Remember that totally weird time in the early 2000s when Gwen Stefani hired silent Asian women to stand behind her for a couple years? That was fucked up. Luckily she left that all behind years ag—oh, what the fuck.
2004 was decidedly different from 2016 and Stefani basically got little to no public flack for this, except from actual Asian Margaret Cho, to whom she politely responded by whitesplaining Asian culture. NO BUT I AM SERIOUS.
“She didn’t do her research!” spits Stefani, who says she’s been a fan of Japan and its mix-and-match fashion sense since first visiting the country with No Doubt in the mid-’90s. “The truth is that I basically was saying how great that culture is. It pisses me off that [Cho] would not do the research and then talk out like that. It’s just so embarrassing for her. The Harajuku Girls is an art project. It’s fun!” (Cho told EW via e-mail, “I absolutely agree! I didn’t do any research! I realize the Harajuku Girls rule!!! How embarrassing for me!!! I was just jealous that I didn’t get to be oneâ€¦ I dance really good!!!”)
Also, there’s the fact these women had no names or identities of their own beyond Gwen’s Accessories.
They followed her everywhere and were reportedly contractually obligated to only speak Japanese in public. She renamed them — as if they were pets — “Love,” “Angel,” “Music” and “Baby” after her album title. As you can see in the video for the song “Harajuku Girls” above, the women are basically puppets. The lyrics of her actual songs aren’t much better. In “Harajuku Girls,” Stefani calls their culture, “A Ping-Pong match between Eastern and Western.”
And now children are literally getting a cartoon focused upon, according to People, “a group of girls — named, of course, Love, Angel, Music and Baby — as well as their leader G, and their adventures in the Harajuku world.” That G is for Gwen, btdubs.
So, that People article has a clip from the show…and none of the characters appear to be Asian. At the very least, several definitely aren’t. Which means Gwen Stefani clearly didn’t watch this episode of Girl Meets World about cultural appropriation (skip ahead to 5:00).
“It’s a real neighborhood in Japan where authentic Japanese girls have created an authentic look and life for themselves that is unique to them.”
A Disney Channel show gets it, Gwen. Why don’t you?