The Null Device

Gwen's Harajuku Geishas

Gwen Stefani, that Madonna of major-label pop-punk, has taken a liking to Japanese teen street fashion. And, being a savvy commodified-rebellion entrepreneur, she has appropriated this phenomenon and redigested it into a commercially viable cliché, by hiring four Asian women to dress like Harajuku hipsters and follow her around, contractually prohibited from speaking anything but Japanese:
They shadow her wherever she goes. They're on the cover of the album, they appear behind her on the red carpet, she even dedicates a track, "Harajuku Girls," to them. In interviews, they silently vogue in the background like living props; she, meanwhile, likes to pretend that they're not real but only a figment of her imagination. They're ever present in her videos and performances -- swabbing the deck aboard the pirate ship, squatting gangsta style in a high school gym while pumping their butts up and down, simpering behind fluttering hands or bowing to Stefani. That's right, bowing. Not even from the waist, but on the ground in a "we're not worthy, we're not worthy" pose. She's taken Tokyo hipsters, sucked them dry of all their street cred, and turned them into China dolls.
Stefani fawns over harajuku style in her lyrics, but her appropriation of this subculture makes about as much sense as the Gap selling Anarchy T-shirts; she's swallowed a subversive youth culture in Japan and barfed up another image of submissive giggling Asian women. While aping a style that's suppose to be about individuality and personal expression, Stefani ends up being the only one who stands out.

The article in question goes on to excoriate other Western stereotypes of Japanese culture, from Tarantino's killer schoolgirl to Peter Carey's confession of cluelessness, "Wrong About Japan".

There are 1 comments on "Gwen's Harajuku Geishas":

Posted by: datakid http:// Wed Apr 13 21:48:00 2005

"a savvy commodified-rebellion entrepreneur"...lol...the best description of that genre of pop starlet I've ever heard

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