Five years after Katy Perry's kimono at the American Music Awards provoked a Twitter meltdown, cultural appropriation callouts remain baked into online outrage culture.
Still, the narrative arc of these social media theatrics is changing. These days, the people on whose behalf the cultural appropriation callouts are often enforced are no longer bewildered bystanders. Looking at the sad state of affairs we find ourselves in now, I think the time has come to follow up on the article I wrote on this issue three years ago.
Let's consider the updated script for callouts on appropriation of "Asian culture." First, someone tweets a denunciation against a person — often a celebrity, usually white — for wearing a kimono or a Chinese cheongsam, or for publicly playing a Japanese shakuhachi flute while in kimono. This, it is claimed, is a textbook case of cultural appropriation: an act of Orientalist, racist wrongdoing in which people from dominant cultures help themselves to cultural items, practices or identities from a minority or nonwhite culture, without the permission of its members.