Western social justice warriors have once again become offended on Japan’s behalf, this time as a result of the Eurovision Song Contest’s winning entry.
Criticism of the Eurovision Song Contest has shifted this year from the usual claims of politicised voting and questionable music taste, with attention instead being drawn to the winning entry’s supposed “cultural appropriation” of Japan.
Cetacean Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won this year’s contest with a performance that incorporated a number of Japanese and other east Asian themes, including frequent use of the word “baka”, references to Pikachu and a dress that somewhat resembles a kimono. Naturally, this lead to a number of commentators to accuse the artist of cultural appropriation:
“WHY IS NOBODY CALLING OUT NETTA LIKE SERIOUSLY I DON’T THINK CULTURAL APPROPRIATION IS THE WORLD’S BIGGEST ISSUE BUT SHE’S LITERALLY PERFORMING IN FRONT OF A WALL OF LUCKY CATS WEARING SOME KIND OF ASIAN DRESS WITH SPORTS LEGGINGS???????? If y’all got offended over that girl”
“Can I, however, ask if anyone here has already commented on the quite shocking Japanese cultural bastardisation-appropriation going on in Netta’s song?”
“Netta: ‘Celebrating diversity’ – you do know that cultural appropriation is not diversity, right?”
“WHY is no one talking about the cultural appropriation in Netta’s performance? That was not cool at all”
“israel winning with this cultural appropriation bullshit……. are you kidding me…… i watch eurovision one time and it’s trash”
In the majority of cases, responses to these accusations were negative, with people pointing out inherent problems with the concept of cultural appropriation itself, as well as the fact that even if one accepts the theory, it can not apply when a person from a country as small as Israel imitates the culture of a country as large and wealthy as Japan.
Netta herself has proclaimed a deep admiration for Japanese popular culture and has a particular penchant for Pokemon. Perhaps appropriately, she has compared herself to Jigglypuff and Snorlax in an interview with an online British tabloid.
The incident is perhaps reminiscent of previous cases where left-wing activists have attacked art gallery exhibits and condemned little girls’ tea parties for supposedly “appropriating” Japanese culture. As in those cases, the majority of actual Japanese people seem to be rather confused about what they are supposed to be offended by, with very few criticising the singer for anything except poor taste. The following comments have been made by Japanese people regarding the controversy:
“Westerners care too much about silly things.”
“The millions of Japanese people with dyed hair must be laughing at this.”
“Culture is meant to be stolen. If it’s not worth stealing, then it isn’t culture.”
“If people keep claiming ‘cultural appropriation’ then people will not touch our culture. Then, people will not understand our culture and it will be easier to become our enemy.”
“In a contest like this an Israeli should use their own culture to win, not steal Japanese culture!”
“The clothes and cats are Japanese. The song is Korean. The make-up and hair is Chinese.”
“If someone properly uses and appreciates Japanese culture, then I respect them for it. If not, I just don’t care about it. It’s simple.”
“Are these people using the term ‘cultural appropriation’ properly?”
“She seems like Naomi Watanabe. I don’t like Maneki Neko though. That’s too much.”
“Is she Japanese? It all looks Chinese with the colors.”
“It doesn’t seem like the designers know much about Japan, but whatever.”
The performance can be seen below: