"That Just Feels Dismissive of Real Pain": Why Katy Perry's Mummified Dancers Are Racist

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Katy Perry is not known for her cultural sensitivity. The way the world was introduced to her was through the single "I Kissed a Girl," a song called out by some for its use of lesbianism to get a rise out of others. On that same album, she sang a song called "Ur So Gay," one that used stereotypes of gay men and the word "gay" to insult a straight man. Just last fall, Perry dressed up as a geisha for her American Music Awards performance, which did not go unnoticed by many. Now she has mummified dancers, with exaggerated butts, large red lips, short black hair, hoop earrings, and twerking, on tour with her. Yet they didn't make much of a splash at all. In comparison to, say, Mileygate after the 2013 VMAs, Lily Allen's blowback from her video for "Hard Out Here," and the response to Perry's own AMA performance, outside of a few corners of Twitter and Jezebel's article on the matter, the pop star's latest stunt has gone mostly unnoticed.

See also: Katy Perry's Mummified Dancers Are Not Racist

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Katy Perry's Mummified Dancers Are Not Racist

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[Ed note: Voice Clubs Editor Brittany Spanos offers a counterpoint to this essay. ]

The chic thing to do on the internet this week is to moan about Katy Perry's Prism tour backup dancers. According to all the Wendy Whiners out there, because the faceless dancers are endowed with large bottoms and breasts, plumped up lips, fake nails, and hoop earrings, they must be caricatures of black women. Ahem. I find it somewhat reductive to simplify race to these stereotypes, and maybe as a white woman I have no place deciding what does and does not constitute "black." But that's what the internet is sometimes (and exceedingly so in this case): white chicks having opinions. And kittens, don't forget the kittens.

See also: "That Just Feels Dismissive of Real Pain": Why Katy Perry's Mummified Dancers Are Racist

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Counterpoint: Jay-Z Saved Brooklyn

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Sean Carter has always let it be known that he is a ruthless cultural capitalist, a man who's out for success for himself and his own. Now that he's achieved that success, it's worth thinking about what his single-minded pursuit of the American dream means to his native borough, where he just performed a string of eight sold-out concerts in the brand new sports arena that he was essential in bringing to the area.

Point: Jay-Z Sold Out Brooklyn

As much as any man can represent a place, Jay-Z is a living embodiment of Brooklyn. As his star has risen, so has his borough's. But has Jay betrayed his native land? After all, he does live in Tribeca. In trying to make a statement by taking the subway to the Barclay's Center for his show, he inadvertently let it slip that he's never used a Metrocard before. Is Jay-Z, as some suggest, a traitor?

See also:
- Jay-Z Sold Out Brooklyn
- Hello Brooklyn: Jay-Z's First Night at the Barclays Center
- Jay-Z - Barclays Center (Day 2)
- Jay's First Concert at Barclays, a Movie Opposed to Barclays, And a People Not So Divided

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Point: Jay-Z Sold Out Brooklyn


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Life & Times

Counterpoint: Jay-Z Saved Brooklyn

According to Jay-Z's own mythology, at some point in the '90s he used an apartment at 560 State Street in Brooklyn's Boerum Hill neighborhood as a stash spot for his drug-peddling paraphernalia. Last week, the rapper played eight back-to-back shows two and a half blocks away at the new Barclays Center arena, which will also host the Brooklyn Nets basketball team he owns less than 1 percent stake in. The concerts were billed as a celebration of Brooklyn, with Jay symbolizing the resurrected pride and pomp of the borough. But that's just promotional fluff: Jay's role in the Barclays Center debacle is a crass case of selling-out the borough's soul for a stash of cash.

See also:
- Hello Brooklyn: Jay-Z's First Night at the Barclays Center
- Jay-Z - Barclays Center (Day 2)
- Jay's First Concert at Barclays, a Movie Opposed to Barclays, And a People Not So Divided

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Perhaps You'd Enjoy An International Relations Perspective on the Jay-Z/Game Feud

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Yup, an article called "Jay-Z vs the Game: Lessons for the American Primacy Debate" does in fact exist. And it's pretty good! (What Jay-Z/Game feud, you ask? Listen to this, and then this, and then have a moment of silence for the Game's career. And a slightly shorter one for Jay's, which will survive, though what he's doing right now talking about the Game is anyone's guess. Nobody is winning here.) Anyway, Marc Lynch:

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Does David Eggers Have One Good Thing Going Right Now?

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Or, as Papercuts likes to put it, "Is Dave Eggers the busiest man in literature?" Eggers is indeed ubiquitous right now, and is approaching some slightly more exaggerated level of ubiquitous as we approach the fall. Leaving aside--and this is a big thing to leave aside--"the McSweeney's empire and the 826 Valencia literacy project," as Papercuts phrases it (we might add 826NYC while we're at it), Eggers has a movie out--the execrable "Away We Go"--and another on the way, the impossibly great looking Where the Wild Things Are. He's also releasing a novelization of his Wild Things adaptation; its infuriatingly whimsical furry cover has been making the rounds on the internet all day. In a colossally long Rumpus interview, Eggers teased Zeitoun, a non-fiction book due in the fall about a Hurricane Katrina survivor who Eggers got to know while working on Voices from the Storm, a McSweeney's-published oral history of the 2005 disaster in New Orleans. Proceeds from Zeitoun will go to a nonprofit foundation that will distribute the book's profits in and around New Orleans.

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