Ariana Grande accused of appropriating Japanese culture with her 'thank u, next' merch
30 January 2019, 15:31 | Updated: 30 January 2019, 15:33
From '7 rings' to her new tattoo, this isn't the first time that Ariana Grande has been called out for cultural appropriation...
It's hard to think of a popstar who is more successful than Ariana Grande is at the moment. Over the course of the past year, she's gone from being one of pop's most promising stars to one of the biggest artists in the world. From 'no tears left to cry' to '7 rings', Ariana has topped international charts and broken world records. She's unstoppable and it's a joy to watch her go from strength to strength.
However, Ariana isn't devoid of controversy. Just recently, she came under fire for a "racially insensitive" Instagram story and she's also been accused of putting on a 'blaccent' and appropriating black culture in her '7 rings' video. To top it all off, fans of the 25-year-old star are accusing Ariana of appropriating Japanese culture with her brand new merch, '7 rings' and in the thank u, next era at large.
Is Ariana Grande appropriating Japanese culture?
Anyone who's been following Ariana recently will have noticed that she has started using Japanese lettering in her artwork. It started with 'Imagine' and then it featured in additional explicit stickers on her '7 rings' art and her thank u, next album cover. Not only that but the '7 rings' video is filled with Japanese imagery, Ari has a mistranslated Japanese tattoo and now she is selling Japanese merch.
The merch in question is a sweatshirt which reads "ありがとう" (arigatō) and it means 'thanks' in Japanese. The merch is no doubt a reference to thank u, next itself. However, considering that Ariana isn't Japanese and appears to be using Japanese purely for aesthetic reasons, people are accusing her of cultural appropriation, just as they did with '7 rings', her tattoo and her album art.
Here are just a few of the criticisms.
I love Ariana. I rly do. Don’t get me wrong. But this whole ‘Japanese aesthetic’ thing she has going on is...questionable. I understand she knows the language/has studied it, but...hm. Selling an overpriced sweatshirt with a common phrase on it that you can find anywhere online??— luce (@taemyns) January 29, 2019
DID SHE REALLY JUST SLAP ARIGATOU ONTO A GREY SWEATSHIRT AND TRY TO CONNECT IT WITH HER ALBUM? pic.twitter.com/EB6PRUrqqR— luc (@oujisamas) January 29, 2019
the newest ariana grande merch is lookin good pic.twitter.com/WCcjAI9gXK— femboi carti (@tupacminecraft) January 30, 2019
I’ve supported Ariana in the past, but between her continual use of Japanese culture as an accessory in this part of her career + brownface tan, I’m wary of supporting her now https://t.co/jjLknlRVB5— ♡ amber leigh ♡ (@mbrleigh) January 22, 2019
ariana stans: ariana has a deep appreciation for the japanese language and culture and has been studying it for years— morgi 22 (@renminluvr) January 30, 2019
ariana: gets a tattoo that says bbq instead of 7 rings
ariana: uses japanese and east asian culture as an aesthetic— joyce ♡ (@byuljoonie) January 30, 2019
karma in the form of a tattoo: pic.twitter.com/482Ps0YKzK
not to be a bitter asian (i love ariana, this isn’t about her, but about the gp)— yoongles. (@bxngtxneun) January 21, 2019
but ariana can release a song w/japanese in her aesthetic and it becomes a hit yet asian artists singing in their native tongue are faced with so much racism and xenophobia,,i’m just SO tIRED of it pic.twitter.com/7TapAZPHyu
ariana using japanese for the aesthetic in 7 rings is the equivalent of white uwu twitter putting their name in japanese and having 日本語OK in their bio because they can read hiragana 😭— 🍩 (@topgirI) January 21, 2019
We have no doubt that Ariana means no ill will at all by using Japanese aesthetics in her art (Ariana has said multiple times in the past that she loves Japanese culture and even speaks Japanese) but the backlash is understandable. There is a fine line between cultural appropriation and appreciation and Ariana may be crossing it.
Hopefully, Ariana will address the cultural appropriation accusations soon and make sure to be more careful in the future.