and American culture… (It) should be okay to be inspired by other cultures because if we’re not allowed then that’s dividing people, right?”
The interviewer said Gwen called herself “Japanese” more than once in the interview, describing herself at one point as “a little bit of an Orange County girl, a little bit of a Japanese girl, a little bit of an English girl.”
Following the release of the interview, Gwen faced further criticism for her response to the old allegations. “gwen stefani telling an asian american interviewer that she identifies as japanese is the kind of oblivion i’m trying to channel in this dark cruel world,” one person reacted on Twitter.
Another user reminded Gwen, “@gwenstefani maam. You are not Japanese. You are not Asian like us You are not a minority like us. Being a superfan of Asian culture does not make you one of us STOP.” A fan of the “Don’t Speak” hitmaker said, “as much as I loved 90s gwen stefani in the 90s this unending parade of cultural appropriation, and a clear desire to ignore any criticism of her behavior, or learn anything from it, has really kind of ruined it for me.”
A fourth user quipped, “If Gwen Stefani claims Japanese heritage because her dad worked at Yamaha, I claim Minifigure heritage because my dad worked at LEGO.” Someone else added, “Gwen Stefani used Asian women as props to help her get rich, and her response is… ‘I’m Japanese’????”
There were some who came to Gwen’s defense though. A fan said, “Child, leave Gwen Stefani alone. I grew up in NYC. I’ve been inspired by many different cultures. If she loves other cultures too then that should be a positive, not a negative.” Another slammed the magazine, “Wow what you guys try to do to sell your magazines all I can see from Gwen is that she really loves the Japanese culture just like she likes my Mexican culture.”
Gwen has not responded to the latest backlash over her new comments. In the same interview, she also shot down criticisms about appropriating Latinx and Hispanic culture, saying she identifies with both.
“The music, the way the girls wore their makeup, the clothes they wore, that was my identity,” she claimed. “Even though I’m an Italian American – Irish or whatever mutt that I am – that’s who I became because those were my people, right?”
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