Pop star and musician Gwen Stefani is the latest celebrity to hit back at cancel culture, which has become rampant across social media as mobs of “woke” youth perform “call outs” of popular figures and celebrities over “problematic” or “insensitive” behaviour and cultural missteps. Speaking to Paper magazine, the “Harajuku Girls” performer and former No Doubt vocalist refused to apologize for the show, which was accused of “cultural appropriation” through demeaning stereotypes of Japanese girls. Stefani, much like Avril Lavigne, remains widely popular in Japan through continued efforts to cater to Japanese fans, despite accusations of “cultural appropriation.”
Cultural appreciation, not appropriation
“If we didn't buy and sell and trade our cultures in, we wouldn't have so much beauty, you know?” said Stefani, who described Harajuku Girls as a form of cultural appreciation, not appropriation.
“We learn from each other, we share from each other, we grow from each other. And all these rules are just dividing us more and more,” she stated. “I think that we grew up in a time where we didn't have so many rules. We didn't have to follow a narrative that was being edited for us through social media, we just had so much more freedom.”
Apart from the mob of TikTok teenagers who’ve more recently aimed their sights at Stefani, criticism first emerged from Asian-American comedian Margaret Cho, who compared her act to “blackface” or a racist minstrel show in 2005. Margaret Cho is not Japanese.
Stefani refuses to use platform for partisan politics
In the Paper interview, Stefani said that she refuses to engage in partisan politics or use her platform to push her personal views onto anyone else.
“The very first song I wrote…the whole point of voting, is you have this personal space to feel how you feel,” said Stefani, referring to the song “Different People,” which was on the Obama playlist.
“I use my platform to share my life story and to engage with people and to exchange whatever gift I was giving. I’m not a political science major. I am not that person. Everyone knows that. So why would I even talk about it?”
“Stop trying to bully everybody about it”
Stefani also refused to identify as a “feminist” when asked about the song “Just a Girl” and asked that people stop bullying others over their political views.
“I don’t even know if I knew what feminist at that time was,” said Stefani. “I was very sheltered growing up with my family. I wasn’t political. I wasn’t angry…I don’t need to go on Instagram and say ‘girl power.’ I just need to live and be a good person and leave a trail of greatness behind me. Stop talking about it and stop trying to bully everybody about it. Just do it. And that’s how I feel like I’ve lived my life.”