Despite the recent conversations about cultural appropriation in Pop Culture, celebrities and plebs alike still seem to have difficulty seeing the issue with [assuming the culture of marginalized groups for their own consumption] the matter. According to Ariana Grande, she was the Internet’s most recent victim this week, as she came under fire for getting a Japanese Kanji tattoo. The tattoo was meant to commemorate her new song 7 Rings, which may only be new to Ariana, as the pop musician has also been accused of stealing its sample from Princess Nokia’s song “Mine,” which was written in celebration of Black and Latina women’s hair.
In response to backlash from her most recent cultural oopsy-daisy, Grande took to Twitter to air her grievances in since-deleted tweets, writing “What do you want me to do? It was done out of love and appreciation. What do you want me to say?” Rather than apologizing for infringing on the personal identity of a community she is not apart of, Grande pleaded ignorance, but at what point is it no longer playing dumb?
In an internet culture where information is extremely accessible and incidents of celebrities being called out for insensitive remarks feel more commonplace than not, it seems impossible to argue not to know any better. Argue she did, rather than taking responsibility for her mistake, Grande fired off a series of tweets, flipping the narrative on negative internet commentators, known to the likes of Taylor Swift stans as “Trolls” or “Haters,” writing, “U kno how many people make this mistake and DON’T care just cause they like how it looks? Bruh… I care sooooo much. What would u like me to do or say? Forreal. There is a difference between appropriation and appreciation.”
While this tactic is not a new one, Grande makes use of her own sensitivity and passion for Japanese culture as a defense for using it not only as body art but also to sell merchandise through her website. By seeking to profit from another culture in social capital or “clout” as well as through monetary gain, Grande is sending the message to her fans that her cool factor is more important than an entire culture of people’s personal identities.
After claiming she didn’t know it was a bad idea to receive a tattoo in a language she doesn’t speak, resulting in a tattoo translating to “Japanese style bbq grill,” Grande went for the “the opinion of one person is the opinion of every person of that culture route,” writing, “My Japanese fans were always excited when I wrote in Japanese or wore Japanese sayings on my clothing,” adding, “However, all of the merch with Japanese on it was taken down from my site, not that anyone cared to notice.”
To criticism surrounding Grande’s cavalier response to legitimate claims of cultural assumption, she tweeted, “People on this app really don’t know how to be forgiving or gentle when someone has made an innocent mistake.” Forgiveness is what follows an apology, which is the one thing Grande neglected to include in her series of tweets.
In another since-deleted response, Grande writes, “No one considers feelings other than their own. It’s very pointless,” adding, “Ion [I don't] even know why I’m talking ab[out] this anymore." At this point, neither do we.