Katy Perry opened the 2013 American Music Awards with a eye-raising rendition of her latest single, "Unconditionally." Dressed in a custom kimono created by her stylist, Johnny Wujek, the 29-year-old singer was made up to look like a Geisha girl. The intricate set included cherry blossoms, a Shinto shrine and taiko drummers.
Before Perry took the stage, Samsung Mobile and the American Music Awards' Twitter accounts shared an exclusive picture of the pop star backstage, scrawled with the line "I think I'm turning AMA"—a reference to The Vapors' 1980 song "Turning Japanese."
Moments after the performance ended, Perry was accused of being racially and culturally insensitive. "In an effort to recalibrate our collective racism radar, which has been getting overtaxed at music award shows as of late: Was Perry's Great Wave of Japanese signifiers offensive, simply stereotypical, or harmlessly deferential in an inert Katy Perry maximalist way?" Vulture asked its readers.