Ariana Grande accused of appropriating Japanese culture with her 'thank u, next' merch

30 January 2019, 15:31 | Updated: 30 January 2019, 15:33

By Sam Prance

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?

Ariana Grande in the '7 rings' video and her 'thank u, next' merch
Ariana Grande in the '7 rings' video and her 'thank u, next' merch. Picture: YouTube // Universal Music

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.

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.

What do you think? Is Ariana Grande in the wrong?